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« 100 Days of Gratitude - Day 59- Scott "Scott-o" Hollingsworth | Main | 100 Days of Gratitude - Day 57 - My Son - Jonathan Johnson »

100 Days of Gratitude - Day 58 - The Austin Magic Auction

Today I'm grateful for the Austin Magic Auction. It should have been on Saturday, since that's when the auction took place, but I was up and out of the house early, and hanging out with friends until late - so I skipped a day.

I built much of my early magic career from the Austin Magic Auction. I think several other magicians did too, namely Chip Romero, Paul Driscoll, Bobby Cordell and others. It gives us a chance to buy magic items at a discount, see many items in person for the first time, and to find rare items that have long been off the market and are highly collectable. I'm not a collector - but this happens.

Some of the great items I've bought in the past:

Collectors Workshop pieces including Jumbo Sidekick and The Gumball Machine

Illusions including Zig Zag Girl, Sub Trunk and Girl Through the Mirror (which is still in my show)

In the early years of my involvement I was responsible for as much as 10-20% of the buying and/or selling as I would spend time in my workshop building items specifically to sell at the auction. I'd sell $1500 worth of stuff and buy $1600 worth.

The auction was also instrumental in my growth as a performer and gave me a sound basis of knowledge about magic. Somewhere around 1988 the auction was about to die. No one was willing to accept and inventory all of the stuff that was coming in from around the country. My ex-wife and I stepped up and from Early January through the end of February (The auction used to be in February) for 5 years, every item that was sold at the auction came to our house first. For two months we were waist high (or higher) in magic props.

I went through every box, read every instruction sheet and watched every VHS tape that came through (there weren't very many back then, mostly the Steven's videos and some A-1, but it was still 30-50 each year). I learned so much about magic from handling everything that when we gave up the auction (can't remember the year) for a while, I was actually disappointed that I didn't get to go through everything. It made me a very informed buyer at the time.

I also met some of my closest friends through the auction or at the auction:

The first time I met Brian Brushwood was at an auction tagging "party" at Westgate mall. We've become like brothers over the years.

The first face to face interaction I had with David Hira was at the auction in 1992. He was talking to me describing a funny sub trunk routine he had seen at a convention. I thought he was putting me on. He wasn't. The routine he was talking about was mine.

One of our very best Karaoke Parties - Epic Karaoke III took place the night before the auction three years ago. The Austin Magic Auction brings my friends to town, just one more reason that I love it.

I have strong memories of being an auctioneer (I'm no longer an auctioneer as I can't commit to being there unless I don't have a show), of setting up the illusions, of cleaning up and tearing down, of many, many laughs both from the stage and from the audience.

Some of the very memorable people I've met or spent time with over the years at the Auction who have become friends and or influential in my life are Fred and Judy Donaldson, Bobby and Valarie Cordell, Dan Murphy, Mary Cay Gold, MarcoM and Gloria, David Hira, Chip Romero, Ray Anderson, Dick Hatch, Hull Youngblood, Doc Seaton, Derek Kennedy, Ashley and Bob Adams, and many, many more.

My strongest memory of Ralph Marcom is from the auction, and this year I was able to purchase, at the auction, something from his estate that directly ties to that memory.

Years ago the executive board of Ring 60 made the decision that we did not do the auction as a fund-raiser, it took way too much work for that, instead we hosted the auction as a service to the magic community. It's a service that you should take advantage of.

Other than being a buyer, I am not an official part of the Austin Magic Auction. I did my time. I am truly grateful that it's back in Austin, and I say a special thank you to everyone who makes it happen - especially Ron Cartlidge, Heather Poggi-Mannis, Will Mannis, Mary Cay Gold, the auctioneers Kent Cummins, Scott Wells, Judy Donaldson and her speed auctions and David Hira who brings so much warmth and enthusiasm to all he does. A special thank you to Doc Seaton who is a wonderful person and who personally provides the snacks and beverages out of his own pocket and give them to us at no charge just because he loves magic.

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