More than 1,000 magicians and an unknown number of rabbits are in Baltimore this weekend for the 63rd annual convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
With magicians expected from Japan, China, India and, for the first time ever, the Soviet Union, magic, not English, will be the common language.That may be just as well, considering the material Harry Allen of Daytona Beach, Fla., is peddling in his book, "Sleight of One-Liners." To help magicians with their stage acts, Allen has written or borrowed such rib-ticklers as, "Remember, you can be replaced by an audience" and "I come from a large family - mammals."
The book is dedicated to Henny Youngman.
The brotherhood was founded in 1922 and has members from in 85 countries. Unlike the Society of American Magicians, most members of the brotherhood are part-timers.
Michael Ellis, international president, said diversity is what makes the conventions, well, magical.
"They're from all walks of life. You have truck drivers sitting beside surgeons," he said.
Michael F. Stratman, a Tennessee engineer, said pulling quarters from his boss's ear probably wouldn't get him a raise. "I have a job and that's my bread and butter. I don't like to mix the two," he said.
There is no typical magician, Stratman said. "Some are very, very serious. Then you have others who go into a restaurant, they'll be performing in the restaurant."
Anyone going out to dinner with Harry Allen is sure to see at least one trick.
With a small squeaker hidden in his palm, Allen can't resist squeezing a roll and saying to the waiter, "Excuse me, do they all squeak or just this one?"
Allen is co-owner of a magic shop and one of 60 vendors at the convention. He demonstrated another hot item, the Magic Coloring Book. Flip through it once, it looks like a regular coloring book. Twice, the pages are completely blank. Thrice, the pictures are back - and colored in.