Board member and Magician Jeffrey Alan takes us through the history behind this great little gem as well as the amazing links between the history of Michigan and the history of magic.
American Museum of Magic Website
American Museum of Magic Facebook Page
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:00] hello, everyone. Welcome to the show. My name is cliff. your host. And today. We have the privilege of being joined by one of the, the, the board of directors, executive committee member for the American museum of magic, which I didn’t even know, Michigan had one. And I’m very glad that I found them because I have been a fan of magic all of my life, ladies and gentlemen, please. Welcome to the show. Jeffrey Alan Broderick, Jeffrey Alan, how are you?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:00:57] I seem to be okay. Thank you, Cliff.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:59] Excellent. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from and where you grew up.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:01:03] I’m from Western Michigan. I grew up in a small town, just North of Muskegon, Michigan. And. Got interested in magic. Really early. And, It has never left me.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:14] Now, is there any, any magicians out there that you saw on TV, like David Copperfield or somebody like that that really inspired you?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:01:23] I’ll probably give away my age, but, Doug Henning. Is one that comes to mind immediately.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:29] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:01:29] I met David Copperfield in the early eighties when he was touring. And he, he performed at a deboss center in grand Rapids. That time.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:39] Excellent. Now what. So. You obviously were exposed to magic. as, as a young child, what made you decide to keep pursuing it? Because you were also a magician. You’re your stage name is Jeffrey Alan Allen. What decided to, what made you decide to pursue Oh,
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:01:57] I received a, a magic kit. For the holiday. One when I was young. And. I also had, there was a magician that came to my school, as I remember. And he’s from the Chicago area. Deceased now, but. recently someone had brought up his name and I went, Oh my gosh, that is the person who I. Remember seeing the first time perform magic. And I thought it was so cool.
He was a Chinese magician. With the, with the name deep blue.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:25] Hmm.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:02:26] I’m still friends with his daughter today. After discovering that she was on Facebook and so on.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:32] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:02:33] We carry on CA. Conversations about. His many performances through the years and awards, and he’s created magic. And so many magicians in Michigan know who he is.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:44] Right. Okay. The.
As far as now. Cause I know you said you received a kit. Are there actual, like if somebody wanted to be a magician, are there schools out there that they can attend or is it all basically online classes? Is it just you buy the kit and you just practice. How, how does one start to play around with magic and get good at doing various like card tricks or whatever?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:03:06] The magic sets are available. even at. department stores have magic sets in their games and toys area.
At a higher level, there are a number of options. One is that we have a local group in grand Rapids, particularly that is.
A magician’s group. The international brotherhood of magicians is a very old organization. And they are made up of rings. They’re called magic rings, like linking rings, kind of
Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:37] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:03:37] And the, and these magic rings are all over the, all over the world, as a matter of fact, and there’s a local one here and, persons can come to it. There’s A meeting every month and they’re magicians gather and discuss magic and help. Mentor knew. Aspiring magicians. In the field.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:57] Okay. Excellent. Now with regards to. with regards to the museum, let’s talk a little bit about the history. When was, when was the museum founded? Who founded it? Why did they that they feel the need to fund. To, to start this museum.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:04:11] Okay, we’ll start directly with the museum, the museum itself. Was established in 1978, officially in Marshall, Michigan. And it was founded by. Robert and Elaine Lund. Bob London as a teenager early boy. Wanting to be a magician or thought about being a magician, but really did not aspire to get up in front of people or, or being on the stage.
So instead he started collecting all things magic. Just anything about magicians are magic. And that was a lifelong pursuit. He was working at the time, when he got his job with. A Hearst publishing. So he’s had a significant role in some of the periodicals, even that are still in existence today. Major magazines as editor.
And therefore he was able to. Shall I say, procure the. And over time it became the largest. One of the large private collections in the world.
It is now housed in Marshall, Michigan downtown. And. We say that it is the largest private collection on public display. In the world. There are many private collections that are larger. But his is on display publicly.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:24] Excellent. And when was the, when was the museum started again? What year?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:05:29] 1978. So 42 years ago.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:32] 42 years ago. Wow. Now, how did you get involved with the museum?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:05:35] Because of my interest in magic when I. Let me start over. I was in. I lived in Michigan and then I moved out East for many years and then came back. And when I came back, I rejoined the ring here. The magic ring that I referred to earlier. And. Also was,
Interested in what, how the ma magic museum was going. And they asked me to join the board. It’s as simple as that.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:06:00] Excellent. Well, that’s cool. Now, what are some of the, because I know you said it’s, it’s a, the, probably one of the largest private collections that is on public display. What are some of the. What are some of the events? That you typically have going on. And I know we’re in the middle of, of COVID right now, but what are some of the events that you’d, that you typically have going on at the museum?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:06:21] We always have opened on April 1st. That was Bob’s choice. This year we opened June 1st. In previous years and in the future coming years. Our plan. Has always been to have a magician. Perform on Saturdays. So that visitors coming to the museum on Saturday is particularly around the one o’clock hour, 1:00 PM. They can enjoy a performance by a local magician or even a magician from wherever. This is every Saturday. In addition to that we have a summer camp for students or for children to learn magic. We’re talking about that earlier. That runs in June. We have a excellent. Local magician who comes in for the weekend. Assists with that. We have other programs. I know that some of the local schools actually tour the museum every year. As part of there. If you will field trips. And in addition to that, we’ve more recently used the museum as a place for. launching events and so on. As a matter of fact, last night, I hosted an event. Where all of the magicians in Michigan. Who are in the international brotherhood of magicians. Come together once a year called Michigan magic day. And in that, during that forum, we also induct. persons into what we call the Michigan magic day hall of fame.
And since we didn’t have the Michigan magic day, I still wanted to do the hall of fame. So that happened last night. Via live zoom from the museum.
I was hosting the event and the award went to Harry Blackstone, Sr. Harry Blackstone Jr. And Junior’s wife gay Blackstone.
And it was star started to say the least.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:08:04] No, that sounds really cool. And for somebody who, you know, wants to get into the. you know, the, the, the magic museum, you know, hall of fame or w what is, what is the, what is the requirements for that? What do you look for in a magician too, to be able to allow him to.
I allow him or her to ascend to that level
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:08:23] Yeah, all of the magicians that are on there are predominantly related to Michigan have had some influence. In Michigan, relative to the promotion of magic.
indoct at least two or three every year. Most of those persons are.
For example, Harry Blackstone Sr died in 1965.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:08:46] Oh, wow.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:08:47] Harry Blackstone, Sr. I think can be credited for bringing magic to Michigan. He had one of the largest worldwide shows. At the time he was a contemporary of Houdini, by the way.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:08:59] Oh, cool.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:09:00] And it’s interesting that they would travel all over the United States. In trains, train show. Carry his show around and then they would vacation in a little bird called colon, Michigan. you know, about colon Michigan?
Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:14] I do not.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:09:15] All right. Well, this is another destination that needs to be on your broadcast. But co. Colon Michigan is
Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:21] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:09:22] magic capital of the world.
If you are any kind of magician, you absolutely know about calling Michigan and it’s sort of the place where everyone. Has to go at least once in their lifetime, if not every year during the magic get together. The first week of August. And this gathering commemorates the gathering of the Blackstone show at colon Michigan.
In the early 1920s.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:45] That is this really super cool. And when you were bringing up the subject, because for some reason when you said Harry Blackstone, Senior in junior, it tickled something in the back of my head. Did they, did they actually have a, like a product line of magic tricks that they sell?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:10:00] Yeah, Harry Blackstone Jr. Had, Developed his own magic kit. So the magic set with all kinds of tricks in it, the Harry Blackstone set. Yeah. And that would be.
Trying to remember. Early eighties.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:12] Yeah, that would seem about right, because I was a kid in early eighties.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:10:15] Yeah, mid eighties. Yeah, the Blackstone magic set. And he, he featured prominently on the cover. In fact, Visitors of the museum can see that magic kit on the second floor.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:25] Oh, that’s a super cool talking about a trip back in time now. Let’s talk a little bit more about, because I like to explore this, this, this world a little bit more about magicians and being up on stage and stuff. And how many years did you say you practice that before you started getting out in front of people and, and performing.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:10:44] I received a magic set in my preteen years. And it was at 13 years old that I did my first paid performance. And then through high school. Junior high and high school. I was performing, but mostly toward the end of my high school career, if you will. I did that as my job. Whereas some of my friends were working at a grocery store or,
Cliff Duvernois: [00:11:06] Restaurant or? Yep.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:11:07] yeah. Whatever I was doing magic shows. Okay.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:11:10] Man that had to be like as a, as a kid that had to be like the coolest job in the world.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:11:14] Well at the time, I didn’t really think of it that way. I, sometimes it was. It was a task, but. it was something that I chose to do. But, but, and it was enjoyable and that’s where I learned to be able to stand in front of an audience. And also learned about magic. the many aspects of magic eye.
Have also created five of my own tricks. In time. That are marketed.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:11:37] Now.
When you talk about creating a, a magic trick and marketing it is this is this yours. You’re selling this to other magicians.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:11:45] Yep. Similar to the magic kit, but at a higher level, because are tricks that you would perform for an audience. The magic sets are. Shall I say. Juvenile where you have the, the little tricks and you can do for your friends and maybe your family, but typically would not take a magic set and perform it in front of an audience.
Especially for pay.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:06] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:12:07] A paying audience. Yeah. The level of magic becomes a bit more. Shall we say.
Gold. You know, It’s it’s it’s premium.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:16] Yeah, this is, these are the, the, the magic tricks that really dazzle people.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:12:20] Yeah. Then they’re expensive, but. It makes her a good show. And any example of that would be. Watching, even the magic shows today.
For example, the, masters of illusion.
On CW every week that is produced by gay Blackstone. The one I mentioned earlier, who was inducted in the hall, Michigan hall of fame. And she’s the producer of that show.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:41] That is really cool. And I was just thinking of when you talked about. Ah, the magic trick. It reminded me of, an article I followed. I’ve always been a fan of Penn and teller.
And there’s a trick that I saw teller do when I was actually in Las Vegas where he had this, like the like Rose. Plant in a vase. With a light shining on it. And there was like a shadow that was cast onto a piece of paper behind, the, behind the Rose. And he would go up and he would like cut the pedal. He would cut the shadow of the pedal and the pedal would fall off.
And I guess. Go ahead.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:13:14] I’m sorry. That’s his signature trick.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:16] Yeah, his signature trick and not ever have Thai. I’ve seen it happen twice. Now, both times. I’m just, I’m floored. I’m like how in the world of these dude does he do today? And of course he’s never revealed it to anybody. That’s his signature trick. And it was a handful of years ago that I read an article that talked about how, like a magician, I want to say, like in Denmark or someplace in Europe actually figured out how he did that trick.
And was offering to sell it to other magicians. And this actually launched a lawsuit. Where teller was going after him to stop, you know, don’t reveal, you know how this is. So, this is. You know, I, I didn’t know that this world even existed where you could actually create magic tricks for other magicians to buy. So this is actually really cool.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:13:57] Yeah. In one of the best parts about being in this. If you will, fraternity is. That we all respect each other’s creations. And appreciate the art. Of them. And for the most part. Everyone knows who invented or created the trick. And again, we’re talking to the higher level, not a novice that’s first coming in. There are things to learn through time.
But you, you end up learning. Yeah, who developed this trick? And that’s part of. The whole.
Discussion that we look at a magic trick and we go, Oh, that’s so-and-so’s trick. Okay. And that’s it. It’s fun that way.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:14:35] Sure. Excellent. Okay. So with regards to the, the, the, the museum. And I know we’re in, in times of COVID and everything else like that, but what do you, you. You know, what are you doing to make sure that if people do come to the museum that, that they’re safe, that they have a Joyable, experience with, you know, with their family or whatnot, what do you w what are your, what do you, what do you, what.
What do you have in place that prevent.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:15:01] When we opened in June, one of our first requirements was the. Mandatory mask. And we wanted that anyway. and we have stations with the hand sanitizer and so on. We are now officially closed for the season.
So I’m not thinking of. W we’re, we’re really not thinking about visitors coming in at this point, but perhaps in April, things will be a little better when we opened. We’re hoping. On April 1st again. And if not, we will continue the safety measures that we have.
We’re a smaller organizations and. Facility. So we don’t have thousands of people coming through there. You have a family or a group comes in, it’s usually small numbers. You don’t run into each other too much.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:15:48] Hmm. Okay. Excellent. And as far as you know, the, the magicians that are there. It does, you know, does the organization, did they get involved with a lot of, you know, fundraising or non-profits things like that?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:16:02] The museum itself. We have a number of fundraising. things that we do through the year.
Our major one is, We have a membership drive. And four. $100 or higher, you can get a little gift to as part of the membership, but we have an individual membership. which is, can I say $50 and then $100 and up. Is the gifts. We have the little gift. It’s actually a reproduction of a poster on canvas.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:29] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:16:30] In addition to that, we are eligible for some of the grants.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:34] Because.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:16:35] on visitors too.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:37] Right because the museum itself is a, is a non-profit. So that gives you access to those grants.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:16:41] Yes. As a nonprofit museum.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:44] Right. Okay. Oh, that’s really great. So.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:16:47] Every year we have. A gala event to our major. Event for our members and other supporters of the museum, which includes included a stage show. And, a little pre-show. Party. If you will.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:02] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:17:03] That’s another fundraiser that typically happens.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:06] Now when you’re talking.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:17:07] year.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:07] Sure when you’re talking about, people can become a member. do they, do they have to be a magician to be a member or can it just be anybody of the, of the, of the public.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:17:17] That’s the best part of the museum that is open to the public and it’s showing magic tricks. So one does not have to be a magician. Two. Come to the museum. Or for that matter, become a member. The membership is. Really a financial support for the museum.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:34] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:17:35] And that includes. You know, free admission and other notifications relative to what kind of events we might have. Discounts. We also have a little tiny magic. Store, if you will, in the museum. And so some people have actually gotten started right there. By buying. A trick or two. After their experience of walking through the facility.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:57] Excellent. And how big is the, the museum?
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:18:02] Wow. From front to back it’s 90 feet.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:06] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:18:06] And it’s a two story. Building that was built in the 1860s as a bakery.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:12] Hmm.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:18:12] If you are a magician and I happened to be there. Core, if you personal message me or text me. I’ve offered. Magician only tours.
Fact is that about 40% of the collection is seen by the public.
The rest is mysteriously. Held in other places.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:30] Nice.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:18:31] so magician only, if you cliff came, even though you’re not a magician, I would give you the partial magicians only tour, which would include. Some of the storage areas.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:40] Nice. Nice. And then when you’re talking about the collection and stuff, is it. Is it just different? let’s say different props or costumes. Or, you know, whatever from you. Different magicians from around the world. It’s a specific only to those magicians that are from Michigan.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:18:59] I’m going to answer. This question with yes. All of the above. It. When a person comes into the museum, their first encountered with a mass of posters. These are authentic posters from the periods of these magicians. Blackstone Calor.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:16] Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:19:16] Chung Ling Soo. And other famous magicians of the. Early 20th century. In addition to those are more contemporary magicians. David Copperfield, Andre Cole, Mark Wilson. Doug Henning. But anyway, the walls are covered with these posters and they’re all, like I said, authentic.
Then, if you look around at your eye level, you’ll see. Some prompts, some early props. W R. One of our prominent.
Props is. Blackstone’s some of Blackstone’s. Magic. Harry Blackstone Jr. Was very good friends with Bob Lund. And we’ve been able to. Wonderfully have the opportunity to get those pieces in the museum. So they’re actually working magic props there. And we also have some. Authentic pieces from Houdini.
In the museum. To belong to the Houdini family. his milk can escape. We have the buckets that he used to fill the. Water torture cell. It was called where they.
Hooked up shackles to his ankles and put them in upside down into a tank of water. They filled that tank with, with warm water. Those are the buckets that they used and his performance are in the museum.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:27] Hmm.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:20:28] They’re giant. I don’t know what they are. Bye. 30 gallon. Brass buckets.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:33] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:20:33] We have. The magician that Houdini. Took his name from. John Roberto who Dan. Just take the who, Dan it’s Houdini without the eye. So Houdini.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:45] Right.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:20:45] We have some of. A couple of his pieces, including a magic wand that was given to Bob long ago. The magic wand. Is used in performance by a lot of magicians. Some don’t use it, but it’s part of the. Which I say the costume of a magician and Roberto who Dan’s wand is in our collection.
Statuary. We have some statues, some, some ceramic pieces that were made by artists depicting magicians. There’s a fine art in there. There’s costumes. You mentioned Penn and teller. We have there. their suits teller gave us.
One of their suit sets. Those are on mannequins. Upstairs. We also feature local magicians. Bob Lund was interested in not only the international magician, but he really was fond of local magicians. Any local magician. And he would collect even a femora or paper. Paper things, paper news, newsletters, business cards for these magicians.
If they were on vacation in Canada. And there he was reading a newspaper. There’d be an article about a magician. He would cut the article out. And put it in a miscellaneous file. If he found two other pieces related to that magician. You got an official file. And in our archive library building, which is a separate place.
For magicians only. We have.
Tens of, I mean, like, I think there’s 30 filing cabinets. Full of this paper stuff.
He has. Stuff on Houdini. And material on Thurston. Even a file folder for me when I was a teen magician. I don’t, I’m not sure exactly how he got it, but he has had a file on me.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:29] Now does he ever reach out to these people or did he used to, and just say I started a file on you. Okay.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:22:35] I think that a lot of people started knowing about it. And so they’d send him things. So we have a lot of correspondence in these file folders from magicians. Yeah. You know, greetings Bob. Here’s my latest. You know, flyer or business card. In addition, he collected them and, and. The beauty of this collection is that he was collecting as a, as a child.
So. He’s got stuff from the, you. The 20s and the 30s. 1920s, 1930s in these file folders. Yeah. Original photographs of persons.
It’s a, it’s a huge collection. A gigantic library of books. For magicians to research. Some. One of a kind pieces in that. Library.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:19] Wow. Sounds absolutely beautiful. And I’m, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it. If somebody wants to find, cause I know you said that the, the, the museum right now is currently scheduled to be opened on April 1st, but if somebody wants to learn more about the. About the museum or, you know, learn about, you know, when you’re going to be opening, whatever it is, what’s the best way for them to, to follow you online.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:23:41] American museum of magic. Dot com.
We also have a Facebook page, the American museum of magic. And that’s a public page, so you can just. Like it. Get news notifications that way. We’re posting regularly on that. Some of the items that we sell, newer items, we’ve got we’re in the works right now, producing. Some t-shirts so our new t-shirts.
With the logo or some magic trick on it. We talk about the membership there. We also highlight magicians from time to time that Roberto Dan, that I just mentioned earlier. he was born. On December 7th. 1,805. So we just highlight that happy birthday. Robero Dan kind of thing.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:23] Nice. And for our audience, we will have those links in the show notes down below. Jeffrey Alan. It was great having you on the podcast today. Thank you very much.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:24:31] Okay. It was a pleasure. Thank you. I hope we can come over to the museum. Anytime we’re while we’re. Closed now. I’m cliff. Just text, man. We’ll arrange it. It doesn’t matter what time or what day?
Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:43] I would love that. Jeffery. Thank you very much.
Jeffrey Alan, American Museum of Magic: [00:24:45] Okay.