| You were too young?
No. I was female. They just didn't accept the idea of a female magician. After the Friday
lunches, we would all go as a gang to the meeting. After a while they just accepted the idea that
someone brought me along as a guest. The Parent Assembly was doing a public show and
someone approached me and asked if I would perform in it. I was happy to.
You were still just doing magic?
Yes. It was a wonderful show. It was in a hotel ballroom on a stage. After the show, an elderly
gentleman was backstage and came over to me to say that he absolutely adored what I did. He
went on to say that he had not seen anyone with the kind of command of the audience that you
have. The last time I saw that was when I saw Houdini. I thought was this guy pitching me or
what. This guy must be nuts. After he left, someone asked me if I knew who that was? I said no.
It was Walter Gibson. I ran after him and talked to him like a groupie. "I've read all your books. I
can't believe I'm meeting you. I was star struck. He gave me his number and we spoke for
years. Then, Russell Swan came over to compliment me. What a gentleman.
You and Dick Brooks are now together on a regular basis.
Well we kept showing up at the same places that we started sharing cabs. Then we decided to
share a place and save more money. Then we started looking for a place that we could work
and perform at and manage.
This is when you began the Magic Towne House.
Ed Davis in 1974 opened The Magic Towne House in New York. He was a chemical engineer
who came up with a paint that had a special quality. An artist ended up using his paint and he
became world famous. He had a lot of money and loved magic but would never perform in
public. So he opened this Magic themed place. He found this townhouse above an old paint
store. The top floor was living quarters.
After a year, Ed had lost all the money he put into it. We wanted to help out. The summer was
coming up and all our shows were daytime. We offered to perform at night and do some
promotion for the place. We never charged him. We worked every Friday and Saturday night
and was able to get stories in all the major newspapers.
When the summer was over, we told him that if he ever wanted to sell the place, to please call
us first. We saw the potential.
We were living in the Village in a storefront that was a former jewelry store. We had free parking
and a pull down gate for security. It was on a main floor so it was easy to load your props into
Ed eventually called us.
Yes. First he was going to sell the place to an art dealer but that didn't work out. The guy turned
out to be a con artist. Eddie called and asked if we were really serious about our offer. We told
him he were serious. A lawyer friend worked up the deal that we would pay on installments for
seven years the $10,000 deposit he had on the place with the landlord as well as pay the
|The first payment was deferred for a year so we could get ourselves settled. What
a sweetheart deal
We sunk all our money into the place. Every dime from our shows went into the pot. We lived
upstairs on the third floor. At first we dropped all the food because it was just too insane. We
served drinks, and coffee. Then we would buy cans of chili and serve that. People used to tell us
that it was the best chili they ever tasted and alwats asked for the recipe! We kept it a secret,
When did it turn around?
What turned the business around was an article in the New York Times by restaurant critic
Howard Thompson. It was a tiny story in the Going Out Guide. They came to us three times
without telling us. That was the rule. After the third time, they introduced themselves to us and
told us that they loved the place and would be mentioning us. They said we had consistent high
quality shows. He also said it was the best chili he ever had. We had been working for three
years already and this mention made us the "go to" spot in the city.
We were sold out for months. Originally, we were the only acts because we couldn't afford to
pay anyone. Now we let anyone that showed up to perform, a chance to get on the stage after
the three acts that we hired. There was a pecking order. The proven acts, that we thought were
good, would go on early. Then anyone else could go. We stayed open as long as there was an
audience. We paid a little money and a dinner. After everyone left, we would sit around and give
notes on what worked, and what didn't work. We did what comedy clubs do now. Our
performers included Eric DeCamps, Joe Monti, Joe Devlin, Bob Baxter, Levent, Todd Robbins,
Peter Samuelson, Rocco, Jeff McBride, Michael Chaud, Slydini, Frank Garcia, Torkova. Imam
came to perform every week.
So many people wanted to come and we couldn't
accommodate them all.
We did something called The Ultimate Solution. We raised the price. The people who did get in
payed a higher fee thus ends paying for the lost profits of the people that couldn't get in. We
were in the best part of town. We were one block from Bloomingdales.
The Townhouse became your base of operations.
We lived and worked here. We promoted like crazy. Ads in The Village Voice, NY Magazine, Cue
Magazine, and then sent out a barrage of publicity.