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John regaled us with many anecdotes relating to his long career, which has seen him hailed as the UK Children's Entertainer of the Year, and he illustrated his mode of 'thinking out of the box' by means of a simple magic painting idea in which the young helper appeared to draw the outline of the figures.
This was a very special afternoon, and any member who was short-sighted enough to miss it 'because it was children's magic' missed wise words which could be applied to any branch of magic; and indeed the wider world of entertainment.
Our HQ was packed with youngsters this month, all eager to witness the antics of Mr. Trix the Magic Clown.
During the count-down to the start of the show a large, multi-coloured caterpillar scurried hither and thither across the bright, eye-catching black-cloth, heralding the arrival of Mr. T. and his magic cart.
The magic started with a bright yellow ball, which kept disappearing and reappearing by means of a shining silver 'bucket'. A large white rabbit was soon on the scene, produced from a silk, and sat attentively watching the rest of the show, much to the delight of the children. Mr. Trix used what could be termed 'standard' items, such as the silver sceptre, 'Run Monkey Run' (in which the cheeky fellow kept trying to run across to a shed full of nuts) and the little boy with an improvised balloon head; but Mr. T. brought something new and fresh to all of them. Instead of the traditional Zombie floating ball, for example, he introduced us not to Eminem the rapper, but M & M without the wrapper! This was a large soft-toy model of an M & M sweet which could wave as it floated.
Added to these items were priceless bits of business, such as balancing a bottle on the edge of a plate.
After the interval, when the young audience had left, Mr. Trix returned as his alter ego, John Dixon, to deconstruct his show. We learned that all the props had been made to his own specifications in his garage, and he had been meticulous about crediting sources, even consulting Tony Shelley about using the 'magic cart' concept. He had rejected garish clown make-up, going instead for the more gentle style of Charlie Cairoli - again after requesting his widow's permission.
John spoke about the use of throw-away 'aside' gags to entertain the parents as well as the kids, and recalled his first character role of Tex the magic cowboy. In mid-career he had been given the opportunity of cruise work, working 17 cruises on the QE2 in the illusion double-act of John and Julie Dixon. This included such items as the zig-zag, sub trunk and a particularly deadly cross-bow routine with razor blades on the arrow!
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