Over the years I’ve been in magic I’ve seen a number of great salesman. After all, isn’t it magic just one big pitch?
Among the dealers, three stand out for writing incredibly compelling sales copy:
Certainly, my favorite magic dealer was and always will be, Ken Brooke. Ken had an enthusiasm, coupled with stringent moral code which I have never seen equaled, certainly not today. Those who read his sales copy for Fred Kaps Floating Cork, the Nemo Rising cards or the Koornwinder Kar to name a few, know what I’m talking about. You never had to concern yourself about the truthfulness of the descriptions. They were always honest and the effects were genuinely practical and doable. Compare this to the half assed YouTube demonstrations we have today which are generally contrived to deceive the prospective purchaser. Unfortunately, magicians today will never have the thrill of mailing the check to that far distant land called England and waiting for what seemed an eternity for the latest miracle from Ken Brookes’ Magic Place. You knew the wait would be worth it. Today, you can get screwed with the speed of the Internet – no waiting.
We miss you Ken.
The second dealer, capable of incredibly compelling writing was Jeff Busby. It’s certainly no secret that Busby was and is a flaming dick. It’s very hard to divorce that fact from the quality of his output. Epoptica, his periodic sales booklet was an incredible read. It showed the depth of his magic knowledge and understanding of history. There were times that I’m sure is historical perspective was warped due to his own abiding love for Jeff Busby.
Tricks and manuscripts developed and / or sold by Busby were generally terrific. I still think his work on the Sterling egg bag was one of the best effects ever given to magicians.
Some of his work in Arcane, a periodic magazine for his customers, was just brilliant. I know there are people out there, myself included, that were burnt by Busby and eventually decided he just wasn’t worth the trouble. A serious waste of talent.
Among today’s merchants nobody and I mean nobody compares to Bob Kohler. I first heard of him when he was advertising the first iteration of the Ultimate 3 Fly*. Any magician that wouldn’t have walked to Las Vegas to get that trick was without feelings. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny to recall the laudatory remarks he heaped on Todd Lassen and how he is viewed by him now. I’m a friend of Todd, so my perspective may or may not be fair. Kohler’s ability to extract really serious bucks for his material is legendary. Whether it’s a $200 rope trick, a $400 bill in lemon or a $2000 cloth goose — but, I guess, that his job. I trust I’m not the only one that wakes up in a cold sweat screaming I paid what for that! I see he’s now hooked up with the Anaconda crowd selling $100 flourishes. I’m sure he’ll be successful.
(* his nearly mystical hold over magicians is exemplified in the hundreds and hundreds of messages on the Cafe about a rumored second generation 3 Fly. Unbelievable!)
These guys relied on their skills as a wordsmith. For the most part, that is unnecessary today. Today’s sales people rely on editing, street bums and camera trickery. Their over-hyped crap may, at last, drive us back to classic magic. I sure hope so.