(ABOVE) Johnny performing the multiplying billiard balls with his usual incredible dexterity, 1960s.
(RIGHT) Johnny featured on cover of TOPS magic magazine, October 1945.
Photos courtesy Joseph Giordmaine.
How This Site Came To Be (Cont'd)
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS YOUR FATHER'S LEGACY IN MAGIC?
His greatest achievement was his persona, his ability to combine the absolute mastery of sleight of hand while at the same time keeping that out of view, in the background. The ability to share with his audience the joy and wonder of what is going on and at the same time making himself the subject of the humour. He did it in such a sincere and smooth way, Nothing here, nothing here, and nothing here [referring to his head]. (LAUGHS) There may be greater comedians, there may be greater pure magicians in some absolute sense, but for the combination of humour in children's entertainment combined with the technical aspects of magic, I think no one could match Dad. I think he would consider that his greatest contribution - the demonstration that that kind of combination of arts was possible.
The now defunct Society of Canadian Magicians were very kind to my mother and me after he died. They staged an auction sale of all of Dad's equipment from his famous magic room in the basement. It was a wonderful tribute. The MC was Sid Lorraine who was wonderfully warm and funny, I will never forget it. Sid said at the time, "Magicians throughout the world knew him as the perfect children's entertainer. In a field where competition and comparison often breeds enemies one never heard a word of criticism or complaint when the Giordmaine name was mentioned. Those of us who knew him and worked closely with him over the past forty years will always remember him as a kindly, considerate human being who enjoyed every moment of his very active life. He was a little fellow with a big heart".
My sincere thanks to Joe Giordmaine for sharing his memories about his father. Your memories will be very welcome at this website too. My e mail address is on page eleven.
But Johnnys generosity of spirit is still alive and well, trust me. It isnt just something confined to the distant past. I know because I keep running into it as I slowly reconnect to the magic community. For instance, I recently had the pleasure of watching the innovative mentalist James Biss give a mini-lecture at the Browsers Den. I was struck by his positive energy and his way of interacting with the audience. It reminded me a great deal of Johnny. Could James imaginative style today be in any way influenced by Johnny? Ill give James the final word about Johnnys enduring gift to all of us lucky enough to have known him...
Like most Toronto area magically obsessed kids, I was lucky to see Johnny on several occasions. I was fortunate to see him not only in that great retail emporium called Eatons on Yonge Street but also in a table hopping environment at an Italian restaurant my parents loved to take us to. I sure remember the incredible thrill of helping Johnny do a trick.
When Johnny did his Colour Changing Knife routine, for example, he would make a big deal about letting the knife change in his helper's hand. On several occasions I was entrusted to hold the knife in my hand. It went in one colour and magically came out another - completely, apparently, under my control. That feeling of magical influence has haunted me to this day. When I perform my own extremely mental manner of mentalism, I always strive for this kind of hands-on transformation, both of the magic and especially of the empowerment of the spectator.
I have no doubt that my own sense of magic and the joys of letting audience members share in the wonder of it all by being intimately involved - all are rooted in my experiences with Johnny. What I witnessed and felt as a little boy, within his spell, has evolved into my obsession today.
And you know what? I bet James still has his cardboard butterfly too.
(This article originally appeared - in a slightly modified form - in the Summer 2009 edition of "Northern Peeks" published by the Canadian Association of Magicians and edited by Joan Caesar. My thanks to Joan for printing it! Copyright 2009.)