| It was a constant effort. Thurston, Houdini,
Copperfield, Henning all wanted a magic venue in New York. We were the first to make it
So who dropped in.
Doug Henning, David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, Blackstone, Jr anyone in magic would drop by. Blacksone, Jr. was wonderful and gave us a four hour lecture, he didn't leave until everyone's question was answeed. He was wonderful.
Tell me about the night Johnny Carson showed up.
He just showed up unannounced with a date.
When we saw him on the stairs, we announced to the audience that Johnny was here and we
need to respect his space. We knew that if he ever wanted to come back, he needed to be
comfortable here. We greeted him and gave him a front row seat. WEveryone loved that he was theere
I didn't perform that night. I felt that it would have an insult to the performerss as well as being unethical.They were scheduled to appear, and it eas the professional thing to do. Peter Kougasian was the featured pwrformer that night. He was thankful
Johnny stayed until the show ended. He had a great time and
came up to us to thank us for the wonderful evening. He said it was great fun. With the gorgeous blond on his arm, he
left. He lived right across the street in the Trump Plaza.
Is it my imagination or do I remember pseudo celebrity Brother Theodore on Tom Snyder's
Tomorrow Show plugging that he was performing at The Magic Townhouse?
It's true. Dick knew him. As a kid Dick used to see him around the village and they would be
lined up around the block to see him.
Describe his act.
The stage was black with a pin spot on a desk which was raked towards the audience. The light
comes on and there he is with a big shadow behind him. He just stares at the audience for an
excruciatingly long time. Then he says, "Einstein is dead. Schopenhauer is dead... and I'm not
feeling so well myself!" The audience
|went wild with laughter. He was the king of dark humor. He performed as a wacko. Truthfully, he
was always depressed in real life and people thought it was his stage character.
He was from a rich family in Europe and then his whole family went to concentration camps and
lost it all. When he came to the States, he quickly became a huge celebrity in the Village. Then
he totally disappeared and became a has been.
Dick remembered him and tracked him down. We asked him to perform at the Townhouse and
he turned us down saying that his life was over and he couldn't perform anymore. We insisted
that he try to perform again in our place.
He didn't make it easy for us. He had all these provisions that he tried to use on us to not perform. We put him
on at midnight and he insisted on cutting the price in half so he would be assured an audience.
He ended up doing the Saturday night midnight show for three years. We revived his career and
it helped promote us. He was on Tom Snider, Letterman, and appeared in films.
Were there any other non magic shows in your space?
We did Equity Showcase Theater for out of work actors to display their talents. We had famous
directors trying out their shows. One time an audition for a two person show brought in 2000
actors vying for the parts. The line went all around the block.
So you were going out doing shows during the day, and running the Townhouse at night.
Sometimes, if we had a show at night, we would leave the place with the doorman, who was an
old friend of Dick's, Bob Porter.
As if running this club wasn't enough work for you, you decided to start a magazine. Why?
All of the magic magazines were not telling magic news from here. Genii was in California and
Tops was Midwest in Michigan. We wanted an East coast magic resource. It would also help
promote the Club. We bought the most primitive typesetting machine you could have. It was a
Linotype and and a Headliner machine. You had to type everything twice and use these giant
discs to make the headlines. It was all cut and paste with waxing the pieces.
| The east coast
magicians rarely got in the west coast magazine. We gave the East coast guys the publicity
We never lost money. We never made any money from it either. If a store bought a $100 ad,
they got $100 worth of free issues to sell and get their money back.
It was as much work as the Town House but we had some great people who contributed. Phil
Goldstein would send us piles of material relentlessly. He would do that with every magic
magazine. It made him famous. The magazine also got us into magic conventions. The
magazine lasted only three years but it left its mark.
When did you cross over into television spots?
My agent was getting me big company parties at all the fancy hotels in NY. You never know who
was in the audience. Eventually television producers would happen to be in the audience and
see that you might be good for whatever show they were working on. Once you get the first tv
show, you are on the "list" as an entertainer who can work on other shows.
The first show was Good Morning New York and then immediately Good Morning America.
One day we got a call from Bill Cosby's variety show Coz looking for Dorothy Dietrich to hire the
bird lady act. We brushed it off thinking it was a joke. Then an agent called telling us that Bill
Cosby was trying to contact us. We did five rehearsals. He was a gentleman to me. Each
rehearsal had five different bits of comedy. He never did the same thing twice. Why even have a
rehearsal. The show went great..