Foster Is Good For Nothing!

From The “TOPS” Magazine, October 1967. By Monk Watson: “Now that you’ve picked yourselves up off of the floor and are saying, “What has happened to Monk and Neil Foster?”, really, that was a compliment. Foster was better than most anyone could be under the conditions of the stage, lighting and all that it takes to make a good setting for a show. It was a lecture, but not the kind that magicians are used to seeing or hearing. I’ve seen lectures of all kinds and most of them bore me pretty much. It seems that some are made up of nice men who have spent some time in magic and now they feel that they know it all and want to tell others just how much the know, or think they know. Some simple little tricks are brought out and you are told that these you can pick up at the Ten Cent store and always have them handy because you can never tell when you’re going to be asked to do a show. Then you are given a lesson on how to do a FREE SHOW in most cases. How was Foster different?

Let’s start at the first and not jump right into the meat of this lecture. This year there was no registration fee so everything was free, free, free! Yet some had some pretty nasty thing to say, like “Why do people come to Colon?” I’d like to be able to answer that question myself but I hardly know the answer. Why will a fellow fly in from California just to visit around with some of his friends, drink some coffee, go into the showroom and watch some of the new tricks being shown by the best salesmen in the business, or stay up all night at the Legion and watch card men at work with the best in card magic? Just to watch Edward Mario and Joe Berg showing each other tricks that thrill them, Jimmy Thompson and Jim Ryan doing close-up, Karrell Fox doing his favorite tricks that took down the house in other conventions, Duke selling tricks like crazy over the counter or in his White House when he has some old magic that has been turned in for new. This guy worked night and day just to please the magicians who came from far and near looking for something different. A lecture in Vent with people carrying their Vent figures in all kinds of cases and talking to themselves, or a watch with a built-in tape recorder (really a great Vent voice doing the talking but fooling even me). People setting on hard benches in front of the factory visiting into the night. Why do they still come year after year? I guess it is because they want to get away from the cities and just relax for a few days.

Talent like one could never see, like Bob Lewis and his lovely Ginny, ‘The Senator’ and George Johnstone, Jay Marshall, all just relaxing and hearing stories about the good Old Days, from an Old Timer like me, with tall tales about the days of great Show Business when the Palace was the Palace and one could stay busy fifty-two weeks each year with the same gags and dances and songs. Bob Lewis never gets tired of hearing about those wonderful days and how he’d like to live in those days. I never get tired of talking about them and how lucky I was to be a part of that great age of Show Business, There were over Five Hundred people attending the ‘Open House’ this year, and I don’t believe very many will be sorry when they look back on the good times they had. Bob and Mary Lynn, from New Jersey, have already rented their cottage for a full month next year. They helped me with a small show for the Vets and what great people they are. Bob also did a lecture showing his skill with ropes. I had to miss his lecture and I had to miss Duke’s also but I did get a chance to introduce Duke before leaving town for my golf match in Battle Creek.

Now back to Foster and his lecture (to stop all lectures, in my book). Here is a man who can perform any trick in magic and make it look good. But what did he do? First he walked on the stage looking like a professional. He showed how he built his suitcase so he could do a show out of it and still be packed at the end of his act so he could grab it and run to another show. Out of this case came his hank in cane, card fans, loads like you’ve never seen before from under silks that were just single silks to start with. Every trick was taken apart and shown so anyone could do it (or at least try to do it). Why he showed a few of his own ways of doing Zombie I’ll never know, but he did and that will start a new run on Zombies across the country. However, there is more to it than just holding it right … Foster has to do it, to make it look like it floats. At the end of his ACT he folded up his case, on the cue the music took up his exit and you left feeling that you had seen a MASTER at work with no flaws to cover up. If you see him billed for a lecture and you hadn’t planned on going, even if you have to pay for it, GO! GO! GO!,

I might add that I called on Foster several times in the past two months only to find him locked up in his home theatre, rehearsing over and over again his routine to show to the visiting magicians who ask the question, “Why did I ever come to Colon?” Now they know the answer I’m sure, and if they didn’t get their money’s worth it was because they didn’t spend any in the first place.”