Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Good Bye Paul

 The tradition is to break a magic wand in half in honor of a magician who dies.  Symbolically it says that his magic will not be done again.  Today it will have to be a Zig-Zag Lady cabinet we break in two, nothing smaller would be appropriate for the loss of my friend and magician Paul Osborne.  
From the Brilliant Mind of
Paul Osborne
Paul Osborne was introduced to me as the college guy who was helping to market a Dallas singing group about the time I graduated from High School.  I saw the hand out materials Paul  had done for the group and they were great. Paul could visualize his ideas with a pen and ink and he could write really good copy as well.  It was easy to think of Paul as a future advertising maven.  
It was only a matter of time before a Dallas magician and a Dallas ventriloquist got booked on the same show. It was a few months later that Paul and I were booked to perform together for a Braniff Airline's Christmas Party,  and...I remember that show very well.  It was in an empty aircraft hanger at Love Field on a riser with a sound system that created an echo effect like we were performing in a stadium.  The guy I thought was just a commercial artist turned out to be a really good Magician. Needless to say an  act that was amazing to watch (Paul's act) went much better than an act you have to listen to (my act). 
I only knew two Dallas magicians. Since one of them went to North Texas and knew Paul, I tried to make conversation about the other magician in town. I only knew his name and saw him perform only once.  I asked if Paul knew Garland Kellogg?  Paul said, "Yes and the next time you see that guy grab him, call me and hold him till I get there.  He owes me money."  I am pretty sure from that moment on Paul and I were friends.

The thing that I remember most about Paul's show even then, were the props.  A magic act is all about the props. Mostly what you saw in Dallas were props purchased at Douglas Magic Land.  They worked fine, but it was not unusual to see a Cowboy magician doing the doll house illusion with a box designed and painted to look like a Chinese pagoda.  Paul made his own props.  They looked different, they fit his act, his illusions looked more like beautiful stage sets than oddly coordinated boxes.  Soon Paul was designing illusions for other magicians.  His Illusion Systems were beautiful draftsmans blue prints that not only were great plans to build it, the plans were works of art themselves.  
With Dallas as a starting line Paul and I continued to cross paths as friends and performers as we both tried to create a career for ourselves.  Theme parks were popping up all over the country and while I was busy performing 10 times a day in the stage show, Paul began producing, directing, art designing, building and staffing theme park shows.  While I was grinding them out day after day, Paul had several shows running in several different theme parks with hired performers... doing the 10 a day.  His eye for the look of a show, his ability to draw, his instinct for advertising and Marketing combined with his sense of humor and magic skills made him unique.  
I remember a story that exemplifies how Paul's mind worked.  At a "rides and attractions" conference Paul happened to be having lunch with a guy who sold large expensive carnival rides.  As the conversation unfolded the guy said he was trying to sell a ride to a client.  It was a stock ride where people stand on the inside of a round spinning cage.  At maximum G- force the wheel would turn on its side so that the riders would be spinning perpendicular to the ground.  The guy said to Paul the client wanted something different. 
Paul asked where that theme park was located.  The salesman said, "In Nevada, near Vegas."  
As they talked, Paul took out a sketch pad and began to draw.  At a point when the sketch was ready Paul slid it across to his friend.  It was a sketch of that stock ride only Paul had drawn it to look like a roulette wheel.  With sketch in tow the salesman went back to the client.  They loved the idea and bought the ride.  The salesman eventually gave Paul a 10% commission on the price of the ride. Not bad for a simple conversation over lunch. Paul could put his imagination down on paper so those less imaginative could see what he saw.  
Over the years if Michelle and Paul were in Los Angeles, or Sandi and I happened to be in Dallas we would have a dinner out together. It was all about friendship, showbiz stories and laughter.  You didn't "catch up" with Paul after being apart for awhile, you tried to hang on and pick up where you left off.  One evening I got to the waiter before he brought the check arrived and paid it.  I told the waiter to say that Garland Kellogg had picked up the check.  It became a call back joke.  The college guy who owed Paul money became a punch line, perfect retribution.  The last time I used that name was three days ago when I replied to an Osborne Facebook post. 
This morning I found out that Paul was gone. I will miss his presence on Earth in ways that highjack my emotions. Since most of our relationship was spent laughing, I smile at the thought of Paul Osborne, then feel a profound sadness that I will never laugh with him again.  
Michelle said he didn't like funerals, nor memorials, maybe he wouldn't even like this tribute to his memory in a blog.  I know he was a regular reader of my blog and we shared the need to rant out loud occasionally.  We had plans to work on a book project together that I was looking forward to very much.  It wasn't about the book, it was about the excuse to creatively hang out with my childhood friend Paul. 
So Paul, it wasn't a very satisfying goodbye. I will always be in awe of your talents, your humor, and your personal magic.  Since you spent your life building magic illusions is doesn't seem right to break a wand in your honor.  So I will just look forward to laughing with you again some day but for now I don't want to think of you as gone.... Magicians never die... they just disappear.  
As you were,
Jay

16 comments:

John Gaspard said...

A lovely remembrance, Jay. Thanks for sharing it.

Playing Cards said...

Very sad to hear that one of our magic friends has passed away :(

Lloyd Lebow said...

Great remembrance. Paul sounds like a lovely man. Sorry for your loss.

cwalter said...

Sorry for your loss. I did not know Paul, but your tribute to him was moving and well written. I enjoy your blog. Thanks, Jay.

P. Grecian said...

What a beautiful tribute. I feel now like I knew him.

Eddy Wade said...

Thanks Jay. Paul will be greatly misssed. I use to see him at the IAAPA convention with his booth when I worked for Miorrus Costumes. I read all his books & bpuht several of his plans. I so enjoyed his sense of humor, especially in his Holiday CDs that he mailed out a couple of years. I was honored when he called one day to buy one of my products a few years ago. He would have loved your tribute and then made a comment that would make you laugh.

Paul Taylor said...

A great loss, for sure! Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your relationship with Paul. I built illusions from his beautiful plans and ideas and performed with magician Dal Sanders in Dallas. I believe they are still in use!

Unknown said...

Very sorry to hear of Paul's passing. His many publications inspired me to design and build my own props and illusions. He left behind an amazing legacy that has enriched all in the magic community. But please don't break a Zig Zag for him. That may have already been done for Robert Harbin, the original inventor.

Mark Barrett said...

So sorry Jay. I really enjoyed reading your remembrances of Paul. You truly honored him.

Linda Joyce said...

RIP Dear Friend!

Anonymous said...

What a horribly sad way to wake up in Samoa. My lovely, kind, wonderful and extremely talented friend of over 25 years just stepped off the ride... He left behind thousands of gracious people that learned from him and shared his dynamic love of magic. My Magic Circus of Samoa would not be so magical if not for him and his amazing counterpart Michelle. There was never a time that I came to Dallas that we didn't have some of his favorite Tex-Mex food together!! He would always choose the place (and it was always great). There will never be another Paul Osborne and my heart is with his lovely Michelle right now....what a inspiring, elegant, loving, cheerful and amazing person! I couldn't even imagine the tremendous pain she feels right now. She needs all of our love and support. When I received her email a few hours ago, my keyboards was quickly soaked and I couldn't hardly respond with my blurry eyes.....Paul, you left us too soon but you graciously left us all with more love and passion for Magic then we would have ever had if not for you. Michelle, we love you..God only knows the hurt you are having right now.....but I know besides myself and my Samoan Circus family, there are thousands of people grieving together with you right now. I send you the biggest and strongest hug in the world and everyday you will see him in all that you do and have wonderful memories of one hell of a special guy. With all our love from Samoa....Bruno and all the crew....

Mark O. said...

I had the pleasure of working with Paul at KVIL radio in Dallas back in the 80's. I was always a fan of his. Luckily we had lunch a couple of months back. I'm glad I have chancvto catch up.

Billy Diamond said...

Jay, Thank you so much for sharing your personal stories and ties with Paul. A lovely tribute from an awesome man. May you rest in peace Paul. You will never be forgotten for your wonderful contributions to the art of magic and also inspiring my creative side. From the first time I opened a comb bound Illusion System book I was in wonderland. Thank you.

Chip Keyes said...

A very moving and loving tribute.

Anonymous said...

A great tribute, to a great artist, by a great artist. And Jay, the ride you spoke of Paul altering to look like a roulette wheel, has always been called, at least wherever I rode one, "Round-up". I remember riding it once with slick sole dress shoes. Not a fun ride that time. Whitt Smith

Dennis Schick said...

What a lovely tribute to a friend. I would like to ask permission to reprint it in The Linking Ring, the monthly magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Dennis Schick, Assistant Editor