I’ve always thought that phrase is the saddest and most true notion about death. There’s been a lot of ash in the air lately. Magic has lost some giants recently and the books on those shelves are irreplaceable.
One of those libraries includes the legendary magic creator, Steve Dusheck.
Steve always seemed to be a bit of a will-o'-the-wisp. You knew he was out there but he clearly decided who would get close. Sadly, for a man who created some of the most innovative close up magic of the modern age, his name was not often heard in recent years. That is not to say his magic was forgotten. It was out there, but often with little credit. I suspect a large part of why he chose to keep his distance from much of the current magic scene.
I only met him a handful of times and we corresponded for a bit regarding some of his ideas. I certainly would not claim to know him. But my first encounter with him was one I will always remember.
As a kid in high school, I worked at a local magic shop. The owner loved magic but knew little about it. Often that meant when he placed orders he relied on the magic distributor to make suggestions as to what he should get. On one particularly large order, we received a massive quantity of new magic from Steve Dusheck.
This was long before information was so easily and openly shared. At most, you had a few magic magazines to reference current names in the business and even those were far and few between. There were no online outlets to ask for input, seek out reviews, or study videos. In fact, there was no “online”.
As I was young, I knew very little about Steve. But I knew enough to be excited when I opened that box. I quickly began cracking open the little plastic bags thrilled to discover what ingenious new discoveries awaited me.
The first trick contained a fake flower, a piece of string, and a well-known plastic appendage. It didn’t seem like much - and I had a hard time believing anyone could create a miracle with what I found in the instructions. I moved on to the next trick and sadly I felt a similar pang of disappointment. In fact, it happened again and again as I quickly moved from one trick to the next, consuming secrets and methods in seconds.
What was I missing? Clearly no one would want these items, let alone be fooled by them. I put the box aside with a bunch of others and moved on.
Fast forward a few weeks into the future. It’s the end of April and time for the prestigious 4F convention. As I said, I was a kid and certainly not an invited member of the event. But I lived not far from the revered Forks Hotel and I often went just t to get a glimpse of the legends of magic that rolled into town every Spring. Occasionally, I would even be lucky enough to find myself upstairs to see a bit of the real work in action. This was one such night.
I cautiously moved into one of the small rooms where they occasionally had a dealer or two set up. To my surprise, there was Steve Dusheck! I looked at his table and was a little shocked to see several of the tricks I had “wisely” placed aside. I pointed to the one with the fake flower and asked him if he would show it to me. Without hesitation, he said yes and then – with one hand - vanished the flower in a flash.
It looked amazing.
I pointed to another one. Again, it looked great. Then another and another. Each time he took a trick I discounted as being nothing of note – and he made it look like a miracle.
My ass – as they say - was being handed to me again and again. All the while, Steve was smiling and generously showing his creations to a kid who had no right to even be there.
I learned a lot in that instant. About how magic is so much more than the sum of its parts. How it’s easy to overlook something wonderful because it takes a bit more polish and thought. And how it costs nothing to be kind to someone who just wants to see a bit of magic.
That box I buried came back out a few days later. Those incredible Dusheck creations placed front and center.
Magic is endlessly lucky to be filled with so many clever and kind people. Many have incredible ideas to share. They may not always be the “shiniest” and you may not always know their names. But maybe that’s the time to pay the most attention.
Rest in peace Steve and thanks for the lesson.