October 29, 2007
Manic Monday: Trick or Treat
Morgen asked that we post our Manic Monday meme on Trick or Treats this week. Trick. Many ways to go with that word. I thought of Magicians. There is a new show on network TV called "Phenomenon" that seeks out the next great magician. I wasn't surprised that there wasn't a person of African descent in the contestants. After all, few of us think of African Americans being magicians.
However, one of America's first successful stage magician, hypnotist and ventriloquist was a brother named Richard Potter (1783-1835). Potter was the son of an English baronet and an African servant woman. He was educated in Europe before beginning his 25 year career as a performer in post-Revolutionary America. He lived with his father in Hopkinton, NH and married (his wife name was Sally) and had 3 children. In fact, Potter is a favorite son of New Hampshire.
Potter performed in Boston, throughout New England and Canada. Potter was able to climb a rope and disappear while performing outdoors surrounded by spectators. Officially, his best known illusion was "crawling through a log" and Potter could skillfully throw his voice, especially using bird sounds. Whether he was the first to use a ventriloquist’s doll or dummy isn’t known. In 1813 Potters success allowed him to buy a 175-acre farm in Andover, NH, in the village now known as Potter’s Place. His story intrigued Harry Houdini who included Potter in his popular magazine of magic.
Today, there is a little-known Brotherhood of American Minority Magicians with a handful of members. I must admit that I've only seen one Black magician in my life. I don't recall his name ... he was entertainment at a conference I attended back in the day. He was quite good. One source of information on Black magicians is Magical Heroes: The Lives and Legends of Great African American Magicians
Anyway, I hope that you've learned something new from my Manic Monday meme this week!