Tug Wilson (As told to Christopher Brinson)
Soft cover, 96 pages, A5 size, colour illustrations
Reviewed by Ian Keable
Sadly I was too late to see touring illusion shows: but I have spoken to a few magicians who saw the likes of Dante and Kalanag. Tug Wilson went one better than my confidantes. He not only saw the shows, he actually worked with them as an assistant: in particular Cecil Lyle, Murray and Les Levante, the latter two being Australian by birth.
Tug’s career as an assistant began in 1951 and lasted essentially until it just wasn’t possible to have a regular income in such a precarious profession. This booklet contains his memories of working with these three magicians, as told to Christopher Brinson.
It was a tough life but for a young man seeking adventure, clearly an exciting one – not to mention the attraction of being closeted with some glamorous female assistants for weeks at a time.
Tug tells some good stories of his life on the road, both in the UK and the Far East, and the book is lavishly illustrated - not only with memorabilia from the magicians’ tours (mostly from the Peter Lane collection) but also with photos from Tug’s own album. There are also potted biographies of the three magicians for those unfamiliar with their achievements.
You won’t learn any magical secrets from the booklet (although there is an intriguing description and presentation of Amac’s Elusive Lady); but you will learn some of the problems needed to tour an illusion show whilst providing a fascinating snapshot of an era that will never be repeated.
This is another publication from the prolific Arcady Press who are doing their best to preserve magic history before it fades forever. Apart from the slightly baffling index, I would certainly recommend this as an informative and entertaining read.
© Ian Keable, July 2011