Back to the shirts. One shirt is rumored to be in a private collection in San Diego. A second was last seen at a laundromat in Snohomish two years ago. That left the one in my den as the only available example. Only one thing to do: hold a contest! Which one of Flash's throngs of fans would win the irreplaceable momento? What dark political undercurrents would come into play? What favors would be called in by third world dictators? The mind boggles.
The rules were simple (much like Flash). People wrote to me and explained why they, of all people, deserved the shirt. Entries included anecdotes, trivia, elaborate plans for the shirt, and even a few threats and attempts at blackmail. Fortunately, Flash gives as good as he takes in the threat and blackmail department, so we were able to judge the sumitals on merit alone. Unfortuneately, none of the entries tried monetary bribery -- anything in that category would have been a lock.
As it happens, none of the entries turned out to be entirely suitable for publication in their entirety. Having learned a few things from editors in my life, I proceded to eviscerate the winning entry, and the three runners-up. The authors will very likely be unable to even recognize their own works -- which appear below.
Honorable Mention: Pete Walbridge
...How many times have Flash and I sat down for a cuppa joe, only to have to put the cups (and balls!) on the floor to make room for a seven part oil-and-water routine?
I first me him working the old three curd monte game at the Wisconsin state fair. He was quick, evading arrest several times a day. In his local "Reebok" (which is criminal slang for "gang"), was the boss. He was, in fact, the big cheese. Though strictly small time, those were great days. He could drink with the best of 'em and lie with the rest of them. He made his living with just three things, the top change, the bottom change and "got any change?"
But that was back in the old days, before he found fame on WGM I ( the world's greenest magicians, an ill-concived lets-all-get-on-a-boat-and-shoot-a-tv-special). Since then Flash has rocketed to new hipes of ability.
Though he would never say so, he invented many, many fine effects, that might have led to many of the effects we see performed everyday in malls across the country.
Some of these include:
- the dancing crane
- Any curd to pocket
- the hip-hop rabbits of rap (wear your tophat backwards for this one!)
- Svengali coins
- Pan up nose
- That classic of cross-over, producing endless little bits of rope and dropping them into a bucket: The Miser's Nightmare.
Lest we forget his extensive forray in puiblishing:
- Pickpocket YOURSELF!
- The making book test (Las Vegas publishing)
- How to cheat at cheating
- The Ramada in the Bahamas (subtitle "How to do magic in your speedos")
- When is a poodle not a poodle: Renes Descarte and the world of balloon sculpture.
And his triumph:
- F. Mildew on the Fizbin drop, the real work (forward by Regis Philbin.)
Ah, Flash... Does anyone really know you?
- Abbots and Costellos; Magicians who nearly were great, not merely grate, 1971
- Tan-n-tens tanning booths, banking and magic: The big book of mildew, in the basement pub. 1980
- Dust Collectors Workshop The $300 dollar thumbtip, 1997
- Silk Lee's: 100 tricks with a 100 trick book (includes secret sauce)
- Poldstein Ghil, nwonk evah I smarmana, Unpublished lecture notes.
Honorable Mention: Jack Poulter
I plan to use the T-shirt as the only costume worn (above the waist) by a bevy of nubile young things here in Victoria in the "Flashy T-Shirt Contest". To ensure fairness of judging, each contestant will wear, in turn, the prize I am going to win. They will each have a frosty jug of water poured over them and after their turn on stage they will come to the wings, strip off the T-shirt and I will towel them off. I will have the shirt dried quickly while Flash does a bit of magic and introduces the next contestant. If my assistance with the towel does not warm the little dear(s) up, I will have a Thermos of hot buttered rum to help them get over the chill. The winning contestant will get to keep the T-shirt, provided she drinks enough hot buttered rum.
I get all tingly just thinking about it. Wanna be the judge?
Honorable Mention: Cliff Norris
Next time I'm in New York, I plan to wear it when I visit ' Flash Mildews Magic Underground' so I can get the nightly drink specials. This assumes that I can pry the manhole cover up to gain entrance to the club.
Flash Anecdotes: a true story.
Less than six months ago I was on a business trip to an east coast city. The airport rent- a-car bus had dropped me off at their car lot. I was in the process of fitting the key into the car door when I heard an all too familiar voice coming from what appeared to be an abandoned aircraft hanger.
As I cautiously approached the hangar I could hear the voice imploring an audience "not to try this at home". "The camera will not cut away." Peering thru a gap in the rusting sheet metal I could see Flash Mildew, clad in sequined spandex standing in front of a huge silver and red object. "Please -- I must have absolute silence as I challenge the Giant Swiss Army Knife of........Death!"
At this point some sort of an alarm went off and I was chased across the parking lot to my car by airport security. Fortunately I escaped. Later I sat in my hotel room, my eyes stinging from chemical mace and my mind reeling from the sight of Flash in spandex. What had I seen? A new illusion for WGM IV? Rehearsal for 'The Magic World of Flash Mildew'?
Grand Prize Winner: Simon Lovell
I think I deserve your shirt for a number of reasons ...
1. I'm probably the only one who'll respond to your competitionFrom your number one fan,
2. I am your biggest fan (although I am criminally insane)
3. I would proudly wear it at magic conventions (including during my lecture)
4. I don't have any clean shirts at the moment and can't be bothered to wash any old ones
5. I let you keep my link on your page
7. What happened to number 6?
6. Ah, here it is!
8. What was I saying?
9. Oh, yes, it was ...
10. Send me the shirt or I will give [name withheld to prevent flame war -ed] your e-mail address!