Discover more from Marty's Magic Ruseletter
Monthly Update #7 (July 2023)
The return of Dave Forrest and Full 52, maintaining good mental health, and the Marriage Bureau opens its doors again after many years.
Welcome to the July edition of Marty’s Magic Ruseletter! I sincerely apologise for the delay once again! Anyway, we have some exciting content to share with you in this instalment.
First and foremost, I’ve written a short piece on the return of Dave Forrest and his company, Full 52. Discover the reason behind his disappearance and get insights into what's in store for the future.
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Additionally, I have a special treat for you! Explore nine unique adaptations of Hofzinzer's Royal Marriages plot, masterfully created and curated by Peter Duffie in The Marriage Bureau.
I hope you enjoy reading this month's Ruseletter as much as I did writing it. As always, feel free to reach out with any suggestions or feedback.
The Return of Dave Forrest & Full 52
I was delighted to receive an email announcing that Full 52, the magic company operated by Scottish magician Dave Forrest, was back in business. I have been a customer of Full 52 since the early 2000s, and I am a big fan of Dave's style of magic. His tricks are always clever and well-constructed, and he has a knack for creating magic that is both entertaining and visually stunning (see the “Nothing in Transit 2.0” trailer for an example). I am excited to see what new items he has in store for us now that Full 52 is back in action.
I noticed that Dave Forrest's website had disappeared a few years ago, but I didn't know why. I assumed that he had decided to retire from the magic business. However, I soon learned that many other magicians had been experiencing problems with Full 52. They had placed orders that never arrived or received subpar customer service. Some even filed disputes with PayPal or their credit card companies to get their money back. It was clear that something was going very wrong with Full 52.
There was also some controversy surrounding a Kickstarter campaign launched by Dave Forrest for a product called Cubism: Maestro. The campaign was successfully funded, but many backers were still waiting for their reward years later, with no indication of when it would arrive in the post.
I was genuinely taken aback when I stumbled upon these negative online comments about Dave and his company. This unexpected revelation struck me as incongruous with my experience of the man, who I’d always found to be honest and trustworthy in my dealings with him. Throughout the years, I've received good customer service from Dave, and I’ve ordered quite a lot of stuff from him (both digital downloads and physical props and tricks). I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions at various magic conventions, and each time he seemed like a decent bloke.
Since his vanishing act, the online rumour mill has been churning out sensational stories about Dave, claiming that he’d run off with all the money from the Kickstarter campaign, that he was serving a lengthy jail sentence or that he was dead! However, the reality was far less dramatic. It turns out that he had experienced a mental health breakdown due to undiagnosed clinical depression.
In a recent video interview with Craig Petty on the Magic TV YouTube channel, Dave courageously opened up about his personal struggles over the past five years. The conversation was candid, shedding light on the challenges he faced while dealing with his silent battle against depression. If you have the time, I highly recommend watching the video to gain a deeper understanding of his journey and the importance of mental health awareness.
It's unfortunate that such distressing rumours circulated instead of acknowledging the human aspect of Dave's situation. Mental health struggles can affect anyone, even those who appear strong or successful on the surface. It serves as a helpful reminder that we should approach gossip with caution, seeking the truth before making assumptions about someone's personal circumstances.
As a relatively small hobby-based community, it's crucial to support individuals like Dave during difficult times, showing empathy, compassion and understanding. By encouraging open discussions about mental health, we can help destigmatise these issues and foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.
I admire Dave's immense bravery in sharing his personal story in such a public manner. It's truly remarkable, especially for a man of our generation, to open up about his mental health struggles. Many individuals, men especially, often find it incredibly difficult even to acknowledge, let alone discuss, such sensitive topics with another person.
Dave also directly addresses his recent mental health difficulties in his latest set of lecture notes, aptly titled Back From the Dead. This is commendable and, hopefully, will act as an inspiration to others who are having similar difficulties. Here’s what David said about his absence from the magic club lecture circuit in the booklet:
“It has been five years since I last lectured. I wish I could tell you I've been working on new and exciting projects but the unfortunate truth is that, in the last five years I've done very little and I've lost everything; my family, my home, my business and, perhaps worst of all, my sense of self. One day, I just didn't feel quite like myself and that feeling worsened to the point where I couldn't even get out of bed any more. Eventually, I had completely given up on everything and, in my worst days, my very existence felt like a painful and worthless waste of time so, what was the point?”
By sharing his journey to recovery, he is not only breaking the stigma surrounding mental health but also providing a supportive example that offers hope to those who may be going through something similar. It takes an extraordinary level of strength to reveal one's vulnerabilities to the world, and Dave's willingness to do so should be applauded.
Note: I’ve written a short review of these lecture notes on my blog, which you might want to read if you’re contemplating purchasing them.
It is truly regrettable that Dave didn't communicate openly with his customers and Kickstarter backers about the personal challenges he was facing at the time. Honesty and transparency are crucial in business, and most people would have been more understanding if he had been forthright about his situation. While I cannot endorse his past actions or lack of communication with customers, I do believe it is important to acknowledge the difficult circumstances he was going through.
I sincerely hope that other customers of Full 52 can find it in themselves to empathise with Dave and the hardships he was dealing with. It's evident that he is now trying to rectify the situation and make amends. He has made progress by rescuing the stock for his Kickstarter campaign and is actively working to fulfil the rewards and pledges that were previously outstanding.
If you were one of the backers of the Kickstarter project and have not yet been contacted by Dave, I encourage you to reach out to him through the provided email address, email@example.com. It's possible that he might still be catching up with the backlog of communication, and your message could be of great help to him in resolving any remaining issues.
Dave has also relaunched some of his older projects with updated handlings. I bought a copy of "Nothing in Transit" because I had the original and think it is one of the very best moving whole tricks you can perform with a deck of cards. I also purchased the "Yin and Yang Poker Chips", which is an old release that I had never seen before (apparently, it was formerly named “The Sun and Moon Poker Chips”, but this name caused confusion about what gaffs were included). The chips are red and green, and they can be used to perform a variety of tricks involving teleportations and transformations.
I've always been a fan of Copper/Silver/Brass routines, but I've found that they can be difficult to follow because the coins are so similar in appearance. Dave's clever solution of using red and green poker chips instead is a stroke of genius. The two normal chips are easily distinguishable, and the gaffed chip is still visually appealing. I'm excited to try out these special poker chips and see what kind of amazing tricks I can create with them.
Let's use this opportunity to learn from Dave's experience and encourage open conversations about mental health, both within the magic community and beyond. Together, we can create a more supportive and caring atmosphere for everyone, ensuring that no one feels alone in their struggles.
In conclusion, while it is important to recognise the mistakes Dave has made in the past, it's also crucial to give him the opportunity to learn from them and redeem his reputation. I hope that his efforts to make things right will be met with understanding and support from the magic community at large.
A Silent Crisis
Dave’s devastating struggle with depression, and his reluctance to seek help, highlights a worrying mental health crisis in the male population. In the UK, suicide is the highest cause of death among men under the age of 45. In fact, the highest suicide rate in the UK is recorded for men aged between 40 and 44.
A similar pattern is seen in worldwide data. For example, in 2021, 12.3 million adults in the United States seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.7 attempted to kill themselves. The suicide rate among males was approximately four times higher than the rate among females. Males make up 50% of the population in the US, but nearly 80% of the suicides.1
The current crisis in men's mental health is particularly relevant to the world of magic. This is because the magic industry has a significant gender bias towards men. In fact, according to the Magic Circle, only 7% of its members are women. This means that, as a demographic, magicians are more vulnerable to poor mental health.
There are a number of reasons why this might be the case. For one, men are more likely to be socialised to suppress their emotions, which can lead to bottling up stress and anxiety. This also means that men are less likely to ask for help and, instead, suffer in silence. Additionally, the magic industry can be a very competitive and demanding field, which can put additional strain on mental health.
It is important to note that not all magicians are struggling with their mental health. However, the fact that the magic industry is so male-dominated does mean that there is a higher risk of poor mental health among magicians as a group.
The issue of mental health in the magic industry was brought into sharp focus on February 24, 2017, when my favourite magician of the modern era, Daryl Easton, was found dead in his dressing room at the Magic Castle. Contrary to his goofy sense of humour and happy-go-lucky demeanour, Easton had struggled with depression for years, and his death by suicide was a devastating loss to the entire magic community.
Daryl was a brilliant magician with a gift for entertaining audiences of all ages. He won many prestigious awards as a performer and lecturer. In 1982, Daryl won the gold medal at FISM in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was also a talented, kind and generous teacher who was always willing to help other magicians. Despite his many achievements, he felt that he hadn’t achieved enough at his age in life. His death was a reminder that mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of their success or talent.
More recently, the magic world also lost BAFTA Award-winning writer, producer and director Anthony Owen to suicide. His death came as a terrible shock to many of his friends and colleagues.
Owen was a talented and creative individual who made significant contributions to magic on television in the UK. He was known for his innovative and entertaining magic shows, as well as his work as a writer and producer of popular television. He also devised material for famous magicians, such as David Copperfield, Paul Daniels, Dynamo and Geoffrey Durham.
His death was a tragic loss to the magic community. He will be remembered for his talent, his creativity, and his kindness.
If you are a magician who is struggling with your mental health, there are a number of resources available to help you. You can talk to a therapist, join a support group, or call a helpline. There is no shame in seeking help, and it is important to remember that you are not alone.
Knocking the SPOTS Off Mental Health!
A few years ago, with funding from the NHS, I helped the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex devise a mental health campaign aimed at teenagers and young adults called “Knocking SPOTS”.
The campaign revolved around a simple acronym, SPOTS, designed to remind people of the things that they should do if they’re struggling with their emotional or mental health. It also featured a domino character called Dylan, who was experiencing loneliness, anxiety and depression.
I thought it would be a good idea to repurpose the content and share it here in the Ruseletter. I’ve updated the text and made it a little more relevant to amateur magicians.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental health, please share this page with them. Here’s the permanent link to the page:
The Marriage Bureau Has Re-Opened!
One of the magic creators I hold in high esteem is the Scottish card conjurer Peter Duffie. (I highlighted his fantastic book, Effortless Card Magic, in a previous monthly update.) Peter, a master of his craft, once maintained a website where he offered a large collection of card magic ebooks along with the occasional video download. He also shared some free content on his site, most notably a section titled "The Marriage Bureau". These pages housed a collection of inventive variations of Hofzinzer's classic Royal Marriages plot.
A fellow magic enthusiast recently brought up this topic on Facebook, reminding me of The Marriage Bureau and rekindling my appreciation for these exceptional tricks. While the majority were gleaned from Peter's extensive back catalogue of card magic ebooks, a select few remained exclusive to his website.
Thankfully, I found Peter's old website preserved on the Internet Archive. To make sure that this great resource isn't lost forever, I've turned it into a web-based ebook. Now, the Marriage Bureau is open again for everyone to enjoy!
Inside the Marriage Bureau, you'll find nine versions of Hofzinzer’s Royal Marriages card trick by Peter Duffie. Most are easy to do, while a few require a bit of sleight of hand. I'm also planning to add a couple of my own variations to the site, building upon Peter's fantastic collection of Royal Marriages!
P.S. Here’s a secret link to a fun variation of a Jay Sankey packet trick that he shared on his YouTube channel a few years ago.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide Data and Statistics,” CDC, August 7, 2023, https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.