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Polaroid 110b and Fuji 3200 speed peel apart film.

Well its time for another adventure with master magician Pop Haydn.  In this episode we find Pop working the W.C. Fields bar at the world famous Magic Castle.

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Pop asked the white haired gentlemen nearest him his name. WIth a steely voice the man answered “You can call me H.T. (pause) Like hard times.” I’m pretty sure this may be the single coolest thing I have ever heard anyone say.

Pop did 15 minute shows with short breaks in between for an entire four hour set.  It was a learning experience to watch Pop work crowd after crowd.  Subtlety tweaking the delivery of his lines for each crowd, it was a pleasure to watch.

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Photographing Pop at the bar wasn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world.  It was extremely dark and I had very few places to shoot where I wasn’t blocked by spectators.  Another challenge was that I tried extremely hard not to be noticed by the audience.  The Magic Castle is a rather exclusive club and it takes a bit of doing to actually get in the place. The last thing I wanted to do was take anything away from anyone’s enjoyment, as a result I couldn’t use a flash or run around like I normally do. I had to remain still.

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Pop usually isn’t in the habit of laughing maniacally, usually…

Luckily for me I had my trusty Fuji X100 and it is an excellent low light camera.  Since it utilizes a fixed focal length wide angle lens you have to get fairly close in to the action, but that makes for an interesting shoot.

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Somebody’s got to clean the glasses.

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I became a little enamored with the cards springing from one hand to the other.

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The downstairs of the Magic Castle is an opulent place from another time. It was truly a thrill to photograph there.

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It’s a interesting thing to see someone completely fooled.

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Sometimes when one of the larger theaters started a performance it would get slow at the bar. Here’s Pop giving the same intensity to two people as he does a whole crowd.

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Pick any card you like.

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Show your card to everyone, dont let me see it.

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Is your card still in the pack?

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Well if its not in the pack, where can it be…

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I always picture Pop tired from running away from all the people he’s swindled….I mean helped.

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This was a very busy bartender between Pop’s shows.

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“You can call me H.T.”

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Pop addressing someone in the (as he likes to say) “cheaper seats.”

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She thinks Pop was trying to fool her, she’s right of course.

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Pop considering his options.

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Are you sure this is the card you want?

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The sphere holds many secrets, and madness.

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I’d like to thank the good people at the Magic Castle for allowing me to shoot there.  I’d also like to thank the Castle’s resident photographer Najee Williams for letting me into his playground.

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A little fun, just now and then
Is relished by the best of men.
If you have nerve, you may have plenty;
Five, draws you ten, and ten draws twenty.
Attention given, I’ll show to you,
How Pop hides the peek-a-boo.
Select your shell, the one you choose;
If right, you win, if not, you lose;
The game itself is lots of fun,
Pop’s chances though, are two to one.

Hopefully in the next installment I’ll be bringing you a photographic storyboard of one of Pop’s strange and wonderful adventures.