The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 26, 1986 · Page 29
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 29

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 26, 1986
Page 29
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Great Plains The Salina Journal Sunday, January 26,1986 Page 29 You have to believe it's MAGIC H •OXIE — Rex Getz isn't anyone special to the hometown folks here. Mostly he's remembered as the boy who carried groceries at his father's supermarket. But for many children and adults beyond this Sheridan County community of about 1,500, Getz is the Sunflower State's answer to Doug Henning and David Copperfield, the man in the black tuxedo who uses his hands to control cards, coins, cigarettes and a hodgepodge of other items. Getz, who now lives in Manhattan, considers himself Kansas' only full- time magician. At 44, it's a title he wears with pride. "I don't think magic is going to make me a millionaire, but I enjoy what I'm doing," Getz said. Getz discovered magic during his student days at Fort Hays State University. To earn extra money he began doing comedy routines. But the strain of coming up with new jokes soon sent him searching for additions to his act. "No, I didn't get a magic set when I was 8 years old," he said. "I just wanted a little extra money to have a good time with. "I wasn't a great comedic writer. That's why I got into magic. It just grew and grew and grew. "I'm basically self-taught. There are hundreds and hundreds of books on magic. Most of what I learned, I learned from those books." Getz eventually quit college to return to Hoxie and the family supermarket. He worked there for 18 years. He didn't entirely abandon his stage career, however. Stints with Hoxie's community theater group, the Neighborhood Entertainment Company, and other organizations kept him before the public. Then, four years ago at age 40, Getz decided to take the plunge. "I didn't want to be 65 and look back and say this is something I wish I had done," he said. Getz packed his bags and headed for Colon, Mich., where he studied for six months with Neil Foster, an expert in manipulative magic. "More important than anything else he taught me showmanship," Getz said. "He taught me how to stand on stage and believe I'm a magician." After finishing his studies with Foster, Getz settled in Manhattan to be closer to eastern Kansas, an area that offers more job opportunities for an entertainer than the rural northwest. Slowly but surely Getz is building a reputation as a performer. He was in Salina in December to entertain several hundred children at the mayor's annual Christmas party. Children's parties account for only about 20 percent of his appearances, however. Getz, a handsome man who refuses to sit during an interview for fear of wrinkling his suit, also performs at meetings, business seminars, banquets and clubs. Recently, he also has received requests to appear before farm groups. Getz said his magic seems preferable to speakers who talk about bad economic conditions in the country, a depressing subject for farmers. "If I can take them into the land of make believe for 45 minutes, then they can forget about interest rates and the price of wheat," he said. Getz gave his most unusual performance about two years ago, when he was asked by an officer at Fort Riley to pop the question of marriage to his girlfriend by using magic. After going through an entire routine of sleight of hand and visual illusions, Getz produced a dollar bill. Written on the back was a poetic marriage proposal from the officer. The magician and his act were a success, as were the Fort Riley officer and his proposal. Getz is a strong believer in audience participation. In his two-hour concert show, "It's Magic," he works without an assistant. If help is needed — for Getz's "sawing the woman in half" trick, for example — it comes from the audience. "People like to see their own people up on stage, as long as you don't make fools out of them," Getz said. "That's something a lot of hobbyist magicians still need to learn." Audiences also enjoy being stumped, he said. Don't ask him how David Copperfield can make an airplane disappear, even through Getz uses the same techniques—to a less flamboyant degree—in his performances. "Part of the fun of magic is not knowing," he said. Getz said he doesn't have dreams of becoming a star. But he would like to perform at more trade shows, an area he considers the most lucrative for "the non-star magician." As a result, he is constantly trying to sell himself. "You have to be aggressive," Getz said. "You have to go out and tell people you're good.... It's hard to call someone you don't know on the phone and tell them how good you are. I think all of us live with the fear of rejection." His family has been supportive of his efforts. About his wife, Lou Ann, a school teacher, Getz said: "She's been wonderful. She backs me all the tune. We both know that making a living at this is a building process." This Christmas, Getz took a week off and returned to his hometown. He said some of his former Hoxie classmates would probably be surprised to know that the local grocer's son spends the better part of his life on stage these days. Hoxie native Rex Getz persuades Tim Geissert, 12, Salina, to place his head in a guillotine during a Salina performance. Story by Linda Mowery-Denning Photos by Scott Williams 1'hi 1 Manhattan Mon-urx - MAGICIAN HAS ACCIDENT Getz jokes about mistakes. A Salina audience responds to Getz's illusions.

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