MY AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE – Pt. II. Welcome to Sydney

Touchdown! It was late in the evening when my plane landed at Kingsford Smith airport in Sydney (named for a famous early Aussie aviation hero), and the first thing I did after passing through customs was….get a meat pie! Yummmm…I’ve been jonesing for an Aussie meat pie for years and fortunately there was one café open in the airport and yes, they had meat pies!I hopped in a cab and headed with my pie in hand to the Hyde Park Inn, a modest hotel located in the downtown core, overlooking the famous park. What a great view I had.. My first morning in Sydney started with a bucket of latte from Starbucks (below) 1 block down from the hotel. Friendly staff ended up taking care of me for 4 days and got my coffees just right! BEWARE: in Australia there is no such thing as drip coffee. Everything is based on espresso and boy are their coffees (all styles) super strong. I learnt quickly to request 1/2 strength in cafes – fortunately in nearly all the hotels I stayed there were kettles and packets of instant coffee which was just fine for me. Anyway, my daily breakfasts were ham and cheese toasties (toasted sandwiches) which were delicious, fast and convenient.

While waiting a few days for my friend and travel companion, Suzi, to join me, I decided to do some touristy things including a sightseeing trip around town on the Big Bus. Although it was a bit chilly (it was late spring Down Under), I took a seat up top in the open upper deck. I loved seeing the bus stops with shout-outs to indigenous language and recognizing the land and tribe associated with the region.

The city of Sydney has a very distinct vibe: high-energy, raucous, fight-or-flight. I’ve become used to Toronto’s noise and chaos but Sydney is a whole other world! In fact, I couldn’t wait to get outta town and start my outback adventures. I did love visiting the Queen Victoria Building, filled with exclusive boutiques, lots of cafes and sweet/cake bars, filled with olde worlde charm and stunning architecture. So many other great old buildings to admire and the wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks…The next day, I decided to visit the big ANZAC memorial in the park opposite my hotel…I’d been looking at it from my window for 2 days so it was time for me to explore and learn about the Australian New Zealand Army Corp. history from WWI thru Vietnam and the middle east. I knew it would be an emotional journey so…..it deserves its own blog post (tomorrow).

MY AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE – UP, UP AND AWAY…..

Throughout the 80s and 90s, I frequently journeyed home to Australia from Toronto, always spending a day or two in Hawaii to break up the very long journey half-way around the globe and chillin’ on the beach at Waikiki.  I had originally booked for 3 days in Honolulu so I could do the touristy thing before heading Down Under but thanks to Qantas being so short-staffed with pilots and crew, my flight was cancelled and I had to scramble to find a seat on a plane 2 days earlier so all I had was 36hrs to enjoy the tropical paradise.This trip, I checked into the Holiday Inn Express, a couple of rows back from the beach and several hundred dollars a night cheaper!! Had a great view over the canal and up into the mountains…and the comfiest queen bed in which to recover from the Air Canada economy seats from Toronto and Vancouver (12 hours in total flying time).  First place I visited was the Duke Kahanamoku memorial (below) on Waikiki beach – it is said he invented surfing as we know it today.I then worked by way along Kalakaua Avenue to view the grand old ladies – hotels Royal Hawaiian (the “pink palace”) and the Moana (pictured below) – I’ve stayed at both in the past and you get a real feel for 1920s old school hotel glamour when you walk in. Being on a budget this time, I headed over to Duke’s Lane, a great flea market where I found some treasures including a beautiful hair comb that the lovely stall holder lady put in my hair…isn’t it lovely? The famous International Market was torn down about 20yrs ago and in its place, there’s a suburban style mall with fancy-schmancy  boutiques that you get in any major city. I really miss Trader Vic’s and all the cute stalls…but I did like seeing Don Ho’s memorial (below)Time to depart for the longest leg of my journey – the 10 1/2hrs across the Pacific to Sydney. But look what I found in the lounge at the Honolulu airport. I was having visions of Jack Lord calling Hawaii 5-O HQ while chasing a villain through the airport…”book him, Danno”!! So Aloha and mahalo to Hawaii, and westward ho on to Australia….

MY AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE – Introduction

So now that I’ve been back in Toronto for 5 days, I’m finally catching up on sleep (crossing the int’l date line twice plus going thru numerous time zones creates havoc with mature bodies!) but am still re-adjusting my body clock. I’ve uploaded all my photos – over 1,000 snaps – to my laptop and will start to post blogs featuring the wonderful towns and cities I visited, the beaches and the bush, the flora and fauna (in particular the stunning gum trees and wildflowers), the cool people I met and the unique events, historical places and indigenous arts and landmarks. I was also able to re-connect with my sister, her husband and my nephew in Perth, Western Australia. Some places exceeded my expectations while others somewhat disappointed, but the nearly 2 months I spent Down Under in August & September took me to childhood homes and fun places I remember so I look fwd to sharing these unique experiences with you all.  Thanks to my friend Suzi Stewart who made all the travel arrangements plus undertook all the driving, everything went well and we encountered no disasters…just a missed flight in Brisbane which resulted in Qantas putting us up for free in a 5-star hotel with food and taxis – how sad! And thanks also to Marilyn and Jeff Bromley in Brisbane for their kind hospitality. Marilyn, Suzi and I met through the Aaron Pedersen (pictured below) Fcbk fan page and the bond was strengthened when Suzi and I planned our trek to the beloved actor’s film & tv locations in the outback, and quest to find the actor himself after his sudden & mysterious retirement… sadly our efforts were all for naught so the Big Man is safe in his secret happy place!!Time now to put the coffee on and get cracking with my tales of outback travels, yummy food (esp. meat pies), extraordinary experiences and great friendships. SO over the next few weeks, you’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me…..

THE LONG RIDER documentary feature coming to Canadian cinemas June 24

Opening in Canadian cinemas next week (June 24), the new feature-length documentary film, THE LONG RIDER, follows a young man’s journey on horseback from Canada, through the continental United States, Mexico, Central America then into South America on his way to his country of birth, Brazil.When Filipe Masetti Leite leaves his adoptive home of Canada, he sets out on an epic quest to ride from Calgary, Alberta, to his family’s home in Brazil – and later beyond – entirely on horseback. Inspired by Aimé Tschiffely’s legendary 1925 equestrian journey from Argentina to New York, Filipe’s 8-year odyssey of over 25,000 kms across twelve international borders, sees him and his trusty mounts battle intense heat, drought, speeding transport trucks, nature’s wrath and corrupt border guards on his history-making long ride home.

Apart from being a world-renowned Long Rider, Filipe is an award-winning journalist, and best-selling author. The Brazilian-born cowboy is the youngest person in the world to cross the Americas on horseback. In 2020 he was chosen as the Calgary Stampede’s Grand Marshal and ‘white-hatted’ by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. He is the author of the best-sellers, Long Ride Home (soon to be a motion picture) and Long Ride to the End of the World, published in Portuguese (Harper Collins) and English, soon to be released in Spanish. He is a regular contributor to The Toronto Star, a frequent guest on Rede Globo’s Fantastico, Brazil’s most watched Sunday night television show, and is writing his third memoir, Last Long Ride.Culled from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, the documentary deals with the issue of chronic loneliness and the insensitive, restrictive and frustrating nature of international borders, but regardless of all that, it’s an inspiring and emotional story of the most daring and epic proportions.

The Long Rider has been 10 years in the making. Shot almost entirely by Filipe on his cross-continental long ride, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Sean Cisterna, who went to the same high school as the cowboy, the duo seemed destined to bring this epic story to life.  The kindness of humanity is on display in The Long Rider, made evident through the extraordinary strangers who helped Filipe along his journey. In these challenging times, The Long Rider offers hope and inspiration, one hoof at a time.“Filipe made an historically important equestrian journey, overcame tremendous challenges, suffered in the saddle physically and emotionally, and after a Herculean effort, rode into his beloved hometown in triumph”.  – Cuchullaine O’Reilly, Founder of the Long Riders’ Guild and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Being a pony-club brat from childhood, this film fascinated me…could I ever have undertaken such a ride? Of course not, but I have such respect for Filipe and his beautiful loyal horses, Frenchie, Bruiser, Dude plus several others throughout the journey. So many disasters along the way including Frenchie (the palomino) getting hit by a truck in the middle of nowhere during a thunder storm that required serious veterinary treatment and a long period of recuperation that kept the trek on-hold for several weeks.Filipe and the producers have been asked so many questions during this pre-release publicity tour, such as…

Q: How long did it take to film The Long Rider?
A: The journey portion of the documentary took place over 8 years, and the interviews were collected over the course of 1 year. With all that footage, the editing process took almost 2 years.

Q: What countries was The Long Rider filmed in?
A: The Long Rider was filmed in 13 different countries – Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. In addition, the interview segments with the Long Rider’s Guild founder Cuchullaine O’Reilly was filmed in France.

Q: How about the horses’ well-being?
A: Filipe, an experienced rider and equestrian competitor who rode with his father since he was a baby, spent two years speaking to Long Riders around the world to learn how to properly travel on horseback. Through the Long Riders Guild, the world’s first international association of equestrian explorers and long-distance travelers, Filipe was also awarded the opportunity to participate in Stan Walchuk’s wilderness riding clinic in Northern British Columbia. Filipe always had his animals’ health in mind, travelling only thirty kilometres a day, taking lots of rest days, and never pushing them.Q: Was there a film crew travelling with Filipe the entire time?
A: No, for the most part, the journey footage seen in The Long Rider was captured by Filipe himself using a tripod, or by locals and friends that he encountered along the way.

In fact, the scenery itself was another “character” in the film – towering mountain ranges, snowy forests and winding highways, hot dry deserts, swampy marshes, and hard stony plains. And so many welcoming, smiling faces as Filipe and the horses clip-clopped into tiny villages and towns, some of which weren’t even on the maps. The emotional toll taken on the young man was also shown as part of the film – audiences are privy to Filipe’s joys, fears, frustrations and anger, the loss of his long-time girlfriend whose support was so valuable, then meeting the woman who was to become his wife towards the end of the ride all bring a sense of intimacy and triumph.

The Long Rider is due for release the last week of June and early July in cinemas across the country. The first pair of boots he wore on his Long Ride (below) are on display at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto…..…and two statues, more than five meters tall, have been erected in Brazil to celebrate his feat. The documentary has already won several awards and received Official Selection status in various international film festivals.Credits
Mythic Productions & Mojo Global Arts presents The Long Rider in association with NC2 Media
Directed & produced by Sean Cisterna
Executive Producers: Filipe Masetti Leite, Peter Hawkins, Arnon Melo, Sonya Di Rienzo, and Aeschylus Poulos
Director of Photography: Filipe Masetti Leite
Interview Cinematography: Carl Elster and Ingrid Vido
Editor: Lee Walker

Follow Filipe on Instagram @filipemasetti

BIRDSONG FOUNDATION’s 1st LIVE FUNDRAISING CONCERT IS A HUGE SUCCESS!

As the song says…”Oh, what a night”! I’m so pleased for my friend and colleague, Margaret Konopacki, who presented a fabulous showcase of singer/songwriters who live with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders for whom she created the nation-wide music charity, BIRDSONG FOUNDATION. Visit the website to see what it’s all about:  www.birdsongfoundation.com.  Last night, June 9th, at The Duke tavern and club, several of her artists performed original songs with the backing of The Long Black Cadillacs band, and the nearly-full house enjoyed  a night filled with blues, pop, hip-hop, folk and rock songs. I spoke briefly with Margaret just before the concert started…

Yes, her anticipation and excitement was palpable. Due to the sad loss of her talented singer/songwriter son, David Martin, four-and-a-half  years ago, she founded this supportive charity that records, publishes and promotes songs written by artists who struggle on a daily basis with mental health challenges. The show started off with Thomas Messenger, then Jordan Gow (see below) Tommy Messenger had a blast on stage with Earl Johnson and his band, the Long Black Cadillacs…as you can tell here.

and the delightfully spunky Ashley Bell had fun with her song, “Best Advice”…

Singer/songwriter PK shared his “Just Breathe” with the crowd (pictured below) accompanied by musician/music producer Bryant Didier who also sat in with the band….…and Jhmal King brought his unique hip-hop/blues song, “Never Settle”, to the stage and even got a couple of dancers up on the floor

Margaret was extremely touched when long-time friend and Nicolas Cage’s movie stand-in (wow, what a gig!) Marco Kyris showed up – he flew in all the way from London, UK, just for the concert.Big thank you to radio personality and podcaster Aaron Badgley who helped MC the night, shown here with Maggie on stage…At the end of the concert, Margaret was very moved when Jordan Gow sang the song her son, David, wrote for her shortly before he passed away….visit the Birdsong website to read the story behind the song and behind the Birdsong mission. Jordan was very emotional, too.Jordan’s mum and dad were there to support their talented son and we were grateful to them for running the door and taking the cover charges.Lots of kind and generous people showed up, including Andrew Cann who drove in from hundreds of miles away with a cheque for $500 he raised for Birdsong (bravo, sir) and we’d like to send out a big THANK YOU to venue manager Donna Riddell and her amazing staff who hosted the concert for Birdsong. https://theduketoronto.com/  Thanks also to Kerry Doole of FYI Music News for the great blurb – it’s great to receive media support.

Margaret had the entire show video taped for future sharing so follow Birdsong on Fcbk, Twtr and IG, all accounts linked on their website:  www.birdsongfoundation.com

Stunning, colourful fashions at RÉVEILLER AFRIQ, Yorkville’s newest glam boutique

I’m thrilled to tell you about an exciting new boutique in Yorkville’s Holt Renfrew Centre (lower level) which promotes local African-Canadian designers and entrepreneurs offering clothing for both women and men, jewellery and home accessories.  RÉVEILLER AFRIQ collaborates with quality black-owned brands that not only serve, but exceed, the needs of their loyal shoppers. Since opening her first store in Bramalea City Centre, Founder Juliann offers a genuine love and passion for quality retail and top-notch customer service which defines the store’s mandate.

Juliann’s sister Jade showed me around the Bloor/Bay store this afternoon, introducing me to exquisite fabrics, jewellery, shoes, even home fragrances and skincare, all courtesy of local designers who trace their heritage back to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and other countries in Africa.  The men’s clothes are colourful and stylish – no boring black, brown or grey suiting here! I was pleased to find one of the represented fashion entrepreneurs was visiting, too. Kisha of KissTheseFeet.com provides elegant sexy shoes for plus sizes, so if you (like me) have wide tootsies, these are the shoes for you! As you walk into the store, you’ll immediately notice the selection of home fragrances and hand-crafted candles handcrafted with organic, chemical-free ingredients…. And there is also an extensive selection of totes and clutches…I particularly like these beaded ones that come with shoulder straps, too.But it’s the amazing fabric earrings that will stop you in your tracks!! So big yet so light to wear…. Speaking of jewellery, there was some gorgeous unique neckwear hanging on display, finely beaded and real show-stoppers!
One very talented artist creates these wall sculptures….         So if you want to add a bold statement to your wardrobe, drop into RÉVEILLER AFRIQ on the lower level of Holts, 50 Bloor St West, Toronto, and browse the racks – I guarantee you’ll find just the right thing! Follow them on IG @reveillerafriq or visit the website to learn about ALL the services they offer their clients: https://www.reveillerafriq.com/

BBC CELEBRATES 100 YEARS – AUTHOR DAVID HENDY WRITES ABOUT THE BEEB’S STORY & BRITAIN’S SOCIAL HISTORY

THE BBC: A century on the air By David Hendy
Published by Public Affairs/Hachette Book Group
656 pages
Price: $48.00 Cdn • $38 US
ISBN: hardcover 9781610397049 • ebook 9781610397056

Like so many of us “of a certain age” our first memories of entertainment come from children’s programming on the BBC radio, then TV. When I first heard of this historical recounting of the British Broadcasting Corporation story by David Hendy, I knew if would be a big book (it is, coming in at 610 pages plus numerous index and reference pages) and I knew full well I would be transported back to the early 50s when my favourite kiddie’s program on BBC tv was the puppet character Muffin the Mule along with Andy Pandy & Teddy, both part of the “watch with mother” programmes. Later, Dr. Who came along and the rest is history! My mum would love to sing and dance around the house as the Billy Cotton Band Show blared out of the radio in the front room, courtesy of BBC radio – she was an exhibition ballroom dancer during the latter part of WWII and even danced with the Glenn Miller Orchestra during their concerts for the troops stationed in and around London. I would secretly watch from the doorway as she twirled and swayed to the music throughout the day. Even when we emigrated to Australia in ‘59, the BBC followed us out there, it seemed.

The BBC has served as a rare and extraordinary institution in the UK – a constant source of information, comfort and entertainment through both war and peace, and celebrates its centenary as a rare establishment that continues to serve and provide for people around the world. Yes, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of BBC’s launch, easily one of the most recognizable “brands” in entertainment and communications in the world. Over the decades it has come under fire for corruption in the front offices, political entanglements and audience loyalty and abandonment. But the beeb is still here…and so are we.

Author David Hendy tackled the herculean task of researching its history, its ground-breaking programming as well as uncovering all manner of dubious backroom goings on as a master detective wrestles a cold case into submission; Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple would be proud of him! A former BBC producer himself, Hendy is an expert in broadcasting and cultural history and was given privileged access to previously unused behind-the-scenes resources to tell the history of an extraordinary institution: the oldest national public broadcaster in the world. In doing so, he presents a broader cultural history of Britain including the wider world of politics, the arts, social change, and everyday life.

David Hendy is a writer, broadcaster and professor of media and communication at the University of Sussex, England. His previous books include Life on Air: a History of Radio Four, which won the 2008 History Today-Longman Book of the Year Award and was nominated for the Orwell Prize.

This book is long, very loooong indeed, but it makes for great summer beach or poolside reading or, if you prefer, a great Christmas present for those who like to cuddle up with some scones and tea in the winter months. Available on Amazon or from your favourite bookstore now.

JOIN NOW TO VOTE FOR THIS YEAR’S NOMINEES INTO THE CANADIAN COMEDY HALL OF FAME

Starting April 1st, YOU can vote your favourite Canadian comedian into the CANADIAN COMEDY HALL OF FAME...but you must become a Member first. Visit www.canadiancomedyhall.com and for a special lifetime membership fee of $25, you will have voting rights to ensure your favourite “Performers” are added to the Hall’s list of great comedic artists. “Voting is set to open as of April 1st for this year’s group of inductees into the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame,” says Founder and Exec. Director Tim Progosh, “and we hope everyone across the country will become members so they can cast their votes for their favourite performers named on the impressive list of nominees.”  Voting runs until May 24th.  “After 2 years of Covid lockdowns, restrictions and lack of live entertainment, Canada needs a damn good laugh”, continued Progosh, “so we’re proud that the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame celebrates the country’s funniest comedians, creative professionals as well as great artists from the past whose legacies paved the way for today’s comedy stars.”   Those stars voted into the Hall this year will be announced July 1st, followed by a formal presentation event later in the year.
Here are just a few of this year’s nominees…Learn more about the previous inductees and plans for the future of the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame by following social media (all linked on the website) and visiting www.canadiancomedyhall.com

AND THE NOMINEES ARE….CANADIAN COMEDY HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2022 NOMINEES FOR INDUCTION

On behalf of the Board and Nominating Committee for the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame, I’m pleased to announce this year’s inductees featuring legends of Canadian comedy in three categories: Legacy, Creator and Performer.

First off, nominated as performers (10 to be voted in):  Norm MacDonald (pictured), Mike MacDonald, the cast of SCTV, the cast of CODCO (pictured), Steve Smith, Rose Oulette, Catherine O’Hara (pictured), Mort Sahl, Elvira Kurt, Michael J. Fox (pictured), Al Waxman (pictured), Phil Hartman, Leslie Nielsen, David Steinberg and Dan Aykroyd. The Creators nominees include (5 to be voted in):  Mark Breslin/Yuk Yuks (pictured), Sandra Faire, Keith Johnstone/Loose Moose Theatre, Robert Gravel and Yvon Leduc/La Ligue Nationale d’Improvisation (pictured), Ivan Reitman (pictured), Andy Nulman/Bruce Hills of Just For Laughs Festival, Jo-Anna Downey – Comedian/Open Mic impresario, Andrew Alexander/The Second City and Lorne Michaelsand as Legacy inductees (2 to be acclaimed): Oliver Guimond, Mordecai Richler, The Happy Gang, the cast of Wayne & Shuster (pictured), Beatrice Lillie and silent film director and founder of the Keystone Cops Mack Sennett (pictured).The inductees will be announced on July 1st with a formal live ceremony to be announced later.

The Board and Nominating Committee has also voted to acclaim writer and humourist Stephen Leacock (pictured below)…and the legendary TV comedy producers Frank Peppiatt & John Aylesworth (pictured below) into the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame. The vote was unanimous for Canada’s greatest humourist and the writing duo that dominated and changed television comedy in Canada. Every year the Board and the Nomination Committee has the ability to acclaim two Legacy acts into the Hall.In the words of Exec. Director and Founder of the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame, Tim Progosh: From the very first political cartoons in the 1860’s through the two world wars, the advent of silent movies and the rise of television, Canadians have always been leaders in making people laugh and recognized for those achievements around the world.  And from Board Member and comedian, now Director of Pembroke’s Festival Theatre, Rick WhartonThe wealth of comedy talent in Canada is just mind-blowing. As well, there are so many people behind the scenes who need to be recognized, too. 

I encourage you all to join up for membership and learn more about the current and future plans for the Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame:  www.canadiancomedyhall.com   and follow them on Fcbk, Twtr and Instagram for weekly updates and news.

MEET CONNIE BOYD, THE MAGICAL WOMAN WHO CASTS A SPELL OVER HER AUDIENCES!

CONNIE BOYD is a Canadian magician, inventor, producer and director, with a background in dance, theatre and circus. She is known for physically demanding, artistic magic such as the “solo” guitar suspension (the World Magic Awards 1999) and an up-side-down straight jacket escape over a bed of nails (Shanghai Magic Festival 2012). Connie has appeared on television shows such as “Masters of Illusion,” “the Best Magic of Las Vegas” and the “World Magic Awards”. She launched her magic career in Las Vegas in 1987, eventually starring & headlining in production shows such as the Folies Bergère at the Tropicana Hotel, Jubilee at Bally’s and opening for celebrity headliners such as the recently departed comedian and TV star Louie Anderson. Connie was named Best Cabaret Magician in 1999 at the World Magic Awards in Los Angeles and the “Prix du Public” at the Grand Prix du Magique in Monte Carlo in 1996.In 2006, Connie was asked to consult on talent with a cruise company in Europe which led to a new career producing, mentoring and directing multiple shows on cruise lines internationally, casting female magicians as the lead performers. In June 2020, she created Magical Women, a YouTube channel dedicated to documenting some of the best women in magic in the world in all facets of magic. She writes a monthly Magical Women series for Vanish Magic magazine and has recently been featured in Genii magazine and MagicSeen in the UK.  She also created a conference on Digital Transformation for Magic in 2020 for “United Magicians for the World”. More recently, she launched a new series on the YouTube channel called Blast from the Past which features vintage videos of female magicians from the past.

Being such a busy lady, I was thrilled to get a chance to chat with Connie and ask her about her amazing career and all the women in magic she has worked with or met. What a great conversation we had!

Connie, you’ve created a wonderful web portal showcasing women in magic from around the world and their incredible talents. What inspired you to generate this platform?  Pre-pandemic, I was extremely busy and happy producing, directing and mentoring magic shows and talent.  I was in Italy when the lockdown started there in March 2020.  I had magicians on cruise ships returning to Italy from winter seasons in the Caribbean and South America.  Contracts were cancelled and my talent were repatriated to their home countries on three different continents.  My own magic shows were literally “frozen in time”, indefinitely on “ghost” cruise ships at sea in the Mediterranean.

For the first time in thirty plus years, I didn’t have any magic obligations or projects to complete.  After much reflection, I realized that there wasn’t a source or resource anywhere in the world, dedicated to documenting and supporting women in magic.  I decided to create the Magical Women project and the “Magical Women with Connie Boyd” YouTube Channel, dedicated to represent female magicians past and present. I started by reaching out to female magicians I knew and everyone was enthusiastic about the project and willing to participate.  Being a credible woman with success in magic helped; I understood the challenges many of the world-class magicians encountered as women in unconventional careers and in under-represented groups.  Thanks to the pandemic I had a rare opportunity to record talent that would not normally be readily available.

Tina Lenert, a fabulous magician and one of the first magicians I interviewed, provided an apt quote that summed up how I felt at the start: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Neale Donald Walsch).

Most of us know all the famous men in magic from David Copperfield to Penn & Teller, Doug Henning, Siegfried & Roy, way back to Houdini, Blackstone and of course, The Amazing Randi – why don’t we hear more about the women? There must have been some great female artists over the past century?  One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is participating and collaborating on the VANISH International Magic Magazine’s special edition “Female Magicians through the Centuries” that was published in February 2021 as a FREE publication.  The essay and photos were provided by Sébastien Bazou, the publisher of “ArteFake” an entertainment e-publication in France.  VANISH’s publisher and editor is a great advocate of diversity and generously created the graphics, layout and free Special Edition. You can view it here: https://bit.ly/3BrqWQx As you will note from the VANISH Special Edition women in magic have existed through time.  It’s true that female magicians are still less than 2% of the magic community, but it’s important to note that the women who have committed to careers in magic are making a huge impact and statements that cannot be denied.

One of the wonderful elements I’ve discovered through the Magical Women project is the increasing number of female contemporary magicians.  French magician Léa Kyle was the first female magician to place in the finals on “America’s Got Talent” last season and she’s currently headlining in Las Vegas.  Venezuelan magician Dania Diaz was a finalist on “Spain’s got Talent” and was the first Latina female to reach the finals on “America’s Got Talent: the Champions” in 2019.  Amanda Nepo is the youngest female magician at sixteen years old to fool Penn & Teller with magic that she invented. Australia’s Helen Coghlan is a four-time “Penn & Teller Fool Us, FOOLER”.  The list goes on and on and it’s a truly exciting time for women in magic.

You have over 30years experience performing illusions and entertaining audiences with your prestidigitational skills – when did you first realize this was the career for you?  I discovered magic in Las Vegas.  In fact, I debuted my first magic act there in the late ‘80’s.  My magic story is unorthodox.  My professional background pre-magic was theatre and classical ballet, with aerial and juggling circus skills in the mix.  I was performing in Las Vegas at the Riviera hotel in “SPLASH” with a juggling act when I discovered magic.  I fell in love with the levitation magic of the headlining magician and puppeteer, Barclay Shaw.  I studied and watched his mesmerizing performances nightly.  Barclay was the catalyst for my magic career and it was he who suggested that I become a magician.Starting magic from zero wasn’t easy, but I discovered magic uses every skill I have and I’ve learned more.  Good magic is a complete, theatrical artform, it taps into my creativity, physicality and artistic vision.  I have been fortunate, able to invent magic and create magic effects that are specific to me and my skill sets.  It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, but it’s also been a perfect fit.  I was determined to succeed and it helped that I had exposure and access to some of the very best magicians and entertainers in the world.

You’ve interviewed and reviewed so many ladies of magic for your YouTube channel, magazines and blogs. Who are the outstanding magicians we should watch for now that theatres, casinos and clubs are opening up after Covid?  There are SO many, I am pleased to report.  Here’s the list that pops into my head:  Léa Kyle, Daniz Diaz, Billy Kidd, Carisa Hendrix, Laura London, Alana, Helen Coghlan, Josephine Lee, Alexandra Duvivier, Amanda Nepo, LeRoya Sanford, Kayla Drescher, Krystyn Lambert, Tessa Evason, Katherine Mills, Anchal, Jen Kramer, Ekaterina and many, many more.Veteran magicians are also making a difference magically on and off stage with performances, philanthropic charities, mentoring and writing.  This includes magicians such as Juliana Chen, Tina Lenert, Fay Presto, Julie Eng, Diana Zimmerman and Lisa Menna,

Magic overcomes all language barriers and appeals to all ages – what is your favourite audience composed of…families, grown ups, corporate shows?  Since 2000, my magic shows have been on tour internationally on cruise ships, on television and in theatres.  My favourite audience is a theatre full of a mix of families and adults; theatre and magic savvy and first timers.  It’s a mix of people who wish to suspend disbelief and believe in magic for that moment in time and even those who wish to discredit it.  The biggest reward is hearing the audible gasp when they react to your magic and performance. They can’t help themselves and respond with surprise, and that’s my favourite moment, always.Who has been your role model or favourite magician (male or female) over the years?  First would be Barclay Shaw for helping me to discover magic, for never considering a woman couldn’t be a magician and for encouraging me to pursue magic.  David Copperfield for his inspiring work and performances which encouraged me to work harder.  Don Wayne, inspired me to create and to understand how to use magic techniques and the psychology behind the magic.  Joanie Spina was brilliant on and off stage, she was instrumental to discovering who I was on stage and for staging many of my best acts.  Recently, it’s Diana Zimmerman for her tireless support, encouragement and wisdom.

Without giving away any secrets, Connie, what has been your most astounding, amazing stunt…and, conversely, have you ever had anything go wrong?  The number I most known for, that’s a signature piece, is a number I created called “Floating & Flying”.  The magic is powerful as I am costumed in a simple leotard.  In the midst of a classic floating ball magic act, I fly into the air to retrieve a floating ball over my head.  This is a moment in my show that I receive the “magic gasp” I mention earlier.Has anything gone wrong? There have been many things, I have fallen into a band pit, been trapped in a trunk due to a missing key, forgotten my lines, forgotten which show I am performing, vaulted from a suspension on a rocking ship, spun like a top when a technician plugged a 110 volt prop into 220 volts, I’ve had the audience in hysterics with a urinating bunny and I’ve almost been snapped in half by a drunk volunteer.

What upcoming shows, videos, live tours do you have coming up for yourself? As the theatres and tours re-start there is great interest in a touring, all female magician magic show, I am very excited about that.  At the moment there is a shortage of North American female illusionist performers.  With my shows en route from Europe, I’m on the lookout for new up and coming talent to develop, cast and mentor. I’m currently working on a Magical Women coffee table book about contemporary Magical Women performing today.  This is in conjunction to the research and monthly Magical Women articles I’ve created for VANISH International Magazine since August 2020.  Lastly, I’ve created and am developing several magic routines to compliment my motivational speech about “finding the positives within negatives to reinvent yourself.”

And finally, is there a magic school you would recommend for ladies who would love to pursue magic as a career?  In Canada there’s the Canadian Association of Magicians (CAM) is a good start to find magic clubs near you:  https://www.cammagic.org

We have a Magical Women Facebook group for women in magic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/268813231889920

From Las Vegas:  Luna Shimada a magician and the daughter of legendary Japanese magician Shimada.  Luna created “the Shimada Legacy School of Magic” with virtual and local magic classes school: https://www.facebook.com/The-Shimada-Legacy-School-of-Magic-2145275525505784/

Jeff McBride has the “McBride Magic and Mystery School”.  Jeff’s wife Abigail is very hands on with the program and Jeff has mentored several female magicians. https://www.magicalwisdom.com

Any other news or information you’d like to share, Connie? Next month is Women’s History Month.  If you have sources to post the link for the free VANISH Special Edition, “Female Magicians through the Centuries” that would be great to share.  Also, the “Blast from the Past” playlist from our YouTube channel pays tribute to many vintage female performances.

I invite you all to visit my websites: www.theMagicalWomen.com  &  www.connieboydmagic.com
VANISH International Magic Magazine:  http://www.vanishmagic.com
VANISH Special Edition: “Female Magicians through the Centuries”:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kmj5t47yszslfc6/VanishSpecialEditionJan2021.pdf?dl=0
YOUTUBE:  www.youtube.com/c/MagicalWomenWithConnieBoyd
FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM
Facebook Magical Women Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/268813231889920
Facebook Magical Women Page:  https://www.facebook.com/magicalwomen1
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/themagicalwomen/
LINKEDIN https://www.linkedin.com/company/magical-women

Wow…I had no idea there was such a community out there for female illusionists. It was such a pleasure speaking with Connie and now I can’t wait to see one of her shows and experience the mystical world of magical women.
Connie is busy packing her bags and gathering her fellow magical ladies together and taking to the road for more shows, post-Covid.