Here’s Perfect Magic

In 1976, when Perfect Magic was born, Montreal did not appear to be in need of another magic shop. There were at least four retail outlets in the city already catering to both amateur and professional magicians, including the internationally renowned Morrissey Magic and Henry Gordon’s Party Center. But Perfect Magic was only a mail-order company at the time, run by Phil and Evy Matlin out of their basement, and predicated almost exclusively on two original products—a packet trick called “Spot Change Plus,” and a pocket trick called “Pocket Card Rise.” They advertised and sold these through magic magazines, including Genii, M.U.M. and The Linking Ring, and, in an effort to increase their local profile, started a monthly event called Magic Night, wherein magicians would come to their basement to see a performer, while at the same time checking out their growing line of products.

Before long, Perfect Magic was forced to move to a commercial space, due in no small part to the fact that neighbours had begun to complain about the unusual number of people going in and out of their basement. 4781 Van Horne Avenue became their new address, in the same building where they reside today, and was the center from which they produced and sold more of their original products (Phil’s “Bewildered,” Michael Ammar’s “Visually Yours,” William Zavis’s “Soft Center,” and the list goes on). Every day was a new adventure, but some were more memorable than others, including the day Phil received an order by mail from a prison inmate for a series of books he carried called The Art of Escape. Even more surprisingly, the order was signed by the warden.

But like their first company logo, a tree with many tricks hanging from the branches, Perfect Magic quickly branched out. In 1979, along with C.W. Vermeys (a.k.a. Mephisto), they produced the inaugural Magie Montréal convention at the Québec Pavilion, a building on the site of Expo 67 that resembles a giant Lego block. Unfortunately, it was the dead of winter, and the heating broke down, prompting Romaine (the opening-night emcee) to walk on stage and remark, “Welcome to the world’s largest refrigerator.” Happily, the convention was still well received and grew in the ensuing years, running annually until 1998 and featuring many of the industry’s finest performers (Frank Garcia, Derek Dingle, Fantasio, Jay Marshall, Al Goshman, John Carney, and more—see list below).

Meanwhile, Magic Night went through some changes of its own. It was soon renamed Performer’s Platform and became a weekly event, taking place every Saturday afternoon at the new store. As a result, going to Perfect Magic became as much a social occasion as a shopping excursion, while at the same time giving anyone who was interested a chance to polish material in front of a discerning crowd. Veterans and newcomers alike took advantage of this, many of whom had or would go on to have prominent careers, including Mehdi, Jean Prendergast, Romaine, Richard Sanders, Rick Bronson, Mark Aronoff and others.

Sometime later, in 1993, Brian Matlin, the third of four children in the Matlin clan (Ronna, Michael and Julie round out the quartet) moved to Burnaby, B.C. and opened another Perfect Magic, serving the magicians of the Greater Vancouver area. Brian, like his siblings, had been conscripted to work at the Montreal shop many times during his formative years, which gave him an intimate understanding of both the craft and business. As such, the new “west coast” outlet was an instant success, and remained open until 2002, when Brian moved to Pennsylvania and married Denyce.

Today, Perfect Magic continues to be a highly respected manufacturer, distributor and retail outlet, supplying tricks and accessories to magicians around the world. In addition (more branches), given all the conventions they were attending, Evy wanted something to do on the road that she “didn’t have to pack,” so she studied and eventually developed an expertise in handwriting analysis and forensic document examination, serving many times as an expert witness in court. Meanwhile, over on another branch, Phil began indulging his interest in ragtime music, and has since released two CDs—Ragtime Magic and Ragtime Daze—both available through Perfect Magic. He also plays piano at ragtime festivals, senior residences, fundraisers and private parties, and he co-created a 90-minute vaudeville show with Romaine called “Back in Time,” in which he plays musical interludes and accompanies Romaine during his various acts.

All that to say, in many ways, Phil and Evy Matlin are even busier than they were 30 years ago, but thanks to, their store now stands ready to serve 24 hours a day.

David Acer
(Columnist for Genii magazine, two-time Gemini-award-nominated co-host of Discovery Kids’ Mystery Hunters, and former Perfect Magic demonstrator)

Tricks and Books Produced by Perfect Magic (1976-Present)

Ankner’s Aces (Buddy Ankner)
Bewildered (Phil Matlin)
Clowning Around with Magic (Phil Matlin)
Eat Your Card Out (David Acer and Rick Bronson)
Endless Chain (Phil Matlin)
Future Foretold (Phil Matlin)
Improved Chinese Prediction (Phil Matlin)
Pocket Card Rise (Phil Matlin)
Quartermain (David Acer)
Silver Sanctums (Phil Matlin)
Soft Center (William Zavis)
Spare Change (David Acer)
Spot Change Plus (Phil Matlin)
Visually Yours (Michael Ammar)
With All My Heart (???)

Magie Montréal Alumni • Performers and Lecturers (1979-1998)

David Acer
Harry Allen
Michael Ammar
Gene Anderson
Bill Andrews
“Magic Tom” Auburn
Robert Baxt
Mike Bent
Jay Scott Berry
Nathan Burton
Guy Camirand
John Carney
Shelley Carrol
James Ceilen
Jon Charles
Juliana Chen
Alain Choquette
Michael Clavello
Michael Close
Carl Coutier
Al Cohen
Marcello Contento
John Cornelius
Gilles Couture
Dave Cresey
Walter Cummings
Fr. Cyprian
Glen David and Shirley
Jose De La Torre
Eric DeCamps
Marc DeSouza
Joe Devlin
Paul Diamond
Derek Dingle
El Dovino
Arthur Emerson
Tony Eng
Farquhar & Felicity
Ron Frost
Fukai & Kimika
Frank Garcia
Dan Garrett
Goldfinger & Dove
Mario Gonzales
Al Goshman
Murray Hatfield
June Horowitz
Richard Hughes

Jeff Evason & Tessa
Bob Jepson
Bruce Kalver
John Kennedy
Jamal Keyes
Mac King
Kohl & Co.

Gary Kurtz
Hank Lee
Joe Legari
Bob Little
Bob Lang
Sid Lorraine
Simon Lovell
Magic Ian
Blair Marshall
Frances Marshall
Jay Marshall
Jeff McBride
Hank Moorehouse
Al Munro (a.k.a. The Geritol Kid
Norm Nielsen
Obie O’Brien
Gary Ouellet
Dany Pambianchi
Parker Swann & Claire
Petrick & Mia
Rafael & Elena
James Rainho
James Randi
Jimmy Ray

Clause Rix
Dale Salwak
Richard Sanders
George Sateriale
Peter Scarlett
George Schindler
Terry Seabrooke
Jan Serling
Mike Shelley

Lucy Smalley
Warren Stephens
Ward Thomas
Mehdi Talbi
Manfred Thumm
Mark Trimble
Ken Turner
J.P. Vallarino
Victor & Diamond
Peter White

Earl Ray Wilcox
David Williamson
Meir Yedid
Rebecca Yen
Hans Zahn
Dick Zimmerman
Pernell Zorch
Zucchini Brothers (The)