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Posted on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 12:11 pm:   

Don Drake biography

DONDRAKE (aka Don Drake) was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1939.

He grew up on his grandmother's farm in Colon, Michigan, which was located near the Blackstone summerhouse.

Harry Blackstone Sr.'s horse Old Doc Blue was being boarded on the farm and little Donnie used to ride Old Doc up and down the lanes of Colon.

It was here that magic came into Don's life. Harry Blackstone would take the boy onto his lap and do tricks for him, leaving him with a fascination for magic!

When Don was nine years old, his parent moved away from Michigan to Jacksonville, Florida where he grew up and graduated high school.

At the age of 19, Don moved to New York City. It was here that his magical career began to take shape.

When Don was nine years old, his parent moved away from Michigan to Jacksonville, Florida where he grew up and graduated high school.

At the age of 19, Don moved to New York City. It was here that his magical career began to take shape.

Don's first job in magic was working as a magic demonstrator for Alwyn Stevenson, the proprietor of The Wizard Shop. This was a tiny magic shop located in the subway arcade directly under Times Square.

It was here that Don took his stage name - "DONDRAKE". It was also here that Don became interested in writing about magic. Having helped Al Stevenson rewrite his famous book "75 Tricks With a Stripper Deck". Don also contributed to "75 Tricks With a Svengali Deck" and to "The Magic of Slydini", which was printed by Lopez Press.

While working at "The Wizard Shop", Don had the privilege of learning from such greats as Slydini, Al Goshman, Francis Carlyle, John Benzais, and many others. Don was also a regular member of the 42nd St. round table, which was held in the Wurlitzer building, right under Lou Tannen's.

Al Stevenson introduced Don to the use of parlor Black Art when he showed him an improvement on the old DeGraham Utility Outfit. Al called his improvements "Fantasy in Black". Al then authorized Don to manufacture props for the utility board. But, it was Don who invented the now famous "Double Sided Card Principle".

Don and Al continued to work with Black Art until Al's untimely death in early 1965. During this period Don also had been working for David Walker, pitching Svengali decks at the New York World's Fair in Queens, along with such greats as Gene Marvin.

Don's first job as a practicing magician was working at Hubert's Museum and Flea Circus. Don spent the next 20 years touring the country as a sideshow magician, and illusionist. Don also was considered to be one of the best Svengali pitchmen. Don has worked with Pete and Marie Cortes, and Ward Hall's illusion shows, as well as Hoxie Brothers Circus. In 1974, Don moved to California where he met and married his wife Sharon.

In 1989, Don renewed his interest in Black Art. After living in California for some years, Don and Sharon moved to Austin, Texas, where Don joined IBM Ring 60 and SAM Assembly 206. It was here that he started doing research on his ideas for building and displaying parlor and close up Black Art! Don had the good fortune to meet Michael Ammar in Austin. Michael, along with all the members of the IBM and SAM, were a tremendous help to Don's research.

It was at that point that DONDRAKE built his first illusion, which he called "The Wizard's Window", named in honor of Al Stevenson's Wizard Shop, where he was first employed as a young man. It was at Michael Ammar's home that Don sold his first Wizard's Window. The buyer was Francis Willard, of the famous Falkenstein and Willard mentalism team. With the help of Charles Windley, of Magic & More in Norfolk, VA, DONDRAKE sold his first 10 magic utility outfits, using close up Black Art.

After inventing the "Wizard's Window" and related props for several years, Don moved to Las Vegas, where he still lives today. Don has written the first complete book on Black Art in the US and has produced three videos on the subject. He has issued several updates to his book "Black Art Breakthroughs", each with newer items and has lectured on the subject all across the United States.

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