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Magic at the Museum is a thing of Pure Magic

Magic at the MuseumClarksville, TN – Bonehead Promotions  just plain outdid itself Saturday night with Magic at the Museum. Bringing together four total professionals to give stellar performances in a magical combination is no small effort. Hank Bonecutter did just that; every magician dazzled the audience with unique and fascinating illusions that were unforgettable. The comedienne kept everyone laughing and eager to hear what her next hilarious adventure would be.

Most important, thanks to the sponsorship of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, every cent of the $30.00 entry fee allowed hungry children to have food for the weekend through F.U.E.L.

Big Daddy Cool, Johnny DeLarocca and the Swing Kittens performing at the Customs House
Big Daddy Cool, Johnny DeLarocca and the Swing Kittens performing at the Customs House

The Customs House Museum might seem like an unlikely venue for a magic show because many patrons are unaware that it has an intimate theater tucked at the end of the first floor hallway. This theater features perfect acoustics and the projection from the stage of easy audience participation—exactly what is required for magic.

Entering the museum, participants of Magic at the Museum found two gifted magicians who performed illusions up close and personal. Russ Nowack, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and transplanted to Clarksville via the U.S. Army where he served for 10 years, began supporting himself full time with magic when he was 20 years old. He now works for a contractor that supplies rotor heads for helicopters.

“I had to get a day job when I got married and had two children,” he explains.

Working in short sleeves, Nowack performs an illusion that few would even attempt. He has the view hold on to both his wrists while he moves his bare hands right in front of their eyes. First he produces a red silk handkerchief and then it disappears. You can’t believe it until you see it for yourself. It simply seems to appear by magic.

Russ Nowack performing one of his amazing tricks
Russ Nowack performing one of his amazing tricks


Novack performs hour-long shows for both children and others for adults. He was a featured performer in the first Magic at the Museum, a venue mainly for children.

You can see more of Russ Novack at his web site, www.MagicianRuss.com, or by e-mailing him at MagicianRuss@live.com. His phone number is 931-624-4500 if you want to talk to him. He’s available for birthdays, corporate events, and specializes in close up magic. Since he started out his career working in a balloon store, he’s also an expert at balloon animals.

Magician Wallace Redd
Magician Wallace Redd

Wallace Redd is a well-known figure in Montgomery County because he’s the former Vice Mayor of Clarksville and now serves as a City Councilman. He’s been performing magic since he was only nine years old.

“I was a very poor reader when I was a small child,” he admits. “I saw a magician named Mark Wilson perform a magic trick on television. After the commercial he showed all of us in the audience how the trick was done. Since it was a card trick, I rushed to my room, grabbed cardboard, paint and scissors, and began practicing in front of a mirror. When I showed it to my mom and dad, I was thrilled because they loved it. From that day on, I was hooked.”

Redd goes on to say that he lived in Wartrace, population 350, when he was a child and there wasn’t a lot to do. His father, who was principal of Pleasant Grove School, was in H & S Pharmacy in Shelbyville one day and bought him a book entitled Magic Digest by George B. Anderson; it cost a whopping $5.50.

Wallace Redd does a flaming trick
Wallace Redd does a flaming trick

“I read that book from cover to cover, but some of the words were too hard for me so I’d have to find out from my mom, who was a teacher, what they were,” Redd goes on. “You have to understand that there was no other magician in Wartrace so I have to learn all the tricks by myself. It’s hard to learn magic by reading!”

“One of the most important things I learned, beyond the rope tricks and other illusions in the book, was that George B. Anderson insisted,  ‘First and foremost, you are an entertainer. The trick is the mechanism, but if you aren’t an entertainer, don’t become a magician.’ I never forgot that and I still do one or two tricks I learned from that book in every show.”

Wallace Redd entranced his audience with ropes that seemed to be cut and become whole once more, balls that appeared and disappeared in many places, and a brandy snifter that held only water where two live goldfish suddenly materialized.

You can find Redd at www.MagicianWallaceRedd.com or by e-mailing WallaceRedd@aol.com. His phone number is 931-647-8965 if you want to engage him for fundraisers, parties or special events.

The pre-show wine and cheese party
The pre-show wine and cheese party


The hour-and-a-half wine and cheese party in the entry to the museum began the evening but the party then moved to the theater.

Hank Bonecutter and Art Conn
Hank Bonecutter and Art Conn

Local radio host Hank Bonecutter introduced his morning co-host Art Conn, who would be serving as the emcee for the evening. Art Conn has an extensive media background as a host, judge and emcee for many events including 17 years as host of “Clarksville’s Best Buys,” a local television show. He recently joined Bonecutter on “The Bone Show,” Clarksville’s longest running talk show on WJZM, 1400 AM.

Maurice and Terri  Vaughn with Art Conn
Maurice and Terri Vaughn with Art Conn

Conn brought to the stage Maurice Vaughn, owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Hometown Connection, and his wife Terri. Vaughn, well-known for his support of local charities, said that his company believes in giving to the community and is especially happy to assist with the F.U.E.L. program for children who otherwise would be going hungry.

Conn then brought to the stage Denise Skidmore, president and founder of F.U.E.L. The acronym “F.U.E.L.” grew out of a retreat Denise attended called “Walk to Emmaus.” (According to Luke 24: 13-35, following his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two of his disciples as they were walking to Emmaus.) The retreat Denise attended was for a group of women who wished to renew their spiritual ties to Christ. Following this experience, Denise began this ministry that provides food for the weekends for children in Montgomery County every Friday afternoon as it fills their backpacks before they go home.

Art Conn with Denise Skidmore of Project F.U.E.L.
Art Conn with Denise Skidmore of Project F.U.E.L.


“We began with 11 children and now we are feeding 1,700,” she told the stunned audience, most of whom had no idea that that many children in the community through no fault of their own would be going hungry otherwise. “Some have parents with disabilities or no jobs. Others are children of drug addicts or have parents who do not provide for their children for other reasons.”

“It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, you can help. We are seeing great changes with these children. They are becoming better citizens and they are becoming high school graduates at a greater rate. It is hard to study when you are hungry. Most of these changes are being brought about because they now believe that someone cares about them,” she insists. “No donation is too small or too large. We need the help of everyone.”

F.U.E.L. ministries, inc., P.O. Box 31176, Clarksville, TN  37040, can be reached at 931-624-3181. It is now spreading to surrounding counties and even has a chapter in Virginia. Corporate sponsors like Trane Corporation, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s, Premier Medical, Prudential Realty and Wolfe Industrial have made contributions and your business can become involved too.

No child should go hungry for the 67 hours from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.

Denise Skidmore was applauded for her example of how one person’s caring can truly make a difference.

Christy Eidson
Christy Eidson

Art Conn then introduced Christy Eidson, a Nashville native and comedienne extraordinaire. Christy has appeared on “Last Comic Standing,” “Nashville Star,” Los Angeles’ Comedy Store and Laugh Factory, Zanies (Nashville, of course), and numerous other well-known comedy spots. She was showcased in the 2007 Las Vegas Comedy Festival and was a Finalist in 2008 California’s Funniest Female Contest. She studied broadcasting in college and had a double minor in theater and English.

She kept the audience in stitches for the next hour with one after another hilarious anecdote. If you had been there, you would have been laughing too! Don’t miss another opportunity to hear her; many audience members vowed that they hadn’t laughed so long or so hard in years. (Hank Bonecutter says he’s going to bring her back so be on the lookout!)

Big Daddy Cool, Johnny DeLarocca keeping Hank Bonecutter covered
Big Daddy Cool, Johnny DeLarocca keeping Hank Bonecutter covered

Up next was Big Daddy Cool (John B. Pyka). His combination of magic, singing, dancing and theater were Vegas material. He is the author of two books on magic, Theatrical Magic (Leaping Lizards, publisher) and How to Produce Your Own Theater Show (Lybrary.com). He is also the creator of The Magic Cabaret, Opry Mills Olde Time Family Theater (featuring The Radio City Rockettes), The Opry Mills Holiday Family Theater, and Music City Magic.

He has played many characters in theater productions like the Cowardly Lion, Jud Fry, Rooster Hannigan, Buffalo Bill and Mr. Bumble.

As Big Daddy Cool on Saturday night, he was accompanied by the Swing Kittens—Mitzi Lamoor, Cherry deVille, Honey Love and The Incomparable Ginger Lee. These showgirls danced their way into the delighted eyes of the audience and participated in some incredible magic tricks.

For instance, Mitzi Lamoor, who has worked with Big Daddy Cool for the past four years as his assistant, performed an escape from ropes like one made famous by Harry Houdini—except she removed her skimpy attire first! When the curtain that concealed her was removed, she was seen wearing a full-length black dress, much to the disappointment of some male members of the audience.

Mitzi Lamoor after escaping from the ropes and her clothes
Mitzi Lamoor after escaping from the ropes and her clothes


Big Daddy Cool, who had just finished a 10-day run in Printer’s Alley at Nashville Dinner Theater, amazed onlookers with a scenario featuring a man and woman from the audience. He showed a lemon that he placed in a velvet bag, first handing it to the woman. When he learned that she was holding the money, he transferred the bag to her husband on the other side of the stage. Taking her $20.00 and having her write her name on the front of it, he folded it into a tiny rectangle. Big Daddy then bragged that he could prevent its burning up as he passed a lighter over it; he failed and the money vanished into ashes. He took the velvet bag from the man and cut open the lemon with its juice dripping throughout the procedure. In the center of the lemon was the folded $20.00 bill.

Music, dancing, mystery, comedy, food, drink, and fun for a mere $30.00 donation–what more could you ask for?

When Magic at the Museum comes around again, don’t miss it. Such a deal!



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Sue Freeman Culverhouse
Sue Freeman Culverhousehttp://culverhouseart.com/
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing. She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University. Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students. Sue writes "Uncommon Sense," a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of "Seven keys to a sucessful life", which is  available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.

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