Peter Baffles lecture at the Riviera Circle of Magicians

August 2008
Reported by Trev Stone

At our inaugural meeting in April 2007 Peter had kindly offered to present a future talk on the art of dove magic. As one of our hardest working professional members, with over 33 years experience performing with doves, this news was gladly received by all the members.....


18 months later, Peter finally found a slot in his diary and the date was set for Sunday the 17th of August. (Like I said, Peter really is "one of our hardest working, professional members!" The day eventually arrived and wow!!! It was certainly worth waiting for.)

Immaculately groomed and wearing traditional tails, Peter opened the lecture with the "Book of Life." As I sat in the front row, mouth open and watched that bird leave the pages of the book, I was instantly taken back to the first time I had witnessed something really magical. This was followed by a dove from silk and a bare handed split production.

When the applause eventually died down, Peter introduced the birds individually (yes he knows them that well!) and moved into the explanations, which included his own harnesses which he makes himself, use of body loads, and how his suit has been altered and tailored for the purpose. He finished this section with the tails vanish/transformation as done by Lance Burton.

Peter had also kindly brought some examples of harnesses, production boxes and related equipment that he has used, including a "Duck Bucket" and after demonstrating their use, he gave his personal insights and thoughts on each item.

The next section of the lecture was devoted to the care and upkeep of the birds, Peter has bred and hand reared all of his doves and I could tell by the attention to detail that he really loves his birds. This was really fascinating as there is so much more to dove magic than I ever had imagined.

Peter followed this with a discussion on presentation and stagecraft. And his views on some of the masters of this declining art. Greg Frewin, Lance Burton, Tony Clark and Channing Pollock. With his vast experience on the subject he followed this with some really funny anecdotes from his life as a performer. (The movie The Prestige has a lot to answer for, for the views of some lay people!)

This led perfectly into the next item as Peter put the doves into a cage that had been in view from the beginning and covered it with a velvet cloth. And as the first half of the lecture was coming to a close I was expecting the cage and doves to vanish, so I was totally floored when he lifted the cloth to show the transformation of the doves into a duck, and by the reaction he received, so was everybody else! Until this point I would have never believed you could train a duck! And since the duck was now the centre of attention, Peter took a well deserved break.

The second half of the meeting was to be a question and answering session, and from all the lectures that I have ever attended I have never seen so many questions asked. Peter was glad to answer and when possible demonstrate. The questions were open so Peter was glad to answer and give professional advice on Cabaret and Close-up too.

To sum it up, a great day was had by all and the Riviera Circle of Magicians are proud to have such a member as Peter Baffles who unselfishly is willing to share the secrets of this declining form of magic.

If Peter decides to make this lecture open to other societies, it will be one that I can strongly recommend. Meanwhile, if you get a chance to see him work do so, you won't be disappointed.

I would also like to extend a special thank you to Peter's wife Xee, who behind the scenes, acts as his stagehand, prop management, wardrobe and personal assistant. (With Peter's busy work schedule, I think it's the only way she gets to see him!) The feedback I have had from this meeting has been tremendous, so on behalf of all who attended, thank you Peter for giving us a fantastic afternoon.

Trev Stone, September 2008