In the latest of an occasional series of interviews, Graham Bandage talks to Declan Blunt, one of only two socialist magicians.
Graham Bandage: Declan Blunt, you’re one of only two socialist magicians, aren’t you?
Declan Blunt: That’s right, it’s a small niche, but there’s room for the other chap. That’s what socialism’s about, sharing. And magic, of course.
GB: What makes a socialist take up magic?
DB: Well, of course, there’s a long tradition of magic on the left. Marx himself came up with the three-ring trick as an allegory for the separation of legislature, executive and judiciary, then Lenin himself came up with the three-ring trick as an allegory of legislature, executive and judiciary, and Stalin used to cut men in half.
GB: That’s amazing. How did he do that?
DB: Oh, he had a massive saw. I mean, he didn’t put them back together, but it was probably a relief after the gulags. That’s the thing with Stalin – a showman. He used to wear a fez when he did his tricks. That’s where Tommy Cooper got the idea.
GB: Can you take us through your act? I mean, I’m really interested to find out how a socialist magician differs from, say, a conservative magician like Paul Daniels.
DB: Well, for a start, there’s no oppression in my act. I don’t use a magic wand for starters as it’s a phallic symbol and the colour is unnecessarily divisive.
GB: Well call me Thick Jack Clot if you like, but how can you do magic without a wand?
DB: You do know it’s not real don’t you.
GB: Er, yes.
DB: I don’t use animals, so, for example, I would never pull a rabbit out of a hat.
GB: You shouldn’t even put one IN a hat in the first place. That’s just cruel.
DB: Yes, anyway, I don’t put women in boxes and stick swords in them.
GB: Well, yeah. I mean, that’s dangerous. Clearly.
DB: Right, so I don’t do anything that’s oppressive…
GB: You could have a tiny little hat and put it on the rabbit. That’d be OK, but it wouldn’t be much of a trick.
DB: … and I don’t do anything that glorifies capitalism.
GB: So what tricks do you do, then?
DB: Well, I only really have the one. It’s mostly polemic.
GB: One? It’d better be stonking.
DB: Oh, it is. I get an expensive watch from somebody in the audience and wrap it in a handkerchief. Then I smash it with a hammer.
DB: Yeah, and then I take all the pieces and hand one each to every member of the audience. Makes ’em think.
GB: Declan Blunt, thank you.