It is with great sadness that G4G notes the death of Max Maven (December 21, 1950 – November 1, 2022).
We are collecting here some recollections from various members of the G4G community. If you have any anecdotes, memories, or tributes that you would like to share, please email us at email@example.com.
1. I’ve known Max Maven since he was 16 years old, while he was still Phil Goldstein. This was a few years before he invented Max Maven. We had a sort of pen pal relationship, talking magic and such. I used to perform his first marketed trick Full Circle, which would still fool magicians to this day. We never met in person until maybe 2 years after he became Max. I was able to make my first performing and lecture tour of Japan solely due to a recommendation from Max, He was that kind of good person. Only once did I ever completely fool Max with a card trick. After I performed it for a group of magicians, Max said to me “you sonofabitch.” That’s how I knew I fooled him. He must have stayed up all night, because the next day he came back to me with the correct solution.2. Max had quote a mischievous streak. There was a small group magicians at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, the names of whom would be known to other magicians, who decided to play a practical joke on Dai Vernon. The group included Bruce Cervon, Diana Zimmerman, Johnny and Pam Thompson. Vernon was a living legend who lived to the age of 99, and was respectfully known to everyone as The Professor. This group went to Mexico just south of San Diego, found a grizzled peon wino, bought a large “touristy” sombrero for him and took him to a bar. In exchange for a bottle of whiskey they photographed him with cards, coins and dice in unlikely positions. They crafted stories of impossible tricks this guy was performing at the bar. One of the tricks they made up was that he could shoot a rubber band to the end of the bar and it would roll back across the bar to his hand.When they came back and pulled their joke on The Professor, he merely said, “Yeah, some kid showed me how to do that at a magic convention in Texas.” They never realized one of their imaginary tricks could actually be done.Fast forward about a year and my first visit to the Castle, around 1976. I met with Max. Max was showing me around, and even though I was wearing a garish lapel pin with blinking LED lights, Max never told me it would make me quite a pariah among the regulars. He spotted the aforementioned group and cajoled me into performing a specific trick for them, and admonished me to keep the lapel pin turned on.So I went over and showed them the boomerang rubber band trick. It was the same one I showed at a session with Jim Gardner and Mark Mitton at the last G4G before the pandemic. Afterwards, I looked up at them and smiled, and was met with 4 heroes of mine, arms folded, wide-eyed stares and not saying a word. I sort of said thanks and slinked away. As I headed back to Max, I noticed he was doubled over with laughter. He explained why they had reacted that way, and told me to take off that stupid lapel pin.Thanks a lot, “friend” Max. But you gave me a great story to tell. For I was the young lad who had been taken aside by the one-and-only Dai Vernon who asked me in private to show and explain the rubber band stunt. And I can honestly say, with tongue firmly in cheek, that I gave a “magic lesson” to The Professor.No, really, thank you Max!– Dan Garrett
On one occasion I was on a downtime volunteering as a stagehand looking at said stage. He simply sat beside me and before I knew it we were discussing the history of playing cards and going into depth about some of my favourite magic effects both on a mathematical and historical level. I likely learned more in this half hour about the history and theory of magic than going through 10 books on the topic.
Growing up in Princeton, as a very small child playing with his mother on the family lawn, Max remembered a car stopped outside and a disheveled man getting out and pointed at him, excitedly crying out “Baby, baby”. He got back into the car and was driven away.
It was Einstein.
So sad to hear about Max Maven’s passing. Eugene, his best friend, introduced me to Max when I first started taking lessons from him in the early 1980’s. Max was kind and helped me with a few magic pieces I used in my close-up show.
– Lisa Menna
When Max Maven gave a lecture in Japan, he was not happy having his lecture being translated into Japanese. Returning back home he began a serious study of the Japanese language. When Maven next gave a lecture in Japan, he gave the lecture in Japanese. As time went on Maven became more and more involved in Japanese culture.
Now we come to a very important award in magic in Japan. This is the Tenkai award. There is no contest for this award, every year a committee decides if there is a magician who deserves the Tenkai award. Once the committee decides on a candidate for the award, every magician who has won the award must approve the new candidate or the award is not given. One year the committee decides it is time to give the award to someone who is not Japanese. They go to the most important Japanese magician who had won the award and tell him they want to give the Tenkai award to a non-Japanese. He agrees and asks who are they considering. When the committee says their candidate is Max Maven, the previous winner hesitates, and then says that might be okay, but he wasn’t sure Maven isn’t Japanese. When Maven heard of this decision, I am sure he was thrilled with this “doubt.” Any maven would be.
– Norman Gilbreath