About the Author:
Hi everyone, I’m Eileen McFalls, author of No Ordinary Magic. I’ve lived and traveled extensively
as a busker, club owner, medical technologist,
and graphic designer. Although I no longer make a living as a graphic designer, I still do pro bono design for individuals and nonprofits. When I’m not working on writing projects, I take long walks with my dog, hang out with family and friends, and read as many books as I can. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina, home to the International Civil Rights Center
After meeting Jim Cellini, this charismatic magician and busker performing on Jackson Square in the French Quarter, I stepped into his world of magic without hesitation. We fell in love. instantly. Magically. He asked me to go on the road with him. And I did.
But I was still in search of my self when I fell under his spell and into this outsider culture that was foreign to me.
We met a slew of personalities during our travels, starting with a cast of characters in the French Quarter: Noel Rockmore, renowned artist and terror of the Quarter; George Price the Mouseman; Sonny Holiday, a quirky street performer who learned magic from Jim; Sebastiano Lomanto, a Sicilian balloon artist turned magician; and Chris “de Pyss” Lynam, an English comic clown. We were privileged to spend time with Lord Peregrine Eliot, founder of the Elephant Fayre and Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall and Heathcote Williams, poet, actor, playwright, and activist—both huge magic enthusiasts. In Los Angeles, we hung out with Michel Polnareff, a popular French pop singer and magic devotee.
We wined and dined with numerous magicians throughout our travels—the famous and the infamous. Frank Garcia, a magician known as “The Man With the Million Dollar Hands” and a well-known authority on gambling, often met us at Slydini’s apartment in Manhattan. Quintino Marucci, better known as Slydini, was Jim’s mentor in magic. Considered by the magic society as the foremost magician who revolutionized the art of close-up magic, Slydini traveled the world, appeared on the Dick Cavett show a number of times, and taught celebrities—both actors and directors—in the art of misdirection. I felt honored to spend time with this legend in magic.
Armed with disposable cameras and a small Nikon, I took thousands of pictures during our years together performing on the streets. Despite a major catastrophe with the bus and a house fire some years later, happily, some photo negatives survived—faded, scratched, picked, but usable. The two photos from the 1983 Piedmont Arts Festival in Atlanta are posted courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fortunately, I also kept bins of letters we’d received over the years. I remember Jim telling me, “Save those. They’ll come in handy one day.” I’m glad I did.
Another role I played was that of a historian in recounting the social phenomena of street performing in the eighties, a little-known niche of society chock-full of quirky characters living life on the fringe. During the time that I worked on my memoir, I revisited old busking haunts in New York City and the French Quarter in New Orleans.
A background in design enabled me to lay out the entire book, and to restore some of the forty-year-old photos I’d taken on the road. A thirty-page color insert in the memoir includes these photos to show readers scenes from performing on the street, as well as artwork of street performers by Noel Rockmore.
Enjoy the history these photos and stories represent!
Street Scenes, Inc
1852 Banking Street #9414
Greensboro, NC 27408