I was checking my email Saturday night and I checked on one of my Google Alert emails on the topic of ventriloquism. In case you didn’t know you can set up Alerts with Google and they will email you a list of links for the day of websites mentioning your topic.
In the email, I discovered Mark Betcher’s blog, “Art Work by Manic Mark”. Manic Mark collects old vinyl LP Albums in the niche market of private labels, vanity press, and self-produced albums. Not only does he find the recordings and the production of the albums of value, but also the accompanying album covers and artwork.
“About vinyl collecting and my reviews. Producing a record for most artists was a costly undertaking. Without label support, artists had to pay for studio time and many extras to help engineer a recording. Artists then had to pay for pressing the record and the cost of creating the album jacket. And the cost of printing, even a low-end, one color jacket was very expensive! Certainly there was no budget for marketing. There were no fashion consultants, make-up artists or professional designers working on these projects. These private press, off or no label, vanity LPs were “expensive” undertakings in the most low budget way. I treasure them because I get the artist’s vision… not the marketing department vision! It’s the unvarnished truth!”
I’m not harshing on Mark’s hobby–I think it’s kinda cool. But Mark reviewed an album that is near and dear to my heart and although he said some good things about it, he sort of dissed the subject matter and the effectiveness of the album.
The album was Jimmy Nelson‘s “Instant Ventriloquism and Ventriloquism For The Beginner”. Jimmy Nelson was a famous ventriloquist in the 50s and the 60s and brought to life his partners, Danny O’Day and Farfel, for millions on TV. Nelson’s commercials for NESTLES chocolate ingrained in every child’s mind of that era with the clever jingle, “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle makes the very best…chocolate.”
Nelson also licensed the likeness of his dummy, Danny O’Day to be sold as a beginner ventriloquist doll to boys and girls all over the USA through JCPenney’s and Sears’ Christmas catalogs. My first ventriloquist doll was a Danny O’Day doll received on my 9th Christmas along with an LP vinyl album called “Jimmy Nelson’s Instant Ventriloquism and Ventriloquism For The Beginner”
Manic Mark says,
“I wonder how many people actually got anywhere learning the art of ventriloquism using this instructional LP? Not many, I suspect. The same deal applies to the instructional books you might buy as a comic book reading youngster to help you muscle up so that bullies would stop kicking sand in your face at the beach.”
But Mark we must disagree. Not only did I learn ventriloquism from that album, but I performed all over my little city with that doll with nothing more than Nelson’s instructions. Of course, my interest in the art sparked more reading, more training, and even more practicing; but that little doll and that recording was more than effective. Over the years, I’ve had conversations with other ventriloquists that had similar experiences.
Mark, you have found a piece of history for a lot of ventriloquists and I’m glad you found it worth collecting. (I still have my copy) Thanks for mentioning it, for saving it and for preserving it.
Thanks to Manic Mark you can listen to a small sample of the recording, and enjoy your first lesson in Ventriloquism from a Master–Jimmy Nelson.
UPDATE: The mp3 recording at Mark’s site is now inactive; but I found another site with the entire album, thanks to Yummy Vinyl Dot Com.