|Rodger Lovins - The Kentucky Wonder|
by John Rogers and Bob Escher
Rodger Lovins just might be the best kept secret in magic by offering some original effects to the magic fraternity! Who is Rodger Lovins? He is an inventor, manufacturer, entertainer and collector of magic. Musician, custom home builder and land developer. Husband, father of two and grandfather of three girls.
Rodger and his lovely wife Karen live in Somerset, Kentucky. Rolling hills, mountains and view of beautiful Lake Cumberland from their home and magic studio workshop. The lake is one of the largest man-made bodies of water east of the Mississippi River. A tourist’s paradise. It covers over 63,000 acres, and touches over 1,255 miles of shoreline. It is a magical place to live and work. I guess that’s why some people call Rodger Lovins "The Kentucky Wonder."
Rodger was born in 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio. A year later his parents moved out of the city to Blanchester, a small town 30 miles to the east. He grew up, and went to school there. A rural area, with lots of farms and friendly people. He learned to play piano by ear at a very young age. He was playing a full set of drums by age 8. He played music at all the various school functions, growing up, including one of his favorite, the Blanchester High School Jazz Band. They recorded an album in 1972. That’s when Rodger got interested in the mixing and recording of music.
Rodger has 3 siblings. One older brother, and two sisters. His brother Larry was in the gospel music business. Rodger and his brother would write music together at Rodger’s home. He had a recording studio there, and so the two Lovins brothers would gather and Rodger would write and play the music and do the recording and his brother Larry would write the lyrics and do the singing. Rodger plays drums, bass guitar, rhythm guitar and keyboards. A lot of the music used in Rodger’s magic, is music written, recorded and played by Rodger himself. Rodger lost his brother 5 years ago to a heart attack. This was a sudden and tragic moment in Rodger’s life. He doesn’t do much recording any more. He sold his recording studio equipment, expanded his magic studio and now concentrates more of his extra time and energy into crafting magic effects for the amateur magician as well as the working professional.
Rodger’s father and grandfather were home builders and so he grew up around that family business. Being a carpenters son he was always building and tinkering around with things. Rodger continues that family tradition today. He is one of the premier custom home builders in his area. He owns and operates his own custom home building business as well as being president of a land development corporation there. He has built several of the larger homes in the area. In a recent article they wrote… “What is unique about their (Tri County Homes) projects, they show the skill of the builder.. The home I visited was in the 7,000 square foot category and a full finished basement. There were virtually no square rooms. There were angles upon angles in every room, requiring great skill. The home was impressive to the extreme. Quality details could be seen in the home by not only all the angles, but how the home was finished.”
The Commonwealth Journal 2/25/2007
When Rodger was a child his father did card tricks to entertain family and friends and his uncle would build and perform small magic effects in his garage. After much begging and prodding they would teach Rodger how they were done, and how they were made. By age 10 he was doing card tricks and reading books about magic that he would borrow from the school library. He was hooked! He would build and make his own magic props and perform them for family and friends. It wasn’t until around 1972 that he bought his first magic trick. He went into a magic shop while on vacation in Tennessee. He was so amazed. He could not believe his eyes and will never forget the experience. He stayed for hours watching the “in house” magician demo effect after effect. Finally he made his first magic purchase. The Hot Rod and the Rising Card Deck.
Rodger's parents were from Kentucky. So in 1974 they moved back to the place where they were born and raised. Rodger soon followed to help with the family building business. That’s where, in 1976 he met Dr. Jerry Burgess. Dr. Burgess was doing a full evening illusion show in Somerset and he ask Rodger to open the second half of the show. Rodger was shaking all over, a bundle of nerves. but once he got on stage, he loved it! Dr. Burgess and Rodger continued their partnership putting on magic shows at colleges and fund raising events all over Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Eventually, the house building business began to consume more and more of his time, but he can still be coaxed up on stage occasionally.
Magic is alive and well in Kentucky. In the late 70's Rodger met two other young magicians who worked at Tombstone Junction, a local tourist attraction near Cumberland Falls State Park. Their names were Lance Burton and Mac King. Rodger quickly formed friendships with them and for the next two years they were invited to his home for magic sessions with other magicians in the area. During this same time frame Rodger visited Abbott's Magic in Colon, Michigan where he met owner Recil Bordner and other magical greats Monk Watson and Neil Foster. It was at that meeting that Abbott’s bought the rights to Rodger’s “Ball Box” effect, and his career as a magic inventor started. Since then he has developed many effects and has worked with magic greats Michael and Hannah Ammar as well as others.
While attending the Abbott’s Magic Get Together in Colon from 1977-1981 Rodger became good friends with Neal Foster. This friendship influenced him to take the Mail Order Chavez Course under Neal. After graduation his stage act was off and running. He is a founding member of the Cumberland Valley Magicians Association and a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 198, The Lexington Magic Guild.
Close-up magic has become Rodger’s latest interest. He has developed more than a dozen original effects using a variety of props such as cards, coins, cigarettes, and cell phones. Something for everyone! Rodger’s magical effects sell worldwide now. He and his wife Karen stay busy assembling and packaging their products. Everything is done, at home, in their magic studio overlooking the lake. Murphy’s Magic Supplies distributes their effects or you can contact Rodger directly for more information.
Rodger and Karen still hold occasional magic get-togethers at their home from time to time. Rodger is unselfish and ready to share and help any magician no matter their age. He says “Magic is an wonderful art form, it should be passed down one to another, Magician to magician. Generation after generation.”
After this article Rodger will no longer be magic’s best-kept secret!