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A Chronicle Of The Passing Scene


Teen-Age Hocus-Pocus

Ryan Selter dreams of playing the Pantheon of Prestidigitation, the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

In anticipation, the Agoura Hills magician has spent four years learning about 200 tricks and made more than 100 play-for-pay performances, which is noteworthy because Ryan is only 13.

The Lindero Canyon Middle School seventh-grader lives with two siblings and his parents. His mother, Cathy Selter, is his booker, driver and assistant when he puts on a show.

"I love it just as much as he does," says the all-purpose mom.

According to Ryan, his interest in magic came from his father. "He got a magic kit from my mother and worked with it for a while; then I started up," he said.

His first performance was for his family, but he quickly took his show on the road.

He's performed for schools, churches and civic organizations, but his most frequent bookings are for children's birthday parties and include many repeat performances, which is a blessing and a curse.

"It means that my mom has to keep notes on exactly what illusions I performed at whose party so that I don't do the same ones the following year, and that I have to keep learning new illusions all the time," he said.

There is one trick all the kids want repeated. He makes a rope look as if it goes in one side of his neck and comes out the other. "If they've seen me do it before, they always ask me to do it again," he says.

Ryan charges about $70 a performance. Some of that he saves and some he invests in businesses.

His own.

"He has a business that does stained-glass windows. He takes commissions, and he and his brother, Shaun, who's 11, do the work," their mother says.

The young magician always has been poised and professional well beyond his tender years.

Cathy Selter remembers a Mother's Day luncheon two years ago where about 500 women and their offspring were waiting for Ryan to perform.

"I almost choked when I saw the size of the crowd," she says.

Ryan, noticing her butterflies, put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her and said, "I can do this, Mom."

For Those Who Would Be Carded

Len Shapiro of Woodland Hills has a 2-year-old company that makes business cards for major league fans of just about any sport.

Instead of the usual boring name, company rank and telephone number, he does them up to look like trading cards, with your color picture on the front and relevant information printed on the back.

He says his cards also have been used as birth announcements and for showcasing professional models, as well as for physicians, policemen, dogs and a nun.

The cost is 50 for $37, 100 for $42 and 200 for $49. People send him the picture and a check, and he does the rest.

"I got the idea when I wanted to have the cards made for my brother Steve's 40th birthday," says Shapiro. "He is a baseball fanatic, and it just seemed like the right thing to do."

The printers and other production people he first went to told him they couldn't do it. "Then I was lucky enough to find a computer graphics person who said he could do the job," he says.

That was in October of 1990. By March of 1991 he decided to go into the baseball business full time.

He's quit his job as a sales representative for a shoe company and invested $10,000 of his own money to get his Grandstand Cards started. He now spends his time marketing his product, which is, as far as he knows, the only such company on the West Coast.

A Deep Lesson

Keiko Hentell, principal of Burbank High School, believes in demonstrating class lessons, which is why she was pleased to have some of her students at a recent particular luncheon.

What the young people were learning was the age-old wisdom of corporate fund-raisers:

Feed first, then ask for money.

The students are members of the school's Academy of Finance, a national program that helps high school students gain insight into the world of business and finance in the classroom and in the neighborhood.

In addition to the program's students, and some members of the faculty and outside program supporters, certain deep-pocketed members of the community were invited to the luncheon as honored, and targeted, guests. The luncheon was in the dining room of the Airport Hilton Hotel in Burbank.

Money was needed for items that varied from a Wall Street Journal subscription to computers and a VCR.

After everyone had been well fed, instructor Nancy Leonard, who heads the academy program, spoke to the Deep Pockets. Then some of the youngsters did likewise.

By the end of the event, money for most of the items had been pledged.

"It was a nice way to introduce students to the idea of a power lunch," Hentell said.

Never Too Old for the Write Stuff

On Mabel Chapman's 100th birthday, she was curious to know about the sales of her first book.

At the age of 95, she decided to become an author. She wrote a part-fact, part-fiction account of the Donner party's troubled quest to come to California in the mid-1800s. The book by the woman who lives in a Canoga Park nursing home is called "At Great Price."

Her son, Blair Chapman, 71, of North Hills, says it took her about two years to do the research and two years to write it. Her granddaughter, Joanne Ronce of Irvine, did the artwork. Blair Chapman had it printed and is doing the marketing of the book, which sells for $5.95.

He doesn't see anything unusual in his mother's late start in literature.

"She's been a teacher and educator all her life. This project is something she's always wanted to do," he says.


"Her idea of making the world a better place to live in is to join the 'I hate Shannen Doherty' club."

--One teen-age girl to another at the cosmetic counter in Bullock's Northridge Fashion Center

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