It is with mixed emotions that I learned today that Jay Sankey is no longer charging magicians an annual fee for the right to purchase magic through his Web site. I suppose that this is fine for young magicians and those who do not have a large magic “war chest,” but to those of us who have spent decades trying to keep our secrets safe from the undeserving, it feels like Sankey has thrown the gates of heaven open and let the golden clouds pour out upon the heads of those below.

Sankey was nice enough to send me a $20 gift certificate to help make up for the annual dues I paid some time ago. This was a fine gesture, but the fact of the matter is that I paid more than $12,000 for the right to purchase merchandise through his site. I was assured that this was a deeply discounted price by Gerald, my local Web access guy (he works in an abandoned crack house two blocks from my mansion and is the same guy who sold me a license to shop at Amazon.com for only $4,000), and I still remember the difficulty in getting the funds together because Gerald says that Web access fees can only be paid in cash.

Not that I feel ripped off in the slightest. Sankey is a hero amongst magicians — possibly the only magician in the history of magic who could have possibly showed David Copperfield how he could make the Statue of Liberty disappear using only a paper clip and sly misdirection. I’ll certainly continue to purchase products from Sankey and write about him at Mallusionist.com, but it will be with a tear in my eye and a remembrance of the day when only those who were willing to pony up big bucks could be part of the Sankey-DVD-purchasing fraternity.