Hold on to your tophats...here we go...
It took me four days to collect my thoughts. I was very pleased with the convention, even though the slogan "It's About the Magic" didn't live up to its promise. Like all conventions most of the fun is found around the dinner tables, lobbys, or back in the rooms. For the guy who mentioned that there were too many wheelchairs and power chairs running around...I wonder if you went out of the way to hear their story. Most guys were seasoned, and have attended many conventions. I'll give you an example of what happened to me during the Dinner Gala. My roomate (that I met here on the Genii Forum) (let's just call him "Joe") and I tried to get good seats during the open seating Gala Dinner. We decided to sit with some fossils, but before I would sit down, I wanted to make sure these were guys who "knew" magic....I was trying to get everyone around the table talking, by keeping the ad-lib humor flowing. I soon uncovered that one gal was once married to a New York Yankee, and her new magician husband was very instrumental to inventing the internet, (way before Al Gore). After a couple of hours one chap was very queit, in fact I joked that "You can't get this guy to shut-up"...Only to find out that we were sitting with the only American FISM Winner for Illusion!! Humble? very...Well that beat the hell out of the Ex to a Yankee pitcher...Everyone has a story. On the other hand, the saddest moment for me was walking past Ali Bongo sitting by himself one very late night up at the Bridge Bar.
Opening Day Gala. Most was covered by Dustin with precision. There was one funny moment where Mac King was doing a shadow tent illusion and "bonked" the load in the head with his flashlight! Perhaps my favorite act is/was Veronin. It has been 15 years since I have seen him. I ran out of the Portugal theatre after the water tank expolded, thinking that the water would shut off the power and lights...missing an impromptu Veronin. As many things would come full circle for me at the convention, I wound up 24 stories up, looking out at the Ohio river with Veronin, and JT (documentary maker) late late Saturday night talking mostly about televised magic till 4am. This was the highlight, until the next day as I was sitting on a airliner next to... who I thought was the best contest act...more on that later.
(Sorry this whole review is dis-jointted, as a black bear just walked past my back deck!)
David Garrard spent about 1/4th of his time on stage with his back facing us...
How sad is it that Lance Burton didn't show up? He has at least two years to reserve the date(s), That may well have been the biggest disappointment.
The "never to be repeated" lectures didn't work for Jim Steinmeyer. In his case I would have rather sat through a lecture he did perhaps hundreds of times for book stores during his "Elephant Tour", than sit through the teaching or four or five tricks like it was a local SAM meeting. This may well have been the biggest disappointment...(shoot, I think I awarded this to another guy). Jim is perhaps the biggest and best we have, I wanted to hear stories about working with the top illusionists...or how one day a solution finally came about during a visit to a toy store, or where he thinks this art is going. His big lesson? "Don't perform junk"...Thanks Jim.
Close-up competition:Day 1
Bob Swadling (UK) Single cards changed, Coin in bottle, 4 cards signed, found,kept throwing and spinning, aand dropping. Bad Trouser joke. Malini Card Sword.
Dai Hewga (Japan) He had one of the only original tricks of the convention. Cellophane card wrap (by itself), cards slowly appear inside the Cellophane. Di provided his own I-pod boombox, and was used later when a signed card was found inside an I-pod. He may have failed to find 1 of 3 cards...
Cory Bragar (NY) Lawyer routine filled with jokes, puns, magic. She has a nice voice....Character changes into a Ninja, but by the third or fourth time trying to crack a baord in half, my arm was hurting!
Rod Chow, (Canada) Mr. Money. Better than he was in Boston.
Geno Mozzarella (CO). Mobster style. Good jokes. 4 cards to 4 pockets. Dice under Fedora.
Omar Ferret (FL). Couldn't decide if he wanted his sleeves/cuffs up or down. Lots of abrupt music changes. Nice appearing shot glasses, bottle, Ends with a teapot?
Michel & Yannick (Canada). Human deck of cards. Best joke so far.."Did you know that Alex Elmsley had four children? But we've only seen 3 of them..." I didn't think this act was "close-up".
Eric Leclerc (Canada). Enters in a bathrobe. Plays the part of a psycho. "When Rice Krispies talk...I listen". Very funny. Bottlecap in bottle. A sellable act. His bathrobe sleeve rolls up by "Invisible friends", very inventive... Signed card in pill bottle. With a manic voice he points to the first row ...and asks "Hey, are you guys judging me?"
Ali Shelley. (NY) Stewardess character full of jokes, puns, probably written by Cory Bragar. Only bit I remembered "Oxygen masks will drop and Oxygen will start to flow for a small surcharge of....."
Christian & Katalina (In.) A Mentalism team, not a close-up act.
Pat Petty (Swiss) Finds cards as a mime, Spanish dancer, Ninja card sword.
David Minkin (CA.) With the aid of Miss Lambert. He was a close-up act, using Sugar, Egg Timer, watch, and "Feels Like Rain" where he made rain appear.
Stage Contest Day 1.
An-Ha-Lim.(So. Korea) Split fans galore! What was really cool is that the fans were color coated, so if he dropped a certain number, it had to be precise, so the next deck could be the next color. I loved the way he turned his back to the audience and did an interlock production against his black tux, looked nice.
Just Alan.(Woodstock dude) He was Just.
Magic Chiaki. (Japan) He floated several boas, never the same one. The idea would be to use several methods, but use the same boa...Costume changes that didn't work.
Yuko (Japan) First of many gals. I love the international flavor, I couldn't figure out if the frilly things shes producing...are they Cheerleader pom poms? or ? but then she throws them to the ground where they break-up like spring flowers. I still have to idea if they were??? I dunno.. from my vantage, she had a nice appearing mask.
David Boyd (NY) Silly string to doves, nice. Old music (Planet Rock, 1980's). Billard balls that appeared with little splashes of confetti, good. His birds were not used to the blinding spot. Good choreography, weak ending, large cards with no pips. There is a problem with guys handling large decks of cards like they were all hinged together like they are 1 piece...the illusion should be like you are holding 52 seperate cards...
Bin Lin (China) Pink puffy things again, what are they? She would spin them around, and every now and then a silk would drop from them. Best costume! Billard balls the size of marbles. Pink balls against her pink outfit. Nice ending with the silk streamers on a stick, I heard from the top FISM dog that this was not her real ending, as she felt she was rushed on stage, and things went wrong. I guess she left the stage in tears.. Too bad. And here is my international revelation # 1. I sat through her three minutes of dancing ribbons...and thought this isn't magic. maybe more like an Olympic sport, like Olga Korbet with her ball... but later that day I was thinking, I should show that ribbon on a stick stuff to my 2 year old...and thought that, to a 2 year old....the ribbons ARE MAGICAL.
Michael Tallon (TX). Tried to find a card as 400 pieces of music are edited together to tell the story. The audience loved it, but?? You couldn't sell this act due to Copyright crap.
Sterling Dietz (WA) Black lights and ribbon dance. Strong music, Nice choreography. Rings, Split fans.
Roger Benoit (Canada) Multiplying bottles with? 20 or more bottles. Nice Gold outfit. Music at the beginning "I feel good" didn't work. He had some nice bits with a silk in the shotglass, jumping.
Fuji Yama (Japan) Nice costume. Rings. Some nice juggling style moves. 3 rings, with one flipping up over his head, landing around his neck. Vanishes the rings at end, weak...then appearance of a large 6 foor ring, and he does a German Ring-Cirque style acrobatics. Too long, as he made sure he hit all of the ring figures, and tricks.
Zihao Liu (China) Split fans with confetti, costum change at the end, to??? A Bed-sheet?
David Kaplan (Ohio) I haven't laughed so hard in ten years. Thanks David, you probably made my convention.
Elliot Zimet (NY) Roller shoes, spray paint, doves, cell phone to glasses, appearing bills, lots of bling. END OF CONTEST
Johnny Rock on Marlo. he had this 8mm footage of Marlo that was beyond words.
There was a rumour started by Dorny and a few old timers about this monkey at the Lincoln Park Zoo that could do a double lift. when they got to Marlo, he asked "does the monkey use a double push off, or a strike!" Very funny.
David Ben on Vernon...David had video of himself doing card stuff that was nice.
Evening Show...North American Gala Show. Dale was stale. Isn't that Neil's act? Finney stole the show. Stan needs a new bit. Danny Cole has this invisible chair illusion that is to die for. Kohl's old. James Brandon should have invested his earnings from the Icy Hot spot somewhere else. Craig covered this show best.
Day 3 . Comedy lecture. Finney had a great line "My grandfather used to tell me to eat your spinach, don't you want to grow up and be Popeye...At 9 years old even I knew that Olive Oil was no prize!". There was great bits going between Mac, David and Finney about who was voted # 1...
Derek Selinger (Canada)Top Hat production, great levitation with a street lamp and garbage can. Flip stick, split fans...should have ended with the illusion,
Jason Bishop. Illusion with a 80 pound girl. Origami syle, fold n fold stuff doesn't work with teenaged waifs. Sad story about growing up in an orphanage, split fans.
Omar Ferret (USA) Lots of appearing drinks, split fans, appearing bottles, good floating Martini glass.
Trigg. Unique appearance. He had an illusion that I will say was the best of the convention. He starts to pull a really really long streamer from his tophat. The hat is sitting on a niteclub style table that is draped with cloth. Well, the cloth accidently drops revealing a large spool of the streamers from below the table. trigg doesn't see this, and proceeds to grab the hat from the table, and continues to pull streamers from the hat...but now you see the large spool in the table spinning up, and streamers from the hat...but??? no streamers between the table and hat, a great bit of buisness. Congrats to Trigg, I thought this was the best bit of the convention.
Red Hat. (Korea) Masks, great fun. Color Changes that I just couldn't keep up with. He has dozens of appearing masks. The only problem is that the masks were a tad small, maybe only four inches around.
Andost (IL.) New stuff, magic with lamps, lots of color changes with colored lamp lights and Delite. I thought the stage was too dark.
Tim Trust and Julie. (Germany) Mentalist bit. Couldn't figure out how? Hard to sell to a magic audience, probably really strong to lay audience.
Kyoko (Japan) What's with the jet-pack on her back? It's like the Geisha girls have mattresses strapped to their backs. 5 minutes of Butterfly and fan.
Reed Sisters (Ohio). Dove to rabbit, very strong. There was a jailhouse rock themed cage, and a Metamorphosis. The problem is that the sisters all look the same. Same hair, same glittery costumes....They need to be different. Too many guys said..."like a blonde, a red-head, and a brunette"...have they not heard this from anyone? Huge potential if they can work out three different characters. Music changes were abrupt. Someone take these girls under their wings and work out an act, I can see them going far with just a few tweeks.
Shawn Farquhar. (Canada) Great close-up. Shawn I know you reed this Funny Forum, and thanks for pointing out that DVD "need not apply" thing, but where did you ever get the idea that a stage contest consisted of a camcorder, a widescreen, and a deck of cards?? I loved the bit, but this wasn't a "stage" act. And, with a tight close-up like that, I really felt your hands shake. I was like, give this guy some Jiffy Pop kernels, and a Rocco routine with popcorn.
Darcy Oak (Canada) Nice suede suit, doves.
Close-up show. I was fooled many times. Brian Gillis forgot to give some ladies watch back. Glad I finally got to see Dr. Sawa...
Day 4.. Started out with a David Williamson Lecture. Someone get him some blow. He "just missed" all week. Each at bat was like a grounds-rule double...nothing out of the park. His best stuff is with a camera crew and a late night of editing. Give this guy a television show. His wit is so fast. I love the way he can take a politically correct situation, and quickly reverse it to make you cringe. He gets a great deal of humor out of taking to opposite of correctness and exploiting it exponentially.... To some guy jostling his pants. "Are you????(laugh) or are you???(laugh)..Oh, he's fitting a Thumb-tip!" He had laypeople on stage with three hand-picked guys, with different years of experience, trying to do tricks with ordinary objects, great fun!
Tony Chapek (US) Gets better and better each time.
Jei-Min (South Korea). Lots of Costume changes with Disney themed plots, multiplying apples. But, the biggest illusion was his floating girl. Fabulous! She was floating right in front of him, smooth... on, up, down, off. Stabilty is the key, and this one looked nice!
David Sousa (Portugal). There was a time when I think I liked this act. But, this time it was pretty annoying. First of all the music has three lyrics "I knew a girl" or whatever, and it is sung with 46 chord changes. David doesn't move, its like his shoes have been glued to the stage. The crowd loved him, I think the first time you see him, you like the act, after that.....He manipulated cards, envelopes, hearts...I wrote in my notes.. Black on black against black..lack.
Skilldini. (US) Tim has been better. I believe a grad of Chavez, some of his smoothness is well practiced. His best bit of business is after he produces four balls, and keeps trying to take them away one at a time into a hat...gets the crowd going to a mini frenzy. I miss the sword swallowing, tooth brush comedy.
Oh Young Jung (So. Korea) The gals of the East spare no expense on costumes! This outfit was just beautiful! She worked in the obligatory costume changes, lots of appearing fans, with a big 5 foot fan finish. So, now I am starting to question the way some parasols are produced, top of parasol (or nipple) towards the audience, with the body of the parasol heading back stage, and starting to question if this is really the way we should be making parasols appear, the handling in un-natural.....great for hiding the buisness, but awkward upon appearance. Unless you quickly flick the parasol, and grab the base. I think umbrella workers should look for better ways to make them appear.
Christian and Katalina. (In). Mid-way themed Mentalist act. game of chance with four gals from the audience. All kinds of predictions matched, too many for words, fast paced, too busy...maybe too many predictions, with no real zoink at the end. Katalina was hot!
Soma (Hungary). Great bit with a self rolling suitcase. Hand (ala Adams family) inside suitcase. Newspaper tear with a dropped piece, Music rewinds, piece jumps back off the floor into packet, restored..Nice.
Tim Trust (Germany). This was my favorite act, by far...and how he didn't reach the top 6 was beyond me. What was so wrong with this act, that the judges didn't give it that extra nod? This was the most sell-able, entertaining, promising act I have seen in years. Tim sports a huge Top-hat! Great look. This Tim Burton style costume was bigger than life! Not, just "I'm a magician"...but " I am THE magician", and he wore it with confidence. This was a Hans Moretti style act with Julie getting into the box, and swords being not just pushed into the cardboard box, but slung through the cardboard, with the music also building to a wonderful crescendo. With a stop for some dramatic blood drippings, the music builds again louder and louder as even more swords go in....Applause, then her hand rises from the top of the box....Wilting in death, Tim proceeds to pull off her wedding band, and offer it to some gal in the front row...But wait! Julie's hand says, "come here with that ring" it points. The ring goes back on her finger, swords come out, Julie is now in a new Costume, waving a huge flag on a staff. Both bow to the audience, and as they leave Julie keeps waving the flag, and tries to knock Tim's head off with a round-house, Tim ducks just in a nick-of-time. Pure fun, lots of entertainment. I talked to a lot of guys who were of the opinioin this act was going to pull the pot....A real disappointment they didn't even make top six. I sure would like to know why...
Kouyou Sugaya (Japan) The genuine thing about "The Zombie" is that the illusion to the audience is of some futuristic liquid Mercury moving about a silk cloth. Anything else... is a boa on a stick, or a mask on a stick... I have only seen one other thing levitate behind a cloth, that looks "real" and that is McBride's mask. Kouyou had a Geisha (I think) girl mask that "came alive". It bounced, jittered, and stunk..
Nathan Kepner (Penn). Zoot suit themed, with appearing Fedoras, great appearing saxaphone, a few split fans, and also pulled the knob off his jukebox, and used it well. My only problem with this act was that the two props he used...were mis-matched. He had an easel, next to a jukebox...Those two never got along. The easel was used to produce a flute , and that was fantastic. If he can get the easel out of the act, he will have a very nice show. The disappearance of the saxaphone at the end was really strong, and a great way to end.
Charming, Charming Charming Choi (Korea). Talked about the Disney movie The Little Mermaid. He performed underwater cups and balls. The best bit is the last load of dozens of fish swimming about. Boy, there is something "kicker" about making hundreds of fish suddenly appear in a tank of water...it is because they all swim in lots of directions, kind of like throw streamers, the way they just branch out...
Kieko Muto (Japan) Silks, loud American Pop music, flip sticks...what are they? Oh it's not a stick, its a fan... Then more fans.
Chin Chin (USA) Really bad crap to heavy loud rave music. I really wanted some rave guy to suceed, but this one couldn't be seen. Snowstorms were lost into the blacklight. Somebody needs to fill the rave/magic void. This one missed.
Peter Pitchford (Penn). Tribute to Cardini. Some of the local clubs should hire him as entertainment...
Timo Marc. (Germany). Interaction with screen. I see a great many acts like this in the future, as we saw three last week. I think the new generation of kids are having a difficult time differentiating between reality and say...You-tube. This could be exploited by magicians. The question is, what is the plot? Timo had a bunch of well-timed interactions with a stupid monitor....and? His shadow stuff behind an even bigger monitor fooled me...I did not think it was half-dozen worthy.
Close-up Day 2
Apparently FFFF owns the only half-mooned close-up table in the World...
Charming Charming Charming Choi, (Korea) Coin matrix that had coins moving by themselves! Not too sure if this works for the lay crowd.
John Born (NY) I liked the way he took his close-up table into his lap. I don't think I have ever seen this. Copper Silver. Another sad grandfather-taught-me-never-got-to-see-me-perform story...The best, was when he was so smitten with applause, he just walked off the floor and left his guest just standing there...with prop in hand. Welcome to New York Jack...I ain't splitting no applause with you! Get your own!
Galambos (Hungary) Cups and balls to music "77 Sunset Strip"..Too fast, way to fast. Big balls and coins finish. Bald guy, who should have powered his dome. he used smoke as an appearance...I think smoke should be used as a disappearance, and never as an appearance. Lots of big-really big coins at end.
Marc Oberon (UK). Best in show. Here was my choice. Card named to wallet, gold balls multiply, appearing apple to big chrome ball, color changing roses, orgami swan to gold swan. A very nice patter that talks about Myths and life. Coins for an encore...
Tallan & Gorman (TX). Dueling Cups and Balls. Some nice bits, nice costume shtick. Don't know who to watch as they performed side by side...Not a sellable act.
Toto (Japan) This was an interesting act whereby he always led you down one path, maybe even with a slight reveal...but then zoinked you in the head with something even better...to the tune of... thumbs to the ears wiggling fingers and the words "It's maaaaaaagic". Great fun, lets all get drunk and go downtown to see this guy work the bar. He makes sure he is having fun with you, and it was very fun indeed.
That is all I can report as I got caught up in a trip to visit "The third largest Antique and Flea Market in the Nation"...only to be real disappointed to find "soxs from Walmart, expired cosmetics, knock-off sunglasses, and Hank Williams CD's...So, let me stay on this topic for a short bit...When you throw together activities for the wives, keep in mind that you should also do whatever research it takes to make sure that they also have a good time, even if you don't see any of their money. Ask the local magicians, or read up about what you are offering. Just don't go by what some fly-by-night magazine tells you. There were maybe 100 dealers, not the "thousands" offered by some mag, and only two of them sold "Antiques"...I got in a big stare down with one of the top dogs over "false advertisement", and demanded a cab ride refund. Its simple...know what you are offering outside the convention, or don't offer it.
Derek Lever's lecture on inventors was fun...not too sure if any of it was usable today, but there was some pretty ingenuous methods kicked about. I really liked this, and I would like to see more of this at conventions. Too many times, the lectures are cards, cards, cards...this was props! I would study the shots from the Klosterman, or Copperfield collection and ponder..."What the heck is that?" This guy had...THAT, and revealed the thinking behind it object. The next day at the Jay Marshall auction I met this guy who has a website www.oldmagicprops.com
where he has a section called "What is it?"...Terry Harris used to run something in a trade mag, but they nixed it, because the answer may not be revealed for six or seven months...but you may find this webcrib interesting.
International Gala Show...Craig covered this very well...I really have nothing to add, except I really would have liked to see Roxy's regular routine. The hair stuff didn't work. Jerome Helfenstein (France) was really entertaining the way he interacted with a shadowy/monitor. The problem with the act is, you never get to see his face. The eyes are the gateways to the sole. I want to meet you first, get to know you, then let you do your tricky shadowy things, but not until I know who you are. His cat-like movements under the screen was more interesting than the objects on the screen. If this guy walked by me on the street today...I wouldn't know who he was...It was very entertaining, but it wasn't even like watching automatons, they have faces...
Sos and Victoria (Russians I believe) Here the question is...do you want the audience to see that you are struggling inside the tube/screen?...Most of the costumes were exchanged inside 2 foot black tubes, but you saw arms and elbows protruding left and right, many times in the exchange...wouldn't it more magical if they went with a three foot curtain, with no body parts bouncing off the fabric? I heard they will be rocking The Big Apple Circus next month...Good for them. The kids were cool, but I would have liked to see the time slot filled with a more professional act. They had a lot of time too. Topas was fun, as always. Wayne Dobson was cool...I think he had a great time too!
That was all the notes I took. There was a Lobster Dinner for 1000 somewhere in there...
Comeback player of the year goes to Sandy Marshall and Magic Inc...they are doing one hell of a job getting that back on its feet. God bless Sandy!
You never realize just how good Ketchup is until running around these style conventions... God Bless Ketchup...and Sandy Marshall.................and butter.
The only thing I wanted in the Dealer's room was a $700 locking reel!
To my suprise I got to spend four hours talking to Tim Trust in the airport and flying to Detroit. This was the highlight of my convention. In fact that night the seven of us New Yorkers fried each other over Pizza, Veronin 24 floors up, and Tim Trust on a plane...stuff that wasn't paid for...the "paid convention" stuff sucked old eggs...but the chance to meet a few of the guys you admired, either your whole life, or just learned about yesterday...this made my convention.
Thanks Richard for keeping this Forum open, as the roomates I found here on your Forum were most interesting of all.
I did think it was...as billed "The Convention of the Century".