So, How was MAGIC Live?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby erdnasephile » 08/23/11 02:46 PM

For those who were there: how was it, and what were your impressions? Did it live up to it's predecessors?
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Postby Martin Kaplan » 08/23/11 03:39 PM

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/23/11 03:51 PM

Any news on the auction? Any prices realized published?
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Postby MaxNY » 08/23/11 11:36 PM

I have been to all 5 Magic Live conventions. When I was there...I was saying that this wasn't up to par, but now I look back and can fairly say that this was just as good as the others. My report is still coming, just need a few hours to get thoughts down.

@ Kevin the auction was held right in the middle of the Dealer's room. There were not enough chairs, too much distractions. I wrote all prices down, if you can't find them I will post them here for you.

As a sort of tease, I will say that splitting up the whole group sucked. You would run into a friend Sunday night, and not see them again till Wednesday night. By doing this split you could never book...say a Jason Alexander. "Oh, By the way Jason...we want you to do this interview...twice." Ain't gonna happen. I also felt like I was the test audience for several guys who were trying out their Corporate Key-note Bang the Drum... Get things Rolling...speech. Too many Marketeers. Just what I wanted, to go to a Magic Convention to find out that my marketing sucks.

Kornhauser's dog got a full minute laugh, without Mark saying one thing. I really thought that this was one of those Carson moments where the situation ONLY caused the laugh. But, again this happened for the first group only, by the second group, the dog Zsa Zsa...figured out that it was she who was on the big screens. By splitting up the groups, there were no more inside jokes for 1,000. Everything was scripted, Nothing ran over. DAMNIT nothing ran over. DO NOT RUN OVER! We gotta move people around here, this room needs to start the next program ON TIME. For me, the inside jokes...Penn interrupting Mac King 20 times...just to get Mac's full story out...that was Magic Live. Now, it's shuffle from one room to the next hurry hurry.

I once attended the very last Close-up show at FISM Portugal. Williamson, Malone...they were lit. No real magic, drunk boys at a frat party. I have chosen the Mid-night show ever since. I just don't know how Josh Jay did 6 shows, but I really felt as if my show (6th..12am start) was just as fresh as the first. This guy is perfection, in every thing he touches. Let me remind you that two years ago we (at Magic Live) were getting daily reports on if he was still alive...Two years later...just magic.

I also miss Stan. He is such a professional on stage, his quips were golden. He always generated big laughs. I don't know why he wants to take a back seat.

I'm glad the convention was back at the Orleans. Great prices. Things are getting a little old, old TV's....But, the free shuttle to the strip saved each one of us probably $40 or $50 dollars.

..and then....and then there was a dude from California who loved to show the after hours bar crowd that he was capable of pushing a quarter into his eye, around his temples, and out the other eye. Yes, I was warned. I even got this on Flip, but think that if I post it, perhaps I'd be breaking some sort of law. This was wrong, just horrible. I witnessed a frontal labotomy with un-scrubbed fingers. He didn't use his own fingers, he sort of sucker some real heavies into inserting their fingers deep into his brain cavity. Just wrong. I couldn't sleep that night. Guys were calling out in the name of Jesus. Somebody stop this man/boy before he looses his vision, or his life. (There might be a small sample of this on the Magic Live Midnight tapes). Just wrong...

More later...
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Postby Master Payne » 08/24/11 01:20 AM

Im not one that regularly goes to conventions. Especially the big ones. I usually stick with the small regional conferences near my home. So its unusual for me to attend a convention with over a couple hundred attendees. In fact apart from MAGIC Live the only other big convention Ive attended was a WMS about a decade ago that I was less than impressed with.
However I found MAGIC Live to be a remarkable conference. The shows alone were worth the price of admission. Juan Varellas From the Dark a magic show for the blind was a unique experience. Not something I might wish to attend again. But I am glad I went and it is doubtful that any other convention out there would have tried to mount such an unusual program. Also Divided We Stand a show devoted entirely to the Sawing a Woman in Two illusion was another innovative step forward. A truly enjoyable program that I hope others will be able to see someday. Who would of thought that a show featuring a half dozen variations of the sawing illusion interspersed with Mike Caveney detailing the history of the trick could be so enjoyable. Far better in my opinion than the typical Parade of Stars showcase show one usually sees at conventions.
Unfortunately I missed Joshua Jays show but I heard nothing but rave reviews about it and I am now sorry I missed it.
I thought the General Sessions ran a little long. Perhaps one less speaker would have made them more manageable. But then who to cut? I though each one had a great mix of magic and information. Its nice to see a talks at a magic conference that arent all about tricks and marketing. The stand out lectures for me were Levents excellent talk on the Linking Rings. Paul Kieves discussion on magic in Movies and West End shows and Hobsons talk on his approach to the performance of magic.
Ill agree the focus sessions seemed a little rushed because of time restraints. But all the ones I attended were informative and put together well. I liked the fact that you could choose the programing you were interested in seeing. Most conventions Ive attended usually have a single track of programing. So if there is a lecture youre not particularly interested in seeing youre sort of stuck to hanging about in the lobby of the hotel as they generally shut the dealers room down while the lectures are taking place.
This didnt happen at MAGIC Live as the dealers room was generally open so you could browse to your hearts content if you didnt want to go to the General or Focus sessions.
So all in all I had a great time and Ill try not to miss one of these conventions in the future
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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/24/11 09:50 AM

I should add that Master Payne's talk was the comedic hit of the convention.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 08/24/11 02:11 PM

Magic Live

Sunday - I arrive around 3pm and check in to the hotel and the convention. I immediately see a few recognizable and friendly faces like Mike Close, Barrie Richardson, the Buck twins and Brad Henderson.

I've never been to a big convention before and I'm attending this one to help a friend in the dealer room. But more importantly I'm here to help promote with clips and quotes for Tony Cabral's new DVD that I've been working on.

The dealer room opens at 7:30 pm and we are slammed. Some of the dealers include Mark Mason, Hocus Pocus, Losander, Norm Neilson, Promystic, Keven James, Wellington, H&R Books, Daytona Magic, Kozmo, Cressey, magic Jewlery, and more.

The opening celebration was a look at 20 yrs of Magic Magazine with probably 30 magicians that were on the cover over the years up on stage including David Williamson, Mac King, Michael Finney, mark Wilson, Marvyn Roy, Homer Liwag, Chris Kenner, Jonathan Penndragon, Kozmo, etc....

The dealer room stayed packed until 11:30, mainly due to a periodic raffle that kept attendees in the room. The more you purchased the more chances you were given in the raffle - one ticket for every $20 spent that evening.

Day 2 - Monday. They have all lectures and shows scheduled on a rotating basis to accommodate the crowd and I have nothing scheduled till later in the day. I'm up at 5:30 because I'm still on east coast time. Dealer room opens at 11am.

The first lecture I saw was a close up lecture hosted by Michael Ammar. Unfortunately they don't have a camera and the room holds 200, so seeing is a bit of an issue. Some performers in the close up session have video clips so that helps. Ammar describes a torn and restored effect and then introduces Jason England. He was going to do a discussion on the push through shuffle but his video clips got corrupted, so he talks about two Erdnase palms. As usual with Jason, it was excellent.

Next is John Lovick who teaches his version of the $100 bill switch. Richard Sanders rounds out the session with several card tricks that use a glue pen to create sticky back or sticky face cards.

The second lecture was a stage/stand up lecture with Johnny Thompson. He performed and explained about six things including a dove production, coin in bottle, cigarette production, mental card trick using his version of the Koran deck and a few more.

I work the dealer room some more and actually get to walk around a bit. Garret Thomas is the [censored]. His work is so smooth. I buy his Stand Up Monte routine and his new marked deck. He's marked the deck on the opposite corners (bottom left/top right) than usual for several reasons - you can see marks when doing peek, when a spectator takes a card they'll usually put their finger right on the mark of traditional marked deck, etc...

The first show of the evening for me starts at 10pm. It's a live documentary of the sawing the woman in two trick. Mike Caveney hosts the show and gives a detailed history of the effect from Selbit to Goldin to Thurston to Wakeling. In-between the slides and clips are actual performances of the trick by Jonathan Penndragon, Greg Wilson, Kevin James and Kalin & Ginger Lynn. Fun and interesting presentation.

The final show this evening is called Magic in the Dark, which ironically is what I titled my wedding night. I have no idea what this is going to be. A friend 'sees' the show first and tells me it's worth it. When you enter the ballroom it is almost totally dark. You're then handed a blind fold to put on and escorted to your chair. A box about the size to hold a grapefruit is strapped to your leg and shown how it opens but told not to open it yet and not to take off the blindfold.

The magician begins and Juan Varella explains that we're going to experience a magic show he developed for the blind. So for the next 50 minutes he performs several tricks that utilize your other senses. One was taking a ring from the box and placing it on a finger. After making several free choices on moving the ring from finger to finger he's able to tell that the entire audience has the ring on the third finger. (magician was blindfolded too we were told)

Another trick involved having a spectator come up to the front and place a coin in either hand and we was able to tell which hand every time. We knew he was correct because the spectator was told to open a hand and if he was right we heard the coin hit the hard surface of the table.

Another was a Hotel 52 type of effect were audience members got to decide which cards stayed and which were eliminated. In the end, the selected card was the two of hearts. In the box was a bag with two heart shaped stones inside.

It really was a fascinating evening and I'm glad I attended.

Tuesday -

Most of the day was spent in the dealers room. I did get to a few things. The one lecture was coffeehouse magic with Greg Wilson and Dave Grippenwalt which is based on their similarly named column in Magic. Everything taught was basically impromptu with things from the coffee shop. More interesting than I thought it was going to be and Greg Wilson is an entertaining lecturer.

Magic Mag hosted a magic museum with items from Copperfield, Lance Burton, Mike Caveney, S&R, and Mark Wilson. Nicely done.

The nice thing about this convention is that lectures and shows are repeated enough that you don't have to worry about crowds or scheduling issues for the most part. Also they give you nicely printed notes for all the lectures.

After dinner it was to Joshua Jays show. His one man close up show was held in one of the banquet rooms with racked seating holding probably 140 people. The stage was set with a desk, park bench, end table and easel all made of a clear lucite like material. A map was on the easel.

All the set pieces had an LED light underneath creating a slight rainbow effect on the edges of the furniture. He also had a large screen stage left showing photos with quotes relating to art and imagination that played pre show.

His show consisted of several close up pieces that all related to his life and his influences. A South American artist that takes video clips of everyday life and runs them backwards was the basis of a card trick that starts at the end. Hitchcock was the inspiration for another trick. Video clips of several old girlfriends begins a bill in lemon effect.

His final effect was a borrowed ring to stem of wine glass that was very impressive. The glass is given to the spectator to keep. The ring starts in the glass and is covered with a silk. The spectator places her hand on the top and bottom of the glass. She shakes it and we can hear the ring.

Josh steps away while she shakes it. He snaps his finger and the sound disappears while she continues to shake. He snaps again and the rattle comes back. The silk is removed and the ring is on the stem. She keeps the glass.

Tom Dobrowolski was the recipient of the glass in an earlier show. It was a fabulous show that was well scripted, smartly staged and quite enjoyable.

Afterwards at the bar I got to see a young whippersnapper, David Blaine-ish ruffian have Michael Weber sign a coin and the guy pushed it into his eye. He then took Michaels finger and push his finger knuckle deep into the young mans eye. The look on Micahels face was horrified to say the least.

The coin then made its way via his forehead and down the opposite cheek to his mouth. Where in the dealer room can I buy that?

Heres a clip


Wednesday

Wednesday's sessions for me began with Ian Rowland and his approach to mentalism. Quite an enjoyable talk as he performed several interesting routines. I also laughed at his summation of what it takes to successfully perform mentalism: "You have to be able to act well, lie well, and enjoy it."

The next session was on creativity with Mark Sediducatti. Mark's and interesting guy and I've had the chance to talk to him when I attended the NY Toy Fair 2 years ago. He definitely thinks differently and he went through a long list of toys and lay-oriented magic products that he's invented or produced for companies like Hasbro, Parker Bros, Milton Bradley, etc...

I unfortunately had to duck out to get back to the dealer room before he finished. The last day saw good traffic with a lot of guys waiting to buy in the hope of deals. I wanted one of Lossander's floating tables but at a retail price tag between $1200 and $2500 he wasn't willing to come down to my wallet size.

I didn't see but was told it was good talk by Johnny Palmer on restaurant work. Also the general session, which I also missed, had Armando Lucerno talking and teaching parts of his Matrix, Michael Weber taking good natured jabs at people, and Daryl giving his dealer pitch.

We then headed to the evening show - Carnival of Wonders starring Mark Kalin, Ginger Lee and Hobson.

I'm not a fan of box jumper shows and Mark can flirt with the earnest/over-earnest (read:sappy)line of demarcation at times, but the the show was very enjoyable. Really a lot of fun. Hobson is just incredible with impeccable comedic timing. It was a great capper to a well run and very enjoyable convention.

After the show we went upstairs for the closing party that had a cash bar and a mash potato bar. Yes that's right, a mash potato bar with all the fixins.

There was also a film festival showing and awards ceremony which I passed on and from a friend's assessment, it sounds like I made the right choice.

All in all a very good week.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 08/24/11 06:10 PM

Not much more for me to add other than Levent's lecture at the Monday general session was outstanding.

And I concur with the comments made about splitting the convention into two groups. Other than the kick-off and closing parties, there wasn't a single event which 100% of the attendees were in attendance at the same time. I missed the communal experience that didn't happen as a result.

But it was still a terrific convention!
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/24/11 09:26 PM

Jeff (or anyone else who saw Johnny Thompson lecture): did he fully explain his combination of the Nemo 1500 wallet and the Koran 5 Star Miracle? Is it described in his lecture notes?

Finally, did he mention anything about the book he is working on?

Thanks!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/24/11 10:30 PM

Jamy Swiss is still in the process of writing Johnny's book as far as I know.
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Postby MaxNY » 08/25/11 12:39 AM

I don't think Johnny mentioned anything about a book.

Master Payne was one of many highlights. He had great barbs while a visual power point presentation kept us all laughing at ourselves.

The Film Festival was a huge hit. 8 or 9 films were shown, they all were shot by very talented magicians. Some films may be viewed on the Magic Live after Midnight news reels. The winner was "The Magician's Wife" and can be viewed on the evening news reels. Williamson put together his own film, about having to sit through viewing these...of course his piece was the best. I believe parodies are easy today, I was hoping a serious film would have won...like mine (see other thread under Buzz).

"Divided We Stand" was a real treat. David Charvet as Harry Blackstone Jr. was too eerie. About a hundred guys had to stop him in the halls, just to hear his Blackstone voice. The hairs on the back of my neck rose up. He spent some time talking about how he insisted that 2 of Blackstone's original helpers be present, and also Bill Smith. He even dressed in Blackstone's Tux! It was good to see Pendragon back up on stage too. The Charvet piece was the convention highlight for many.

"Darkness" brought about many polarized opinions. I loved it. 2,000 ushers made sure you were blindfolded, then comfortably seated. A box was velcro'ed to your thigh. Great fun. many fell asleep, as you put blindfolds on guys who had sleep deprivation... I had an older brother who was blind, so this hit home for me. I wish he could have experienced this.

Dealers were great. Pure was the biggest hit. A terrific price point, and a wonderful illusion. I take back the crap I said about smoke from the mouth of a close-up contestant at SAM. I thought this guy was using poisonous chemicals, Boy was I wrong. I think we were all wondering just how Michaels would top his Helicopter from two years ago, but he did with a giant Scorpion. (check my avatar). I have a thing for Scorpions...especially the Italian car. Eric Jones is the coolest cat working today. I heard a buzz about some new Roughing stuff, but that is all I can tell you about it.

Spina showed a clip from Mr. Electric, then put newer music over it. I never, ever like lyrics in my magic music, she doesn't seem to mind. And, as we watched Mr. Roy pull about 60 bulbs from his mouth, a friends couldn't help but notice that some guys today are pulling only about 3 feet of LCD's.....? from their mouths. Jimi played it loud. You think these guys could fit 80 feet of LCD's.....anyway.

Some guys are looking old...I guess that happens.

Biggest surprise was the attendance of the Wilson's! Mark, Nani and Greg were selling off old scripts, DVD's all kinds of stuff from the vaults. Greg has the best smile, this guy is the real deal, and you can tell that he was in heaven. Great stories about the New York World's Fair...they showed some of their old corporate illusions. Huge! Tell me where else are you going to talk with one of your childhood idols? There was the Train Track Saw In Half performed during the "Divided We Stand" Show, with Mark and Nani on the big screen behind Greg and Company in front, just wonderful.

...and speaking of Swiss, he was there! This guy doesn't go to any magic get-togethers.

Hobson was on fire, and he knew it! My God was he hot during my show, (two Carnival shows the last night) "Bob" makes me laugh still, just hearing him say a stupid accent from a man's name. Hobson stole the show, and was there after hours trying to meet everyone that wanted to say hello..all 1,200 of us. I don't know how he smoldered that night. How does a guy who gives such a hot set like that, cool down?

No color scanning or cardboard paper at the Hotel Copy Center WTF?

Lack of water everywhere. Since the General sessions were held at the theatre...there was no decanter of water in the lobby. The few times I found a decanter, it was empty. I had to carry my water bottle around 21 hours out of the day.

The last evening's cake was loaded with rum, no warning. I have been sober for 13 years, I can't eat any rum cake....If I do, I'll be smoking crack with the bitches behind the Car Wash till 7am. A small sign would have been nice.

Weber was on Fire doing the news. He poked fun at all the guys who needed to be jabbed, including Bob Markwood......Groans from the whole audience. "What, too early?" It is a great sound to hear a whole audience groan, than a whole audience laugh. I viewed both his sets, after viewing the first, I went out of my way to view it again. But, again with the split groups, the "too early" joke wasn't delivered the second time around. I just didn't like the split groups..at all.

Technically the conventions was flawless. A few dead batteries during power point presentations, but there was always Scott backstage waiting with a replacement. The close-up focus session (not my choice) without cameras was voiced by many.

The laminated passes need to change. There was a 2 or 3 hour wait between the photo being taken, and the picture delivered. many guys just hung around, as you were told that you needed photo passes to get into the opening night's show. As soon as they realized that was NEVER going to happen, they allowed you inside with a temp pass. One fella had a great idea, and that was to send your photo ahead of the convention. I like the idea of the photo, but the crew must be doubled for the first and second day.

The time you found out that your ticket had either an "A" or a "B" or a "C" , that correlated to when you could take a seat ( a reward to those who registered early)...it was too late. This seating arrangement was not discussed with anyone during the time we picked up our convention programs. It would have been nice to sit closer to the stage, as this was my 5th Magic Live. Crowds outside Carival of Wonders shows looked like the Who General Admission Shows from the early 80's.

I loved the "Final" captions that we all were encouraged to add, during past Live conventions, guess that got voted down this year.

Toupees, Tattoos, coiffed facial hair, and mail order brides were down this year.

Best deal are the $1.50 hot dogs by the Sports section.

One word....Jinger....

Sos did a small lecture where he showed you some costume tucks that had us all squirming in our seats.

Chocolate bars seem to be the biggest new thing to hit all of the Vegas Hotels.

Mark Kalen uses way too much fire. Every illusion has burning this, or flaming that......I swear I was too nervous watching his hair get thisclose to the flames. Pyro....Jing daring, that man is dangerous...Let me take you away from all of those flames...

A lot of kids in diapers running around...

And Adults too.
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Postby Jeffrey Korst » 08/25/11 03:11 AM

Well, Max, seeing as how we never ran into each other the entire convention, I'll have to agree with you about not liking the split sessions. Darn.

I wonder how many other people I haven't seen for 30 years I missed.
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Postby MaxNY » 08/25/11 07:23 AM

Oh Shoot...you were there? Point!
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Postby Jeff Eline » 08/25/11 07:24 AM

erdnasephile wrote:Jeff (or anyone else who saw Johnny Thompson lecture): did he fully explain his combination of the Nemo 1500 wallet and the Koran 5 Star Miracle? Is it described in his lecture notes?

Finally, did he mention anything about the book he is working on?

Thanks!


No he didn't go over that effect with the wallet.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/25/11 09:12 AM

e*, both the deck and the wallet(s) are part of the trick as sold ever since it hit the market as Nemo 1500 back when it was a Ken Brooke item.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/25/11 10:14 AM

JT did teach a trick based on the Koran deck (sort of), but mentioned a version that predated Koran. I thought he said it was the Dream Deck in Expert Card Technique, but I couldn't find it in there. Anyone recall the correct reference?
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Postby Jeremy Greystoke » 08/25/11 10:44 AM

A quick peek at MagicPedia provided this reference in the description of the Koran deck:

"Audley Walsh's Magician's Dream which appeared in The Jinx (No. 43, dated April 1938 on page 298)."

I knew it was the Walsh deck, but for some reason thought it was first published in the pages of The Phoenix.

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Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 08/25/11 10:56 AM

In the break out session I was in Johnny Thompson was asked about the book and said it should be out soon. He didn't give any specifics on timing.
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/25/11 11:26 AM

Thanks, Tom!

Jonathan: Johnny Thompson has some unpublished work on how he combines the Nemo 1500 concept with an additional wallet. Hopefully, it will be in his new book.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 08/25/11 12:56 PM

It was the bagshawe bank deck thompson referenced.
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Postby Doug Thornton » 08/25/11 08:12 PM

Max, Martin, Master Payne, Jeff, Donal, et al,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I concur with many points, have different thoughts on others.

The two-part convention aspect wasnt terrible but disappointing. One notable senior member of the magic world said to me, Its like there are two separate conventions. I preferred the groupthink of the previous MAGIC Lives, having the big session start the day, then having the afternoon to attend the smaller Focus sessions.

The cutting a woman in half presentation Divided We Stand, put together (ha!) by Mike Caveney was definitely a treat. I wondered if it could even play as a Vegas show - nah - although the talent was top-notch, the layfolk wouldnt sit still during the smart talk in between performances. Still, it was more entertaining (and enlightening )than a bunch of other shows Ive witnessed.

The 9 movie shorts were of good quality; a mixed bag of ideas with a few standouts.

The blindfolded From the Dark presentation was engaging, unique, well-organized and fun. It bogged down with the last piece where people were passing the microphone down the rows. I was afraid Id get walloped or groped. But then again, it was Vegas and some people go there specifically for the walloping and groping.

Yes, Master Payne, you did a fine job with your ironic humor.

Jeff Hobson makes me laugh when someone merely mentions his name. In recent years, has he ever bombed? Kalin and Jinger added the Wonder to the Carnival.

I also liked the talks by Darryl, Barrie Richardson and Paul Kieve, who consulted on the third Harry Potter film and shared video from some shows hes worked on in Londons West End including The Invisible Man and the recent production of Ghost. Cool stuff.

Is Johnny Ace Palmer the calmest, gentlest man in the business? He exudes charm and tranquility; I want what hes got. (And you cant buy it in the dealers room.)

The roughing stuff Max referred to is from the Phoenix deck man, Christian Schenk. I think hes on to something. No, Im sure he is. One effect knocked me over. The stuff's called Science Friction.

Joshua Jay? Kudos to six shows in a row. I wouldve been happy with one less torn corner effect but the ring on glass stem was a highlight and inscrutable.

Kornhauser? Yes, sir, give this man a spot anytime and he shines. And Max was right about his talking dog bit. Sometimes the laugh is there, you just have to let the audience enjoy it. That takes more skill than a diagonal palm shift.

Veronin? Only a minute and a half with a one-minute encore? Come on! Give us more. It took him longer to put on the makeup!

Michael Weber was top-notch as usual. I didnt take to Derek Hughes as host at first, but he won me over with his card to pocket and zingers zingers! of quick asides.

The museum excellent. Too bad it was just a one-nighter. (But thats another reason folks go to Vegas.)

I also missed the Finally captions. (I had one published last year, but you dont want to see the dozens of mine that were rejected. )

Overall, I think we agree that its a unique convention. A Genii convention would be a treat, too.

On a side note, I bookended my trip with a visit to shows by Penn & Teller and David Copperfield. P & T floored me with their new opening piece. David was the best I've seen him in years; loose, funny and amazing. Thanks, guys.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/25/11 08:55 PM

Is Jeff Hobson still doing his fake-gay and fake-Chinese stuff? That sort of humor is no longer acceptable or funny. Everyone keeps saying how funny he was--I hope he wasn't mincing around the stage acting like a queen, because unless you are a queen it's not funny. Ditto for the buck-toothed Chinese stuff.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/25/11 09:29 PM

About a 15-minute synopsis of each day's events, hosted by Jonathan Levit, is available on YouTube. Find them at http://www.youtube.com/user/magicmagazine. Fun to watch.

Hobson was hilarious. Still a bit swishy, but both he and the Kalins subordinated themselves to the carnival theme which made the whole thing very special, not your typical illusion show at all.
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Postby West McDonough » 08/26/11 12:13 AM

Yes, Richard, he did both fake-gay and fake-Chinese, and I wasn't a fan of either. It was the first time I've ever seen him so I'm not sure how it compares to his past material as to amount and level. When he first came out I thought he had great presence and would be fun, but the more of his material I heard the less I enjoyed it, and by the time he got well into the Chinese stereotype I was completely turned off. The show overall had a great look, and a lot of enjoyable materialI always enjoy Kalin & Jinger's workbut I admit that those parts of it left a bad taste in my mouth. However, from the audience reaction it sounded like plenty of others found it quite funny, so I may just be a curmudgeon.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 01:36 AM

Having seen Carnival of Wonders several times as well as seeing Hobson perform solo several times, I think that there is something not being taken into considerationat least as far as the flamboyant character goes. (The faux Chinese character has never been a favorite of mine: I always thought it was a very poor comic version of Tony Randalls character from 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.)

His primary persona remains funny to many people because that characters sexuality is (purposely) ambiguousnot gay. There are many lines designed to keep the audience off balance in that regard. The proof is in the type of laughter he gets. Its not weak, nervous laughter (as I think it is with the Chinese character); its strong, raucous belly laughs.

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Postby West McDonough » 08/26/11 01:53 AM

Which may just emphasize the problem with the totality of the presentation. In the beginning I thought like that: that the character was just flamboyant and ambiguoussomething in the way of the Host character in Cabaret. But it got pushed a bit further towards the offensive caricature as it went on, and by the time we'd gotten through the Chinese section the entire thing seemed offensive to me. Perhaps I was harsher on the "flamboyant" parts specifically because I found the Chinese section so off-putting that I was no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt on the rest of it. Perhaps if he'd left that part out, I would have enjoyed the rest of what he did more. It's difficult to tell, in retrospectthe entire performance was tainted for me by the end.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 02:30 AM

I do believe one thing is certain; that it will eventually stop working. As tastes change, Hobson will need to as well.

It reminds me of the great comic, Foster Brooks. During the 1960s and 70s, his inebriated character was a comedy mainstay. He was simply brilliant at playing absolutely plastered. But, by the 1980s, societys view of public drunkenness and alcoholicsno matter how loveablemade a 180-degree turn and it was no longer funny. He changed and worked as a character actor well into his 80s.

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Postby Ian Kendall » 08/26/11 03:05 AM

I remember watching Hobson on a TV show with a gay friend back in the early 90s. After about two minutes Dan said 'OK, _now_ I'm offended'.

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Postby mrgoat » 08/26/11 05:15 AM

I wonder if Hobson would have the balls to do a 'black' guy. And do it in Compton.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 09:44 AM

Hobson's stereotypical and racist/homophobic "comedy" has always been questionable--there was a lot of awkward glancing around the room from the first time he showed up.

And I disagree with Dustin entirely: there is nothing ambiguous about his portrayal. His behavior and vocal delivery portrays one thing--a swishing queen, not a sexless person. It's offensive and stupid. The last time the Chinese business would have gone over well was in World War II.
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/26/11 09:57 AM

Mr. Hobson was quoted in an interview saying that he stopped worrying about whether he was being offensive to Asians when he looked out at the audience and saw some Asians laughing hysterically at his fake-Chinese character.

What he probably didn't realize was that those Asians audience members probably thought he was portraying a different ethnicity than the specific one they belonged to.

Damian's point is a fair one--people can get away with slurring Asians in these parts because as "the model minority" the sterotype is we just "take it" as opposed to other minorities who are stereotyped to being "angry". It's almost as if they think that insulting buck-toothed grin is actually plastered on our faces.

To put this in context: I am not overly sensitive about racial humor amongst my close friends--but that's because they have earned the right by their past friendship to be able to kid in this manner. They get away with it, because I know who they are and exactly what they truly mean.

In a similar manner, I suspect Mr. Hobson most likely gets away with it because some audience members have decided he is a good guy early on in the show and give him the benefit of the doubt when the fake-Chinese schtick comes out.

However, for some of us who have had to overcome actual racially-motivated physical and verbal abuse, a stranger--no matter how talented and funny--will never have earned enough good will to publically mock our ethnicity.

Since Mr. Hobson has publically declared many times that he just doesn't care what people like me think (and he points to his fancy car and house on a golf course to make his point), I made up my mind a long time ago that I just won't care about him.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 10:02 AM

I certainly would never hire him. Why? Because what's next? Someone in blackface eating watermelon with a chicken walking around at his feet? That, by the way, describes a cartoon Harlan Tarbell drew for The Sphinx 100 years ago. Or should we just have some Jew jokes and n*gger jokes at the next MAGIC Live?

Hobson may not give a crap what anyone thinks, but before you decide that what he's doing is okay, watch this:
http://www.itgetsbetter.org/video/entry/4a4mr8oi_b8/
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Postby Jim Riser » 08/26/11 01:33 PM

Gay, straight, white, brown, black, yellow - it doesn't matter. It does get better the older you get. I'm much happier now than in my younger days. Life itself just gets better. The key is to accept yourself and be the best you can be.

Now, there are topics that are wide open for poking fun at someone - like how the illustrator in the beginning of the above video holds a writing instrument. I can really laugh and identify with a "strange hold" as I am a lefty and hook! Such topics are friendly humor rather than mean spirited humor. Big difference.

Thanks for calling attention to the video, Richard.
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Postby MaxNY » 08/26/11 03:59 PM

I have seen, and own (pirated copy) Hobson doing a huge corporate event. I can't remember the client, but this Fortune 500 Group had a name that could be, ever so slightly, twisted into a nickname for a man's junk.

Man, he was relentless. At first he had them all squirming in their seats, but, by the third time he made fun of the name, they were all in hysterics. Talk about cutting off the hand that feeds you...
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Postby MaxNY » 08/26/11 04:26 PM

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 04:54 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:And I disagree with Dustin entirely: there is nothing ambiguous about his portrayal.

That's fine except for the fact that you are wrong. You seem to be ignoring the fact that there are many lines in his act, including references to his wife and kids, designed to make his character ambiguous.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/26/11 05:06 PM

Mister Humphries, John Inman in Are You Being Served, type ambiguous?
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Postby Doug Thornton » 08/26/11 05:51 PM

Hobson's Asian character makes me cringe, the flamboyant one brings me to tears of laughter. I don't think I can explain it. In some older movies we had actors such as Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Edward G. Robinson, even Marlon Brando and John Wayne playing Asian characters. It seemed to work for that time, but you'd never see that today. For the most part, those characterizations were done respectfully. Then there's Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's where I'm very uncomfortable. Today I don't think any non-Asian actor would portray an Asian except in a blatant Judd Apatow-type comedy farce.
Would a Chung Ling Soo be able to pull off that stunt today? Probably not.
I don't think I'm insensitive to the plight of any group, and of course, humor is subjective.
I've seen and heard audience members uneasy and offended by both of Hobson's characters.
For me, when he's prancing around the stage, I'm laughing. With the Asian guy, no. Can't explain it.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 07:20 PM

John Inman was an openly gay man. He can make the joke if he wants to (like African Americans who use the word "n*gger"--if you're black you have the option, if you're not then you don't).

Thanks Dustin, but I tell you that I disagree with you, and you tell me I'm wrong. Sorry: it doesn't work that way. References to a wife and kids from a lisping faux-Queen don't raise any ambiguity about his character.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 10:05 PM

Of course they do Richard. I have personally overheard more than once--and was once asked by lay person (he had seen me chatting with Mark & Jinger away from the receiving line, so approached me to ask questions about the show)--the comment, "Is that guy gay or not?" That's ambiguity and it is created by his script which I have heard live about ten times. It doesn't change much.

And there are other lines designed to create that. "I'm not, I'm not...I was, I was...and I could be again for you" [addressed to a man]. And there are others; more in his solo act than in "Carnival" or when he's MCing, etc., all of which I have seen him do many times.

How can the undeniable fact that these lines are part of his script--used countless times--be denied? And if they are not designed to create ambiguity (or uncertainty if you prefer), what are they designed to do? (Besides get laughs.)

I don't know Mr. Hobson well at all. I've only met him a few times and they were always brief, so Im not defending a friend. But I know what I've seen and heard.

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