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.
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'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.