FISM 2012 Day 1
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FISM 2012 Day 2
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FISM 2012 Day 3
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FISM 2012 Day 4
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FISM 2012 Day 5
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Day Six of FISM 2012 ...
The much-anticipated FISM General Assembly meeting is at 10 am to decide the location of FISM 2015 - Italy or Korea ... and vote for the new Presidium to replace outgoing International President, Eric Eswin.
Despite the doom and gloom after last night's abortion of a gala - a stellar line-up of some truly unbelievable magic awaits in the Finalists show - followed by the Grand Prix announcement.
Stay tuned ... and let's hope the trophies aren't given out in brown paper bags.
FISM General Assembly Report
The final day of our Blackpool marathon of magic began with over 3 hours of magic officialdom in the FISM General Assembly ... and a startling reminder as to just how removed from the 21st century some societies are.
So concerned with their petty issues theyre completely blind to how irrelevant they have become. Rather than lamenting the fact that no one in the real world cares about magic, they should be more concerned about why no one in the little world of magic cares about them. Ask any young magician whether they even know of FISM or are interested in the slightest about joining their local magic club with its ageing dinosaurs and they may be horrified at the answer.
Major orders of business were the election of the new Presidium and the decision on where FISM 2015 would be held.
After Derek Levers impassioned plea for votes in the front page of the official FISM programme ( in what could best be described as junior high campaigning ) it was always destined to be an interesting meeting with far reaching consequences.
The mere thought of the narcissistic Derek Lever ( thanks Dustin ) gaining office and destroying the joyous celebration of magic that is FISM mobilised the largest number of opposing candidates in recent history. And delivered to the man whos photograph appears no less than 8 times in the official program a crushing defeat ...
Congratulations go to newly elected President, Domenico Dante, and Vice Presidents, Gerrit Brengman and Peter Din who will now take FISM forward.
Outgoing President, Eric Eswin, selflessly gave over a decade of service to the organisation and established a platform that will hopefully allow the World Championships of Magic to continue to grow in years to come. The General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for him to be presented with Honorary Presidency.
In contrast to the General Assembly of Beijing 2009 where delegates received a black & white photocopied Blackpool booklet, set on a typewriter, with actual cut and paste marks - delegates were provided with two exceptionally high quality bids from both Italy & Korea ... evidence of hours of work, thought and most importantly passion by the organising teams. These were professional bids by professional people.
After concerted lobbying by both countries Korea were unable to sway enough votes away from early favourite, Italy ... and 3 years from now we will be enjoying the allure of the sea-side town of Rimini.
In a very encouraging development and one that gives hope for the future of FISM - both teams were headed by young and dynamic people with new ideas and a love for magic. I am looking forward to seeing Italy bring to life their plans for FISM 2015 ... and sincerely hope that Korea allow us all the opportunity of experiencing their dynamism in 2018.
Grand Prix Final
The Grand Prix finals are always a highlight of any FISM convention ... the best acts scoring above 85% vying for top honours. For many this is the first time they are seeing the winning performances and the atmosphere is always electric.
Unfortunately the Blackpool organisers are incapable of even scheduling this correctly and destroy all semblance of suspense or build-up by having the Grand Prix finals BEFORE the actual awards show. Moronic does not even come close ...
Every other event would feature the awards show announcement of 3rd, 2nd and 1st place ... coming as a great surprise and celebration to everyone ... and then follow with the Grand Prix finals later in the day.
But not at FISM Blackpool where intelligence and class are in short supply.
As a result the winners unceremoniously find out via a telephone call on Friday evening to report to stage door at 9 am ... oh, by the way, you are the world champion in Card Magic so be at your rehearsal tomorrow morning.
Imagine how special you must feel as one of those competitors.
And for the audience ... we simply find out via a name on the screen ( that is of course when they actually remembered to turn them on )
The convention itself is all about the competitors and this was easily one of the very best moments of FISM 2012. Not the even the lunacy of the organiser was going to detract from the next 90 minutes.
1st place - Cards Jan Logemann - Germany
This was a controversial choice ... effectively a card to impossible location I question whether it was in the right category to begin with and more importantly whether it was truly worthy of first prize. Having spoken to ex-FISM jurors my sentiments seem to be shared.
1st place - Micro Magic Andost USA
Another surprise if anything, this act far better fits into the Card category than Jan Logemann. Whilst Andosts color changes are indeed very visual in its Micro magic category, there were more deserving winners.
1st place Parlor Yann Frisch France
What more can one say about this incredible piece of conjuring ... unique, theatrical and pure simplicity in its structure. Yann was the favourite from the start to walk the contest and he did so with ease. Dont miss him when you get the chance.
1st place - Illusions Marcel Prince of illusions Netherlands
One of the best acts of FISM 2012 hands down. This is the type of performance we had been hoping to see when Criss Angel joined forces with Cirque du Soleil. Whilst I loved Yu Ho Jin I dont believe that it would have been amiss to have awarded Marcel with the Grand Prix.
1st Place Comedy Magic Doble Mandoble Belgium
Comedy magic remains a point of much contention in the little world of magic contests is it a category all by itself or should an act be awarded for its comedic presentation no matter whether it be on stage or close-up ? FISM continues to wrestle with this itself and this very general assembly meeting saw a motion proposed to have the category scrapped completely. Doble Mandoble unfortunately failed to live up to first place expectations for me and pales in comparison to the true hilarity of comedy conductor, Mikael Szaniel, who placed 2nd.
1st place Manipulation Yu Ho Jin Korea
Even the most jaded of magicians cant help but be impressed by this incredible talent. Manipulation in Korea used to characterised by supersonic speed. Yu Ho Jin has changed all this and slowed every motion down to the most deliberate of action. He brings to his performance intensity and emotion ... one card at a time. This 21 year old magician was reduced to tears as this Winter Gardens erupted to its feet after witnessing yet another breathtaking performance.
1st Place General Magic Marko Karvo Finland
Mark Karvo was an interesting choice on the part of the jury. The closest thing that we have to Channing Pollock, Markos act is undoubtedly polished beyond compare. He does, however, represent a previous generation a long ago era and not a performance which we as magicians should be holding up as the best of 2012. Not because Markos act is not any good, but because it asks the question if we have not progressed beyond snap-silks, torn and restored newspaper, and birds that are well trained to return on command ? Is an act that has been in existence for 20+ years really the best that we have to offer now, today ?
No matter the answer ... the Grand Prix finals were the best 90 minutes hands down of FISM 2012.
Why oh why could they not have ended on a high ?
Awards Show & Closing Gala
After a fantastic Grand Prix show all that remained was to announce the winners and celebrate the achievements of all the competitors that form the very essence of FISM. The contestants spend years honing their act and deserve proper recognition.
Instead we are treated to a ceremony that would best be suited to a junior school prize-giving ... picture the scene 2 tables centre stage draped with white table cloths that more than likely were found backstage just before showtime. Derek Lever is clad in a mayoral chain that would make even a beauty queen blush and Domenico Dante is having to stack trophies and their boxes. A dress code in Blackpool is obviously pushing the limits ... Guy Hollingworth arrives on stage in jeans clearly having no idea he would be asked to present, Topas is sporting a peak-cap and Lu Chen in casual gear. And will someone please request the competitors to look the part ... t-shirt & jeans whilst collecting your World Championship Award just looks tacky.
Contrast the FISM Blackpool awards ceremony to that of the Academy of Magical Arts and we quickly realise just how ridiculous the whole setup is.
Domenico Dante had a delightful turn of phrase with his obligatory thanking of Derek Lever and the Blackpool Magicians Club - they did their best ... I dont think I could come up with a better euphemism if I tried. Derek Lever presented Domenico with a matching sash because FISM dont have any official regalia ... Newsflash FISM dont need official regalia. I hope that the day never comes that anyone at FISM ever decides that such pathetic displays of misguided grandeur is the way forward.
While the Mickey Mouse parade continued, I could only but help feel sorry for Eric Eswin as he made his farewell speech. Having dedicated over a decade of his life to FISM he deserved better than having to leave on such an awful low. To the sounds of Frank Sinatras My Way he received a much deserved standing ovation from the packed Winter Gardens having been named as Honorary President of FISM.
Blackpool antics aside the announcement of the two Grand Prix winners Yu Ho Jin and Yann Frisch is a memory which all of us will remember. Yu Ho Jins face spoke of such joy and emotion that you couldnt help but be moved. Two new World Magic champions.
In what would have been a perfect time to end, and allow us to take in the celebration the ultimate insult was to follow ... the Closing Gala Show.
But not before we kill all the atmosphere. The winners are summarily moved off stage and the audience are told to sit and wait whilst they take group photographs. The curtain comes down. Except photographs generally work better with light ( little realisations ) and so the curtain goes back up and we arrange the award-winners for our photo shoot on stage in front of everyone. Audience please speak amongst yourselves.
Production value ?
With snapshots out the way we are again asked to please wait whilst the closing gala show prepares. I can hardly contain myself.
Here we go - out comes the Dolphin Dancers ( or portly porpoises as I would rather call them ) - overweight, uncoordinated showgirls in granny size underwear presenting the final proof that the organiser has completely lost the plot an actual love song dedicated to the joys of Blackpool. How deluded can one man be?
I really must learn to stop asking such questions. The slaughter was only just beginning
Vladimir from Slovenia offers us lip synching to 80s tunes, color changing canes and a vanishing stereo.
The audience were ready for blood.
Childrens magician Dave Allen along with camp sidekick Carl Charlesworth recently promoted to the lofty realm of comedy illusionists by the Blackpool organiser would be the kill.
With an imbecilic performance featuring such mystifying delights as the man trap and crazy closet along with witty humour Carl has come out the closet the mauling began. And grew louder and louder until over 2000 people were literally howling for them to leave the stage.
What is the response of someone who has the honour of being booed off a FISM gala show ... simply blame the audience because it couldnt possibly be you - the performer
Dave Allen: "Ok well that didn't go very well the international audience just didn't get our act. Guess its just English humour."
This is the same Dave Allen who was mocked on national television in Britains Got Talent ... the same Dave Allen who had bombed previously at past Blackpool conventions ... and yet still firmly believes that he has the talent to perform on a FISM closing stage gala show.
Is there something in the water in Blackpool ?
No, Dave. It wasnt the international audience. It wasnt your English humour. It was puerile and sub-standard - no matter what language you speak. Rather than blame the audience - perhaps look at the calibre of your performance and make the decision to improve from there.
Do magicians have absolutely no self awareness of their capabilities or limitations? And more tellingly who books a birthday party magician for a FISM world championship gala show ?
We know the answer.
Derek Lever promptly ran out the theatre as the howling reached fever pitch and didnt return.
We had now entered that surreal world of bystanders at a crash scene ... the wreckage is everywhere we know we shouldnt look but cant help but watch the carnage.
And up next ... a 90 year old Michael Pearse juggling the Irish way or entertainment for the nursing home
To Michaels credit he was the most rehearsed act out of them all ... and any performer who is brave enough to step out and face that hostile audience deserves our respect. With hands shaking ( either due to Parkinsons or fear of impending death ) he won over that crowd like a true professional ... and no doubt saved James More who offered us vanishing candles, billiard balls, card fountain and card manipulation. Card manipulation after Yu Ho Jin. How could that ever be possible?
Singer Victor Michael teased us with a promise of an early escape with his rendition of Time to Say Goodbye or though by that stage many had already escaped to the sanctity of the lobby bar.
Those that remained enjoyed the Magical mayhem of Martyn James ( thats a direct quote from the loose photocopied programme insert actually typed on a real-life typewriter listing the evenings acts ) The blue tuxedoed Martyn featured such never-before-seen highlights as the multiplying bottles, Through a Barrel as well as Torn & Restored Newspaper ... thats definitely going to excite an audience full of magicians. Martyn had a singular goal in mind get on and get off ...
Somehow Dirk Losander ( Blackpool title: Americas Man of Mystery ) got himself mixed up in this debacle ... and was followed by The Grand Finale with the Dolphin Dancers and Victor Michael presenting Magic is my First Love Plus our Pyrotchnics ( spelling as per programme )
The gaudy porpoises arrived back on stage in the best, cheap 80s cabaret you can imagine dragging along our two terrified Grand Prix winners. With the pyrotchnics featuring so heavily in their planning someone may have wished to tip off singer, Victor Michael, who got more than he bargained for as the shower of sparks nearly took off his eyebrows.
The agony was over. The closing gala show had ended.
The thousands of magicians slowly gathered to lick their wounds at the promised farewell party only to find that they had to put their hand in their pocket once more to acquire even a sip of solace ... and yet another mandatory contribution to the organiser's retirement fund.