Review - Magic On Manhattan 11/17/01
Not a review, more like a reminiscence of Magic On Manhattan which took place from 10 AM to 10 PM on Saturday, November 17th at the Hotel Pennsylvania, across from New York's Madison Square Garden. About 450 magicians showed up and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Especially me.
Steve Rodman and associates have produced this one-day convention for the past five years. There were about 15 dealers in a spacious room, and throughout the day there were lectures by Doug Edwards, Dr. Mitch, Yves Doumergue and Laurent Beretta (mais oui, from France), Lee Asher, Chris Capehart, Dan Harlan and Robert Baxt. A close-up contest had junior and senior categories, with Justin Style wining the senior contest (coins and very funny reminiscences)and 14 year old Kimmie Naughton (a story deck trick) taking the junior prize.
A close-up show had performers rotating among four rooms, with okay sightlines. The close-uppers were Dan Harlan, Lee Asher, Robert Baxt, Eric Dockery, Yves Doumergue & Laurent Beretta, Robert Herritt and the winners of the close-up contest. A magic auction had many excellent items. (I came away with a Richard Osterland Stainless Steel Blindfold which I'll probably never use, but it looks so great and the price was so cheap I couldn't resist.)
A gala stage show featured an award to the extraordinary Charles Reynolds for his lifetime of magic, from "100 Years of Magic Posters" to his work with Doug Henning and others. Performing on the smallish stage (on risers - audience on one level) were Peter Kougasian as emcee and also performing his hilarious and intelligent act (torn and restored newspaper, cut and restored rope, multiplying bananas), Michael P. Lair (candles, silks, appearing fans and umbrellas), Robert Baxt (McCombical Prediction with celebrities photos and his hilarious Linking Rings pastiche to Poe's "Raven"), 16-year old juggler Christopher Chiappini (an extraordinarily talented young man with phenomenal stage presence who, because of the low ceiling, did many stunts while on his knees), and Chris Capehart. Mr. Capehart brought down the house with his absolutely hilarious act, a constant stream of funny material featuring a floppy-eared rabbit, several kids from the audience, a "Miser's Dream" that is one of the best I've ever witnessed, a funny "Botania" setting and his justly acclaimed 3-Ring Linking Rings with a Crash Link done right under the audiences noses as Chris gets down off the stage so you can't miss a thing. Funniest line by Chris (an African-American performer): "I just got back from my first visit to Alabama. I decided not to do any rope tricks there. Can you imagine me bringing my own rope to Alabama?"
Other highlights for me were Dan Harlan's great lecture, Lee Asher's lecture, the amazing piece-at-a-time "Torn and Restored Playing Card" of Yves Doumergue and the talents with cards and coins of Laurent Beretta (these performers were filling in for the injured French coin whiz, David Stone), Eric Dockery's close-up work, juggler Christopher Chiappini and one segment, not for the general public which I'll never forget. After Dan Harlan's lecture, I sat with my friends Gary Brown (author of "The Coney Island Fakir - Al Flosso") and Bill Tower (editor of most of Meir Yedid's videos) as the legendary Ken Krenzel knelt on the carpeted floor and blew our collective minds with some of the finest card handling I've ever experienced - absolute miracles. I was honored to be a witness to this and inspired by Ken's talent.
A great convention - my congratulations to Steve Rodman and company. I hope they do it again next year.