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And the Nomination Goes To….

We (ok I) asked some friends of magicconventionguide to give us their recommendation for their favourite magician/performance of the last few years.


Rob James on Kostya Kimlat

My favourite close-up magician that I have seen emerge onto the magic scene in the last five years is Kostya Kimlat. A few years ago I arrived at the TSD convention in Florida, a bit tired after the flight. Andi Gladwin had met Kostya the previous year and got him to show me his triumph routine (the one utilising his now well-known Roadrunner Cull). I knew that he had to be culling but couldn’t see it and didn’t think it was possible to be that quick and smooth. Well, bugger me, he IS that quick and that smooth. Of course, being exceptionally good at one move is all well and good but having seen him in both formal and informal settings it is clear that there is way more to him than that. Aside from having a great level of skill as a sleight-of-hand technician, as a performer he ticks all the right boxes- he is a charismatic and intelligent performer who thinks a lot about his magic. The religious-themed trick that he often finishes his act with is a superbly constructed routine on all counts. I hope we get to see more of him in the UK.


Jon Armstrong on Todd Robbins

Living down the street from the Magic Castle and spending a fair amount (read: huge amount) of time there, means you get to see lots of magic. Imagine you have a year round magic convention on your block with the acts changing weekly. You would see lots of different magicians from all over the world. You could do the same thing online in a way or though DVD’s but to see them live and get to meet them after is a far better experience. It’s worth having to dress up a bit.

It’s on one of these nights that I saw Todd Robbins in the Parlour (one of the show rooms at the Castle) and loved it. To be honest it’s not really a magic act per say, but you should not dismiss the true wonder and amazement what he does brings to an audience. When you think of novelty acts, like that juggler on most magic convention bills that steals the show, you probably assume that you will see one entertaining skill and forget it soon after. Not Robbins. This philosophically inclined, verbally playful stuntman has many talents at his beck and call. (He swallows swords! He eats glass! He hammers a four-inch nail into his nose!) But elevating this act above the standard geek act, Robbins also accompanies each stunt with a witty script that keeps you intellectually engaged throughout. The quintessential showman wants to make you think long and hard, long after he’s done the unthinkable, which makes this lowbrow entertainment of the highest order.


Andi Gladwin on Eric Mead

At the Magic Live! convention in 2004 I got to see Eric Mead perform in a bar that the organisers had set up specifically for the close-up show. The setting was perfect and made me feel like I was really witnessing something special. Mead performed some great magic with props that fitted into the environment perfectly. There’s something quite special about seeing people perform in their native environment – especially while at a magic convention!


Jon Allen on Rick Merrill

My favourite close-up magician from the last 5 years is Rick Merrill who I saw at 4F a couple of years ago. Out came this very unassuming young guy who proceeded to blow me away with some startlingly visual magic and a very dry sense of humour. Some people are happy to be funny and hope it makes up for sub-standard magic. Rick was VERY funny and VERY good. I remember a routine with jumbo coins where American coins turned into Chinese coins. Dressed in a shirt and tie I swear he simply flicked a silver coin with his tie and it instantly changed to a Chinese coin. I’m sure it didn’t happen like that but that’s what I remember and that’s what matters. He could build an effect and when you think it can’t get any better… BOOM, it does. What also made him stand out was he knew exactly the character he was playing. The audience warmed to him straight away and joined him in his world of being ‘Home Schooled’. If you ever see Rick’s name on a list of performers, make sure you see him or you’ll miss out on everyone who did see him raving about the incredible magic and charisma of the current FISM Champion of Close-up Magic.


Noel Qualter on Tim Conover

At the 2006 British Ring Convention I finally got the chance to see Tim Conover perform. I’d wanted to see him perform for some time after hearing some amazing things about his performances. he was booked for FISM in Sweden a few months before hand but missed out because of ill health and I was gutted.

Tim Conover is a succesful trade show performer and I was interested to see him perform his signature routines in a mocked-up trade show enviroment. I remember having the shit fooled out of me by his bending coins in glass routine. I had heard about it but it floored 200 magicians on that day with superb routining. The other highlight was watching him perform Cylinder and Coins in the close up performance. Obviously I never had the chance to see Ramsay perform it live and other handling’s I’d seen had left me cold but this was magnificent, truly magical, those coins just seemed to evaporate. It takes a lot for me to get excited about a couple of coin tricks but they left me feeling gooey.


About the contributors…

Andi Gladwin thinks of cards tricks and publishes them and other peoples card tricks in electronic and print media for magicians worldwide.

Jon Allen is a previous Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year and creator of some of the best selling magic of the last few years.

Jon Armstrong is the newly crowned Magic Castle Close up Magician of the Year.

Noel Qualter likes toast.

Rob James is a contemporary entertainer providing interactive close up magic at events across the UK. He has a great smile..