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36th International Magic Convention 2007 – Round Up and Look Back

he 36th International Magic Convention started around 7:30pm on Friday evening, its always great wandering round and running into people you know, or recognise, Magician Bingo is always a favorite pastime of ours when we’re there. Magician Bingo for those who don’t is a bit like buzzword bingo and the like, you get points for spotting various members of the magical fraternity, and points are added up on the last day’s gala show (normally where the points roll up), I probably should post the slightly loose rules at some point for those into the weirdness of it all, but generally Magician Bingo got off to a good start me me scoring a starter for 10 with JJ shopping in Tottenham court road.

The start of the evening was Guy Hollowingworth, Guy was presenting his ‘Expert at the card table‘ a 75 minute play and performance based around the book by S.W Erdnase. Another double word score on Magician Bingo with Andy Nyman, who I had a quick chat with as Derren Brown was sorting out his registration and was signing books (again forgetting mine for him to sign!)

Guy started his show with a demonstration of traveling aces, talking about the history of two gentlemen, SW Erdnase, and Milton Franklin Andrews, following their lives and disagreements, whilst showing some of the methods and techniques used by Erdnase and Andrews in their card cons

As he talked about Andrews ability to stack and cull cards, he slowly took a shuffled deck back to new deck order, dealing cards from the top, bottom and ‘middle’ of the deck, and dealing called for numbers of red, or black cards. A great solid show and very entertaining, presented as always to guys professional standard

Anthony Owen, was the first real lecture of the convention, presenting his ‘some tricks’ lecture, commenting on how nice it was to be lecturing, remembering his youth sitting at the back of the show shuffling cards with others many years ago. I was also nice for me to be taken back to my youth at the the conventions! He covered some good material, although most of which I’ve got already, it was nice to see it as a reminder for me to hunt it out from the loft when I get back next week. His lecture coudl have been entitled ‘Various ways to stick cards together‘, as a lot of the material was based aroudn that wonderful blue glue we all have laying round the house. He explained ‘Holy Sh*t’ and his Son of a Bitch Oil and Water, probably the most clean and fair looking gaffed oil and water effect there is.

Dynamo was next to lecture, and you could tell he was nervous, he worked through a number of items he uses in his professional routine, and given this was his first lecture, ever, anywhere, I think he did pretty well. If the material didn’t come across as new or cutting edge, what did come across was that he has a great personality and enthusiasm, coupled with having some big names behind him, unfortunately he did also explain a certain coin in soda can effect, but he was honest, and fresh in how he talked to the audience (if not slightly disjointed on some stuff) and it was a pleasant end to the lectures.

Afterwards I caught up with a few more people, and I also had an extremely pleasant chat with David Berglas. I’d brought my Mind and Magic of David Berglas in the hope that he’s be here to sign it for me, and David was kind enough to inscribe it for me. We had a chat about the book, and how much I was enjoying reading it, and he seemed genuinely pleased that I’d brought the book and managed to find him. It was a great end to a long day.
Saturday was of course the main competition day, I’ve listed a full description of pretty much all the acts elsewhere but in summary, the standard was good, with some notable gems shining out;

John van der Put (UK) had a great funny personality, starting with a sponge rabbit routine, which was quite dry and funny, so that was an uplift to the running, He did a two deck prediction that seemed to go wrong, but he recovered by ‘restoring’ the wrong card to the correct one (including signature!) which was actually a really nice effect, quarter by quarter changing from a court card to the chosen card. The card was also handed out at the end.. John did a nice multiple card selection and various revelation section, the final revelation was a kind of card on window, but with a MacBook (bonus points from me if i was a judge!), the card being sprayed at the screen, one sticking to the inside of the screen. John then ran off stage to appear in the scene inside the macbook to retrieve the card, returning to take his applause. His humor throughout was good, and very entertaining.

Satoru (Japan) started off a bit strange as he seemed very nervous setting up, and there was an air of ‘oh no not looking good” over the audience before he started, but he really built up to a great act. Once he’d warmed up he managed to milk laughs and applause form the audience, and his approach was very fresh. Personal favorites where his ‘take a toothpick’, selecting a toothpick from a pack of 400 odd, to reveal the ‘chosen toothpick’, seeming to be a gag, it turned out that all the toothpicks had different coloured bottoms, and in fact he had correctly found the chosen one. Also favorite was a three person ’stamp on a card’ freely selected cards on the floor being stood on, and the selections being revealed on the bottom of his shoes, socks and finally feet, as a final kicker he produced a large umbrella from his sock and shoe bundle with the predictions again correctly spelt out on the umbrella. The consensus view was that we’d just seen the winner.

Lior Manor (Israel) did a generally quite amusing mentalism act, mainly focused around his bad english but intentionally funny, a jumbo poker hand type effect, where the spectator could select a card for his or Lior’s hands, there was a nice bit again at the end with another laptop (pc this time.. booo!) and a Lior on the laptop correctly interacting with the spectator to reveal a chosen number. Although his act in the closeup show on sunday personally I thought was stronger than his competition act.

Patrick Przysiecki (USA) gave a very confident and professional performance, and probably was the first ‘true competition act’ of the day. Patrick did a nice globe production from inside the closeup mat, and the globe theme carried on through the act, a signed note was burnt and found inside a smaller global (thanks to a Tommy Wonder move), and finishing with a 3 shell game routine, unfortunately set to rhyme, the final loads being large dice and ball, and him flattening the globe under the closeup mat to finish.

Gianfranco Preverino (Italy) Started with a clean printing of faces and backs on a blank deck, along with a colour change of the deck and then box. Some nice ace locations (roll over aces?) separation of reds and blacks, reordering of the deck, but a very very weak ending. It was a shame he almost just said, ‘..and thats it’.

Troy Von Scheibner (England) Despite his name, hes not German, he’s English, 18, black , funny and has great potential talent, as he said, not a old german dude but a 18 year old who wears hoodies and had cool hair. He did a very sharp and polished coin manipulation set in the style of Michael Jackson, and a short rope trick (knots on and off) in Bolloywood style, followed by a Kung Foo fighter section that didnt contain any magic as such… up to this point he’d had the audience laughing and warming to him, he then followed with a fair card trick, but seemed to be unhappy with the ending section and I think brought the audience down. I think he’s very raw talent, but has good things ahead.

Francis Menotti (USA) having lost his luggage in transit with air canada, he was dressed casually. He started with a deck in new deck order, and mimicked the shuffling of the deck with the mixing of the words in his sentences, the more the deck was mixed, the more mixed his words became, a selected card table on the place was, and find from order hard much could have been. He returned his sentences to the right order, and revealed the same had happened to the deck, back in new deck order. a small magic number effect with the outcome being 24, the location of the selected card in the deck, along with the number 24 on its back, and some by play with ‘nothing’ allowing him to make coins invisible (given you cant seen nothing and hence is nothing is on top of the coin, you cant see it as nothing is in the way) meant it was a strong act.

The winners of the Competition ended up as 1st. Satoru (Japan), 2nd. Pattrick Przysiecki (USA) and 3rd. Gainfranco Preverino (Italy), awards of merit went to Francis Menotti from the USA, and UK entries John van der Put and Troy Von Scheibner.

Saturdays lectures saw Al Schnieder, Just Alan and Mr Daba take to the stage. Al Schnieder, a legend for the invention of the matrix effect, was always going to be a lecture worth seeing, he started off with a great and very clean looking routine of coin vanishes and productions, a bit like mickey silver but without the swishes!! He then continued with a very neat and clean cups and balls routine, explaining a nice new pinch move. along with a clever little coin to silk, it was a good solid lecture with very usable material.

Just Alan, gave a lecture entitled ‘Thoughts to ponder on Transcending Technique’ which to be honest could have been a killer lecture, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed and flat. It didn’t start well with Just Alan starting the lecture again for technical reasons, and continuing to have failures and errors in the lecture as he went through. The main message of the session was to take the technique of an effect and work on it, to fit into your personality and persona.

Mr Daba explained a very good hold-out of his own design, and explained a number of practical uses of it.. It was very good, and I could see a lot of uses of it, even in the area of mentalism, so a good lecture there.

The close up show on Sunday was pretty good as well.. opening with Darwin Ortiz, Juan Ordeix and finally Francis Menotti. All three gave a great show, hosted by John Lenahan.

Sundays Lectures continued with Juan Ordeixm Darwin Oritz and Mr Daba. Ordeix opened with strong and compelling mentalism, a very clean book tests and a nifty method for swapping a note or card in front of the audience, on the whole a very good and workable lecture. Ordeix won the FISM mentalism category in Stockholm and the quality of this lecture was top notch.

Darwin Ortiz, gave a lecture which obviously contained very strong and technical card work, he also had reprints of card shark, and lecture notes with unpublished material, as well as the new book Designing Miracles and the solid work on theory and presentation Strong Magic.

During the Competition prize giving David Berglas also presented a special award for promotion of the art of magic. The 1st Berglas International Magic Award was presented to the Macmillan Family for their continued efforts and work organising International Magic Weekend. They got a standing ovation from the audience.

Sundays Gala Show was on the whole very good again (both from a performance point of view and a Magician Bingo aspect, with a tripple word score on Alan Alan, Kovari and a Daniel Radcliffe look alike). The show opened with Jade from the USA, performing her chinese act, with silks, parasols, rice and water balls and a nice costume change at the end.

Jade was followed by Dana Daniels form the USA, a comedy magic act with Dwaine, the mind reading dove. Svetlana from the Ukraine was next, a contortion and modern dance act (with fire!) and was a good break from the magic. Francis Menotti again performed a great routine with an egg bag and mobile phone, with some great twists and touches that really made the egg bag special, even performing mentalism and predictions, down to predicting his own death on stage in a fantastic comical way.

After Francis’ body was dragged off stage the world class skills of Mahka Tendo from Japan produced some excellent card manipulations and productions. Just Alan opened the second half, and presented his award winning act The Sands of India, it was a lovely piece about an indian fakir, producing coloured sands from a bowl of water, a nice piece, and did make up for my disappointment yesterday. Juan Ordeix again did some mind blowing mentalism, three balloons with cards in through out to the audience matched three cards freely selected from the deck, a beyond explanation prediction of the money spent, bill serial number, playing card and date in a sealed envelope along with the actual money, and card left the audience lost for a method.

Voronin from the Ukraine just was singularly the best act, and should have closed, mixing the traditions of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati, he held the audience with his silent act, polished and flawless it was a joy to watch, he even involved the rest of the gala show acts.. it was just wonderful. James Long, the traditional end of show illusion act closed, which I think was a shame, I dont think anyone could have followed Voronin, on his own, great but I think he looked weak after what I think was perfection. A tough slot to have. James did a number of good illusions, but it was a weak finish I think to a good show.
The convention was as I remember it a great weekend, the shaw theatre providing an excellent and very comfortable environment for the shows and lectures, dealers were a bit thin on the ground, I would have liked to have seen a bit more there, but pretty good on the whole.

The only downside of the weekend was the sheer number of Magicians in the UK now with iPhones, Andi Gladwin, Derren Brown, and others, all having geekiness over myself!!

About the author Andrew is a geek, and loves magic, he wants to share his love of magic with the rest of the world, he’d like to go to more conventions, this is a way to enjoy the conventions he cant get to. He runs the Home Counties Magical Society Website, and his own Blog (that sometimes features Magic)