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South Tyneside Magic Convention 2008

Once again, what has become the highlight of my magical year has come and gone, and what a great convention it was.

Martin Duffy, Kari Prinn, and the rest of the organizing body behind this fantastic convention, once again managed to pull out all the stops, and provide magicians and laymen alike, a dazzling display of magical talent from around the world. Its not just about the magic. This convention is without doubt one of the friendliest there is.

The Highlights

Top of the list has to be the one, the only…..

Juan Tamariz

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Juan? Nothing. The mans A living legend!

Many of the attendees to this years convention, came on the strength of Juan alone. It’s a testament to this convention, that most will be returning next year regardless of who is on the bill. He gave a full 2 hour show, in the perfect venue that the custom house supply, and a further 2 hour lecture later on in the weekend, on his theory’s on the performance of magic. Brilliant stuff!

Alain Nu. (USA)

This was Alain’s first visit to the UK

In his stage presentation, he bent silverware, performed a book test, and pk touched people.

On paper, this sounds reasonably standard fare, but Alain’s gift , is injecting something special into his performance. The ‘x’ factor if you like, that raises him above many of the run of the mill mentalists that are out there.

His lecture towards the end of the weekend, also gave him the chance to explain his presentation of Anders Mortens healed and sealed. It looks good. Its clear to see why Alain is in demand from people like David Blaine.

Brando & Silvana (Spain)

This award winning act opened on a street in Paris. A flower girl plies her trade, in competition with the street hustler.

In this simple scenario, they performed cups and balls, a lovely self levitation, balls from mouth, bow tie from mouth,ect.. ending in a very smooth dress change, and a complete change of set.

Silvana returned the next night, with a simply gorgeous solo act, with linking juggling rings, and a charming version of the Indian sand trick, using confetti, and multi coloured snow storm.

This was for me the nicest trick of the weekend. They too lectured later in the weekend. Through interpreters, they explained some of the fundamentally important things involved in stage magic, in particular Deportment, and Misdirection. A brilliant talk.

Charlie Frye and company.. (USA)

I love Charlie Frye and company. And going by the incredible reception the audiences gave him, I am not alone. His blend of carnie charm, and broad slap stick humour, is for me my idea of a perfect act.

And he is without doubt one of the top 3 jugglers too. Fantastic!

As is his close up magic, and his lecture, and his stage magic. is there no end to this mans talents? I doubt it very much, and he’s a genuinely nice guy too!

Mel Mellers (UK)

My first time seeing Mel work, and hopefully not my last. Strong magic and mentalism interlaced with perfectly timed insult,( but not insulting) humour. This man is a master of his craft.

He also gave a lecture, full of useful practical magic.

Matthew J Dowden

The tabs open, and Matthew is found in a tux, on a stool. he then gives a fine display of card manips and productions.

This followed by some audience participation, with gags. Its great, but I felt that Matthew should have just done the manips. Mainly because of the over run…More on that to follow

Terry Herbert (UK)

Firstly, the chance to watch the master of his craft, Terry Herbert mesmerise a theatre full of 300+ local children was a treat. Its impossible to list everything he did, but

His final effect, the rare Anverdi’s coin to glass, was of particular interest to the magicians. I’d love to find one myself.

Following his hour long show, he gave a talk on his philosophy on the art of entertaining children. This advice, worth the price of admission alone. He also had a few items to sell afterwards, each one a gem, and way too cheap!

He also appeared on the Gala show. his helper from the audience, ANTONIO, should get a special mention, because he was a magicians dream when it comes to audience helpers.

A quick mention at this point to….

Martin Duffy.

Not Just The instigator of this wonderful convention. He gave a display and demonstration of his incredible collection of Flea Circuses.

I am sure that nobody could fail to fall in love with these almost invisible characters. All I can say is. I want one I want one!!!

Contact Martin for more details.

Paul Zerdin (UK)

The uk’s top ventriloquist gave the audience top notch entertainment with two characters, the ever popular, always cheeky Sam, and a new character, ( to me anyways) His granddad Albert. Some of the things Albert said were a tiny bit near the knuckle for me, but great never the less.Thinking about it, it shows how good the guy is, when I complain about the puppets behavior, and not Pauls!

John Archer

The fact that a busy guy like John comes to this convention every year, is proof positive, that it is one hell of a great weekend. John performed both on the Saturday night gala show, as compere, and in the Friday night late show, back at the sea view hotel.

I’ve seen John many times, here he was at his best. His invisible opening was inspired, and the ukulele gag perfect for this kind of event.

On the Friday night show, we saw John perform some of his signature effects. These included the wonderfull Nana’s box, his Blind fold routine, and a seven keys type of effect.

Also on the bill on the Friday show, was Pat Monahan, who compared the Friday night gala, and a lovely girl singer/guitarist who’s name I am afraid, escapes me (Blame the beer.)

Zane. (UK)

I have to say that this opening act didn’t grab me. Unfortunately for the other acts on the bill, it over ran by a good 20 minutes, which put a bit of a damper on the Saturday night show.

Personally, I would of cut the act down by at least 2 thirds, and missed out the not very magical Illusion at the end.

This “escape” Is not angle proof, and looks far from dangerous. From a magician’s point of view, the McBride mask act, only works when Jeff does it.

And I don’t think that anybody should produce doves, and handle them in quite the rough way that Zane did this night. Likewise the snake.

Close up sessions.

Alain Nu

Alain performed 3 effects. he gave an explanation of how magicians vanish silk handkerchiefs. He gave 3 possible explanations, one using a fake thumb. Only he wasn’t using a fake thumb instead, he removed his own, and tucked the silk into the stump.

He then did an invisible deck routine, with a small twist, and ended up with a great presentation of the any card at any thought of number. the whole audience generating the number.

Charlie Frye

A flurry of effects using cards, coins, and lots more. Many will know I’m not a fan of flourishing. If everybody was as great at it as Charlie…i might just change my mind.

Ian Moran

Ian performed several nice effects, starting with a 3 fly routine. This was as good an act as you are likely to see at a convention.

The dealers hall

( by permission of my good friend and room mate, Darren King )

Quick review of the dealer hall, which is not linked to the main building via a bridge and automatic doors (or were they magic? )

You see what happens you feed back forms, we all said the short 2 second walk outside to the dealers was a pain so they build a bridge between the two builds just for the convention

Magic Box

One of the sponsors of the event, always helpful and had something for everyone on there stand, always happy to show you something

Made to Measure

Some great hand made props both in wood and material,

Practical Magic

Shame they had no Silks as always helpful and full of advice, you don’t just get the prop but you get all the handling and tips.

Albion Magic

Some good items and the mind reading head thing kept me entertained for many hours.

Magick Enterprises (Russell Hall/Martin Breese)

Some great items on CD-Rom and I know Dale was very excited with his purchase from this dealer.

Swadling Magic

Bob’s normally high standard quality props, was one of the hardest working dealers as I think he was showing someone something every time I went into the dealer area.


Some interesting items and some advice on invisible thread work.

In closing, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Martin, Karri, and all the boys at Magicbox, for once again making this convention one of the greats.

Long may it continue!!!!


About the author… Dale Shrimption has been obsessed with all things magical since the age of five. It was then that an elderly relative showed him how to bite a piece out of a tea plate. He’s had a wide range of experience in magic and theatre, And always tries to write reviews, from the layman’s point of view first. This article is reproduce here in full by his kind permission.