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Episode #1 : Why saw a woman in half? What is the connection between a deck of cards & the calendar. Remote card location.

Episode #2: Espionage, jealousy & murder among magicians. Adam calls his arch nemesis Richard Vegas.

Episode #3:The first aircraft pilot down under was a magician and a live random number challenge via phone.

Episode #4: Bar stunts, Alice Cooper as a magician and magic used in pop concerts.



Its Day Two of the International Magic Convention. The numbers have swelled – there’s excitement in the air – it’s time for magic as we await the start of the close-up contest. And with a powerhouse judging panel that more closely resembles FISM – let’s hope the contestants are up to scratch ... judges include Gerrit Brengman, Domenico Dante, Obie O’Brien, Tonny van Rhee, Andy Nyman, Jackie McClements, Hank Moorehouse, Joan Caesar & Gay Ljundberg ... Beijing déjà-vu.

First competitor Rob James from the UK featured  vanishing / appearing card cases – cards were selected and later found accompanied by a novel ‘laptop gag meter’ counting the gags in his show.  Amusing and light hearted – he finished with a 4 Ace production to music and a fully sorted deck as his finale. 

Keith Bennett somehow got confused and brought his kids show  along ( and that’s probably insulting the numerous accomplished children’s entertainers out there ) in an awful act not in the least bit suited to an international close-up magic contest. His mindreading chicken complete with sword swallowing was cringe-worthy.

Oliver Meech complete in dressing gown recounted the tale of his lost luggage – having to use ‘props’ from his hotel room. An any-drink-called-for style routine with drinks from the mini-bar along with cups & balls using tea-bags.

Jean Emmanuel Franzis from France didn’t get off to a good start due to the MC’s mic not being switched off ... resulting in the audience hearing all sorts of backstage clamour. The mood of a refined coin routine set to music is quickly destroyed.
Dr Gabor from Hungary  entertained with a sandwich ace routine along with signed card in deck. No great shakes.

The inimitable Alexander Popov ( a firm FISM favourite) was back at it with his incomprehensible English and most bizarre card shuffles and discoveries you have ever seen. Entertaining for all the wrong reasons ;)
Paul Brown – a promising young magician – followed in George Parker’s footsteps as the alchemist in search of the elusive 5th element.  A cups & balls routine along with some visual coin changes and ending with the production of a live goldfish. A pleasing act that is clearly the result of lots of hard work ...
Vlad Kolmykov from Russia in the most horrendous outfit you can imagine – picture the worst image of a stereotypical magician from the 80’s complete with bowtie and there you have it. A triple rope trick, appearing jumbo cards ending with an ambitious card routine with final discovery in sealed can in locked box. Please change your outfit !

Pete Hathaway – the competition’s very own Pete Doherty ... what has this guy been smoking ? Clearly there are not any entrance requirements for this contest ... another ambitious card style routine with a magician who has no clue what he is doing and forgets half his act midway through.

Woody Aragon representing Spain delivered a whimsical card routine to music – travelling cards, Triumph finish and letters on the back of the cards spelling ‘38th Ron’s Day’ – a crowd pleaser.

Charming Choi flew in from Korea with a new act compared to that last seen in FISM if memory serves me correctly.  Cards are strewn across a giant sketchpad to form the shape of a bicycle ( this done to Queen’s Bicycle theme song ;-) The ‘card’ wheels suddenly come to life - spinning furiously ending in the production of a model bicycle. A novel idea definitely worth expanding on.  Charming, charming, charming Choi ( please make note – its 3 x charmings ) ends with a coin matrix on the sketch pad – the coins visibly moving and ultimately everything on the table becoming imprinted on the pad. All in all some clever concepts just needing unity.

Johan Stahl from Sweden – performed his FISM award winning act. A beautiful piece by a true showman featuring nothing more than a coffee cup, sugar cube and a vanishing pen.  Johan has a great demeanour and the act’s charm relies heavily on the volunteer – the magic is done exclusively for the person on stage ... and the audience at large gets to be observers to this unfolding fantasy. Without a doubt – the clear winner from the day & such a joy to watch a polished performance piece. Congrats !

John van der Put had the unenviable task of following Johan. A fun act nonetheless with helium balloon, signed card in wallet, torn & restored card and the grand revelation via onstage laptop.  A light-hearted piece to end the morning’s competition.
George Parker was the first lecture of the day elaborating further on his previous night’s performance as well as sharing his take on the one ahead principle, binary card marking system and very clever card discovery from within a die. Time was short – but he covered lots ending with a plea for magicians to discover their own creativity ...

The main event of the day was undoubtedly Rene Lavand ... expertly translated by the wonderful Tina Lenert , delegates were treated to not a lecture – but a ‘gettogether’ as Rene would call it ... a beautiful performance piece of card discoveries and revelations, imperceptible 2nd deals and false shuffles ( captured beautifully on the big screen – kudos to the camera man ) along with some insightful questions and answers. The man received a deserved standing ovation.

David Minkin’s lecture was the final one for the day - but unfortunately the need for dinner ( I know, I know how could I succumb to food over magic ) before the main gala show prevented me from seeing this. I enjoy David’s easy going style having seen him perform at IBM SAM and am really sorry to have missed this – but buzz seemed positive.
The Mermaid Conference Centre overlooks the Thames –and many of the dealers have the most idyllic spot gazing over the river ... certainly one of the nicest locations I’ve seen in a long time. Dealers are split into 3 main rooms and number well over 15 peddling their usual wares. No major buzz or must-have-product yet I’m afraid.
The TV series Little Britain most certainly is NOT fiction. We saw it in action today. The Brits like to queue ... and they love their rules ... no matter how ridiculous they are. The auditorium has a walkway outside the main entrance doors which connect to two staircases - one leading down to the lower level – the other going up to the 1st floor. This mystical walkway is a designated fire exit and no person whatsoever is permitted to remain on this hallowed turf. With the gala show set to start at 7:30 pm one would reasonably expect that you would start seating people some 30 minutes prior to show time – but then that would deprive us of the British queuing tradition. Instead – we have some 300 people  crammed on the lower level – another 300 crammed in the smallest area imaginable on the 1st floor with a constant flow of people caught in between the walkway of death.  Such comedy to see exasperated ushers begging, shouting, pleading, prodding for people to move away from their  precious walkway into the already overcrowded holding pens either above or below – a losing battle of note. I don’t mean to state the obvious – but what good is your unobstructed ‘walkway’ when no one can move as it is in your dear holding pens ? And if there happened to be a fire – don’t you think those standing on your walkway to freedom – might actually choose to descend the staircase rather than watch the slaughtering of the overcrowded masses as they trample each other to death? Aaah – Britain is such a beautiful place ;-)

The 7:30 pm show became the 7:50 pm performance thanks to the excitement of the ‘guardians of the walkway’ above.

Tina Lenert fired things up with her classic Cinderella story of magic ( and mop ) brought to life. A beautiful act as always. Noel Britten was MC for the evening & what a joy to have a professional compere – entertaining, witty and engaging ... Otiz Cannelloni should take notes !

Having seen just one magic act – we went straight into a variety segment with a bizarre choice of a hip-hop breakdancing group called One Motion along with Michael Jackson impersonator. Hip-hop dance at a magic show ? I don’t think so. A poor choice and waste of time.

IT was up to Han Seol Hui from Korea to lift the show with his mindboggling CD manipulation. But even with his stellar performance  - Han suffers from his poor placing in the show and the act doesn’t get the impact it deserves.

Chris Mitchell presented the appearing bowling ball, tossed out desk and classic bandana / banana routine. Very entertaining and good hearted fun – Chris, though, should have ended with the banana but overstays his welcome with a mediocre ‘ambassador of love’ performance piece. Quit while you’re ahead.
Brett Sherwood from the USA rounds out the first half with a vanishing bird cage, card manipulation, torn & restored newspaper and floating napkin to rose. Commercial pieces well presented and particularly well liked by the lay people sitting in front of me.

At just over 1 hour 15 minutes – it’s time for a much needed interval.

Leo Nifosi from Italy opens the second half with some unique feather manipulation, crystal ball juggling, snowstorm – and personal favourite ... production of feathers from pants.
Back to variety with Heir of Insanity – a gymnastic duo encased within a massive giant balloon complete with star light backdrop.  Think Cirque du Soleil inside a balloon.

Noel Britten returns to do a segment with Francis the Mindreading Duck who discerns a selected time on a pocket watch.  Massively fun routine – highly entertaining –with great comedic timing.

Back to Asia we go – this time with FISM winner Yo Kato with his now classic colour changing wands & thimble routine. High energy and dazzling skill that I cannot for the life of me work out why you would not close your gala show with?

But onward we go – with Armando Lucero taking to the stage with billiard ball manipulation, paper balls over head and finishing with a mime sequence. Armando has a  genuine way about him and instantly warms to the audience.

And to the end show ( why I’m still trying to figure out ) Matt Hennem with  crystal ball juggling ( didn’t we see this earlier ? ) Granted, Matt’s routine is good ... but as your grand finale ? Give me a break – you have not one but TWO of the world’s best manipulators on your show – and you end with the glass ball guy ? Poor choice on the part of the producer.  

The Gala Show finishes at 10:20 pm ... overall,  a great line-up of talent but not maximised to their fullest. And PLEASE rehearse the finale ... someone forgot to tell the hip-hop duo they weren’t the stars ..
It’s 12:57 am – time for sleep.
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