Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 06:45PM
Dodd Vickers

Well – let’s start at the end with the David Berglas International Award Ceremony ... an unbelievable event that is undoubtedly the highlight of the International Magic Convention. Just WOW ! Talk about saving the very best for last. The recipient of the award is always a closely guarded secret – and many in the audience were buzzing as to who the winner would be. Last year was Uri Geller & many were perhaps expecting the arrival of Derren Brown. But International Man of Mystery, David Berglas, forever has an Ace up his sleeve ... and he came up trumps with recipient – David Copperfield – joining us live via video conference from Las Vegas !

There are not many people in the world who can convince Copperfield to get up at 7 am for a presentation for a group of magicians - but when Berglas is the one presenting the award – you’re there without hesitation ... no matter the time. Berglas is looking fantastic – razor sharp as ever – and one liners flying thick & fast. As with all his presentations, every detail has been meticulously planned ... Berglas places the award inside the drawer box on stage here in London – magically it vanishes – with Copperfield receiving it in Vegas ... now that’s teleportation for you ;-) And it wasn’t dependent on the weather in Hawaii. Copperfield looks incredibly relaxed, smiling, cheerful, genuinely enjoying himself – along with Chris Kenner supplying the hands on screen for some hilarious magical interludes ( card fans from behind DC’s ear and hand model for the mystical drawer box ).


Copperfield spent close to an hour taking questions from those gathered ... covering everything from his next TV special ( not for a while ), his next engagement in England ( look out for Manchester in 2010 / 2011 ) to a detailed overview of his new passion – Musha Cay – and the array of secret surprises in store for fortunate visitors ( a construction of a secret village complete with mindreading monkeys being the most recent ).

Berglas was an unbelievable host – bringing gravitas as Matthew Field called it – along with an incredible sense of humour and fun. For those lucky few in attendance, it was as if we were sitting around the coffee table – chatting amongst friends. To everyone involved in putting this special highlight together –a BIG thank you. The technology was flawless, the presentation incredible and something which we are all going to remember for a very long time. And without a doubt – could never have been done without the true International Man of Mystery behind it all, David Berglas.

The moment the competitors had been waiting for – the Close-up Awards Ceremony ... hosted by James Freedman I believe, the audience are informed as to just how special a contest this is – having been won by so many impressive professionals over the years ( everyone from Lennart Green to Shawn Farquhar ) And in order to hand over such an impressive award – we need a distinguished guest ...

Quickly - who is available backstage to do the job ?

Out comes Armando Lucero – wearing his casual t-shirt & jeans – literally looking as if he had been told 5 minutes prior that he is now the official ‘hander-over’ of prizes. Not quite the special atmosphere we were  going for, unfortunately ;-(

And as quickly as it started , the awards show is over and the audience vanishes. Anti-climatic at best.

Back to the beginning we go – the first scheduled event for me this morning was the Close-up Gala Show ( unfortunately I missed the earlier lecture by Geoff Williams from the USA. ) Hosted by the easy going John Lenahan, we delved straight in with magic from George Parker including a 6 card repeat –type routine with the cards featuring the words – Yes & No... an Ambitious Card set ending up with folded card in box and closing with penetrating coins from ribbon. A good start to what is going to be a great show.

David Minkin was next on the bill. And for those who haven’t seen him live – you are in for a treat. An instantly likeable performer – his magic is crisp, measured and deliberate . Coins across, a beautiful glass time capsule routine and ending with the sound of raindrops materialising in front of your eyes. An amazing act and accomplished performer.

Armando Lucero followed with his devilish card work and received the first standing ovation of the day with his legendary coin matrix routine. Simply stunning !

How do we top it all ? With the master himself, Rene Lavand ... and his jaw-dropping separation of colours routine ( despite the big screen video painting Rene a beautiful hue of green and reds & blacks becoming indistinguishable ... it was still incredible )

The CLose-up Gala Show was an all-round success – and the audience were fired up for what other surprises lay in store ...
And surprises indeed – a special presentation by Arturo Brachetti is scheduled for 1:15 pm

Arturo Brachetti is currently performing in London with his new show – Change – a not-to-be-missed spectacle of magic, quick-change and illusion. With 8 shows a week, trying to find an opportunity for Arturo to attend the convention was clearly no small feat ... but thank goodness for perseverance. Arturo’s session was worth the price of admission alone.

For an hour solid – he shared with us his life story, philosophy on performance and view on magic. His perspective on the superficial nature of most magicians was perhaps a bitter pill for many to swallow – but truth hurts. We have been doing the same tricks for the past 60 years and seldom move beyond simple curiosity, the first degree of emotion. Magic according to Arturo should be a journey of mind more than technique ... and for those dreaming of Las Vegas ( “the elephants graveyard” ) – beware ! “you’re the piece of soap that needs to make the bubbles” – “a simple distraction on the journey to the slot machines” ... honest, refreshing, insightful – simply magical !

Fresh from his new found career as prize distributor, comes the Armando Lucero ‘lecture’ ... Armando performs some incredible impromptu pieces, shares news of his soon-to-be-built close-up theatre in Shanghai and describes the most amazing scene from his theatrical show that he is busy creating. An informal conversation and Q & A with a true artist follows. While these are pearls of wisdom – this is billed as a ‘lecture’ ... and the trick monkeys are hungry.  And Armando is bizarrely not prepared to feed them.

He does not share tricks or secrets – or explain any of the material shown ... a cruel teasing of the audience some would say. Armando believes that sharing secrets can only be done by those who have earned it ... and the simple explanation of a trick or a routine would diminish its value and not be appreciated by those in attendance. I can fully appreciate the philosophical debate – but this is a magic convention attended by magicians who want to learn. You need to play the game. To dazzle them with the most amazing performance pieces, bill it as a lecture and then share not a single routine, effect or move ( and I’m discounting the spongeballs as that illustrated theory ) because you believe they haven’t earned it ( or conversely value it ) is bizarre.

Needless to say –the separate Master Class with extra $$ price tag takes place this week as a separate event.  Perhaps the line above should read – “because you believe they haven’t paid for it.” Philosophy, hypocrisy and financial reality come crashing down.

Well – they say you keep the best for last – and day three was the undeniable highlight of this convention ... so many special moments, so much magic & excitement – fantastic to witness. 

All in all – a great 3 days of magic and a highly enjoyable time was had by all. The International Magic Convention is a family affair and our sincere thanks to the MacMillan family, Noel Britten and the many others I’m sure for the long hours in putting the event together. London is magical at the best of times – but seemed to be a little more so thanks to them this November ! 

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