For better or worse, FISM 2012 is over and the deconstruction can really begin--a difficult task considering the fact that all FISMs exist in an alternative reality. I wasn’t there, so my observations have been formed in the elastic space between the membranes, where rational thought is the slave of perspective. Here, historical footnotes carry a disproportionate weight of importance. A new book can warp the public’s awareness of the "art" via verisimilitude, and a location whose charm seems impenetrable to anyone not British the way haggis is unpalatable to anyone not Scottish (although I like haggis) conveys an aura of foreboding.
In this reality, FISM is called the "Olympics of Magic." The comparison is absurd in the extreme. Throughout high school and college I competed in springboard diving. I was a good diver surrounded by greatness simply because I lived in Southern California, the diving capital of the world. Because of this happy accident of location, I often dove with Olympic Gold Medalists, including Air Force Captain Micki King. In the 1968 Olympics she broke her left arm on her second to last dive on the three meter board. She bandaged the break as best she could and completed the competition! The dedication is 24/7, the skill required puts you in the .01 percent class and the courage against pain is an Oxy addict’s nightmare.
In this reality, a win at FISM can bring you fame and fortune. Not really. Great champions like Fred Kaps, Richard Ross and Lance Burton have done more to establish the award then the award ever did to establish them. It’s true that there is an exposure perk that new performers can benefit from, and that makes the competition a worthwhile endeavor, but consider the list of famous magicians who never competed in FISM if you want to fully appreciate the real world impact of the award.
In this reality, FISM is about furthering the cause of magic and ego and politics are never involved.... "I am shocked! shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here!"
In this reality, the Gala shows feature the best that magic can offer. Actually, I have seen several great galas at FISM. One of the best was at the 1988 FISM in Den Hague. Max Maven MC’d a show that magicians still talk about. A strong line-up of talent spent the show in the wings wishing they could have seen the show from the front. But, what made the show great was a chance Richard Ross took on a magician who came from the Soviet Union and arrived too late to compete. Richard saw him work and told Max to put him in the show: Standing O. Now the reports of croneyism and bizarre shock booking imply a greater reliance on the draw of the competition to fill seats, an expedience that gambles with the convention fee.
I once wrote that great acts can make a good convention and good friends can make a great convention. Great magic conventions are the result of good organization and a blessing from the gods. Often an act no one expected, or the making of a new friend, defines the experience. The “Wow” factor fades with the lights, and the smell of poor taste lingers like a newly dead bad cigar.
Conventions are mindless giants that are mostly harmless. In “Fooling Houdini,” Mr. Stone’s need to invent an antagonist worthy of his quixotic quest to sally forth and conquer, complete with a figurative Mambrino helmet forged by the Lord of Lemurs (self-proclaimed), demonstrates the gap between reality and the public perception of magic. I am truly pained by the fact that this farce forced a talent as unique and wonderful as Ricky Jay’s into defending the heritage of magic. My mother, a retired college professor, clipped out Ricky’s review of Mr. Stones book when it was reprinted in a local newspaper. When I visited her she produced the clipping and asked me if I knew the man. I told her I wasn’t familiar with Alex Stone and she quickly interrupted me, “No not him, the reviewer Ricky Jay, what a wonderful writer.” I told her that yes I know Ricky and he is all that and more. The first time I ever saw Ricky perform was on the tape of 1973 FISM in Paris. I was astonished by his performance and that memory lives on in my mind as a real and tangible force that inspires, long after the conventions have merged into a background radiation with no particular identity.
Here are the video's from last night's America's Got Talent YouTube show featuring Puck, Rudy Coby & Eric Buss.NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: These video links were deleted after they were removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim.
In this episode of the Magic Newswire's "Sprit of Magic Podcast" I am thrilled to welcome the only pupil of the legendary Walter Irving Scott known in the magic and gambling communities as The Phantom. Scott is the focus of the book that Gazzo collaborated on with David Britland entitled "Phantoms at the Card Table: Confessions of a cardsharp" . Beyond his career as a street magician, Gazzo is an expert on cons and scams and was Scott's only pupil. He was also the only person with whom Scott entrusted his biography and life's work at card cheating and sleights. Oh.. and as an aside... You can see a younger Gazzo doing his Cup's & Balls routine at the Dai Vernon Roast video below at approximately the six minute mark.
LISTEN TO THE GAZZO INTERVIEW ::
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Thanks to Michael Ammar for sharing this video from the 1987 roast of Dai Vernon at the New York Magic Symposium.. According to Michael :
If you are a magician or if you love magic this is a real treat. This is the only known footage from the roast of Dai Vernon, the Professor, in 1987 at the New York Magic Symposium. Tom Mullica is the MC and everyone who speaks is renowned in the world of magic.
The footage is pretty rough at times; I was sitting on the floor while holding the camera. It was only meant to preserve a genuine, meaningful experience shared with friends. Having found this VHS copy not long ago, this is a faded memory - and yet it instantly transports me to an exhilarating time and place!
The batteries on the camera were so bad in those days.... I turned the camera off several times; one time missing the beautiful performance by Pat Cook. Fortunately, he sang it just for the camera after the roast was over, so stay tuned after the final applause for the Professor!
According to the official website, Joe Gold's film "Desperate Acts of Magic" was inspired by his experience as a professional magician, performing over 500 kids birthday parties, and entering numerous magic competitions. Joe wanted to make an authentic magic movie, showing great magic performed by a cast of professional magicians. Like a great musical where the songs and the story are seamlessly intertwined, Desperate Acts of Magic wants to do the same, mixing story and magic as one. In spite of numerous hurdles faced during production, the first official trailer for the film is now online and you can see it here:
From Vanity Fair Daily we hear of an effect performed by David Blaine for the audience attending the Woody Harrelson directed Broadway Show "Bullet for Adolf.":
David Blaine, the illusionist known for stunts like encasing himself in blocks of ice and Plexiglas, performed a special magic trick for the New York opening of Woody Harrelson’s play Bullet for Adolf. A hush fell over the crowd in the lobby at New World Stages when Blaine pulled out a deck of cards and held them high. Photographers cocked their cameras, and Blaine, with one hand, spewed the cards all over the floor.
Laughing, Blaine told VF Daily that he had prepared the stunt “just for this.”
An interesting article from BroadcastNow.co.uk talks about the on again off again relationship between magicians and television. Using Dynamo and Derren Brown to kick off the piece, it discusses the varied success of magic themed programming on British TV.
From Tommy Cooper to Paul Daniels, David Blaine and David Copperfield, magic has been a perennial of television. But like the magicians themselves, TV needs to move with the times and constantly revise how it presents their craft to the viewing public.
Derren Brown has set the bar high with his psychological games and high-profile, sometimes controversial, stunts; while on the big screen, the Harry Potter franchise and films like The Illusionist and The Prestige demonstrate an appetite for magic and its ability to capture an audience.
But while Dynamo’s popularity has boosted a small channel, some recent attempts at capturing magic’s sparkle have fallen flat, most notably the more traditional Saturday primetime formats. Penn And Teller: Fool Us on ITV1 and BBC1’s The Magicians will not be returning, leading some to question whether magic’s appeal is sustainable.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in which hi discusses his role in the new Bourne Legacy, The Avengers and other projects, actor Jeremy Renner dropped this interesting tidbit:
I just did a movie with James Gray directing, and Marion Cotillard, who is one of my favorite actresses (again, some of my favorite actresses. Marion Cotillard and Rachel Weisz. I got to work with both of them right in a row, and that was a real treat for me). And Joaquin Phoenix, who is one of the best actors out there, in my mind. And I got to play a magician. It was great. It’s a beautiful story about the early 1900s in America when all the immigrants were coming through Ellis Island. Marion plays the immigrant, and she sort of gets sold out or pimped out by Joaquin’s character. It’s a terrible way to describe it, but in the simplest way, it’s about a pimp, a whore and a magician. But it’s a little bit more complex than that.
A British children's entertainer says that he may be forced to change his name to avoid being having his children's show tainted by the blockbuster success of the recnt blockbuster movie about male strippers. According to an article in the Telegraph:
Michael DeFreitas has delighted youngsters for years with his magic show and ventriloquist's act with Oscar the Parrot, Chuck the cheeky teenager, and Brazilian tourist Carlos.
But now when he turns up in his purple van - emblazoned with 2ft wand and Magic Mike in 1ft tall golden letters - audiences expect he is about to bare all.
He has begun to receive inquiries about 'adult entertainment' and is often asked: 'Are you the stripper?'