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A new addition to everyone's press packet
THE PARTY -- While most of us spent the Opening Night Party in line to get badged (Mike Close dubbed the theme of the party as "a night at the DMV"), the rest of us were entertained by strolling magicians Cellini and Bob Sheets. I spent all my opportunities watching Sheets, long one of my favorite magicians, doing a hilarious rope routine, the three-shell game, and his incomparable Malini Card Stab, still the best card trick around. The room itself was beautifully decorated with covers of all the issues of MAGIC to date. Among various nice handouts, the new issue of MAGIC itself is a treasure, and a special edition was given to all attendees.
MAX AND MIKE -- Much as he did with MAGIC magazine itself, Max Maven got the convention off to an intellectual high by presenting a live version of his Parallax column, which ran for five years. Neither friend nor foe (nor hosting magazine nor the guy of whom he was a house guest) was spared the heat of his dead on humor. Later in the week, Max would rise to an even greater challenge -- see below. With equally devastating humor, Mike Close brought his Marketplace column to life with a discussion of the very serious task of reviewing. Max and Mike are two of the best monologists in show business, and their contributions made this one of the strongest and most intellectually stimulating conventions ever.
AT THE MOVIES -- In appearances spread throughout the convention, Bill McIlhany presented rare video footage of magic caught on camera. My favorite bits were Veronica Lake performing some excellent magic and Channing Pollock on Daniel Boone. John Moehring also looked great on his Ed Sullivan appearance, of which we saw a brief glimpse.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL -- Imagine a close-up Dream Team: it would no doubt include Paul Gertner, Guy Hollingworth, Chad Long, and Bill Malone. They were all here, along with the young Buck twins (whose Dueling Banjos-style card cutting to techno music was characterized by some as "pointless masturbation" and by David Blaine as "the future of magic"). Favorites for me included Chad Long extracting cards from a wall (very weird looking) and everything that Bill Malone did. Bill's guest assistants in my set were Jillian Gotlib and one of Rory Johnston's cute boys, and he had them both laughing throughout. It's almost a contradiction in terms that anyone who studied "under Marlo" could be this funny and this commercial.
LIVE ON STAGE -- When the stage show opens with the Pendragons, you can expect it to be great, and it often was. Highlights for me included everything emcee Mike Caveney did (I have no idea whatsoever how he spins that cup of coffee about), Michael Finney, Anthony Gatto (Melinda's longtime juggler, who entertains by expert juggling, not by comedy), the very artistic Nicholas Night and Kinga, and the bouncy and wacky charm of the assistant (Muriel) to FISM Grand Prix winner Scott the Magician.
MAGIC MOMENTS -- Surprises are what you remember about conventions. When Richard Kaufman introduced Bill Malone, Bill thanked him but complained that he was accustomed to a more lively intro. Accordingly, he asked the "fellow who carries my bags" to do an intro for him, and out stepped Robin Leach, who in his best "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" voice introduced "the magician's magician, Bill Ma-Lone." A second big surprise was the announcement that John Moehring will now be the official editor of MAGIC.
QUIZ SHOW -- One interesting evening concluded with Mark Summers of Nickelodeon hosting a trivia contest on MAGIC magazine, with David Charvet perfect as a Don Pardo-type announcer. The results were a tad lopsided (the big prize was a lifetime subscription to MAGIC), but the questions were consistently entertaining. Great fun.
QUEEN FOR A DAY -- Jack Bailey used to host a quiz show in which the most pitiable contestant won the honor of being Queen for a Day. In a World's Worst Magic segment, Mac King and Penn Jillette vied for that honor, Mac telling the story of when he had to do his comedy magic show for a dead boy's memorial service, and Penn telling the story of an MIT buddy who performed a Uri Geller spoon bending stunt on a $250,000 Paul Revere spoon.
CUTEST BABES -- No, I'm not talking about Kinga or that spunky young girl with Scott. I'm talking about the real babes who were present -- Mac King's daughter, Elizabeth, and Michael Ammar's daughter, Savannah. Each is still under one year, but there's a lot of personality and mischief in those faces already. And such cuties.
LECTURE NOTES -- What a wide range of lectures, from Earl Oakes on origami to Tim Glancey on Sports Magic. Glen David Gold gave a great talk on his novel, Carter Beats the Devil (another intellectual high point), and I enjoyed Michael Ammar's lecture on lecturing as well as Michael Diliberto's on marketing. Numerous magic tricks were taught, of which Jon Racherbaumer's Hornswoggled variation struck me as the most effective. (Jim Steinmeyer's Nine Card Problem is the best of the lot, but better presentations have come along than the one he demonstrated.) David Kaye took a cheap shot at Melinda that scored a laugh, a moment that was counterbalanced during Gary Ouellet's lecture, when a video of Melinda levitating out of a chamber of snakes elicited spontaneous applause. David's lecture itself featured how to make three different ages of children enjoy the same trick (a vanishing silk) and was hilarious.
I apologize for posting my mug on this site two months in a row. It was the only way I could show you the cool id badge that Stan Allen came up with for his MAGIC Live event at the Orleans this month in Las Vegas. Each attendee received an id with his photo "on the cover of MAGIC." That was one of many touches that had many calling this "the best convention they ever attended." Rather than attempt a complete report, I am listing here only the highlights that made this visit to Las Vegas special for me. Also mentioned below are Other Goings On in Las Vegas, Joe Stevens' New Products Magalog Summer 2001, a cool magic shop, and a movie worth your time.
|Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.
Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from a computer in Bloomington, Indiana. He frequently journeys to and performs magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.
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