Luis de Matos beams a convention from Portugal.
Because I was forcibly housebound for two weeks in July, I had to give the SAM and IBM conventions in Atlanta and San Diego a miss. Fortunately, a convention with an even stronger lineup took place right inside my home, thanks to the genius of Luis de Matos, Marco Tempest, and David Britland, who launched their Essential Magic Conference. Early July, I also wrapped up a set of experimental magic performances, showcasing new material for a discriminating audience. Details follow. And by the way, congratulations to all the magicians from Spain for your team's winning the World Cup. It's been quite a year for Spain in sports, with the World Cup soccer victory, with Nadal winning at Wimbledon, and with Gasol helping to lead the Lakers to another win in the NBA. Impressive!
OBRIGADO, LUIS -- From July 15-17, Luis de Matos, along with Marco Tempest, David Britland, and thirty of their A-list friends, broadcast the Essential Magic Conference, the first digital conference for magic and magicians. Attendees not only witnessed performances and lectures by the best of the best, but could chat in real time and pose questions. It was almost like being there. Most of the presentations rose to a level I've experienced only at MAGIC Live conventions. A few highlights from many:
Eric Mead opened the conference and set a high bar. His take on an Eddie Fechter ace discovery sent a lot of us back to our libraries.
Eric Mead entertains a guy from the audience.
My favorite "new" face was that of Dani DaOrtiz, from Spain. He has a big, warm personality and presents incredibly original card tricks. (It's my fault that Dani was "new," as I don't get out enough. He has performed at 4F, at the Magic Castle, has DVDS available, etc. He is also widely represented on YouTube, where you can see his card and coin magic and his hysterically funny impersonations of Lennart Green.)
Dani's partner in crime, Miguel Angel Gea, exuded similar warmth and mystery with his close-up magic.
Dani DaOrtiz was the most fun to watch.
Ponta the Smith, from Japan, performed and explained amazingly clean ungaffed handlings of standard coin tricks. Ponta is also widely available on YouTube, and I've been watching him ever since the conference ended. As Mike Caveney put it, Ponta rocked the house.
I love lists and therefore greatly enjoyed Stan Allen's "33 Things Worth Thinking About" and Guy Hollingworth's "7 Lessons I've Learned from a Packet Trick." Barry and Stuart's "Everything We've Learned So Far" also fell into this category. I loved their advice: "get off the dealer drip."
In addition to a card trick whose method would be posted, Max Maven delivered his lecture on the first close-up magician, which I had heard at an MCA weekend and looked forward to hearing again. It's a fascinating analysis.
Max emcees a session.
I knew T.A. Waters but had never seen him perform. Now I have, thanks to David Britland's sharing of a video pilot, "The Mind of Dr. Frost." What a nice surprise.
T.A. Waters as Dr. Galen Frost.
Bill Kalush gave paid attendees an even nicer surprise, a thirty-day membership to his Conjuring Arts database. I look forward to tapping into this extraordinary resource.
Gene Matsuura detailed extremely deceptive uses of crossing the gaze, illustrating the method with Slydini effects.
Gaeton Bloom is a sort of creative mad scientist. His lecture overflowed with great why-didn't-I-think-of-that ideas. Finn Jon's lecture was similarly bountiful. These guys are the U.F. Grants of our day.
I love Lennart Green's work and was amazed that he tipped how to produce, while blindfolded, an entire suit in order from a deck shuffled well into absolute chaos.
Mike Caveney gave a great talk on the Zig Zag illusion fiasco and performed a puzzling, hilarious Del Adelphia egg bag routine, producing nearly three dozen eggs from its confines.
Mike Caveney rocks.
Cyril Takayama was arguably the biggest name on the program, but proved remarkably humble and generous. He closed the conference with an impromptu cigarette manipulation routine at Luis's request.
And virtually everyone else was wonderful as well, not the least including Luis and Marco. All in all it was an excellent attempt at a groundbreaking idea. On the plus side, I am so grateful that such wonderful magicians from Europe and Japan take the trouble to learn English and to speak it so well. Languages are difficult, and the trouble it takes to learn English is greatly appreciated. On the minus side, if it can be so construed, the presenters had to also double as the on-site viewing audience and as the audience volunteers. This led to an occasional lack of a "normal" audience response. Perhaps Luis should fly in an L and L Publishing audience for the next one. The only other minus I can think of is that the streaming used flash and therefore wouldn't work on an iPad. The iPad had just barely hit Europe at the time of the conference, so there wasn't much opportunity to switch over. (The canny barrister Guy Hollingworth used one during his emcee stint, therefore qualifying the device as a tax deduction.) The event would have looked much better on an iPad, and I feel certain next year's version will offer that.
Today, all of the sessions are online and will remain so for a year, and the attendees can expect permanent DVD recordings of the conference in the mail. I loved being introduced to new faces, and I've been enjoying their performances ever since by replaying the sessions and by catching more on YouTube. The EMC is a gift that keeps on giving.
SUMMER HOT LIST -- For the past few summers, I've had a standing Monday lunch date ("Magic Monday") at which I am expected to perform magic for some engineering colleagues and their children. This is a group that actually likes mathematical card tricks, but, because of the children, it is also important that the magic be visual and entertaining as well. I exhausted my normal repertoire the first summer, so all subsequent magic has been material new to me as well as to my audience. It's been a great way for me to showcase new items, to see what works and what doesn't. What follows is a list of things that worked particularly well this summer. I hope it encourages you to either try these specific items or at least to dust off some items of your own that you've been meaning to perform but haven't gotten around to. Have fun!
Mojoe -- John Kennedy's vanishing cup of coffee is shocking. Great fun to perform.
No Look Aces -- Steve Forte's aces from a shuffled deck makes you look like a gambling pro, but it's pretty easy. On Bill Malone's Here I Go Again DVD from L&L (volume 2).
Spectator Cuts to the Aces -- One of the Marlo versions from Malone Meets Marlo (volume 3). There are several fine versions on this DVD.
Plants' Rising Cards -- I've toyed with this Gary Plants trick for years but hadn't presented it to a live audience. I accompanied it with the Dark Shadows theme music played on an iPad. "Sweet," one of the kids said.
Rising Card -- This was the Theory 11 rising card app, played on my iPod touch. It made a nice complement to the Plants version. Kudos to Chris Kenner for a great app.
Heavy Breather -- This Allan Slaight gambling routine from Spins and Needles is a self-working miracle. In effect, the spec loses the four aces in the deck, quite fairly. You then deal out ten hands of poker and receive the aces. The cards are assembled and you ask for a more normal number of hands, say five to seven. You comply, re-deal, and receive a royal flush.
Worth another read.
Upton/Smith Rising Cards -- This version shattered any ideas my audience might have had after seeing the Plants version. This should also shatter any ideas even magicians might have. Very clever. I used three signed cards and once again used the Dark Shadows music.
Moves and Removes -- This Simon Aronson trick from Simply Simon is the most amazing mathematical trick I know. It completely fools me every time I perform it. It's a game played with nine cards laid out in a three by three elimination matrix, but you would swear the moves are random. This may be as close as you will ever get to real magic.
Triple Climax Clock Trick -- I've enjoyed reading about clock tricks (twelve cards laid in a circle) for years but hadn't tried any. This version by Nick Trost (from Subtle Card Creations volume 2) put me over the edge. It killed. Nick was a genius.
Have a nice summer.
Sarah and Simon (Vixen and Spike to old Gazette readers) were married on April 1, 2006. You may access their wedding photos at wedding photos.
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Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from an iMac 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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