Hi folks

I know that it was a few weeks ago, but I have not had a lot of time to be able to post this up. So, now that I’ve got a few minutes, let’s get typing. Now, what was I going to type about? Oh yes…

London, London, London. I enjoy my now annual visit to the “big smoke” for a bunch of reasons. The buzz of the Christmas shoppers swarming along the pavements. Meeting up with friends old and new. Oh and the International Magic Convention, or “Ron’s Day”.

“Ron’s Day” is now a weekend full of magic from the best performers in the world. As always, it is a great mix of established names and those that have yet to become established names in the magic world. This year was no different with Rene Lavand, Armando Lucero and Geoff Williams among those on the bill.

One of the real highlights of the convention each year is the International Magic Close Up Competition for the Kevin Raey Trophy. Now in its 26th year, the competition is one of the most prestegious in magic with a list of winners that reads like a Who’s Who of Close Up magic in the last quarter of a century. Here’s who took part this year, as well as a few notes that I scribbled at the time.

Rob James (UK)
Rob performed some of the material from act that he performed when I saw him at the IBM British Ring Competition in Eastbourne last year. He opened with a great effect with the cards and their case which caught me out and then his very funny routine with his “gag counter”, which, in the end, revealed a selected card. Rob closed with a very funny piece that was done to music but that his “thoughts” being broadcast for all to hear.

Keith Bennet (UK)
Keith came out and performed mentalism with a rubber chicken. This may sound somewhat weird, but there were some very funny moments in this act which ended up with a selected card inside said rubber chicken.

Oliver Meech (UK)
The premise of Oliver’s act was that he had lost his luggage when travelling to the convention so was performing with things he had found in his hotel room – including being dressed in his bathrobe and using its belt as a tie. He performed a clever effect with different spirits being poured out of the same miniature bottle from the mini bar. He also performed a nice Cups and Balls routine with tea cups and tea bags.

Jean Emmanuel Franzis (France)
Some major errors marred the start of this act but he did some really nice coin productions and some excellent coin work, including a clever 3 Fly style routine and ended with a brief tribute to some of Coin Magic’s masters.

Dr Gábor (Hungary)
Gábor presented an act based around card cheating, with Ace productions from a blue-backed deck, only for the aces to change to red backed. Some confusing handling and drawn-out presentations were peppered with moments of genius, especially with his cards out of the box routine. His act came close to the 12 minute time limit and he had to rush the end of his routine.

Alexander Popov (Russia)
Popov came out with the same crazy cuts and off-the-wall attitude that had endeared those of us that saw him at FISM 2006 in Stockholm. Strange whistles and noises as he performed seemingly impossible cuts while constantly finding a selected card caused laughter – mostly because a lot of the magicians watching were being fooled by what they were seeing. Completely unique card handling and he could be the Russian Lennart Green.

Paul Brown (UK)
Sadly, I missed Paul’s act as I was too busy chatting in the Dealers’ Room. Sorry.

Vladislav Kolmykov (Russia)
There seems to be a Russian tradition for making strange noises and whistles when performing magic. Kolmykov performed a Professor’s Nightmare routine which lulled everyone into a false sense of security before they realised they’d been fooled. A very clever version of David Regal’s “Sudden Deck” was followed by an Ambitious Card routine interspersed with the continual re-appearance of the card case around the cards. The Ambitious Card ended up being sealed inside a tin of fruit slices.

Woody Aragon (Spain)
Woody performed a very nice assembly routine with the assembling cards having different backs to the rest of the deck being used. He also performed an excellent colour-changing deck and finished by “painting” with the cards to spell out “38th Ron’s Day”.

Pete Hathaway (UK)
Hathaway came across as having used an unknown compound prior to coming on stage and started with a gag prediction of a mobile telephone number. He continued with some strange card work and an Ambitious Card routine that he seemed to forget part-way through.

Charming Choi (South Korea)
Choi’s performance persona is camper than a row of pink tents with little pink bows on them. He started with an unusual piece where he made a picture of a bicycle out of Bicycle brand playing cards and then caused the wheels to spin before producing a 6-inch high bicycle. He also had a clever twist on the Matrix routine where he made drawings of coins seem to move around the page. Sadly there were a few fumbles during his act that spoiled things a little but his finish – again, to do with drawings – was excellent. I won’t spoil it here – you’ll need to try and see him perform!

Johan Ståhl (Sweden)
Johan invited the rest of the audience to watch in as he performed a cup and ball (sugar cube) routine for one member of the audience, who turned out to be a phenomenal spectator! She reacted to everything wonderfully and really helped “make” the act, during which he produced items such as cup cales and a flask of coffee. Brilliant act.

John Van Der Put (UK)
John started by changing a balloon into an egg (interesting) and followed with a very nice 3-phase card under case routine. He then finished with his well-known card into computer screen act and his “VDP Card” effect.

Later on the Saturday afternoon, the award winners were announced. They were:-
1st – Johan Stahl (Sweden)
2nd – Woody Aragon (Spain)
3rd – Rob James (UK)
Awards of Merit – Alexander Popov (Russia), John van der Put (UK) and Charming Choi (Korea)

This year’s convention was being held in a new venue – The Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriars. The venue was fantastic and the staff there were superb, friendly and very helpful. It looks like the Convention has found a new home – and it’s a good one!

A performer regarded as the greatest Quick Change artist in the world, Arthuro Brachetti, took time out from his busy performing schedule to come and talk to the attendees of the convention and what a fascinating talk it was, too. If you get the chance to see him perform, or if you get the chance to hear him talk about his thoughts on performance, take it!

Meeting Arthuro Brachetti

As usual, there were lectures and performances galore. Two highlights for me from the lectures were Geoff Williams, whom I had met at the FFFF Convention in America back in April. His lecture was full of clever material as well as being very entertaining and REALLY funny. If you get a chance to see him lecture or perform near you, take it!

Geoff Williams performing in the bar before the Gala Show

Another highlight from the weekend was a stroke of complete luck! On the Saturday afternoon, I was walking back into the Convention Centre after lunch and heard the phrase “let’s ask Peter” as I walked by the Registration Desk. I stopped and enquired what was wrong. I was asked “would you like to help Rene during his lecture?” Hmmmm, would I like to sit on stage and watch Rene Lavand up close during his lecture? Let me think about th… OK! And so, an hour or so later, I was on stage with close up legend Rene Lavand as he presented his lecture at the Convention. It was an excellent lecture – not just because I was sitting on stage with him. He told stories, he performed brilliant card magic and he answered questions. Fantastic stuff.

Watching Rene Lavand during his lecture

One final highlight from the weekend was the presentation of the David Berglas International Award for the Promotion of Magic. This is the third year of the award with the first recipients of the award being the MacMillan family, who have organised and run the International Magic Convention since the start of the 1970s. Last year, it was Uri Geller, who was kind enough to participate in a Question and Answer session.

This year’s recipient could not make it to London to accept the award as he was in Las Vegas. But, thanks to a conference link, the award was presented to David Copperfield! The magician who got me interested in magic when he vanished a 7 ton LearJet a year or 20 ago. Even though it was early morning in Vegas, Mr Copperfield was kind enough to accept questions for a room full of magicians. An interesting and entertaining hour that I will not forget in a hurry – especially since I got to ask him a question directly!

David Berglass on stage with David Copperfield
on screen live from Las Vegas

And so, another International Magic Convention came to an end. Another great weekend filled with good friends, good laughs and great magic. If you’ve never been to one, you don’t know what you’re missing. I look forward to seeing you there next year!

Speak soon

The Cardman 🙂

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