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Peter Jenkins has some fantastic photos from the recent Blackpool Magic Convention.

Peter a digital photographer from Cumbria, UK said he took over 1,200 photos from the convention this year;

3 days of non stop magic and illusion make the blur between reality and illusion very vague. I took over 1200 images at the conference and will be putting a few of them onto my pages the rest will be put together as an e-book later on in the year.

The photos that have already gone up on Peter’s site, along with some from Guinelli‘s on Flickr capture some of the atmosphere and sights from the 3 days.

In past years Blackpool Magicians Club have had a very strict No Photography policy, which it seems wasn’t enforced this year (and possibly previous years?), given that The Blackpool Magicians Club president, Harry Greenaway0 and convention organiser Derek Lever both posed for Guinelli to take their photo!!!

Again, if anyone has any photos please post them up to the Blackpool Magic Convention 2008 Group on Flickr.

(photo Peter Jenkins – Danny Hunt and Anettee in the Saturday night show)

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Well the convention is finally over, 3 days of solid top quality magic arranged and run by the Blackpool Magicians Club. When I looked back yesterday at my live blogging from convention I worked out that I’d written close to 6,284 words (or about 29,650 characters!), a large part of this was done on my iPhone, with other stuff being typed up on my Macbook between getting back from the Ruskin hotel and sleeping each night. The iPhone was a breeze letting me update the blog, and email stories over to iTricks in an instant.

I also worked out that unless you’re a real die hard, it’s unlikely you’re going to read the entire Blackpool 2008 Category, but if you want to and can spot the deliberate mistake on one of the articles then there’s a prize up for grabs… (dont promise it will be a great prize, but it’s free so what do you care?)

For those of you who can’t spare the time: here’s the low down and summary:

The theme of the 2008 Blackpool Magic convention was Close-up Colossus.

The convention started Friday lunch time with the dealers halls opening with about 127 dealers in total. I had a good chat with Richard Kaufman about the April copy of Genii magazine, which will contain an in-depth article about the recent performance of the hooker rising cards. Richard was very excited about the article, stating that “this was the real deal“. The colossal 27 page article in Aprils issue is written and illustrated by Jim Steinmeyer, and from the preview issue that Richard was kind enough to let me look through, it details a lot about the illusive effect, it’s history, and even includes a good number of photos, and drawings of the setup from the recent performance.

The Friday saw lectures from David Sousa, Patrick Przysiekchi, Valerie, Chris Priest, Shawn Faruhar, David Stone and Lennart Green. All the lectures were on the whole excellent (the latter being the excellent ones, and the morning ones being a bit weak.) The program also let us know that Blackpool Magicians Club would be buying their very own theatre club for next year!!

The first lecture of Saturday morning was Martin Sanderson, followed by David Solomon, J.J Sanvert, J.C Wagner, Magic Dave, Lior Manor, and Geoffrey Durham, these all being very strong lectures and very informative. Also during the day were the Children’s Entertainer World Championships, an event won by John Kimmons, and the International Close-Up show, featuring Shoot Ogowa, Kostya Kimlat and others.

The evening show, The UK versus the Rest of The World was good generally, except for the appalling compere Stu Francis, MC’ing truly at it’s worse! Bob Wooding, Danny Hunt, Graham P Jolly and John Archer did Balloons, Escapology, mentalism and comedy mentalism respectively. There were a few glitches with Danny Hunts water torture escape, but generally it was all ok. John Archer stole the show with a volunteer ‘Eric’ who turned out to be completely incapable of following any instruction, simple or otherwise. It turned out Eric was actually Eric Delaney of The Eric Delaney Band, featured in a number of royal variety performances, and still pulling crowds today (although I doubt he’s doing any more magical assistant jobs any time soon).

Sunday started with a lecture by Helder Guimaraes, a past FISM award winner, a lecture by Colonel Custard, a Question and Answers session with Geoffrey Durham and Wayne Dobson, more lectures from Shoot Ogawa, Kosta Kimlat, Michael Close, and Richard Sanders. The evening International Gala Show was very good, with appearances by Mahka Tendo, Rafael, Antje Pode, Scott and Muriel, David Sousa, Valerie, Topas, Ken Dodd OBE, Yamagami Brothers, and Shimada. Geoffrey Durham was awarded the Murray Award for services to magic, and Ken Dodd did less than 30 minutes of material!! Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr were spotted heading into the show as well, it’s a shame neither of them were available to perform or compere!!!

In all an excellent, and tiring convention. Like my memories from years ago, it’s big, busy and you won’t see everything. It was nice to see old friends, and make some new ones, The dates for The Blackpool Magic Convention 2009 are: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 20th, 21st and 22nd February 2009. The registration desk opens on 1st July 2008. Further details directly from The Blackpool Magic Club

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Geoffrey Durham was last night award the prestigious Murray Award by the Harry Greenaway, President of The Blackpool Magicians Club.

The Murray Award is presented each year to honor the recipient for outstanding service to Blackpool Magicians Club and for distinguished dedication to the art of magic.

Geoffrey Durhan has performed for clients including members of the Royal Family, cabinet ministers, captains of industry and the aristocracy. He has performed in two Children’s Royal Variety Performances. In thirty years as a cabaret artist his unique presentations have been featured in every hotel on London’s Park Lane, as well as in many of the most prestigious venues in the world. In the corporate field, he has toured Australia for the Ford Motor Company, created over 100 special performances for Seat Cars and worked for a host of organisations from Kellogg’s to IBM. In the West End of London, he has appeared at the London Palladium, Dominion, Duchess and Apollo Victoria theatres and he has performed in over two hundred other playhouses nationwide.

He has hosted two series of Thames Television’s The Best of Magic, and was featured on The Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks of All Time on Channel 4 (where his expert performance of the Newspaper Trick came in at number 31!). In all, he has made over 700 appearances on British television – covering children’s shows, chat, quizzes and variety galas. But he is probably best known for his many years on the cult Channel 4 word game Countdown, where he has performed over 160 close-up tricks as well as displaying unsuspected skills as a wordsmith. He also appears regularly as a panellist and presenter on BBC Radio 4.

He frequently works as an illusion adviser for stage and television. In the West End of London, he has devised effects for Oliver! (London Palladium), Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyceum Theatre), the Reeves and Mortimer/Fast Show double bill (Labatt’s Apollo), The League Of Gentlemen (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Peter Pan (Royal Festival Hall), Privates on Parade (Donmar Warehouse), and The Mystery of Charles Dickens with Simon Callow (Duke of York’s). He was also the Magic Director of the critically acclaimed West End show about Tommy Cooper, Jus’ Like That!, which later toured nationwide. On television, he devised effects for Dr Who in the now classic episode The Greatest Show in the Galaxy starring Sylvester McCoy.

In 1990, the Magic Circle of Great Britain made him a Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star; in 2002 he was presented with The Maskelyne, the Magic Circle’s highest award; and in 2003, he received The David Berglas Award for his outstanding contribution to magic. He now joins the ranks of Joe Pasquale, Patrick Page, Hans Moretti, Wayne Dobson, Jay Marshall, Paul Daniels, Ali Bongo, Ken Brooke, Peter Warlock and Murray himself as a recipient of the Murray Award.

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It’s physically impossible to attend ALL of the Blackpool convention, firstly because a number of lectures and performances overlap. The second reason is that you’re just too tired and knackered to do everything.

So here’s the best of the rest of show that I missed, or slept through:

Richard Sanders did a number of his visual rope effects along with a very clean and cleaver self working card revelation.

Kostya Kimlat performed a number of card effects and ran through his roadrunner cull.

Andi Gladwin apparently did a miniature deck routine that fooled Matt Parro

J.J Savert did some nice money routines, including silver from bill, pen through bill, bill to Babybel, and finally a bill switch that consisted of 1 £20 note, to £10 notes. Invisible aces to royal flush, signed card to aces and Cannibal cards.

J.C. Wagner did a card printing routine, apparently again according to Matt Parro’s blog it was “very dreary and although I probably would have enjoyed his routines, I could not pay attention for longer that the first 3 minutes.”

Lior Manor’s lecture started with his demonstrations with his computer software, including Knights Tour and Celebrity Prediction. Moving onto his very good ‘Touches’ routine.

The children’s Entertainer World Championship was apparently “average at best”, the favorite, John Kimmons went on to win the title.

Michael Close did two tricks in his lecture, Red Blue Mamma Fooler and his Torn and Restored Card, The second half was jokes and stories and from his new joke book, which according to Rich Morrell was “exactly the laugh I needed after seeing magic all weekend

Rich also has a great write up of the Close-Up Session:

Shoot Ogawa was spectacular as ever with coins, thimbles, flip-stick and Ninja Rings. Helder Guimaraes the current FISM card champion showed us a similar routine to that which he did at FISM a Travellers routine with four signed cards that travelled to his pockets, the deck turned blank, and the signed cards too, and then one was found in an envelope on the table, and the entire deck became printed again. Michael Close showed his impossible Salt Shaker, Card, Forehead routine. Finally Richard Sanders showed Interlace, Extreme Burn, Dough, Alpha Deck and Fibre Optics. His Extreme Burn really does look like trick photography

Sorry to everyone I missed at the convention.. Dr Todd, Edd Withers, Erlandish to name a few… and it was great to finally meet up with Richard Morrell, really nice bloke and hopefully will be doing a guest spot on the upcoming Fismblog!!!

IMG_2773The Dealers, who I didn’t miss, were numerous in number.. two halls FULL of things to buy, here you can see just one of the halls, full to capacity, with dealers on the lower and upper levels, hall two was about the same size, again packed full of stuff to buy. Dealers from round the world were here, and if you ever wanted to loose large amounts of cash on props, DVD’s or other must haves, then this was the place to do it!!

I didn’t see everything being demo’ed or sold. but highlights for me were Big Blind Media, their tour bus trip up to the convention, and our mind reading abilities on Dave Forrest telling him about the trip up and the previous days events… thanks Liam!!.. Alakazam’s Real Ghost, Mark Mason’s Come Fly with me (from the Friday morning trip to JBMagic), seeing Bob Swadling again and having a long chat with him about years gone by.. Catching up with Magic Box, and Kernow Magic (and being quite touched that Angie and Kenny remembered me!!)

For anyone with photos from the convention, please get them onto the Blackpool Magic Convention 2008 group on Flickr, we’re sadly lacking in members and photos on there currently!!! (it’s free!!!)

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The interntational Gala Show marks the end of the Blackpool Convention, Adrian Walsh was the compare for the evening, a huge improvement over saturdays ‘mc’!!

Mahka Tendo opened the first half of the show with his traditional card manipulation act, although many people say that his act is slightly boring after a while, the sheer number of cards, and the large card productions (mainly the number he managed to hold and pull out) keeps my interest. It was a good strong start to the show. Rafael followed with his comedy dove act (which I saw at FISM in stockholm). To be honest I thought his act on Saturday night in the show was much better than this show, although both were great, I found the previous nights much more interesting. He finished with a very effective Bird to Assistant illusion.

Every gala show has a juggler, it’s part of the tradition of the show I guess, and in true style, the juggler always steals the show. Antje Pode performed her foot juggling routine juggling suitcases, balls and hand bags with her feet while lying on her back.

Scott & Muriel where up next and it wasn’t really a great slot. The lack of a working mic when Muriel was doing her singing routine, and a chair-suspension illusion which saw Scott coming crashing down to the floor embarassingly exposing the ‘workings’ of the illusions didn’t help. For a ‘FISM world champions’ act it was very poor.

David Sousa performed his FISM card act, with appearing envelopes and letters, pulling the show back into an air of quality, and was followed by quick change artist Valerie. Although the changes were good and quick, the sectioned between them were not, and her floating / suspended legs illusion suffered badly from bad angles and not really fitting into a quick change section.

Topas, who I always think is just the best act when I see him, closed the first half with appearing speakers act, a box was shown empty and many speakers were removed from the box (each one the size of the box itself), plugged in and placed on stage. I liked the build up from a simple sound track to a full on energy track as the speakers were produced and started playing. Topas is a fantastic act, and except a little over acting by the stand hands lifting the speakers, it was a strong close to the first half and beat the normal type of tired illusion acts that close the shows.

After the interval the Award ceremony part of the show started, this is traditionally a little dull, but heralds the better acts. It was great to see Geoffrey Durham get the Murray Award for services to magic. The award for Worlds Children’s Entertainer, and the Ken Dodd Comedy Award were also all given out, both going to John Kimmons from the UK. It would have been nice, if those giving the award had known which award was which though!!!

Blackpool Magicians Club honorary life president, Ken Dodd followed with his normal humor, which probably only really registered with the British part of the audience, and was actually quite funny (I normally don’t enjoy the Ken Dodd section) and he only did about 20 minutes as opposed to the few hours in previous years!!

The world youngest illusionists The Yamagami Brothers were on next, When I first saw these two perform they were very young (about 5) and they seamlessly did illusions and magic, and seemed to have great energy, throwing themselves around the stage. They seemed to lack that energy this time, and although the act was good (especially given their ages), it has lost something for me personally. However it was good, and they did some clever illusions and substitutions.

Unfortunately Scott & Muriel came back for a second attempt at a set, giving us a dismal act of pure stupidity. Adults running round the stage dressed up as pantomime horses when from bizarre, to ridiculous to cringe worthy as they got Balckpool President, Harry Greenaway up on stage dressed in a large cactus suite, while they shot guns and flicked whips at him to burst a balloon, and ended up with a ‘comedy’ dropping of Harrys pants gag (hilarious.. not!) Muriel inflicted more pain on the audience by passing in front of the speakers giving up a ear bleeding feedback scream not once but twice. It’s a shame stages don’t have working trap doors any more..

Strangely, the acts from the first half started to re-appear in the second.. Topas did another set based around his ‘childhood memories’, producing and vanishing balls, rocking horses, and included a nice animated teddy bear at the end. Like everything Topas does, it was beautifully presented, polished and honed, and maybe just because of the previous ‘act’ the audience gave Topas a great reception.

The normal thank the organisers, crew etc now followed before Shimada took the stage. He performed his traditional parasol and dragon act, a great fitting end to the show. It was fast, tight, and many items were produced quickly and cleanly. a few pyro’s and smoke effects heralded the appearance of two large chinese dragon type performers, and in a fight to the death, a neat switch of Shimada and his assistant was achieved.

The show itself clocked in at about 3 hours and 25 minutes, much shorted than previous years, and to be honest it was just around the right length. I woudl have liked to have seen maybe a patter act, or comedy act. Noel Britten with his water bucket escape would have gone down a storm given the previous nights issues with the water torture escape. Even giving Justin Lee Collins, doing his Justin Illusion act would have been a great one!

In all a good show, brought down slightly by the odd ‘off’ act and technical issue.

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Justin Lee Collins from The Convention Crasher was seen a number of times during the Blackpool convention along with his mentor for the series, Richard Cadell.

Just before tonight’s Gala Show, I spotted Richard, Justin and comedian Alan Carr heading in to the show to take their seats. It was clear from the Magic Convention Crasher show that magic really did make an impact with Justin.

His entry into the competition in the USA, where he actually got placed seemed to genuinely give him a kick and enjoyment. He then went on to perform at Richard Cadell’s Brean Leisure Park.

I didn’t managed to get a chance to talk to Justin, but I did get to speak to Alan Carr briefly as we were queuing for the toilets.. I let him go in front of me, and he commented ‘Thank You’ and winked..

It’s not much of a scoop, but it’s all I have on it!!!!

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The room was packed for this lecture, understandably as the quality of his stuff is just so good.

It was a great mix of coins and card magic, with stunning thimble work. Also explained was the muscle pass, in detail.

One amazing, well more amazing than the rest, was a very fast and clean matrix, followed by an instant reverse matrix.

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Helder is a past FISM award winner in cards, so I had high hopes for his lecture.

I wasn’t disappointed as he started with a strong transposition of aces effect. Clearly showing two black aces placed onto the table, and the two red aces placed into a wine glass. He briefly passed a silk over the glass to show that the cards has changed places with those on the table.

He also did an amazing cards across, again using wine glasses, a red deck and a blue deck. The really nice touch with this was that the two cards were signed, and the two red cards ended up in the blue deck. The method was simple and didn’t need any major work during the effect to move the cards.

In all, another excellent lecture.

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This out and out battle was billed as a battle between the UK and the rest of the world, but it quickly became more of a battle between the audience and acts, and the compere Stu Francis, my understanding of a compare is to introduce the acts, and fill between them, not to try and turn the event into the Stu Francis Come Back Show.

Bob Wooding opened with his Blackpool winning Balloon act, which was very good, large balloon models including Starship Enterprises, Thunderbirds, Batman costumes, and more being produced and created quickly and well.

Stu Francis then started his attempted to take over the show by talking about how nice it was to see all his old friends, and seeming to take longer than his initial long section at the start to introduce the next act, the escape artists Danny Hunt and Annette.

Danny did some nice escapes, although sitting looking at a closed locked box for five minutes whilst he escaped inside did seem a bit odd. He closed with a water torture type escape, where his head was locked upside down into a filling tank of water, whilst he escaped hand cuffs and the locks around his neck holding him into the water cell. The only issue was that the water didn’t appear, and there seemed to be some issue with the mechanism for filling it, meaning it took longer than expected to escape, but none the less a fair act towards the end. Stu ooh I could crush a grape Francis didn’t do anything for the tension of the act by commentating badly and building no tension at all.

More Stu Francis between that and the next act, again taking a long time and repeatedly pulling the previous act out onto the stage for no apparent reason.

Graham Jolley, did a great, fast and packed mentalism section, filled with humor and good effects, only mared by the fact we knew that Stu would be out again at the end to talk us into a coma between acts.

John Archer was next out, and did, as only John could, a fantastic act, even with the issues with a volunteer that had no idea what to do, didn’t understand Johns instructions and even started to open predictions early. John turned it round to be a hilarious section, and ended strong.

More Stu Francis between the next act, this time recounting his time and association with Crackerjack, and sorry there’s a limit on the number of times you can mention that name and expect the crackerjack audience reply. He finally introduced the final illusion act Martyn James.

The second half was the rest of the world acts. I cannot remember if it was here, or the end of the first half Stu Francis started making jokes about the death of David Nixon, apparently his ‘idol’ as I think I’d started to filter him out by now.

First up was Fukai, which Stu couldn’t seem to remember or pronounce, mixing his normal productions routine with a d’lite based effect at the start. Rafael was next up, and did his Vampire/Dracula routine, which was just stunning, especially the visual slicing of his assistant in two on the sofa, and a nice slender legged walking skeleton pushing a trolly (a womans lower legs, and a skeletons upper half). He received a thunderous applause from the crowd.

Stu then surpassed himself by flirting badly with Shawn Farquhars wife on stage, misintroducing him as (I think) Derek Farquhar, and then apologising to him calling him David Farquhar!!! Shawn did his FISM, Shape of my Heart act.

Roxanne did a nice dark stage routine with appearing roses, jewelry, and solid magic, Shimada shone with his dove act, and Topas closed with a amazing sound effects, choreographed, ball manipulation and production, drumming session, which was a very refreshing close to the show.

We left before Stu came back on, as did many others..

..lets hope Stu Francis goes back to village panto’s

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What can you say about Geoffrey Durham that hasn’t been said. The man is a legend, not just for his tricks, but more for his performance and understanding of how to be yourself and not a magician.

He started by saying how special blackpool was to him. At this first Blackpool convention in 1977, he saw a trick, and it impressed him so much, that he went straight home, didn’t see any more of the convention, and practiced and worked on the routine he’d seen.

His first piece of advise was ‘Never be the magician, they just do tricks, theres more to it than tricks, people want to like, and see you, not so much the tricks that you perform‘. There’s so much truth and logic in that. He underlined that fact by saying that if you want to succeed as an entertainer, you have to be yourself, but he also said that magicians are entertainers who pretend to do thinks they cannot do. The secret of success is to be an entertainer that can make both those statements true, and sit between them. He talked about people that had managed to achieve this, the likes of Mac King, Tommy Cooper, David Blaine and others.

He also talked about something I think is very much missed by people, the fact that people don’t not like say card tricks, they dislike you doing, say card tricks. In essence, someone might say, ‘I hate magic‘, when, in fact what they mean is ‘I hate all the magic I’ve been shown‘, which is entirely different.

Geoffrey spoke a lot about his new book (which is next in my reading pile at home), and the contents being around bringing out you and how to bring out the best of you, peppered with a few of the solid tricks he’s earned his living from over the years. He showed a few effects from the book, a very clean and cleaver dictionary test, which he attributed to Maurice Fogel, and a Magic Square routine, which he’d worked on with (I think) David Woodward, whereby he was adding an ending. The standard magic square routines, don’t really have an ending, but what Geoffrey showed, basically that the magic square was a prediction, proved by having an envelope with the ‘magic total number‘ written in it from before it was chosen, meant there was some purpose to the effect.

He closed with the Gypsy Thread and the Selbit Blocks, bringing a great and very informative lecture to a close

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