This was our first session of 2006, and indeed our first meeting since November.
Stuart opened the meeting with the usual notices, including the sad news that Bob Pennell had passed away over Christmas. For those who did not know them, Bob and his wife Pat had been staunch supporters of the club for many years before retiring to Wales to be near family members. Although they did not perform, they loved magic, loved magicians, and rarely missed a meeting, either with us or with the ACES club which they also attended regularly. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat and the family.
Stuart then enquired about Dan Harlan’s paper-tearing trick, “STARCLE”. Stuart had thoughtfully brought several serviettes left over from Christmas, and we spent a happy few minutes with literally everyone having a go at the trick, with mixed, but on the whole, successful results.
Various patter stories were discussed. Most people agreed with Stevie P’s tactful observation that the originator’s somewhat schmaltzy patter was not perhaps the trick’s strongest feature, and certainly would not go down too well east of the Atlantic Ocean. No argument from me, Pratty (other than about how long to spend at a table, obviously).
AJ offered his own variation of the well-known ‘chairs’ plot. Some useful feedback at coffee time was much appreciated. Someone who said they had been baffled by the effect when it had its debut at the Komedia last December saw it work somewhat differently this time…really sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Parr!
Felix arrived during the interval and talked to a few of us about his TV appearances on ‘Dick and Dom’, a live children’s TV show (in which he successfully performed the levitation of an object over his belly button).
After coffee, we moved into small groups, and performed, enjoyed, and even learnt a wide range of close-up stuff, mostly with cards. These impromptu sessions often surprise; perhaps we over-regulate our programme sometimes; I for one enjoyed watching a ‘Giles’ card routine from afar, which its small audience were clearly loving, talking mentalism with
Andy (just for a change!), talking about Derren Brown books with Phil, and discussing Kriss Angel’s Coin in Soda with Mark, Matt and others. What I really should have been doing was learning a decent side-steal. Ho-hum…
For those who have forgotten, there were of course 11 teas and 5 coffees. AJ
Mark Worgan introduced the evening by reading out a letter from Pat Pannell thanking us for the flowers and kind thoughts.
Paul Gordon stood up and unashamedly advertised his forthcoming lecture for the next meeting on the 2nd February.
Mark also informed us of a balloon day next week in Surrey. Ali Ceurvorst’s audition was tonight’s first performance and he started with a mentalism routine involving four chairs and four spectators. Andy Hart, Stuart, John Schofield and Paul Gordon had a choice of any chair; Ali correctly chose the one that no one sat in. He then asked for a choice out of three different colour packs of cards. This was given multiple cuts and each helper chose a card, Ali then divined who had what card successfully. His last effect went a bit awry but nevertheless his confidence and presentation won us all over. Although a little longwinded for some, this was a good audition for a lad of only 14 years.
Andrew Jeffrey was first up in the Stage and Cabaret Competition with, he told us, something old and new. The new part was a 2012 Olympic prediction of the new game for that year – Noughts and Crosses, which various people played. Andrew then took out a recent photograph showing in the background the very same pattern as the noughts and crosses game he just played. For his next effect, Matt Parr was asked to choose any can from a box and Brenda choose a coin from a selection. Armed with a £1 coin and a coke can Andrew managed to get the £1 coin to penetrate the can. We could all hear it rattle and saw it drop out when he emptied it into a glass. Next, three spectators were asked for a word, picture and a number which Andrew then guessed correctly. He finished by shaking the coke can, which resealed itself and filled back up.
Stuart Harley started with a lovely rhyming effect involving cards with alcoholic drinks written on them, which finally produced a bottle of gin, bottle of tonic and a lemon. He then went to the straightjacket escape during which he told some awful one-liners, but he managed to get out accompanied by some interesting pieces of music. Stuart’s next effect was lovely. We all watched aghast as he built in front of us a beautiful money printer made of varnished wood. From this he magically printed various currencies English pounds, American dollars, note at an angle, notes with bits missing and then, separately, the missing piece and finally had his tie trapped, printed and had to cut it off. Fascinating.
Mike Pettitt had a very flowery routine starting with a match to flower and going on to 3 flowers with hoods on, these were shuffled and he finally predicted where each one was, red, white and blue. Then with 2 young helpers, Ali and Harry, there were pictures of flowers, red and yellow. The pictures changed over. Then 5 pieces of plain card produced 5 flowers. He then took 4 away. The one remaining matched the secret one, which was in Ali’s hand. Five flower names were randomly given out to 4 helpers and Mike, who then bought out 5 envelopes that were shuffled. Each helper chose an envelope which contained a small prize, needless to say, Mike won 1st prize.
Matt Parr started with a card trick with added sound and a bad Elton John impression of ‘Rocket Man’. Matt Wainwright and Stuart Harley selected a card and put it back. They used a telescope to correctly guess the card. Then Matt performed his ‘wallet burner’ illusion, together with a chair, a chain and a padlock. Chained up on the chair and blindfolded with a cover he escaped to atmospheric music just before his wallet burst into flames! Matt then performed a floating stick and light show.
The evening finished up with Andrew Jeffrey winning in a close fought competition. Well done all. GB
Paul Gordon lecture
Paul is a highly successful professional magician who performs ‘Strolling and Close-Up Table Magic’. He lectures all over the world, is the author of many bestselling books, and creator of many tricks and DVD’s. He is also a long standing member of our club.
His pre-lecture marketing seemed to encourage many people to come along, there was an extremely impressive turnout. In his e-mails and fliers prior to the lecture he recommended watching an online demo of him performing in a ‘real world’ situation (at his website). Seeing him performing like this, one can see just how effective his magic is with a lay audience. He interacts with his audience with a kindness and charm, with enthusiasm and a gentle humour, and performs some jaw-dropping magic. There is a sense of fun, and something special and unique about the magic he creates.
He performed and explained many of his routines on the night, including; ‘Fry Them With Oil & Water’ and the ‘Laymen Assembly’ with jacks. A clever and direct ‘one ahead’ routine called the ‘Muldoon Match’. A self working trick (‘Fone Finnell’), which could be performed over the telephone. A couple of tricks which produced the four queens. He talked about some routines which use only the aces, and performed ‘Diminishing Not Likely’- an offbeat trick which ends with a surprise production of the four aces. He also performed ‘Twin Peeks’ and his ‘Easy Ace Estimation’ - without explanation.
The effects ranged from the completely self working through to those requiring intermediate skill. He succinctly explained the various methods and techniques required to achieve these effects, and additionally taught methods for forcing a card, false shuffles and a sleight-free culling technique. Of course, detailed descriptions of all these techniques and tricks can be found in his books and DVD’s. Throughout the evening he also dealt with some of the finer details of performing card magic …
It is perhaps here, that he revealed some of the more illusive and more important secrets of our art. An in-depth awareness of the seemingly small details. The nuances and the intricacies. Subtle psychological ploys and ‘convincers’. How to plant ideas in the minds’ of your audience. The motivation for certain moves and gestures. Thoughts about timing, and the structuring of routines so that effects run together and build to a climax. The significance of when the moment of ‘magic’ occurs. The sum of all these parts contributing to the single most important factor … that of creating a truly ‘magical experience’ for your audience.
Over the years Paul has cultivated his talent for presentation. It has been honed through extensive experience in the ‘real world’. He mentioned that he acts sometimes as if he is surprised at what is going on, as if it is a miracle to even him. He also mentioned that, even if you are performing something which you know is simple, to make it appear difficult or skilful to your audience. He is very mindful of his audience, wants to create something magical, and is careful not to detract from this by humiliating, embarrassing, or creating any awkwardness amongst them. As an observer, I think one of Paul’s greatest attributes is his ‘naturalness’. There is a naturalness of technique, and a balance between the clarity of effect, directness of method and his presentation. He seems as comfortable with a deck of cards in his hands as he is with himself and his audience. There seems an utter congruence between who he is, and the magic he creates.
Paul has absorbed a wealth of knowledge concerning all aspects of card magic, and is deeply respectful both for his fellow magicians and for the history of his craft. He took great care to credit the appropriate people when explaining his routines, mentioning the origins for many of the tricks, moves and sleights he taught us.
He reminisced intermittently, about some of his thirty years at the club. From his nerve-wracking audition in front of Jack Avis, Peter Warlock and Francis Haxton. An experience with Hugh Goater (Hugo), where Paul forgot the name of his selected card. And, a note of thanks to Mike Pettitt for first introducing him to card magic.
And many of us have Paul to thank for introducing us to the wonderful world of card magic. At very least for guiding us more deeply through the intricacies of this beautiful aspect of our art …
For your generosity of spirit, for sharing your passion and enthusiasm so willingly and openly. Thank you ! … Your love of magic is truly infectious …