Jack stated at the outset that he had just thrown lots of stuff in a box and that nothing he would do was planned. Indeed, the whole lecture had a very relaxed feel to it and the ‘stuff in his box’ was all effective and commercial material.
Throughout the evening he told us amusing stories about his magical experiences; how he got started in magic, people he has met and effects he has marketed. His effects were split into three categories: mentalism, children’s and cabaret.
He talked about the importance of “what you claim” when performing mentalism. Jack talks about how the subconscious mind works and uses a pendulum and ‘Haunted Key’ to demonstrate this. He said it was good to begin with something which isn’t a trick, as you can’t be caught out doing anything.
He then performed and explained a routine with matching zodiac signs, a ‘Just Chance’ effect and several ‘book tests’, each with different methods. He also shared his thoughts on ‘billet switches’ and the one handed ‘centre tear’.
His cabaret and children’s material included: a ‘Sympathetic Ropes’ routine, ‘Anti Gravity Glasses’, ‘Cut and Restored Skipping Rope’ and a ‘Coin to Nest of Russian Dolls’. He finished by vanishing a ring on a silk, which ended up tied to a bottle of wine.
At times, he seemed like an ‘old school’ magician bumbling his way through tricks and explanations, however there were some good ideas and his demeanour added to the overall feel of the lecture. His manner is wonderfully laid back and he has an engaging sense of humour. It all added up to a very enjoyable lecture.
The Terrifying Tale of Tommy Tenpence
Or “My starring role at the SMC Close-up Night”.
It started like any other day. In a drawer at the bank, taken to the supermarket till, then given as change to some dozy teacher buying a prawn sandwich. Honestly…anyway, before I knew it, having spent the afternoon in a dark pocket with a very attractive girl named Penny, I arrived in Lewes to listen to the Sussex Magic Circle Close-Up Competition.
I say ‘listen’, since this is what I expected to be doing, little suspecting what a starring role I would play! I, a humble coin of the realm, thrust into the magical spotlight - what would grandpa sovereign have said, I wonder?
I sat (well dozy teacher sat, I just jangled) at a table of 3 people. They seemed to enjoy this arrangement as it allowed for a more intimate and authentic atmosphere. Sporting a red dress and a smile to die for, the lovely Sylvia joined us during the show, but that’s another story…your chairman may be able to furnish you with further details. The first visitor to our table was Matt Wainwright. He performed a version of Visa Cabaret, a clever routine with 3 banknotes in which he correctly guessed and predicted which pockets each note would go into. Fortunately none of the notes ended up in the same pocket as me; for some reason the folding cousins always look down on us metal money types, and the humans always seem to value them more…and suddenly, I was whipped from the pocket in response to Matt’s request for a coin. Trying not to blink due to my sudden exposure to the light, I was passed between Matt’s hands, Matt having made a prediction of my date on his business card. It was wrong of course, but a magical gesture from Matt changed the date to a correct one. Clever. Teacher wasn’t the only one who was out to lunch that day, obviously…Matt did some other nice routines, including a travelling hole, a fine bit of deck balancing and a longish card trick with a great finish involving four fives appearing.
The next visitor to our table was Ryan, who had not been aware that only one card trick was permitted in the competition. Rather than drop out of the competition, however, Ryan gamely took the best card effect from his set and ’span it out’, interspersing it with visual humour, plugs for his forthcoming show, and amiable if unsuccessful attempts to book co-performers for a gig in London! The effect itself was amusing and involved four kings doing a variety of pasteboard gymnastics, but it was the ending which blew all three humans away, as the entire deck lost its centre, and was left hanging from Ryan’s fingers.
Our third visitor was Matt Parr, who, presumably for my benefit, decided to routine his entire act around money. A good idea to have a theme, muttered one of the humans at the table. Another human agreed, adding that a development from coins to notes would build interest. There we go again; blatant anti-coinist attitudes from magicians. Matt however had no such prejudices, and having magically produced bank notes (one from a piece of blank paper, the other from between two cards), he moved onto the feature items - COINS! Once again I was borrowed, and transferred from hand to hand in a puzzling manner. I then had the honour of sharing the spotlight with Penny (whom, if you recall, I had met earlier.) As Matt’s hand closed around the two of us, it felt a truly unique moment. Upon opening his hand, Penny had totally vanished! I had a pretty good view of the whole thing, but ethics forbid me from telling you how this miracle was achieved, though modesty aside I am sure Matt was eternally grateful for my help…so grateful, in fact, that he bit a huge chunk out of me, held me in front of his mouth and visually spat the chunk back on! I bet that would play well in restaurants. To close, Matt had a very slick tag line including a business card, but it would be unfair to reveal it here.
James Dudley-Smith was our penultimate visitor. He sat at our table; laid out his deluxe Carpet-Right close-up mat and preceded to charm us with his gracious style, gentle humour and entertaining and original magic. Starting with some lettered cards, these were mixed and spelt EARS, nay MARS, both of which James had predicted in an original way. A funny piece of insect mentalism (ask James!) followed; it is always fun to hear grown men scream, and this is exactly what happened! Next James asked who had had a birthday recently. The three men on my table, being unsurprisingly stupid, looked at each other and mumbled pathetically along the lines of ‘Well, err, does a few months ago count?’, or ‘Mine’s in July- is that OK?’, and other clueless witterings. One look at my shining face would of course have given them the correct answer - it was of course my pin-up girl, the Queen! Undeterred by this pack if ill-informed magi, James proceeded to tell a story of how Her Majesty had invited one of them to a pool party at Buckingham Palace. Of course, who did he use to demonstrate but yours truly! He asked a spectator to draw a face on me (well, he tried) and then magically I penetrated a card and a metal box and fell into the swimming pool below. Well, all right, it was just a glass of water, but you had to be there. James still had time to perform his version of MacDonald’s Aces, a fine routine about the dangers of gambling, to which he had even added his own amusing poetry.
What is the odd one out in this list? Fish, Barker, Horse, Knife, Ross? The last, of course, as none of the others would survive without Chips, Corbett, Carriage or Fork, whereas Ross, known as the eponymous larger half of Tall and Small (not that you can have a larger half, obviously) showed us that when deprived of his partner in crime, he has talents as a solo performer as well. He opened with well-performed linking key rings, a logical close-up version of the classic linking rings. A less-logical paddle routine followed, using money, but guess what - no 10p coins were needed, which from a personal perspective would have enhanced the trick. Ross even did some close-up spoon bending. Seeing what he could do to metal, I changed my mind about the paddle routine needing 10p coins; it was fine as it was. Finally, Ross performed Easy Ace Estimation. A very clever trick, which I don‘t think I‘ve seen for quite a few weeks now, and Ross did it well. Despite the lack of coinage, the humans on my table thought that Ross’s act was quick and slick.
As to the competition, James Dudley-Smith was declared the winner, and deservedly so. I know I speak for myself and the humans with whom I shared the evening when I say that it was a genuine pleasure to sit and be entertained personally and with such variety throughout the evening. To see five different performers, and yet not see a single trick repeated in over an hour of magic, is a tribute to their creativity and originality. Tommy Tenpence, May 2006
Magicians of the Future – Showtime!
Firstly, a big thanks to Matt Parr for organising a wonderfully entertaining show. Originally billed as ‘Junior Showtime’, Matt suggested giving the evening a more appropriate title: “Magicians of the Future.” This was readily accepted, and due to the success of the evening could well become a regular feature on the calendar.
There was a very open feel to the evening and there was some great interaction between the performers and the audience. The performers quickly transmitted their youthful freshness, enthusiasm and energy to the audience, who in return seemed supportive and eager to offer their encouragement and appreciation.
Matt Parr - looking debonair and entering to some Bond music - compéred the show with confidence and began by performing a ‘one ahead’ routine.
Ali Ceurvorst was up next. Ali is a talented young chap, overflowing with confidence, who clearly has huge potential. He began with a card trick which had an elaborate presentational theme involving three modelling balloons. He then attempted a ‘Magic Square’ and a ‘Just Chance’ effect before ending with a great ‘Russian Roulette’ routine with eggs. It was a highly entertaining routine with inherent humour; smashing eggs one at a time on his head trying to avoid the one fresh egg.
Matt Parr then performed a really nice card routine; a freely hand-drawn card, complete with signature on the back, turned into a real card. It was a powerful and clever concept, and Matt’s ability to keep coming up with new and original material is highly impressive and most noteworthy.
Leon Simmonds was next … and was exceptional. Performing close-up magic, he entertained us with an ‘Ambitious Card’ routine, a ‘Sponge Ball’ routine and a ‘Signed-Card-to-Sealed-Envelope’. He finished with a ‘kicker’ in the ‘even-for-magicians’ category; with the deck arranged in new deck order. His act was beautifully constructed, well executed and confidently performed. There was naturalness to his style; each effect flowing seamlessly into the next. He was engaging, amusing and he was performing really strong magic.
Matt performed some more mentalism; this time demonstrating some speedy mathematics. He then introduced the next act by way of a rather bizarre yet quite amusing game of Charades.
Tall & Small (aka Guy and Rosman) performed a ‘Drawing Duplication’ between two spectators. Then, in what was billed as a dangerous escape, Guy’s hands were chained together and he was sealed in a cardboard box. During the successful escape there was a slightly strange appearance of a severed torso and a ‘Jonathan Pendragon’ moment with a curtain.
The climax of their act was ‘You Do Voo Doo’ (the needle-through-arm illusion). With music helping to create the atmosphere, Guy pushed a 10” hatpin through Rosman’s pseudo-cataleptic arm. It was a strong piece of theatre and it really is an effective and emotive illusion when seen ‘in the flesh’!
It was a really refreshing evening and it is encouraging and satisfying that the standard of magic was so high. And, it was a lot of fun - there was so much laughter throughout the evening; it was widely regarded as being one of the most enjoyable evenings in recent memory.
Well done and thank you to all the performers. The evening was a huge success!
Wallet Night at Sussex Magic Circle
A well-attended evening saw a confident Alan Humphries perform his audition. A very slick poker routine was followed by a lightning two card transposition. A well executed double card prediction with multicolour backed cards was followed with a powerful card revelation-the name of the chosen card appearing on his forearm when cards ashes were rubbed on it. An excellent audition from an entertaining and clearly experienced close-up worker.
Stuart Harley opened the evening demonstrating some of the many wallets he has, in particular, the flaming wallet. His wallet was actually suitable for performing card to wallet, rather than just bursting into flames.
Next on was our esteemed Treasurer, Paul Leacy, demonstrating the Keith Bennet card to hip wallet. (I think it’s one of the most practical methods of performing this trick-access for the palmed card is very good and no guide is required)
Andrew Jeffrey, our Club President demonstrated many and various wallet type effects. A disappearing Elephant packet effect, displayed with a view to being sold and an explosive wallet which had the practicality of an ancient musket, were aperitifs for the feast to follow. The thought transmitter, for the serious Mentalist-expensive but worth it. From the countless awards-winning Andrew, that is a high recommendation. A basic wallet, possibly a Pat Page creation, was shown. A simple idea that works. Andrew also recommended a Jerry O‘Connell wallet. This was just a stylish professional wallet for holding packet tricks-although it isn’t used to perform a specific trick with, it creates the right impression and as Andrew rightly says, creating the right impression is vital. A method using magnetism to retain a card was demonstrated and this was followed by a real gem-a card appearing inside a stapled packet. I, and I suspect, many of the audience were totally fooled by this. Andrew shared the method with us. As this is probably a written up effect, I will not reveal it here-it was amazingly deceptive. Andrew also shared an audacious add-a-no method that can be done with a plastic wallet that would usually carry a packet trick.
Andrew discussed the Visa Cabaret effect and then went on to demonstrate his Gucci wallet-this being his favoured method of performing card to wallet. Useful performance pointers were given here-particularly to not focus on the wallet when performing effects of this type.
Andrew rounded off his contribution to the evening with a superb piece of storytelling theatre that finished with a powerful card prediction. It was a polished professional routine that was a joy to watch. Well done!
Matt Parr demonstrated a card to wallet method which certainly fooled me. Nice wallet. I wonder where he got it? He also demonstrated a paper transposition effect that forms part of his repertoire. The multi-skilled Matt Parr is the future of close-up magic, watch this space…
Last but not least Paul Leacy demonstrated a card to spectator’s wallet and a switch wallet routine, which was very well received- (I would say to tumultuous applause, but that would be stretching it a bit)
Finally a big thank you to Bertie Pearce for providing teas and coffees in the interval. Bertie is just an all round good egg who we have missed from SMC meetings for a while. Welcome back Bertie!
Paul Leacy Sussex Magic Circle Treasurer
P.S. Congratulations to Marc Powell on his recent arrival. Mother and baby are doing well. In five years from now, I am available for your youngster’s Birthday Party.