Ipswich Magical Society Convention 2003
Yesterday the Ipswich Magical Society hosted their annual convention. As this was my first magic convention I thought I would review it. Hopefully this will be interesting for everyone, but particularly so for anyone who has never attended a Magic Convention before and isn't sure what to expect. I can assure everyone that it was an absolutely fantastic day.

The convention opened at 10am.


The main room consisted of several dealers, some more known for their internet presence than others - but all selling tables full of very competitively priced magic with a willingness to demonstrate and recommend any product. The only problem I found with this was that it was all just to easy to spend too much money.

I won't go into to detail about all the stalls, but without exception it was a pleasure to speak with all the people serving. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the items they were selling were second to none.

As usual the "local" store had a very large selection of very competitively priced items on sale. Items ranging from well crafted childrens magic props to wands, to all the current packet tricks. In fact I'm not sure there was much that they weren't selling.

Anyone who has already had any dealings with Alakazam will probably have spoken to Perter Nardi, and will consequently know of his abundant enthusiasm for the magic he sells.
There was always a big crowd gathered at the Alakazam table watching in awe as Peter (and his assistant) demonstrated many of the tricks on sale. In fact even in the bar afterwards no one was safe from seeing a Nardi trick (Especially the beautiful young woman I noticed). It's characters like Peter that I believe really make conventions such fun.

Consequently I made several purchase from this stall. I also picked up a very reasonably priced copy of "Corinda's 13 steps to mentalism". A book I have been after for quite some time.

Everyone must surely know of this company and will have bought at the very least something from them. You may know them as Cards4Magic. As expected they had a very wide range of Decks, TT's, Gaffed Cards, Wallets, Magnets and just about every accessory you could probably think of.
Amongst other things I picked up a nice bundle of give away magic wands, a couple of well fitting TT's, a few gimmicked cards to assist building some of my own tricks, some nice small leather packet wallets, several half dollars and a large sponge rabbit (I just need to find a use for it!) Although all extremely cheap (relatively speaking) it's amazing how quickly it all adds up. I could have spent so much more from this shop.

Studio 9 have a similar presence to the Aquarius shop, in that they stock an extremely wide range of magic at very competitive prices. Many won't have heard of either of these shops, as although they both have on-line websites they don't sell on-line. However, I found Tricia Neal very easy to speak with and if you are looking in particular for props for children's shows then I would suggest you browse their site - and give Tricia, Jonathan or indeed our very own Nick Jones a call.

There were numerous other dealers there, and in fact I picked up some real bargains. Amongst other things I got around to buying some real magicians rope. And boy oh boy does it work better than the cordy stuff I have been using. Also all the lecturers had stalls were you could chat with them and buy various of their products - including of course their lecture notes.

Kidwize with Clockwize - Andy Martin
Andy Martin is an extremely talented and personable performer absolutely oozing with personality. We saw Andy with 4 different hats on during the day (and no, this wasn't during the performance), and in all cases he adapted very professional to each role.
Recently I had a discussion on the TalkMagic Forum about the importance of presentation over capability - and really this lecture left no doubt whatsoever to the answer to that question. It's just so much about Presentation.

Andy's lecture was the first of the day - and to be honest with you I wasn't sure what to expect. A talk on the do's and don'ts of performing kids magic. Andy was dressed in the clothes he uses for his kids shows, (effectively clown like chef's trousers, and a smart polo shirt with his logo embroidered on).

The talk started with a 10 minute video clip of his first performance, and I don't think he would mind me telling you that it was absolutely awful. Don't get me wrong it was very amusing to watch - but there is no way you would have hired this guy to perform anywhere on the strength of this disastrous performance. He then went on to explain how he changed over the years and all the pitfalls to be avoided and the things that really work. All in all it was not just an extremely entertaining talk, but one of those lectures that you know may just come in very useful one day.

He ended the talk with another clip from a more recent show which quite frankly was of such a high quality that it could have been on primetime TV. You watched how the kids changed from being a little apprehensive at the beginning to all being 100% enthusiastic about what they were seeing. They were like putty in Andy's fingers.

As I mentioned before we saw Andy in action 3 times during the day. His lecture, A close up session and he was also part of the evening performance that was open to the general public. In addition to this he was very approachable on one of the stalls, generally mucking about and selling lecture notes by the dozen.

At the end of the night I found it very hard to believe that Andy Martin [aka Andy Clockwise] was the same person that did the disastrous kids show seven years earlier that we had seen in the lecture. You just wouldn't believe that this guy had ever been anything but the total professional he now is.

In short Andy's lecture - and all his performances were nothing but an inspiration to every magician that watched him.

Andy's Website

Mike Austin is a long standing professional magician and his lecture was both entertaining and informative. Mike has had great experience travelling the world doing magic shows and giving lectures to magical societies and I personally found some of his insights extremely eye opening.

The lecture really picked up a gear when Mike did his infamous Malini Egg Bag routine. This one routine for me was a highlight of the conference and in fact I even ordered from him one of his hand made Egg bags so I can practice and hopefully one day get somewhere near his level of performance with it. Of course now I haven't a clue why I ordered the bag - as it just isn't the sort of thing I do, but man - this was so entertaining you really do want to add it to you repertoire.

In short a very entertaining lecture.

Martin "The hard man of magic" Cox's lecture was again more about performance than it was showing the "how to" of magic tricks, and in fact for me I found this lecture to be the best of the day.

Martin is another performer that just oozes personality. His lecture showed how important it is to build up a good rapport with any audience - whether it is in a pub, club, tables or a large stage show, and believe me Martin Cox does this in trumps. By the time he did the lecture we had already seen him do some close up and consequently the whole auditorium already loved him.

To look at he is a cross between Fred Elliot from Coronation Street - and the Ogre from Shrek. But he uses this perhaps slightly intimidating persona totally to his advantage.

By the time Martin had finished is lecture you felt that you knew him personally, and that I think is the sign of a successful performance, Incidentally - and it is almost incidentally - his tricks were quite accomplished too.

If you ever get a chance to see a Martin Cox lecture - or to see him perform either as Martin Cox, or part of the Comedy Magic duo "Cosmik" - then don't even think about it. Just go. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Martin's Website

This consisted of 3 tables and 3 close up magicians that went from table to table. The close up magicians were:- [ul][li]Andy Martin [li]Martin Cox [li]Mike Austin[/ul] These coincidentally were also the three lecturers, and it showed just how versatile all three of the performers actually are. Close up magic is for me one of the most fascinating genres of magic, and being a keen hobbyist myself I thought I wouldn't have been able to watch these sessions with constantly trying to figure out how it was all done. But you know what - credit to the magicians - I just totally got absorbed by the performance and was thoroughly entertained.

Overview The evening show started at 7pm. By which time you would have thought everyone was flagging a little. But this wasn't the case. The time between the last lecture and the start of the show just flew by, mostly with chatting to other people from all over the country, or being shown various card and coin techniques by other magicians.

I'm gonna have to kill Tony Harding who inadvertently taught my wife how to roll a coin along her knuckles. I've had to give her a half dollar to practice with, and now I just constantly hear it dropping on the floor. I wouldn't mind so much - but already she is better than me at it!!! Thanks Tony!!

The show was also open to the general public, and the hall was absolutely packed.

The show was compared - very entertainingly I might add, by Richard Whymark who although I have seen around the Ipswich Magical Society - I must confess that I haven't spoken to him or seen him perform before, but was suitably impressed. The first act was the Kay Goddard dancers - who were a young and very competent dance group - that entertained also immediately after the interval.

This was the 3rd time most of us had seen Andy Martin that day - and I tell you his performance up on stage was none the less entertaining for it. Andy's stage magic show reminded me very much of a Rik Mayall type character doing magic (although still family friendly. Well just about).

He soon had the audience eating out of his hand - and a little afraid perhaps to be called up on stage to help him. In fact the only volunteer ended up being an absolutely charming 5 year old boy called Jordon who I must admit together with Andy's wonderful direction ended up being a real show stealer.

There is just so much to be learnt from these performers.

This wasn't the first time we had seen Mike, but again it was a pleasure to see how he took his lecture and showed us how to apply it professionally. My only one regret with his performance was that he didn't do his Egg bag routine or linking rings routine again.

Dezzar is a young illusionist act, consisting of the illusionist Nick Chapman and his lovely assistant (who's name I can't remember - sorry). It was a wonderfully choreographed performance though, that was actually very enchanting to watch.

Nick is a member of various Magical Societies, one of which is Ipswich, and I must admit that although I have spoken with him on several occasions I had absolutely no idea at how accomplished he is as a magician. From the day of the convention itself I had seen him do various things with coins and was already very impressed with his skills, but I was absolutely gob-smacked with his on stage presence, and with his performance overall.

This guy who's age I don't know exactly - but he can't be any older than 18 was awesome and he will be one of the big names in the future. Mark my words.

Ian Thom is a puppet master - and he is very good at it. It was actually quite pleasant at this point of the show to slightly delve away from the "magic" theme of the evening.

Whatever I say about Cosmik wouldn't be complimentary enough. Cosmik are made up of Martin Cox and his stunningly beautiful assistant Kerry Scorah. Most people there had already seen Martin Cox give his lecture and his close up act - what we were treated to in the evening was just another example of his versatility of skills.

It was comic magic at it's best, and I must say that the rapport between Martin and Kelly on stage was just like poetry in motion to watch. Why I have never seen CosmiK appear on TV I don't know.

In short this act had a lot of charisma.

This was the last act of the night, and it's just as well as no one could have followed it. Loki was Magic Circle Magician of the year 2003 and deservedly so.

To describe Loki I would say he is a cross between The Joker from the Tim Burton batman movie, stuck in the land of Dr Seuese's "The Cat in the Hat". With maybe a bit of "Edward Scissorhands" chucked in for free.

His act is all done as a mime - so there is no words - just beautiful mad movements choreographed wonderfully to music. His act would have been magical even if there had been no magic. But there was magic. Beautiful magic. Sad Magic and Magic of the kind that makes you just go ahhhhhhhhhhh.

If the only thing I had seen at the convention had been Loki do his dancing cane routine it would have been a worthwhile day for me. It was so wonderful I am not even going to attempt to describe it - but if you have ever seen anyone with a dancing cane before - I would put money on it that it wasn't as wonderous to watch as Loki's version.

I have never seen anyone that can come close to what Loki achieves in his presentation, for me it was a truly unique experience that I feel will probably remember my whole life.

I know this was a long review and probably many of you will not have read through to the end - which is fine, but the day was very special to me and I wanted in some way to share the event with as many people as possible.

All in all - this was a fantastic day. So thanks to the Ipswich Magical Society for all their hard work in putting it on, and getting such a high quality of guests.

Reviewed by thanks to Simon Shaw