2001archive icbm

The ICBM Convention,

8th.-11th. November, Connecticut, U.S.A.

(reading this is worth the 'scrolling' needed)! .

I arrived at the Hilton Hotel in Southbury Connecticut shortly after noon on Friday.  From the moment I walked in the door I was among friends... friends I had known only via the internet and many only by cryptic screen names. Faces did not match my preconceived images.   But, all of the faces seemed friendly and I felt warmly welcome in this "bizarre" group.

Brother Shadow, as befits his name, became a instant "brother" to me and we were to share stories and secrets as though we were true family. Indeed, when I left I understood why we all call ourselves "Brothers and Sisters." Brothers Loveland, Solomon and DeWitt plied me with stories, rhymes and magickal routines. Even Brother LeBlanc followed me around like a little puppy dog denouncing his loyalty to the NLT++ and begging forgiveness for his transgressions.

In retrospect, I really didn't know what to expect.  I had approached the date with trepidation.  I feared the fangs of a sinister fellow named Vlad and knew not what other horrors I might encounter.  Instead, first I entered a room filled with quite ordinary (looking) people listening intently to a delightfully elegant and eloquent lady with a quite ordinary name, Mary Tomich, who was passing around artifacts.  So clever was she that it took me some time to catch on that this was not an ordinary lady but a skilled counterfeiter who, if she was dishonest, could easily reap a fortune selling "antiques" on e-bay.  Thus my introduction into this bizarre "gathering" began.

Shortly after this devious lecture was a "works in progress" and later a talk on, of all things, "Victorian Mourning Customs" ( a "first" for any magic convention I've ever attended, that's for sure).  I apologize and regret that I was unable to attend either. Lizzie Borden had arrived and I was greatly relieved.  (For those of you who do not believe she was there check the guest register at the Hilton and you will find her registered for a room which she did occupy.)  Our "Visit With Lizzie" was presented that evening with a fine attendance. Lizzie was delighted. Only about 15 people at a time visit her in her Fall River Home. Here she found 50 guests eager to meet her.  I hope they enjoyed the experience as much as she did and she hopes her ending scream did not upset them too much. 

I was not the only one welcomed at this Gathering. EVERYONE was.  It was that kind of group. Our actress, Michele  Bourget (Hester SULLIVAN Hancock) was thrilled.  Her only contact with magicians has been through myself, Bruce Kalver and Al Manson but she has come to love magic. This was soon discovered by many and she was plied with tricks, stories and friendship.  She had "the time of her life," and expresses her thanks to all also.  As an actress who enjoys "theater" I suspect she would not have enjoyed being plied with endless card tricks as might happen at another "Magic Convention."

The next day we were treated to a fairyland of treats to consider in the Dealer's Room.  Mark Striving's mental magic, Peter White's silks, Mary Tomich's (fake! -- now I know) treasures, Brother Shadow's BRILLIANT offerings, John Henry's delightful greeting cards and posters and, and, and... my mind reels and forgets... so many delights seen and drooled over.

Then to the close-up show, except most of it wasn't, thank goodness.  Most of it was stand-up which meant EVERYONE in the room could see.  Refreshingly different from those endless card tricks done flat on a table, that only the front row sees, as is the norm at "those other" conventions.  I did not take notes, I was too busy enjoying, so it would be unfair for me to critically review this show. However, I feel I must compliment two of the performers because they especially tickled my personal funny bone.

Malak GreenWolf, who "became" a Gypsy woman, has the makings of a superb actor. Two of the trained actors in our Lizzie troupe agreed.  And, my all-time personal favorite, "Doctor Bruce" (Barnett) who took a SERIOUS card effect and turned it into such a hilarious piece of comedy I forgot it was a card trick. In fact, I don't think I really saw the ending because I was blinded by the tears of laughter.  Please understand, ALL of the acts were EXCELLENT. I mention these two only because of the way my personal mind works. I have a passion for
actors and, of course, scientists.

Our Lizzie troupe particularly looked forward to seeing the Trinity Seance.  My interest in this group began several years ago when I was asked to collect material for a Seance issue of MUM.  Dan Terelemes, Rocky Colavito and Tony Razzano were the first "seancers" I ran into and they were VERY helpful. I had hoped to feature their seance in our issue, but we decided on a more "acceptable" (to magician readers) "Houdini Seance" instead. (Those days have since changed, and we have featured lots of bizarre magick since, as I hope you know.)  It was great fun to compare the Trinity seance with ours. As different as could be.

Ours presented the history of the Borden case in a (we hope) magical and "fun" manner. Their seance is chilling and quite serious. A wonderful lesson in how a "seance" type of storytelling can be made to fit the personality of the performers and where it is presented.  And, although I missed Brother Shadow's seance he was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his script which provided further appreciation of how "seances" can be personalized.

The evening began with a lovely banquet. I had the chicken. My friend, Des Desmond, beside me, had the beef. Both were deemed excellent and the cheesecake was a decadent pleasure. Then on with the show...

Now, again for lack of notes, I am unable to offer a detailed review but I will share a few personal observations and my three favorite performances which I will ATTEMPT to describe a bit later.

The show opened with a dramatic and forceful "Ritual Circle" led by Grand Magus, Joe Cabral.  The players, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, each provided a bit of magick employing their element. A charmingly dramatic and appropriate opening to an evening of bizarre wonders. And surprises. Boy, was I ever surprised!

First, I was surprised when Brother Cabral called me to the stage as the "Guest of Honor" and presented me with the Richard "Lionheart" Knierim Memorial Award!  For a guy who loves to talk, this literally took my breath away.  Talk about being made to feel welcome among a group of magicians. I have never felt more proud and honored. I could not speak more than a few words. I would have liked to have used a million words to tell everyone there how much I loved them, and what they have done for magic...but... you know... emotions.

Anyway... once I made it back to my seat on wobbling knees...on with the show. Now I've gotta say one thing right now.  In my 66 years I have seen hundreds, yes hundreds, of magic shows. In my 66 years I have NEVER seen a magic show like this one!  The variety was incredible.  Not a zig-zag or bra trick in sight.  Very few... in fact, now that I think about it... NONE... of the "typical" magic props one would recognize from the shelves of magic dealers.

This was no surprise. I was in the company of CREATIVE magicians not copy-cats. Now, because this was my first live contact with these strange beings  who would do "Bizarre Magick,"  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I expected most of it to scare me.  Surprise! Most of it didn't.  But it was story-telling magic at its finest... by the end of the evening every one of my emotions HAD been touched. I had laughed, feared, puzzled, been sad, happy, mad, glad, and everything else.  The variety amazed and, in fact, overwhelmed me...

The Lizard Wizard, a very attractive and skillful young lady, produced snakes from silks instead of doves (how very, very refreshing!). Doctor Mombo made "Larry" bleed with his voodoo (if Larry was me, and I suspect it was, he failed -- he touched my funny bone instead). Joe Cabral deserves a "hand" for his bizarre comedy.  Tony Razzano, Rocky Colavito and Mark Strivings astounded me with mentalism. Finally Joe Cabral ended the evening by attempting to make a card rise out of the deck --- oh, "straight magic," you say -- no, no, NO... the card never rose... but the table did... and it then proceeded to float all over the stage and even a bit over the audience! Bizarre indeed.

I have not mentioned three of the acts. These, again, were my personal favorites.  Others will disagree with my selections and that is great. There were so many superb acts, actually all of them were, there was something to appeal to everyone's taste. A rare treat.  I suspect others will have different "favorites" because of the choices. These however were simply MY PERSONAL favorites...

Vlad -- I truly appreciate this guy's acting skill.  He is a master of silence and dramatic pause.  His routine (not surprisingly)  involved Elizabeth the Blood Queen and was a clever (I think) card trick (but who cares). The trick was not what I admired it was Vlad's command of the stage. An actor at work.  My favorite part was when/how he called Michele from the audience to assist him. He did not point to her and say "put one foot in front of the other and come up here."  He walked to the edge of the stage, gave her a rather sinister stare and, when EVERYONE knew he was about to select her he simply nodded his head toward stage center and walked there. Michele told me later she felt "compelled" to obey.  Spooky. Funny. Wonderful theater.

David London - The Editor of Smoke & Mirrors - did a "self working trick" by opening a suitcase and inviting three audience members to do it. What "it" was brought the house down, almost literally. A "script" was read and the three people acted out a mini-play.  I will not begin to describe "it" because it was one of those "you had to be there" things but I will tell you that Michele was enticed to amorously "attack" Bruce Barnett with such force it knocked him backwards into the backdrop which he knocked over, almost falling off the stage.  The plumber in "it" restored the picture by plunging it with his toilet plunger and... Naw, I won't tell you the ending but if anyone thinks "bizarre" is just demons and devils, this would sure change their attitude in a hurry!

Evil Dan - Did a "classic" act which, I believe he credited to Doc Hilford (?) which consisted of 4 dead flies. Nothing more. I could not believe a stage act with nothing more than four dead flies which he held in his palm (and I used to think doing the Torn and Restored Cigarette Paper on stage was tough.)  Of course when he began to put them in his mouth to wet them, then stuffed them into facial orifices, and regurgitated them... I was treated to one of the events most hilarious bits of truly bizarre magick. Sounds disgusting?  Oh no, trust me, it was one of the funniest routines I have ever laughed through. 

The expression is, "You HAD to be there." And, in closing, let me HIGHLY recommend that next year you DO be there.  As I stated at the start, this is the absolutely BEST "Magic Conventions" I have ever attended.  It was their tenth anniversary. This means I missed nine of them!  Driving home all I could think of was how very lucky those of you who attended all ten have been.

I give Grand magus, Joe Cabral, and his hard-working ultra-creative members of the Inner Circle of Bizarre Magick my highest recommendation and my deepest thanks for the invitation, the award, the friendship, and...especially... for the fun!

Larry White.

To visit the ICBM website to read more and see photos click HERE

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