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