2002Archive Deceptions .

Deceptions Unlimited Convention [#1]
Pittsburgh U.S.A.-March 15th, 16th,17th.,
hosted by Rick Maue.

I'm beat after a long weekend, and have that satisfying tired feeling of having completed a workout.  The unique thing is the feeling of being brain-tired as opposed to muscle-tired.  This is a direct result the Monday Night Magic Deception Convention,  hosted by Rick Maue, with the guests of honor being Todd Robbins, Simon Lovell, and Jamy Ian Swiss.

I'm tempted to re-cap the Friday evening show, but do not think that words can do justice to the performances we experienced.  Master of Ceremonies Doc Dixon continued his tradition of contributions to the Deception convention, and informed the audience of the uniqueness of the event:  a show with nothing but Headliners.  Simon, Jamy, and Todd each performed portions of their shows for an audience of convention-goers, guests, and the lay public. The show--which was also open to the public--sold out, and Rick's list of people he turned away grew to approximately 40 people before the doors opened that evening.  Those lucky enough to get into the door were treated to New York's own Monday Night Magic on Friday evening in Pittsburgh.

Saturday's events began with introductions and a fitting post  breakfast lecture from modern sideshow legend Todd Robbins.  Todd lectured on the history of the side show and its evolution to modern-day entertainment. Feats demonstrated included breaking a cinder block on one's head, walking and jumping on broken glass, and sticking one's hand into a spring-loaded animal trap.  Todd also discussed many other aspects of sideshow performing, including the Bally and pitch techniques, his trademark light bulb eating, and other effects demonstrated in the previous evening's public show.  Todd is very knowledgeable, and has great memory of the historical aspects of sideshow performing.  Those smart enough to take advantage of his once-in-a-lifetime offer walked home with great souvenirs of the program as well.

Lunch gave us some time to network, and the food was great.  Most of the attendees remained in the convention area for lunch, networking with the dealers, lecturers, and guests.  The Dealer list included Greensburg's Chuck Rygle, who is hand-producing high-quality wooden props, an Pittsburgh legend Eddie Ace, who has carved sponge props for the likes of Lance Burton. Guests of note included card legend Karl Norman and FISM winner Paul Gertner.  I enjoy just being around both gentlemen, who have been very kind and friendly to those who take the time to stop and ask questions.

Simon Lovell kept us from falling asleep after lunch.  He spent an intense hour plus describing the "why" of magic as related to his performances.  He goes into audience management, motivation of action, and the handling of both props and audience members to maximize audience impact.  It is an education to watch Simon perform, and an experience to have been given a glimpse into the mind which creates the experience.  I should mention that the lecture was on card effects as well, but so much more was shared than card tricks during his time at the front of the room.  Both before and after his lecture, Simon remained at the back of the room and shared his experience with anybody who had questions.  He was quite busy while sitting in essentially one place for the majority of the day.

After another break, we were treated to a dynamic lecture from Jamy Ian Swiss.  Jamy breaks down a single effect as thoroughly as possible, discussing every aspect of the performance in great detail.  He treats technique and presentation with equal care, and goes to great lengths to communicate his passion for producing a quality performance.  At times, I felt that he was speaking directly to me, pointing out many things that I wanted to hear and many more that I may not have wanted to hear but desperately needed to hear to be a better magician.  His commentary and criticism hits home in a manner which stirs great and varied emotion.  This is not something that I experience in most magic lectures, and I am happy to have been there to experience such a program.

Dinner followed, with more social time and a round of door prize drawings. Both the door prizes and ticket auction items were of high quality, and many people walked away with added bonuses such as great hard-bound books, decks of cards, custom-designed embroidered shirts, and unique magic props.

The convention show began with Rick Maue introducing Master of Ceremonies Simon Lovell.  Simon and The Stool (you had to be there) kept us going through SIX performers.  Eric Starkey took us on a journey back in time to magic in the era of Max Malini.  Adrian Deery (from Erie, it rhymes) performed a card miracle with the sloppiest slop shuffle on record.  Jamy Ian Swiss showed us that you do not need music to cue applause with his own silent card production and manipulation.  Eddie Ace gave us a full-stage production of the cut and restored turban, as well as a glimpse into the history of the effect.  Todd Robbins walked away much richer with the sale of products that would make Federal Government vendors drool.  Finally, Doc Dixon closed the show with his humorous mentalism program.

Officially, the convention closed with the drawing of the auction items. Guests were given three tickets, with the opportunity to purchase more based upon vendor purchases.  As stated above, many walked away with more than their purchases that evening, thanks to Rick Maue and the Deceptions Unlimited crew.

Unofficially, guests retired to the lounge for more sessioning and networking, or got rest for the next day's workshop w/ Jamy Ian Swiss. Those who elected to participate in this additional event were given three and one-half hours of hands-on work with cards as well as a decent dose of philosophy, theory, and presentation pointers.  The workshop was intense, but allowed for beginner and card expert to sit side-by-side and learn from a true master of his art and craft.

All this being written, I enjoyed the entire weekend.  As usual, Rick got together a classy group of truly talented performers and produced an event unique to the magic world.  The other events I attend pale in comparison to the experience of the Deception Convention. Thank you to Rick, Simon, Todd, Jamy, Doc Dixon, and all those who made the event a memorable one. Hopefully, and with lots of encouragement from those who attended any of the Deception Conventions, Rick will continue this tradition.

Chris Handa.

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