|Review by Bruce Barnett.
I just returned from the 14th anual ICBM
Gathering of the Mages in Cromwell, CT. This convention is great for inspiring and recharging
one's career. This year's theme is honoring women in Magic. As a side
comment, Walt Anthony researched and personally invited 400 professional
women magicians to this convention. Not one responded.
I arrived about 10:30 Friday Morning,
missing the opening ceremony. I hear there was both a male and female version of Joe Cabral, our Host.
It's too bad I missed this. I caught the tail end of Dr. Charles
J. Pecor's lecture "The Power of the Word" and bought the
notes. The subtitle is "Notes on scripting and delivering
entertaining Performancer material." Those than know about Charles
experience would know how qualified Charles is to teach this topic, as
he has multiple degrees in theater. Glancing at the notes, the topics
As an Overlaid Function
for Good Breathing
and Relaxation Exercises
I regret I missed the lecture, but I will treasure the notes.
Next was a Lecture by Losander. Fantastic.
He discussed two IT hookups which he used for levitating bills and bubbles. He demonstrated his
dancing wand, and showed his three modifications to the traditional
Zombie gimmick. This was very effective. He demonstrated his "Chain
Breaker" thumb tie, and revealed his floating bubble work. He
then demonstrated his floating table. This was literally awe-inspiring.
The Works in Progress followed lunch. Then Brian Hatcher did a
pseudo-science non-coincidence. Walt Anthony used a Himilayan butter
churn to show how devotion affects a key. Bosco (Martin Carli) shows how
coins from a magic tree can pay for smoke. Heather and Vlad did a
2-person divination routine. Jonathan Forst did a simple and effect
routine with a twine from a noose. Professor Rem demonstrated unlikely
coincidences in a well paced performance. Sol Levine did a T-Shirt
revelation. Rich Lavengood showed "How to Flirt" with a Jumbo
Die. Ed Solomon had many of us in tears with a "Sandpiper to bring
After Dinner, the Guest of Honor - Diana
Enright - discussed issues with being a woman magician. Many joined in
at the end, as we had a very good discussion. I think that one
reason why women are so welcomed in the ICBM is because Women must over
overcome stereotypes and break down barriers to be successful. But all
Bizarre magicians must also accomplish this. A recurring theme this
weekend is breaking down these barriers.
The last thing scheduled was Walt Anthony's
"The Biz-ness of Bizarre." This was worth the price of the convention. Walt spent 2 hours
discussing dozens of aspects of being a successful performer. Personally
I think he revealed too much information, because he discusses his own
material in great detail, not as a template, but as an example.
Walt went into detail into branding,
self-promotion, customer service, promotion, sales, vision statements,
press releases, PSA's. He also discussed the barriers we have to
overcome - both external and internal.
As part of the talk, Walt discussed 20
essential books covering all of the techniques needed to be successful.
He tied in real-world results using these books, such as one person
who's income went from $500 a month to $10,000 a month in 6 months just
by following the steps described.
At the end, Walt spread a hundred business
cards our, and gave comments on ways to improve them. Then at the end,
he handed out the lecture notes, and the 20 "best-of-breed"
books to attendees for free, just asking that each of us limit our
choice to one that interests us most. I picked up a book on Voice
After Walt's session, we went up to the
hospitality suite. Beer, wine, bottled water, and soda were available to
drink. Snacks included chicken wings, mini-quiches, swedish meetballs,
cheese, veggies, red pepper hummus, babaganoush, cookies, cake, lemon
squares, pinwheel sandwiches, brownies, and much more. Delicious, but I
am afraid we failed to eat it all. We tried! Honest!
This is the third (?) year we met in this
hotel. But it's no longer a Raddison, but a Crown Plaza (high-end
Holiday Inn I think). Talking to some of the hotel staff, they
mentioned that the new owner already upgraded the beds and bathrooms.
There is 3 million dollars planned for more improvements. The hotel is
very nice and spacious.
The dealers room was busy. One of the
busiest was Mary Tomich, who was selling many odd imported items at wholesale cost. I bought a 5" by
5" bone box for $7, and 3 rosewood and brass pillboxes (a mini
version of Zingg's Tibetan Wishing Box) for the price of $1 - for all
three. Other people also picked up some great deals.
Several of the dealers had Ren Fair
offerings. Boxes, cloaks, a gourgeous hand-made cape, jewelry. Bosco was
selling some excess items. EvilDan was selling his leather wallets.
Brother Shadow, Ed Solomon, and Loren Tindall had tables. I also spent
time at Craig Dickson's, and Losander's table.
Professor Rem was wandering around, passing
out "quizes" and other amusing hand-outs. He was also showing his folded money origami.
The close-up show was the first event
Saturday. Our hosts, Rifor and Mortis, were emcees. The first item of
business was awarding Death certificates to deserving members. This is
done early, so they have a chance to enjoy them while they are alive.
Mary Tomich demonstrated a coincidence with
an old ring and some Tarot
Vlad demonstrated mind control.
Yona Chock gave us a folklore or rather "fakelore" concerning
the history of Hawai'i and Palm trees, based on Clippo.
Kali showed us an emotional piece dealing with ice and snow.
Diana Enright shows us how to brew tea, which evoked a rainbow of
memories both emotionally and physically.
Losander asked us to catch salt in mid-air. Usually this effect is a
throw-a-way, but Losander made it a charming piece.
David Parr showed us "A Game of Life and Death" in a
well-paced entertaining routine.
Next was the David Parr lecture. The first room was competing with music
from the next room. We decided to move the lecture to a room that next
door had hundreds of people yelling as loud as they can. David handled
the distraction well. I think the best part of his lecture was his
description of how he broke down barriers of tradition. Other routines
was tips on vanishing a match with a thumb tip, Bob Neale's
"Thirteen Guests", "Quick to Tell" modified for
fortune telling, which he called "Past Present and Future." He
also did a presentation concerning the Seven Deadly Sins.
Next was the banquet. Food was very good. I got a generous serving of chicken, and many people could not finish their prime rib.
The Saturday Evening pre-show began with a visit by Dr Mombo. This was
a highlight, as we haven't seen Dr. Mambo for three years. Apparently
there is a tradition using a "pumpkazu" - a large vegetable
which is half pumpkin and half zuchini. It was easy to see which side
was which by the color. This was sliced while on Dr. Mambo's belly.
The show began with the Invocation. The Emcee was Margaret Steel.
Due to a sholder injury, she was unable to perform, but she smoothly handled
the crown while talking about Adelaide Hermann.
The first act was Colleen Mahar, who did fast-paced using lit objects in
a dark room. The crowd loved it.
Kali started with a Shadow Box appearance, and followed with a routine featuring the production of rats and snakes.
Brittany did what I think is a slave-girl routine, which ended with a
transposition between her captor and the slave using a sub-truck. Joe
Cabral was a last minute substitute for the slave driver, and he seemed
to be a natural. <grin>
Diana Enright was "Princess Lotus Blossom" showing us the
Marlene Clark did an updated version of his dialog with Satan (using a
face puppet to turn Charles Pecor into a Vent figure).
Kardor dazzled us all with his amazing demonstration of chuzpah. A crowd
Yona Chock performed several effects with an ancestor theme.
David Parr showed us a flexible mirror, and then ate an apple with a
razor blade. He followed it up with some dental floss, and produced a
string of blades as a finally. A smooth performer.
The ending act was Losander. He is spouse of Luna, and one way to
describe their differences is that Luna is Fire and Earth, while
Losander is Water and Air. He showed us many of his lecture effects as
part of the show, and you can see the fun he has doing it. I liked the
bubble dancing above the silk, which was then caught (ala Zombie). The
floating table caused the audience to gasp many times. My wife kept
saying "How does he do it?" followed by "No! Don't tell
me. I don't want to know." It's obviously a lightweight table. But
when he draped a cloth over it, and turned the table around, let go of
the corners, lightly touching and moving and tilted the lamp on top of
the cloth - it was mind-boggling.
Again we adjourned to the hospitality suite. I've been on the road
for the entire week, and I left early as I couldn't keep my eyes open.
I hope those that stayed for the David Parr and Losander workshops on
Sunday enjoyed them. All in all it was a wonderful convention and chance
to spend time with my friends.
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