Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bizzaro The Optical Illusionist



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Bizzaro!

Last entry in this Winner Month. Bizzaro. Talk about a unique performer that dares to be different and actually succeeds doing so. I am full of praise for that guy. He seems to be a fish who is out of the water, but still enjoys it.



Also, he is god damn creative. The stupid Pompom Sticks applied to a doll not only makes the effect bearable, but also fun to watch. So what we have is an extremely creative performer who understands magic. Also some of the magic he sells is just brilliant. His color changing sponge balls... sweet. The Non Toxic Glue Gag... gee, why didn't I order that yet? (Oh yeah right ordering over seas is a pain in the ass).

Bizzaro is just a strange but good performer who can do magic for all ages. Check out this footage of him doing street magic:



I like the speed, the pacing (yeah those are two different things) and his choice of material. It's practical, eye popping and magical.

It took me a while to figure out what is so different. He does no mentalism. Maybe he does, I don't know. But in all the videos I found he did just magic and comedy. That may be one of the reasons why I like him. Cartoonish magic, strange humor and fire! What's not to like? He is a winner. Keep it up!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Doc Eason



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Doc Eason!

It is scary. I watched all the Doc Eason DVDs that I own. I have not taken a look at them for about 10 years. It is scary how much of Doc Eason's personality found the way into my act.

And I'm not humble by saying that I love my act, therefore I love Doc Eason. He is known as one of the biggest bar magician. Here, take a look at one of his acts.





You can tell that the audience is having fun and that one heck of a lot of magic and comedy is going on. The footage above was taken at his real workplace at the John Denver's World Famous Tower Comedy/ Magic Bar in Snowmass Village in Colorado. So the people are real people and not your run-of-the-mill L&L audience.

Some of the magic Doc does may seems a bit bumpy but I assure you it is fooling and good the way it is, because it is also damn practical. One of the main issues a bar magician has to deal with is reset. And Doc does create the structure of his routines with resent in his mind.

Btw. If you wanna study how to do card under glass you better check out Doc Eason. In the set I have seen he makes the signed card go under the glass eight times.

Doc Eason, You are a Winner!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Darwin Ortiz



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Darwin Ortiz!

My introduction with Darwin Ortiz is shared among many magicians I know. First we got the book. STRONG MAGIC, probably the best book on close up theory that I have ever read in my life. I heard from others that this book changed the way they thought about magic. The book truly is an eye opener and it nice puts all the pieces we have come to know about close up magic together into a giant puzzle.



But then I saw him perform and was disappointed. A boring and dull performer. How could this be the man who wrote that wonderful book? Well now a few years have passed and I realized that I might have taken the wrong approach. First I should have seen him perform and then I should have read the book.

If you take an honest look at his performance you will see that he does what he says in the book. Darwin Ortiz is simply not charismatic enough to compare to the words he wrote. That is sad, but it doesn't take away any of the impact that STRONG MAGIC had with me. And that is why he remains a winner.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Lenahan



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: John Lenahan!

John Lenahan was first to be expelled from the Magic Circle in 85 years, just because he explained Three Card Monte on national television. Now that sparked my interest. So who is John Lenahan?



A comedian obviously. But a damn creative one in terms of magic. There is a difference between a gag and a magic gag. A magic gag is magic related. A gag however can be related to anything. John sticks to the magic gag which makes him more of a magician than a magician who spews out one liners.

Also take a look what he made of the old piano card trick:



John has been the host of Stuff the White Rabbit and the Secrets of Magic which both aired in the UK in 1997. A few of you might remember those.

So John is cool, he is funny, smart and an overall likeable person. In one word: a Winner!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Max Maven



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Max Maven

If magic has one thing in abundance it is performers who have little to no characteristics that one from another. Max Maven is different. In the world of magic he is know under two names. Max Maven and Phil Goldstein. In the following video you won't see him do a lot of magic/mentalism, but it gives you a great little view into the character that he is.



As you can see he is an intellectual yet funny performer with a sense of cynical attitude.

Many have tried and failed.

But aside from that he is also a great contributer to the magic world. In both mentalism and magic. I can imagine doing both of the following as an encore piece to my close up magic set.



Seeing the last two bits makes me aware of his smart senses. Let me explain. Having seen him perform and having read some of his books I know that he is a great technician. Yet he decided not to use "extreme" sleight of hand to accomplish the two above pieces. It takes quite a bit of "guts" not to fall back to the reliable sleight of hand methodology but instead use a different route. This makes me appreciate him even more as I know that his stuff is well thought out and one can perform this with confidence and trust.

Max might have the same reason to publish magic as anybody, but I can trust his stuff. And that makes him a winner in my book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yann Frisch



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Yann Frisch!



People went crazy over his one cup routine in Blackpool this year. And he is a fresh face. Here is the act in a nutshell. He is seated on a table. Next to him a kettle of water and a cup. Also a ball. He starts by throwing the ball away with a disgusted look on his face. He pours some water in the cup but when he wants to drink the water the ball is in the cup instead. What follows then is a lengthy sequence of the ball appearing and disappearing, the ball multiplying and some impressive juggling feats. It ends with the ball turning back into water, just as Yann is about to toss it towards his face, resulting in a slapstick kind of punchline to the whole allegory. And I guess the spectator is to make up his mind watching this.

Yann's character seems to be of a person who had either a rough day, a miserable life or one drink to many. So the constant juggle between his problem and his needs (ball and water) is something that we all can relate to. It is a really good version of a cups and ball like routine.

And somehow I cannot look past the feeling that there is more to him than meets the eye. I am sure we will here more of him. Good things.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Harry Lorayne



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Harry Lorayne!

For a long time I was tempted to call him a failure... They way he always seems to yell "Buy and Read my Book"... like a child which craves constant attention. But his books are the reason he is a winner. Over the year he has published so many books on magic that it seems crazy. And not just his own stuff, but what others have contributed. And that is something we all need to be thankful for.

Straight from Wikipedia:

Close-Up Card Magic - 1962
Personal Secrets - 1964
My Favorite Card Tricks - 1965
Dingle's Deceptions - 1966
Best of Bill-fooled Deck-Sterity - 1967
Miracle Math - 1968 Reputation-Makers - 1971
Rim Shots - 1973
Afterthoughts - 1975
The Epitome Location - 1976
Tarbell #7 The Magic Book - 1977
Star Quality - 1979
Quantum Leaps - 1980
Doug Edwards Packs A Wallop Best of Friends, Vol. 1 The Card Classics of Ken Krenzel Trend Setters - 1982
Best of Friends, Vol. 2 - 1999
The Himber Wallet Book Best of Friends, Vol. 3 Apocalypse Magazine - 1978-1997 The Classic Collection, Vol. 1 - 2005
Lorayne: The Classic Collection, Vol. 2 - 2008


Dude, that is a lot. He's been busy over the years. If it weren't for him, we might have never heard of certain great magicians. How can I not make him a winner?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bebel



PICTURE BY Robin Dawes

It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Bebel!

French magician Bebel deserves yet another positive mention I think. I know a few magicians who for some reason cannot stand the magic Bebel has come up with. They say the plot is not followed through, often the action and the premise is illogical and he flashes like hell. Well to those I say: Take a look at his magic from a layman's point of view. Magic doesn't have to be logical all the time.

A card is selected, then found and then turned into the four aces. Sure it hardly makes any sense, but it hits hard from an emotional point of view.

Take a look what he has made of the Biddle Trick.



You can argue that it is way too much handling of the cards. But the magic comes across as you see by the genuine reactions.

As Bebel performs he is totally relaxed and the magic comes natural. Looking at his fumbling with the cards from that angle it does make sense in a weird way. Let me explain. His body language is yelling all the time: "Look at me, I got nothing to hide, I can even toy around with the cards in my hands, because there is no need for me to prove that all is hands off. You already know that I am good and that you got no chance to catch me. I do not need to overstate fairness, as you know that even if I would make all look fair, I'd still fool you."

That is what his body language says. And maybe some misunderstand this as an arrogant thing. I hope you don't. Check out his YouTube Channel to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, Jean-Pierre Vallarino and Bebel got this DVD:



Guess what I'm getting! And I don't even speak French.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Luis Piedrahita



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Luis Piedrahita!

Edit: I already posted this last year, but now in its proper April time slot.

Sometimes YouTube is a great thing, as it allows me to stumble upon great magicians for a change. Like Luis Piedrahita a 33 year old magician from Spain. He has a nice dorky look going and according to Wikipedia Luis is much more than a magician. He also is a stand-up comedian a script writer a broadcaster and an author. And you can tell by watching him perform that he has other talents than just magic.



As you can see he is particularly good at structuring his routines. You can tell that a lot of thought went into his routines and that it really is good close up stuff. (If you like lapping)
Here is another one:



I don't speak Spanish yet I am entertained. That speaks for the man and that is why I declare him a winner. Luis Piedrahita, you are a Winner in my book. Don't mess it up.

Edit: I always thought that Sankey's Airtight and Pressure by the T11 drones would work nicely together. Glad Luis tried:




Not done perfectly, but well enough I think.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jerry Sadowitz



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Jerry Sadowitz!

Let's talk about American-born Scottish stand-up comic and card magician Jerry Sadowitz. I heard he is around, I also heard there is little footage online. Well I looked hard an I found little. Nothing that showcases his magic.

But over the last few day I have read two books. One is a red book called "Card Zones" and the other one "Cards on the Table" and my whole opinion about that man is based on those two books.

He is a fucking genius. The way he constructs routines is skillful. I cannot believe I have not gotten the books earlier.

Certainly, quite a few magicians and people will not get along with him, as his style of humor is offensive according to Wikipedia. But that doesn't take away any of his brilliant thinking in the magic realm. Cool guy... I love the magic.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bernard Bilis



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Bernard Bilis!

The French magician Bernard Bilis gets not enough love from the magic world I think. I was introduced to him in two ways. One was from is contributions to the books "Apocalypse" and "Best of Friends" where I learned to read his name but never heard his name. And the second way I got to know him was seeing him in action during those "Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde" - Shows. There I heard his name, but didn't know how to write it.



Naturally I did not put one and one together. I took me 5 years until I finally realized that both are the same person.

Anyways, Bernard Bilis is an excellent performer who does classic magic. Mainly close up magic. Most of the plot you have seen before and some of the props you might recognize lying in you bottom drawer. But he is able to actually do tiny changes to those store bought tricks to makes them good and his own.



I feel he needs a mention during this month. Take a look at those videos. My French sucks big time, I hardly understand anything those guys say in the videos. Yet I am entertained. And that speaks of a certain class of performer. A winner class.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Christopher Nolan



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Christopher Nolan!

That's right film director, screenwriter and producer Christopher Nolan is today's winner. The sole reason: "The Prestige" SO far magician in movies were either lonely, nerdy creeps, or the wise all powerful man. The Prestige showed magic and magicians in a gritty style. It showed that magicians can be cool, that magic is not effortless, but hard work. And that magicians do not like each other. And that Mr. Nice Guys are a rare thing.

And the movie was done so well. Seriously, if you have not watch "The Prestige" go out and rent it. If you have watched the movie and thought... "Meh, The Illusionist was much better" get help. The Illusionist portrayed magicians in a mysterious light, which I assume is something that many magicians strive to be. But it is untrue for the most part.



Christopher Nolan has done the magic world a great favor for choosing to adapt the novel by Christopher Priest for the big screen.

This is quoted from Wikipedia:

"Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter felt that characters "are little more than sketches. Remove their obsessions, and the two magicians have little personality"


Just like the real thing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Derren Brown



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Derren Brown!

I was hesitant to put him on the list. Simply because he is not a magician but a freaking mentalist. And while most magicians seem not to draw a line between the two I do. But Derren Brown has done for mentalism what David Blaine has done for magic. He brought it to a level where people actually believe it is genuine.

Here is the thing. Predictions are a weird. They have a build in power claim that is hard to take serious. A prediction means that the mentalist can see into the future and see events that will occur.

What Derren has done to it is nothing new, but he certainly has done it well. Derren cultivates an aura of psychological genius. To the audience he doesn't predict the future, but he has decided what the future event is going to be, and he does all his mental tricks to make it happen.

And you know what. That is a believable premise for a prediction. In fact his whole show is designed around this idea.

Here is the whole show Evening of Wonders. I don't know how legal this is, so watch them while you can:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

I don't like mentalism, but I can still see how good this is. And I see that people do enjoy this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jean-Pierre Vallarino



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Jean-Pierre Vallarino!

Back in 1991 he was closeup champion of France. And part of the reason was the main structure of the act. An effect flurry. Here is the act:



Since then he has gotten old. And many people have told me that his speed has slowed down and the original beauty is not in the act anymore. So I guess any artist faced with such problem needs to reinvent himself. Well in a way he has. Now he sells his own versions of classic card plots giving them the typical Vallarino style:



His magic hardly needs any words. It is visual, beautiful and more and more deceptive. In the past he decided to fool the eye. Now it is all about fooling the mind. And that is a good thing.

I have seen many older magicians who were successful in their younger days. And for some reason they cannot do the same act. Most of the time because the act was not timeless and has aged. And they you see those magicians still doing it because they did not reinvent themselves. And that is a shame. Jean-Pierre Vallarino did it. He is cool. His magic is cool. And he has shown me that magic can be still cool when performed by an old man.

PS. I know that Jean-Pierre is not that old, but dude... he has aged drastically.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dodd Vickers



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Dodd Vickers!

Dodd Vickers is a magician from Atlanta. I have never seen him work, so I cannot tell if he is a good magician or not. But I have heard him a lot. To those not in the know, Dodd Vickers has a podcast (among others) called Magic Newswire - The Spirit of Magic Podcast. And there he does interviews with all the big names in magic. And all are free to listen to. He has been doing these interviews regularly since 2008. (To my knowlegde)

One on my personal favourites interviews is the one with Persi Diaconis (click the Name to listen to) This is great to listen to. I don't like math but for some reason this interview made me take out my card and practice the perfect faro.

If it weren't for Dodd Vickers, this interview would have never been made. And it is so well done. As all of them are. In fact I dare to say that Dodd Vickers has done the magic world a favour that the magic world can hardly pay back. That is why he is a winner and why he needs to be in the magic hall of fame.

Thank you Dodd for making these, we appreciate your effort!

PS. I got all interviews on my Ipod (nothing else, as it takes up all the space) and each time I go by bus or by train I listen to another fantastic interview.

PPS. Dodd, I listened to some other podcast (Morning Stream with Scott Johnson and Brian Ibbott which is totally not related to magic) and you called into the show... talk about crossing the streams. It was a weird day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tom Mullica



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Tom Mullica!


Magicians are nerds. Most of them are. Insecure and shy. Hiding behind secrets and ugly props. To me it seems that Tom has taken this to a higher extreme. His whole look and act feels like some ├╝bernerd trying to entertain. And it works. Once you take that prototypical image of a magician to an extreme it becomes unbelievable.

And then you see the genius behind the man.

He is mostly known in the magic world for his cigarette act, which is gross and therefore interesting (he quit doing that some time ago). But he does more of that geeky stuff.



Remember that? "Magic for Dummies", yes! But it is so well done, it does fool people. I love Tom Mullica. While he certainly doesn't make magic look cool, he certainly makes magic look interesting.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Masaharu "Ponta the Smith" Shimohara



It is April. In celebration of this blogs two year existence, the whole month will be winner time. Only the coolest and best members of our elite circle of nerds will be featured.

Today: Masaharu "Ponta the Smith" Shimohara!


Wanna feel like a layman again? Wanna see the wonder that magic can offer. Wanna not see another freaking card trick.



Masaharu "Ponta the Smith" Shimohara is a highly skilled Japanese magician from Osaka. He is the manager of the "French Drop" one of the most know Japanese magic stores. He is a winner, simply because of his beautiful coin work. He is putting the beauty back in coin magic. A feat that so many are unable to do. Michael Rubenstein is a good coin worker, but it ain't pretty. It is just kinda there. Masaharu actually did us magicians a great favour by adding grace and smoothness into standard plots. It actually makes magic look cool.