MagicWeek 10 years on
Duncan Trillo, July 2010

 

MagicWeek launched on Saturday, July 1st 2000. I thought it would be fun to have a brief look back and also tell you how it came into being.

 

After 20+ years of being a magician, basically with a 10 minute silent act, I no longer wanted to have to run around the world to try and make a living, and we were starting a family. We'd moved into an old three story townhouse that was more or less falling to pieces and I'd set myself the task of restoring it, and converting the ample basement (photo) into a studio. The plan being to start producing high quality magic videos, that not only taught magic, but would also include in-depth interviews with guest magicians, as back then most magic videos were as dull as ditchwater, and no one was doing anything about it!

 

The videos would need to be edited on a computer, so I bought my first PC in late 1999, got online, and that's when it dawned on me that the UK had no magic focus online whatsoever. It was really lagging behind the States where there were a number of excellent websites for magicians already. In April 2000 I was on a contract in Japan and took a website "how to" book out with me and read it from cover to cover. Not the best read ever, but it helped me get my head around the technology. I'd come up with the name MagicWeek just before I left, and on my return I decided to go ahead and launch the site.

 

In early May I spent weeks trawling through various search engines compiling lists of UK magic websites, magicians, magic clubs, in fact anything magic related that fitted under the strapline "Magic in the UK online". I'm not a great patriot or anything, but knew that covering magic in the UK would be viable, anything wider probably not. I also contacted magic friends to let them know my plans and to ask for contributions in the form of articles or news submissions - making sure that issue number one would launch with solid content.

 

So MagicWeek launched on July 1st 2000 with a News page, 10 magic articles, 4 reviews, a TV Magic page, a What's On page, a Convention link page, 95 links to magicians' websites, 13 links to 'Various' UK magic sites, a magic clubs links page, 1 For Sale ad!, 1 Wanted ad!, and a 'Magic Profile' featuring Simon Drake, rounded off with a "see you next week", which they did.

 

My video studio that I'd put so much work into soon became the MagicWeek office instead, and I focused on the internet instead of video production, launching a number of directories for magic entertainers, together with a small web design and website hosting business, and, just recently, as an extension of a hobby of mine, www.sci-fimovieposters.co.uk. I shot my first Super 8 film when I was at school and entered it into a BBC 'Vision On' film making competition coming nowhere, then years later made a video of Street Performers in Covent Garden for a Sony video making competition and came first, but that's as far as my movie making ventures went. Maybe one day. (We moved recently, so the studio is no more, and the current MagicWeek office is tiny, but plans for an extension are underway!)

 

MagicWeek took a while to get going. In fact it was six months before we got our first advertiser, but I persevered knowing that the number of magicians online was growing daily. It's still growing. I stopped taking bookings if they meant that I'd be away so that I could put all my energy into MagicWeek and my other internet ventures, making a complete change of direction career wise. MagicWeek is now read by many thousands of magicians every week, both here in the UK and worldwide, and I still enjoy putting it all together.

 

Magic has seen some major changes in the last 10 years. One being the emergence of David Blaine and his (albeit TV in reality) 'street magic' shows that at last freed magic from the shackles of 'naff' in the British public's eye, and then Derren Brown, rising from the ashes of 'mentalism' to reinvent the genre with his brilliantly crafted TV shows and live performances.

 

At last it was okay to say you were a magician and for the working magician life has been pretty good with bookings at corporate events, parties and weddings on the rise until just recently, but with more traditional 'cabaret' type magic acts finding it harder. There are still many opportunities working abroad, especially in the ever expanding cruise/leisure market though.

 

Magic's future is bright I think, either as an all-consuming hobby or as a profession and I know many magicians who have followed their dream to turn their passion for magic into a magic career in one way or another.

 

The first 10 years really have flown past. Maybe it's that weekly deadline, I don't know, but thank you for either reading MagicWeek, contributing to it, or both. And thank you to the advertisers too. Many have built up there businesses alongside MagicWeek and are as equally dedicated.

 

I was going to go through all the MagicWeek back issues, all 523 (numbers 1-150 are currently off-line, but I have them), picking out some key moments from the last 10 years, but it all got a bit out of control, so, here instead are just a few bits that caught my attention, including a couple of April Fools' Day items I managed to nearly get away with. Apparently the David Copperfield story made its way to the man himself (and he approved!). Plus my favourite MagicWeek caption of all time "The Mind Lord and The Time Lord".

 

I'm also including these two links, first to the news page of issue 1 and also issue 22, the Channing Pollock Special Edition. Until next week, Duncan.

 

David Blaine, the first magician to rival Copperfield's world television dominance, can be seen in his second TV special David Blaine Magic Man on Bank Holiday Monday on Channel 4 at 10pm. The Radio Times have given it a 'choice' rating: "Suddenly it's hip to be a magician, and David Blaine is the hippest of them all." Blaine has certainly given TV magic a well deserved shake-up. His first TV special captured the essence of magic like no other. David Blaine - Magic Man review: Click Here 26.8.00

 

Andrew O'Connor is the executive producer of a one-off television show starring mind-reader Derren Brown. Currently in production the show will be seen on Channel 4 over Christmas. Andy Nyman was brought in as consultant to the project. Derren will also be a part of an expert panel at this year's MindMagic seminar in London on November 12th. 14.10.00

 

David Blaine's 62 hours in a block of ice hit the headlines all over the world. In the UK he was seen on both ITV's main news and on Channel 5's news. The live website link-up was really excellent broadcasting a continuous, three camera, full screen, live feed to the whole world. What made it so "live" was hearing onlookers comments as they walked around him. Another master-stroke from David Blaine then, and hopefully one that will slow down the pre-recorded "dangerous" magic shows, and perhaps open up TV people to the possibilities, and excitement, that can only be generated by live TV. 2.12.00

 

Ghetto Boy ("I'm out there"), spotted in the dealers hall at the recent Blackpool Convention, has just sent us his current press pack. "David Blaine, David Copperfield, Channing Pollock, these magicians were my inspiration and it is them that I have to thank for the TV deal that I've just signed." Ghetto Boy combines street magic, origami and mime in his original routines... "I make an origami paper bird, the bird comes to life, I set it free on the street - this is as real as it gets." Ghetto Boy can be seen in his new eight part series Ghetto Magic on BBC1 (Saturday evenings 8-9pm) from June 9th. For more on his TV series, and what it means to be a top British magician, visit his website: www.magicghettoboy.com 1.4.01

 

A phone call from JJ this morning brought the very sad news that Richard Ross of Holland died of a heart attack in his garden on Saturday, May 19th, aged just 55. For me he was, and is, the world's greatest silent magician. Winning FISM twice (an incredible achievement) Richard's manipulative act had charm, humour and skill. He connected with his audience from the moment that he walked on stage. He was a true joy to watch. Highlights were his stunning card and jumbo card productions, followed by the spinning of cards into the audience, his beautiful ring routine where the rings literally melted together, a brief moment where he let the audience into the secret of a coin vanish that he'd just performed in a "look what I just did!!" cheeky school-boyish kind of way, and of course his pocket watch productions, all impeccably timed to music. He also included beautiful sequences of manipulation with coins and billiard balls. Throughout his act the magic flowed seamlessly, underlined by the music which had been specially arranged and recorded for him by a group of session musicians, blending both original and classical music together. Still the best use of music by any silent magician that I've ever seen.

I first saw Richard Ross's act at an International Day of Magic Gala Show in the late 70's. By chance I was introduced to him, and so began an evening of magic with Richard Ross, Pavel, Dave Brown, and myself. No magician has influenced me like Ross. That evening I remember him giving me advice on how to 'walk on', how to 'simplify' the act, and how to be 'focused' on stage; words of advice that have stayed with me to this day. We ended up at 4am, all a little worse for wear, playing blind mans bluff, (why now I have no idea!) with Richard Ross saying "if you ever tell anyone that you were playing blind mans bluff at four in the morning with Richard Ross they will never believe you!!" Highly respected by his peers, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

To his wife, Veronique, go our deepest sympathies.
Duncan Trillo 21.5.01

 

Magician Julian Russell appeared in Cruises from Hell on Monday evening on ITV1. Julian, originally from Basingstoke but now living in the States, had the misfortune to be involved in not one but two at-sea disasters. In both cases Julian was one of the last to leave the ship, greatly assisting passengers off first. In both cases the ships, the Oceanos (photo - August 1991) and the Achille Lauro (December 1994), went down. No lives were lost in either incident. The home video footage made chilling viewing. (Sorry if you're a cruise act reading this onboard ship right now!) 12.1.02

 

David Copperfield: Destination Moon. Illusionist David Copperfield is to team up with Sir Richard Branson www.virgingalactic.com on the inaugural flight of Branson's Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne in 2008 (promotional video clip: Click Here, broadband users Click Here). On 27th September 2004 at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London's West End, Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan made their announcement to the world's media that Virgin Galactic was now in a position to commence a programme of work that would result in the world's first affordable space tourist flights. Just two years on and the Virgin publicity machine has gone into overdrive, inviting the world's foremost illusionist to be a part of the team. David Copperfield will be aboard the inaugural flight in his own "egg pod" that will leave the mother ship and head towards the dark side of the moon. At this time, during a live transmission that will be seen by many millions across the globe, David will make the moon disappear. Viewers will simultaneously be invited to watch the moon's disappearance using normal telescopes directed at it, from their homes - ruling out once and for all the "it's all done with camera tricks" line that has plagued magicians since the early days of televised magic in the 50s. "We still have a few small technical issues to overcome, but we're nearly there and it's all very exciting; I'm thrilled to have been invited 'on board' by Sir Richard Branson."

 

David Copperfield will start his training mid 2007 in both the USA and France and the whole project will culminate in a major three-hour TV special David Copperfield: Destination Moon in 2008. Branson, a magic fan for many years, said: "We hope to create thousands of astronauts over the next few years and bring alive their dream of seeing the majestic beauty of our planet from above, the stars in all their glory, and the amazing sensations of weightlessness and space flight. The development will also allow every country in the world to have their own astronauts rather than the privileged few. What a wonderful way to launch my dream." One small step for man - one large step for David Copperfield. For a reservation form, not for this specail inaugral flight but future flights, Click Here. 1.4.06

 

Bosom pals. Pamela Anderson just re-signed her contract for The Beauty of Magic with Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, through to December 2007. She's having a blast performing with Hans Klok and wants to do more illusions in the show (including some dangerous ones). Illusion consultant Rafael is seen here with Pamela, having just returned from Las Vegas where he worked on some new material for the production. 1.9.07

 

The Mind Lord and The Time Lord. Derren Brown - Mind Reader: An Evening of Wonders opened at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End last week for a limited run. This is Derren's third all-new one-man show. The pace is rapid, the mind reading stunning, the connection with his audience total, the level of playfulness perfect, and the overall ease of presentation impressive... For just over two hours (two halves with a Häagen-Dazs in the middle) Derren delighted the audience, which on this particular night was littered with theatre critics, and left the stage to a standing ovation. A brilliant performance. David Tennant (Dr Who) is Derren's guest on Trick or Treat on Friday 23rd May. "Mystery man Derren Brown fools us all" Click Here, "Brief Encounter With … Derren Brown" Click Here, Derren Brown, reviewed by 'What's On Stage' Click Here, "Derren Brown at Garrick" Click Here, "Derren Brown Mind Reader - An Evening of Wonders" Click Here, "A pair of West End oracle acts...." Click Here, "Derren Brown - Mind Reader: An Evening of Wonders" Click Here. Derren Brown Mind Reader: An Evening of Wonders is directed by Andy Nyman. To June 7th, Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH. Box office: 0844 412 4662. Monday to Saturday at 8pm. Ticket prices: £22.50 - £40.00. Tickets: www.nimaxtheatres.com Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.uk (Derren Brown and David Tennant at the after-show party on Wednesday 7th May. Photo by Duncan Trillo). 10.5.08

 

"I told you not to rub it!" Uri Geller receives The David Berglas International Magic Award from David Berglas at last weekend's 37th International Magic Convention in London. Following the presentation Uri Geller invited questions from the assembled audience of magicians on any aspect of his life and career. A fascinating 30 minutes ensued, offering glimpses into just what makes Uri Geller tick. Uri's appearance was a wonderful surprise, and his candid answers refreshing. His performance on The Dimbleby Talk-In in Great Britain back in November 1973 caused an immediate sensation at that time. I was one of the lucky ones who saw it when it went out. When that spoon bent Uri was as excited and elated with the outcome as his audience, his reaction for me was always the key to his success. Uri is one of the great showmen of our time. At the end of the question and answer session the audience gave him a standing ovation. (DT). This week Magic Circular editor Matthew Field reports on the whole International convention, including the Close-up Competition results (many thanks Matt), Click Here. 6.12.08

 

© Duncan Trillo, July 2010

 

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