Blackpool Magicians’ Club - 63rd Annual Convention
February 20th, 21st, 22nd 2015

Reviewed by Steve Majes (aka The Tricky Twister)

Photos by Daniel Eden/Eden Photography


Photos © used with permission.

To view or purchase official Blackpool Convention photos visit 'Proofing' and enter BMCDAY1 or BMCDAY2 or BMCDAY3



Friday 20th


I started the day with a relaxing dealers' demonstration. It was a nice to sit down and have various dealers come along and show their new wares. If they had added a few tables and a breakfast buffet it would have been perfect, may suggest that for next year. An array of dealer items were presented from the currently popular folded card to clear box up to a large dice that turns into a puppet or rabbit. After the demonstration we took a small trip around the dealer hall covering only about twenty percent.

The first lecture I saw was Charlie Frye. He demonstrated a mixture of juggling skills as well as slight of hand and sight gags. He also had a fun sponge ball routine and a twisting cards routine inspired by Paul Harris with a complete deck colour change at the end. Charlie had some nice subtleties with coins across and a lovely sawing the lady in half version of Roy Walton's card warp. He presented a multiplying balls routine that had a comedy twist of releasing a ball from between the legs after pretending to swallow it, I'll leave that one up to your imaginations! Amongst his amazing hat and ball juggling he had some simple stunts like balancing a newspaper on your nose and balancing a playing card on your head. He had a long table full of stuff to show, but probably only got through half, he is certainly a very skilled performer which shone through in the act he did that evening in the Friday gala show.

Here is a brief run-down of the Friday gala show.

Alpha - Carries off a pirate themed very well with a lot of nice touches and lots of flashes and explosions, he likes his fire effects. Cannon fire with a parrot appearing out of a barrel, a rat running along the stage and up into and empty wooden cage, with a flash the cage fell apart and the rat was now a very excited dog. There were many bird and cage productions along with multiplying budgies. Alpha finished on a double parrot production and the audience loved this.

Two minds combined - Are a hand shadow duo, they did the usual shadows then added a nice touch creating magicians faces in the shadows like Dynamo, Paul Harris and Losander. There was a music glitch during the act but they carried on and received great applause.

Bertox - Created optical illusions with juggling type rings, it had a slow start but built into a very effective and mesmerizing act. Bertox incorporated the lean illusion while standing on a chair and had two sets of rings appear via manipulation to be suspended in the air and then revolved around each other. Very hypnotic.

Kenris Murat, a Latin dance themed act dressed in black Kenris produced red and white playing cards along with optical effects producing red silks from red squares on the cards and then having them shoot back into the card with the red square reforming. Nice touches were when his dance partner joined him and they did combined card productions and produced fans of cards on fire. They finished with fast paced productions and effects with red ribbons and a red confetti explosion final.

Marco Zoppi was a bubble man, lots of standard bubble forms originally created by Tom Noddy I believe, then he created a flat screen of bubble using a frame and string set up. Didn't quite understand what he was doing at first? He introduced a loop of string and used that to interact with the sheet of bubble allowing the loop to conjoin and move around allowing him to pass his hand through the loop and not bursting the sheet. He also created bubbles that would combine with the sheet bubble and move around the sheet. It was like an interesting science demonstration.

Danny Hunt's Amethyst presented a series of escapes; the first was Danny wearing a big strap with chains around his waist which secured his arms, then he was chained and padlocked to an upright board. He made his escape in full view. The second was called claustrophobia, where his female partner was handcuffed and secured into a very small aluminium box, this was secured with a locker type lock, a combination lock and industrial strapping. She made her escape successfully in full view of the audience. The last escape had Danny suspended upside down with his head secured in a tank that was filling with water, he had to escape from handcuffs secured around his waist and then un padlock the tank so he could free his head and not drown. He made the escape in good time. This escape was great but did loose some of the drama as once free he had to wait to be winched down before he could really take his applause.

Charlie Frye and Cherry presented a fast-passed juggling act where his assistants character was less than helpful. He featured club juggling on a balance board the clubs were of wine bottle designed, a clever hat juggling sequence, multiple ball juggling, zombie gloating bowling ball on bowling T-shirt, a giant climb through comedy linking ring routine and a combination of hoop, cane ball and club juggling. He finished on a stunt where he balanced his waist coat hat and cane on a pole balanced on his chin, he released the pole and everything fell resulting with Charlie wearing the waistcoat, hat and holding his cane. Lots of energy and the audience loved him.

Jimmy Tamley was the compare during the show and I'm afraid to say that he seemed to lack energy; this may be his style? And it's not an easy job! At this time in the show it was Jimmy’s longer spot and at the start he seemed to be just going through the paces, he did his grandad routine with a slightly annoying crow joining in and finished with his boxer routine. The boxer is by far his best routine and although I'd seen it before he did make me laugh during this part of his set. Technically brilliant just a lack of energy.

Matthew McGurk's Illusion Show - The curtains opened with two lady assistants suspended on long silk drapes either side of the stage, they did suspension art displays and made their way down to the stage where a platform sat, they held up and waved two flags in front of the platform and Matthew appeared. Next the girls did a front of tabs sparks flying angle grinding display which led into an assistant's revenge illusion with a metal framework and chains securing Matthew before the change over, Matthew then had a triangle shaped box on a table and shot arrows, with trailing ribbons attached, through it while an assistant inside appeared to dodge them, in the end she disappeared, the arrows were then pulled out through the side and bursting through now appeared the assistant holding on to the ends of the ribbons. A front of tabs diamond shaped sword basket with fire spikes thrust through was next then back to centre stage for a transposition with his assistant using a clear box up high on an upright post, then a multiple fire spikes through assistant in a box on a table with two assistants appearing at the end for a surprise finish. The act was presented well with some nice artistic elements but the music was far too loud.


Saturday 21st


Children’s Entertainer of the Year Competition

Colin Dymond entered the stage looking great in his purple jacket and trousers. He dived straight in with a vent dragon puppet called Snot who had a ballon vent model duck. Colin had an aluminum vase routine with a pixie story, the vase was emptied of water into a can and the water kept disappearing, in the end all the water magically reappears. Colin asked up a young girl helper and made an elephant balloon backwards. Lolly the lilac love bird did some mind reading, with Lolly finding the girl's chosen colour ball. The girl helper received the balloon vent duck (a copy of) and the elephant as a gift.

Gemma Raymond walked on stage in a bubbly friendly manner wearing smart casual wear and got a young boy Charlie, 4 years old, straight up to help, a combination of break-away wand and silver septor (case described as it's bed) played well, concluding with a tissue paper hat tear, Charlie got the hat, some light up thumbs and some Haribo to take away (I’m never very keen on those thumbs being given away, used to be a great effect now it’s public domain). Mr Bringly Circus was Gemma’s next effect, through the bars on the front of a box we were introduced to cards showing pictures of seals, elephants, lion and tigers, Gemma was able to rescued the circus show by producing a rabbit! The finale was a Queen Elsa costume change, with a snow storm in China and confetti cannon.

Mr Stix (owner of Playtime Balloons) had his assistant Peanut come on first with an umbrella and squirting a water pistol at the crowd. Mr Stix came to the rescue and with the help of a girl called Anastasia comically put different coloured handkerchiefs into a bag, with a wobbly wand and bigger wands the handkerchiefs transposed to the umbrella with the umbrella cover appearing in the bag. Anastasia received a large bunch of balloon flowers for helping. Peanut tries go make a large die vanish with no luck, Mr Stix comes to the rescue again and turns the die into a guinea pig, the guinea pig is accidentally rolled flat but is restored back to health for the final. Along the way Mr Stix poked fun at himself and of course Peanut.

Hannah from Japan entered a dark stage and told her story via a voice over and presented the dancing cane and card productions finishing on a double dancing cane routine. A cute little act if a bit short! Not sure this should have been in a children’s entertainment competition?

Frank Kearns had a glowing floating ball which vanished from his hands to start his act followed by hat balancing skills, multiple hat juggling, vanishing ball to hat, multiplying balls and balls from mouth. He then presented an ends off rope effect before introducing Ringo the monkey who magically appeared on a metal hoop, the hoop was attached to the rope and Ringo did some ring on rope acrobatics. Lilly who was only 3 years old came up to help, Frank showed his Diablo skills and was hoping Lilly would catch it on a large juggling ring, this didn't quite go to plan, she may have been a bit young. After Lilly sat down Frank did a toy rabbit from a box gag, Devil sticks while riding a unicycle and brought his act to a finish with a large wand production from his hat and another large wand production from a small box and finished by spinning a plate on one big wand while spinning hoops on his arms. Frank definitely had the skills but maybe needed some stage direction and prop management.

Simon Sparkles entered wearing red and black with not a sparkle in sight? Opening with a vanishing cane to silk streamer Simon then got a very jovial Mark age nine up to help. A red handkerchief appeared on a knotted rope, unequal ropes became equal, a balloon prize led the way to some fun balloon gags with Mark eventually getting a laser gun prize. Simon finished with a father and daughter helping him with a shaken can can of drink transposition, where the bubbles and fizz were taken from the dads shaken can and transposed in to Simon's can. Simon got wet and the dad got the can of coke he had as a prize, the daughter received a special balloon flower.

Between the acts Terry Herbert kept the crowd entertained with his Egg Bag routine with multiple eggs appearing at the end with a chocolate egg final as a gift for the little girl helper. He also had a fun routine about Kate and Edith trapeze artists that find a chosen card, cut and restored shoe lasses story, Terry's vanishing wand under handkerchief and vanishing handkerchief to kids hood. As always very entertaining!


The results of the competition were:
3rd Place - Hannah from Japan
2nd Place - Gemma Raymond
1st Place - Mr Stix and Peanut

Gala show

Natalie and Ellie presented many quick costume changes along with multiple feather flower productions. There was a sequence where one of the girl's dresses was apparently caught on fire during an effect and burnt revealing she may be a robot with melted face and exposed body wiring. This left me with a slightly bad taste as I thought at the time she was hurt by the fire, I’m not sure if the fire effect was slightly out of control as someone from the audience shouted out "Fire" and the main curtains did start to close, they stopped as it became aware that it was ok and this was part of the act as she quick changed back to her usual self. The changes were very good and built to a loverly finish.

Kenris Murat had a very surreal kind of act with a basic looking black and white set involving a white desk on one side of the stage and a white box on the other side. Some nice ideas but I feel the audience was left slightly confused as they didn't know when a piece of magic had ended or when to clap, so the applause couldn't really build. It was very interesting with a parallel universe happening between the desk’s waste bin box and the other box which now had it's own female guardian that had been created by accident by Keris on his side, it all ended with a ladder being produced and Kenris climbing down into the waste bin and via a blackout appearing from the other box. During the act I was left wondering if some of the effects worked properly?

Katrin Weissensee was an amazing sand artist, she created sand art on a a box lit from below while an overhead camera showed us via the large screens what she was creating. You couldn't help but watch, she transformed one sand picture to another with elements that played the same part in each but with a different view point. A beach scene became a picture on a wall and an airplane went from being real to a child's toy, it was a pleasure to watch.

Rob Zabrecky character was a mixture of serial killer meets mind reader. A fun combination of mind reading effects presented by a kooky character. Rob comes on with a box that you never get to know the contents of and celebrates his Granddad's birthday by putting a hat on his urn of ashes. A lady volunteer rolled a dice to select a card with an emotional action on, "hug" was chosen the rest were "kill"! At this point Rob removed the plastic sheeting from the floor, this would have been used if “Kill” had been selected! He read drawings of four spectators and matched them to the correct person charcter, the last picture he used mind reading on and drew the picture, also drawing on his face at the same time in a slightly out of touch with the world manner. Rob finished with an interpretive dance sequence while performing the diminishing cards effect. A crazy compulsive must watch act!

Sandorn Balance - Lara Jacobs Rigolo. This was an incredible balancing act all reliant on the balance of a single feather. Lara balanced large wooden sticks on each other in the hypnotic formation of a large interwoven structure, this was then balanced, as she revolved, on her own head like a large wooden frame hat. A final wooden strut was pivoted from the ground by Lara's foot into an upright position and the work of art was balanced on top as Lara took her bow. She approached the single feather and on removing it the structure fell to the ground in pieces. This was all presented with hypnotic music and the controlled breathing sounds or Lara as she created the structure. Amazing!

Cubic presented their now classic act involving a large white cube on a small table. This is a lovely act! The two performers interact with the cube that seems to have a mind of its own. They are able to push things in to the cube and out the other side with curious and magical consequences all with the cube moving around and levitating on its own accord. Eventually a young lady is glimpsed within the cube and her head pops out the top, this creates even more interactions with a final series of colour costume changes for the two gentleman while the cube changes from white to black.

Mike Chao was rooted to centre stage and presented a well rehearsed and minutely choreographed series of manipulations. A comb changed to cards, balls and silk handkerchiefs and then changed back to a comb before another series of changes and manipulations, again changing back to a comb. It was sometimes confusing but there were some great eye candy visuals to see.

Mel Melers was the very worthy compere for the evening and previously during the show he had done, do as I do feather plumes and a vanishing cane routine. This was Mel's longer spot and with his usual comedy and wit he vanished a bottle after comically revealing a wrong predicted number then he vanished a £20 note, cut a spectators hand off with a comedy reveal and brought the £20 back by transforming it from a single piece of toilet paper. As always very funny and entertaining.

The Confusionist Sean Alexander was the grand finale to this gala show and confidently presented a multitude of illusions. Sean appeared from a fire table when a cloth surrounding it was raised and dropped to reveal him, Sean then produced one of his dancing girls from under a drape curtain alongside him while standing on a low platform with nowhere to hide and a fire cage produced a second dancing girl. The two girls stood on top of a double set of stairs well off the ground and held up a cloth between them as the cloth dropped another two girls had appeared. Sean and his team presented various illusions including the chain and rack assistants revenge, fire spikes through girl with a double girl production at the end, an appearance of a real jet ski along with riders from an empty cabinet, the sword of Zeus suspension with the sword penetrating the assistant (she was fine in the end), a lovely double levitation where Sean floats up after the girl and a modern take on the million dollar mystery with a revolving box, ending with Sean vanishing from under a cloth on the stage and appearing in the audience. The team worked very well together and presented a great final to the show.


Sunday 22nd

Kids r uz lectures

Terry Herbert. It was great to see Terry lecture on the history of children's magic and also the changing trends in the tricks we use. Terry's main core is to entertain without resorting to toilet humor which is a sad trend he sees in some of the so called modern children’s entertainers. Some of the effects and routines for children documented from Terry’s youth could never be done in this day and age, and it was hilarious as Terry quoted some of these routines which also included a demonstration of a vanishing stick of dynamite and silk transposition routine along with a trick called "balloon fish" which Terry used to use lots of comedy gun gags with, sadly guns are a no go in todays environment. Terry also described some effects from his youth that were in print, involving children dressed up as Chinamen and being encouraged to do very un PC impressions of said characters, it was scary to think that these type of routines existed and yet amusing to think of performers getting away with these type of effects. Terry brought the trends up to date with tricks "you can do" including his lovely Harry Potter coins routine and an updated version of run rabbit run. It was a great lecture and highly entertaining.

Shane West - Zoobee. Shane showed some of the tricks that he themes to occasions like Christmas, Halloween and Easter. Showing us how a classic trick can be changed and themed to bring new life to it. A six card repeat type effect was his first demonstration with the theme of Christmas, with present cards going down a chimney and vanishing at the finale with only an empty Santa sack card remaining, this trick could also be themed to birthdays. Professor Knot Worth was another of Shane's marketed effects which had a length of rope placed in Professor Knot Worths box along with a picture of the Professor sympathizing with the rope the magician held, the ends were tied together and the Professors rope without touching it would also be tied, the tricks climaxed happened with the Professor’s card vanishing to appear back in an empty frame. Next Shane presented a series of effects that he had worked on with Jimmy Carlo using the double rope and wand principle this version had Santa escaping from the monster who tried to steel Christmas and another version involved Halloween characters. During the lecture Shane also presented tricks that you could do in conjunction with a puppet, in one case he has Arthur Beard the pirate predicting a chosen picture card by having a cross drawn on its back. Shane brought the lecture to a close with his rhyming Halloween themed multiplying bottles routine and a picture colouring routine created by John Kimmons.

Gala Show

I apologize for the lack of detail in this review, manipulation acts can be fast paced and therefore a lot of the effects can be missed. I must say that there were many classic manipulation moves and effects used by each act with different themes and some clever twists.

Do Ki Moon. A music conductor routine where the conductor had problems with his baton, it kept vanishing and changing until baton upon baton appeared in a climatic finish.

E K Diamonds. Flamenco style manipulation act using fans roses, tambourine and handkerchiefs. Some of the effects were too subtle and were missed by me.

Zhao Jun. An artistic manipulation act using an artistic portfolio book that grew, paintbrush productions and various colour productions, these were transferred to a large hanging picture and finished is a snow storm behind the picture and an umbrella production from the portfolio as a finish. A lot of the effects were quite subtle and unfortunately passed me by.

Hyun Cheol Young. An amazing dove act with novel and original moves. A white towel draped over his arm slowly disappeared and became a dove sitting on his arm. A fire ball spun around his body and into his hand becoming a dove. A cage full of white doves visually changed into red doves and then disappeared with the cage falling open. There were many more clever effects with a twist you wouldn’t imagine, an I could definitely watch again and again.

Gong In Seon. A very talented and energetic young magician of only 13 years of age confidently produced coloured cards and fans, including flourishes, throughout his act with a candy theme Gong also produced giant gobstoppers and added colour changes and clever flourishes along the way. This guy has a great future ahead, keep an eye out for Gong.

Award presentations from the president of The Blackpool Magicians Club:
Murray Award to Michael Webber.
Neville King trophy to Mick Miller.
Ken Dodd comedy trophy presented by Ken Dodd to Charlie Frye and Sherry.

Nicky Yang. Pool balls, pool gloves and pool cue manipulations with colour changes and transpositions. A nice touch was having the pool glove that Nicky was wearing suddenly disappear and appear at the end of the cue.

Liao Xiao Run. A combination of costume and rotating set changes from Chinese warrior to geisha girl. Along the way there were colour changing masks and card productions.

Kim Hyun Joong. A top hat on a single thin stand acting as a table Kim performed many card productions and amazing full hand card fans resulting in a card fountain of cards springing from his hat. Kim also performed ball manipulations and concluded his act by placing a white glove back on his hand that he had vanished at the start.

Duo Magic. Male and female duo costume change act. Many of the changes happened while a tubular curtain was raised and wiggled around each performer by the other, they also included a nice changing room type booth with curtain this allowed very quick changes, as the curtain was closed it was whipped open reveling the change. The male lead quick changed in to a yellow suit, from the film “Mask”, and finished by throwing a ball of yellow confetti over the female lead showering her as she changed to a yellow flowing dress to match the suit. Very slick!

Prince of Illusions. A very well presented and choreographed routine about a nightmare that revolved around some very clever illusions. The Prince was in bed and changed into the nightmare queen, other underworld helpers appeared one from an especially small brief case on a desk while a sitting room chair came to life. The Prince, our victim, appears from a shower of sparks in a large metal hoop structure situated on a low platform. Coming across the stage is a pair of legs peddling a bike with the rest of the body on a trailer behind while an assistants revenge illusion takes place with the Prince being chained to an upright post, the change over happened with no cover just smoke and sparks! The prince is now free and runs into the audience, a tracking beast is sent out on a small alien mammal to return him, this was a fun effect. The prince scares the beast away using a member of the audience and returns to his bed, the bed levitates and revolves as the monsters return appearing from the smoke and shadows, the prince is taken and placed in a small round cage on a table which is wrapped in a shrink wrap type plastic and then suspended in the air, spears are thrust through the cage and it is raised higher into the air as if bursts into flames revealing the vanish of the Prince. The monsters vigorously move the sheets on the bed and the Prince visually reappears and wakes from his nightmare as the monsters fade into the background and reality returns. It is great to see a story based presentation using illusions and the Prince and cast received a well deserved standing ovation.

After gala party show

The Spanish room has always been a difficult venue to find a seat in for these after show events, so I propped myself against a wall at the back with a drink in hand and prepared to watch the show.

Karl K was our singing compere through the show while the acts set up and first on was Alpha. We had seen Alpha in a previous gala show and again he went down very well with the audience. He did a combination of fire effects for this show, including a fire rope to cane and a double floating fire ball routine having the fire balls float through a hoop and travel back to the table they appeared from. Alpha finished on a rather unique snow storm effect using ash, the ash was fanned towards a blank canvas and formed into a picture of Pavarotti, this was a lovely effect and a great finish but I didn’t quite get the Pavarotti connection when the rest of the act was a very stylized pirate theme. Alpha is a very exciting act and holds the attention of the audience really well. Karl K sang while the next act set their props, it was quite difficult to hear from the back and because of this the audience murmurs and conversations did get louder and made it even more difficult to hear.

Chris North “The Victorian Conjuror” was introduced and his victorian voice over and music set the scene for this journey back in time. To music Chris presented a thin cabinet with silk handkerchiefs inside on removing the silks they were vanished and turned into victorian walking canes, the cabinet was closed and suddenly opened again to reveal the silk handkerchiefs had returned. Next Chris welcomed his wife Belinda to the stage as they introduced the spirit cabinet, the cabinet was a framework unit with victorian drapes all around. Belinda was tied to a wooden chair with a tall back by two gentleman volunteers making sure that she couldn’t move. Items were placed within the cabinet and Belinda was put into a trance by Chris, the front curtain was closed and Chris called the spirits, immediately items were thrown over the top from within the cabinet and noises were heard, on pulling the curtain open Belinda was still tied. It was quite hard to hear Chris from the back as he did a spirit slate writing routine with the slates mysteriously revealing the correct order and position of a black ball chosen by a volunteer from a mix of white balls chosen by other volunteers. Along the way a spectator got to sit in the cabinet with curious and funny consequences and Chris finished by throwing a spectators jacket up and into the cabinet and on pulling the curtain back Belinda was impossibly wearing the jacket while still tied, this process was then reversed with the jacket being spiritually thrown back out of the cabinet and again Belinda was still tied. Belinda was brought out of her trance and along with Chris they took their well deserved applause.

Unfortunately due to no seating, being slightly tired and the poor sound I left at this point so I didn’t get to see Matthew Wright’s Gameshow. I think they need smaller tables and a lot more chairs set in rows for this event.

On the whole an enjoyable convention with plenty of lectures and shows to see, a big thank you to all the hard work that the Blackpool Magicians' Club put into this event every year, my review was only the tip of a very large iceberg!

Steve Majes - Member of The Magic Circle and Secretary of the Anglian Magic Society.


© Steve Majes, February 2105