Mark Leveridge's Dealer Night
Newbury, 12th October 2009
by Andy Stone
Wandering around the Dealer's Hall at a modern magic convention can often be a less than rewarding experience. Over the last few years many dealers seem to all stock the same items, wholesaled from Mac's or Murphy's in America. It's getting harder to find a dealer happy to demonstrate the items, with many of them directing you to the description on the outside of the sealed package. This can make buying a bit of a gamble, as you can't be certain that an item is suitable for the performing conditions you have in mind.
Mark Leveridge is now arranging his own “Dealer Nights”, which allow him to showcase his range of exclusive products for a small audience. The third of these events took place at the Chequers Hotel in Newbury, Berkshire on October the 12th. Some twenty two Magicians, ranging from enthusiastic beginners to working pros, enjoyed a relaxed evening of magic and bargains.
After Mark had coaxed us all out of the bar and into the hotel conference room, we were each provided with a badge and colour catalogue. Mark welcomed us and outlined the plan for the evening. There were two “scheduled events”, a dealer demonstration of Mark's newest items and a short lecture. Apart from those, we were free to browse Mark's range of effects along with the “Magicseen” range of publications. We were also free to chat or visit the hotel bar. The evening attracted magic enthusiasts from quite a wide area and it was interesting to chat to people you normally only meet at conventions.
During our browsing, Mark was happy to demonstrate any effects from his range and answer questions as to their suitability for a particular performer. It's always useful to know how much pocket space is required for a particular effect, along with information such as the re-set time and sleights required. This kind of information means that you're in a position to make an informed purchase, knowing you're likely to actually use the item.
After half an hour of relaxed browsing it was time for the Dealer Dem. Mark performed four of his new items and explained some possible variations. I found his explanations as to how and why he'd developed each of the effects particularly interesting. He also credited other performers who had provided him with inspiration for either effect or method.
A further browsing session followed. During the evening Mark held three prize draws for free effects. As I won one of the items, I think this was a great idea!
The lecture contained three brand new, never before published, ideas from Mark. Given the range of abilities present, I think Mark pitched his selection of effects just right. His first offering was the fast and visual printing of a business card, using four blank cards. Mark is a very good teacher and he explained the fairly simple handling in detail. I was pleased that he didn't waste time explaining standard sleights and moves, but offered to teach anyone not familiar with sleights such as the “double lift” or “Elmsley Count” on a one to one basis afterwards.
Mark's second offering comprised two new “ring and string” moves. These were extremely effective, very magical and looked well worth the effort required to learn them.
The final item was a card transposition routine, wherein a chosen card from a red backed deck changed places with a card from a blue backed deck. Whilst this routine required intermediate card handling skills, it was very clean and the routining was calculated to achieve maximum effect for the work required. Mark's handling meant that everything was re-set, ready to go again at the end.
During the evening anything you wanted to buy was put aside for you, so you paid for it all at the end. It cost ￡10 for an advanced ticket, but for that, you got ￡20 off whatever you purchased on the night. In addition, there was 10% off all items on the night. Mark's daughter Chrissie did a great job totalling up everyone's purchases and working out the discounts.
I think the format works well. If you like the look of some of the items on Mark's website, attending one of these evenings is a great way of finding out if the effects are for you and then obtaining the tricks you like at a discount.
© Andy Stone, October 2009