Ring Report July 19th Meeting


Ring #320

Of the International Brotherhood of Magicians

President – Eddie Tobey   Vice President – Brian Bence   Secretary – Dennis Phillips   Treasurer – David Clauss

Sergeant at Arms – Jim Champion 

JULY 2011

Breaking NEWS

Nathan Kranzo set to lecture on September 23rd!

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July, 2011 meeting

The weather was scorching hot as the July Ring meeting got under way. The attendance and magic was scorching hot also. We had 17 in attendance, which is fabulous for summer vacation season. We also welcomed a new member, Daniel Hall.  President Eddie Tobini gaveled the meeting to order with a few announcements.  We expect to host the Nathan Kranzo lecture on September 23rd.  Special thanks to Yvonne Tobey for the refreshment cake and those who brought drinks for tonight and also to Richard Gimbert who hosts the Ring meeting at his church.

It was show time. The theme of the meeting was “vanishes” and Dennis Phillips opened the show with a presentation of the seldom-seen classic U.F. Grant “Bengal Net”. He then showed two methods to vanish a magic wand. The first was the Russ Walsh vanishing wand and the second was the P&L method. He then showed a vanishing Bic Pen and finally his version of Abbott’s Alarm Clock Vanish.   Full-time professional magician and long time Ring member, Wes Iseli showed Collector’s Workshops “Coins in Glass”. He followed with his $10 challenge where the magician bets money that he can figure out a card. He then made a spectator selected card disappear from the deck being held by the spectator and reappear in it’s card box. Wes also did his fire wallet with some funny lines.

Brian Bence showed how to make a simple vanishing coin using an inexpensive badge pull. He used the same method to flatten dice. He did a trick called “Limited Edition” where playing cards turned blank.  He finished with a borrowed dollar bill vanishing under a handkerchief and appearing in a brass tube.  Brand new member Dan Hall presented an effect with 3 jokers and 3 other alike cards the jokers became the other cards because the jokers are always wild cards. Mark Trempe did a great version of the migrating mini- silk streamer. It vanished in his fist and appeared in his mouth.  He then vanish a wand using the “Flip stick” move and explained his excellent handling.  President Eddie Tobey made a poker chip appear in a scarf and then it penetrated the fabric and finally he vanished it. He then did a Book test from Corinda’s 13 Steps to Mentalism and The Tarbell Course in Magic. Finally he did an original card trick where 4 families are cards migrate around in 4 piles of cards.

John Leeth showed his new effect, “The Survivor Is”, where he shows movie cards of 4 famous movie murderers and predicts which one the spectator would select.  Richard Gimbert had a cute children’s effect where a card was shown and a rabbit kept appearing in a hat without Richard knowing it.  George Buckley did “The Virginia City Shuffle” card effect where four blank cards turn into 4 ace of heart cards. He used an appropriate religious theme that transformed a secular trick into a powerful church bit.  And finally young Nathan Clauss took two folded one dollar bills and turn them at angles to each other and caused them to turn around as they passed through each other.

It was great meeting and we look forward to our next one.

Dennis Phillips

 Dennis’ Deliberations……………    Comment and Editorial

The Great Recession or “The Great Depression Part II ” continues on. Jobs are not being generated. Both Political parties continue to blame each other. Magicians are struggling.

 A long time dear friend from Ring #170 told me that he had a tough time reading my deliberations because of I have been “getting too dismal”.  He is correct.   I am a bit grim about the magic business and magicians… Not only are we in the same type of era in magic as 1950-1975 (when magic was basically OUT or mostly a kid’s thing) but we have a rotten business climate which is in stark contrast to that era!   Not only are most people jaded and not interested in stage magic, there is no money around.  Moreover, today’s magic is flavored with mostly back alley, unshaven, unwashed, grungy, punk-type street magic. The big names in the public eye, Blaine and Angel, look like hobos or dirty metal-heads.   I love the talented and creative Danny Garcia but I would run from him on a city street.   We just have a tough row to hoe.   That is why I seldom to never call myself a magician and I never sell what I do as a “magic show”.

 Actually, about the time I moved to Florida, in 1975, magicians and illusionists could make a fair living with a mediocre act. That was pretty much true until the early 90s. There was a fairly vibrant “Telephone promotion market” which still exists today in Canada.  A charity sponsor would being in a show and contract out the ticket sales to a phone promotion agency who set up boiler rooms and would call all the businesses and many homes in a small town selling tickets.   Amateurs mostly knew and appreciated that they were amateurs and stayed in their place.    

 As the American economy tumbled with global competition and the 70s oil shock, family incomes flattened out. In the early 80s the Reagan formula for deregulation and a far more competitive business environment developed.  Amateurs were scrambling for magic show income to supplement or replace their lost wage income. I knew a machinist and steel worker who lost their trade jobs and went to work as “Magicians”.

 Then TV technology got cheap and had two effects:  First, satellite and cable brought in hundred of media signals and second, the rank amateurs would produce great promo tapes that were on par with any professional promotion reel. Editing can make a person look really good even though they stink on stage live.   This all happened while actual performing venues declined.  Telephone promotions were made illegal and small town shows dried up when Wal-Mart came in a demolished every downtown and drove the small business owners out of business. They were the ones that supported the shows!  One more element of community cohesiveness vanished with the development of Big Box retailers.

 Lots of barely competent performers got into the competitive unregulated – out of control- business environment. As you can guess, the strongest crushed the weakest in a form of Economic Darwinism. I think that may have been the plan with Reaganomics.

Once I was told, “Sorry, Pal, you may be great, but the last kid’s entertainer I hired had a great video promo also. Within two minutes into his show he acted like he pulled my wife’s bra off of her.  Now management says no more chances, we are playing it safe and running video cartoons!”

After the dot com bubble popped in 2000 and 9-11, the convention business stumbled, so that venue was less prosperous.  It was already sucking fumes from the 89-91 S&L crash. That was the end of the big convention businesses in Orlando and many went bust.    Vegas crashed in 2008 and even cruise ships faltered. 

Today, the American economy is in the trash can.  The only consistent stage-magic gigs I can get are through schools where my credentials are that I am a Certified-Licensed teacher (working part time for 2 school districts) and have had FBI background checks and State Child Services clearances.     Sad, what has happened to small-time show business!  

 Today, almost everyone is cynical, fearful and living in the shark pool of massive competition. Whatever crumbs fall into the water stir up a feeding frenzy.  I was in a School Principal’s office two weeks ago firming up a booking for my show. He dug out a 2 inch file of “Magicians” who wanted to book a show.  I was selected because my program is not a “magic show” but an educational presentation.  All this chaos and competition leads to fatigue and overload and retreat into the “safe”.  I don’t see much changing anytime soon.  I am sure that until the political mindset changes and we, as a nation, decide to work together for a better country, chaos will continue.   ONLY the Big, Strong and Vicious will survive. 

 When hard economic times hit, one of the first things to go is expensive diversions.  In the Great Depression, Hollywood and the film business was booming. It may have been due to the cheap entertainment movies offered and that the film business and radio were highly regulated and controlled business. The studio system offered a “sure return” on money invested. It is not that way today for the small operator.  Even News Corp, the FOX mother company, was losing money way before the current Murdoch hacking scandal.

 “Show business” is what people avail themselves of for a few minutes or hours of entertaining diversion, after the important (survival) bills have been paid. And the so-called talented people were paid (and often very little) to amuse the folks with juggling, jokes, and plays and the like.

 If we go back to mediaeval times, when the peasants flocked down to the town square with a bit of partially-decaying “picnic basket” morsels, to watch the local hangings and decapitations. Now THAT was cheap entertainment!   Hey!  Maybe that explains the current situation in political and news reporting!

 “Too dismal”?    I report, you decide!

 Dennis Phillips





About blueridgemagiciansring320

Secretary of Ring 320 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians located in the Western Virginia.
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