December 2013 Christmas Banquet and Meeting

Ring 320 banner

January 2014

Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians

     President             Wes Iseli

 Vice President      Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips

 Magic_Top hat

Breaking News

Ring Officer Instillation in January


Plus a Mini-Lecture…

Bring a trick!


Have fun!

 Tobini Poster

Vice President Eddy Tobey (Tobini) was on the radio in Harrisonburg( Q101) and the Mickey the DJ took the video. Check it out!

Yours, for the Fun,
Eddie Tobey aka Tobini

 7" Cake Plate

Ring Report

December 17,2013  Meeting and Holiday Banquet

 IBM Logo

December is our traditional holiday banquet. This year again though the kindness of the Wayne Hills Baptists Church  and the arrangements  by member, Richard Gimbert and his wife, we enjoyed an evening of pot-luck food, fellowship and magic talk. Following the dinner, we did a Wacky Gift Exchange where the experience of opening an unknown present is always a lot of fun.  This past year has seen an increase in member attendance and participation, as well as a series of great mini-lectures and outside lectures. We look forward to a new year and the continuation of good things in our ring.

Dennis Phillips


Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

Dennis, Secretary Ring #32o

Dennis, Secretary Ring #32o

By Dennis Phillips

January 2014

Two ladies were hanging out together and one was depressed. “What’s wrong?” The depressed one replied, “I’ve been married four times and every one of my husbands has passed away. 

The other lady asked, “What did they used to do?” The depressed lady replied, “Well, my first husband was a millionaire, the second was a magician, the third was an evangelist, and the fourth was a mortician.” And the other said, “Oh, one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

I did a close-up gig for a law firm in a distant city hotel. About 300 people, free drinks for the first hour (there’s always a few who try to see how zonked they can get in the first hour). They had a fantastic buffet and I was contracted to do two hours. Got there at 5:30 pm, and the official “start” of my gig was 6:15.  The first hour was out in the lobby. Fortunately there a number of round tables covered with black felt table cloths, the perfect height for doing magic while standing. Then at 7:00 everyone went into the banquet hall, which had a setting of huge round dining tables. I was supposed to entertain the folks in there for my second hour.


It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the perfect set-ups that we see at magic clubs, on television, and in many small theatres and rooms designed for intimate table magic — is as rare as rocking-horse droppings.




The close-up performer doesn’t get to work at a table with his own close-up pad or an ideal plush surface that is the full size of the table. You see that all the time in the instructional and performance-only DVD’s we magicians buy.

And he doesn’t get to do close-up magic in smallish, intimate, “Magic Castle style” theaters, where rows of seats are tiered at the perfect height and distance so the patrons can clearly see all of the details of the performance.

And he doesn’t get to do close-up magic with two polite and attentive “volunteers” at either side of him who serve as the perfect (and perfectly reacting!) “representatives” for the rest of the audience.

And he doesn’t usually get to do his magic in television studios where ideal conditions are set-up so that the ‘home audience’ can be treated to the perfect scene — a scene for close-up magic that is not only angle-proofed, but as rigidly controlled as a Facebook conversation in Communist China.

And he doesn’t get to do his magic with a large overhead mirror that reflects the show so everyone can get a “bird’s eye view” of the proceedings.

No…  In the REAL WORD:

The close-up entertainer is the hired GEEK who wanders around looking for opportunities to interrupt guests who are usually busily eating and entertaining each other with their own conversation. The LAST person they’d want to see is some “clown” horning in on them with his goofy sponge balls and silly card tricks.

Or the close-up entertainer in the real world is at a corporate booth, and/or walking the floor of a convention with the strict mandate to attract customers for the products of the company that hired him; and sometimes he even has to sell the products too. This reduces magic from being a pure performance art (arguably!) to a sales pitchman.”

Or the close-up entertainer is hanging out in some seedy bar trying to amuse a miscreant crowd of semi-intoxicated ruffians, while hoping against hope to “survive” on tips. Some YouTube hype-sters call this “scamming the crowd for free drinks.”  — As if all young close-up magicians wanted to do with your lives, is sit around in bars doing magic for free booze.

Or he’s working in a family restaurant doing balloon animals for the kiddies and schlock magic for people who came into that restaurant principally, if not solely, just to EAT!

Or — and this one REALLY gets me — he is out on the grungy mean-streets of some busy city playing “Superman” for pedestrians.  His heroes are David Blaine, Criss Angel, Dynamo, Daniel Garcia, and an assorted group of ragtag “Supermen” (promoted as “gods of the street”, or some such, by a certain hipster magic dealer). These close-up miracle-workers stroke their egos by blowing the minds of otherwise magically oblivious passers-by, through the reality-distortion-field of something they call “guerrilla magic”.

Back to my own gig at the corporate Christmas party:

I had always wondered how best to approach the situation. I had to “wing it” by inventing my own approach. Fortunately, I managed to do just that. I managed the impossible: Overcoming the resistance of a group of professional executives, their secretaries, spouses, and assorted office staff.  My initial approach was to simply and forthrightly “put the blame” on the company itself! I would go up to a table and introduce myself by saying, “Hello, my name is Dennis and I have been hired by your company to entertain you with some magic. Would like to see any?”

Almost everyone was keen on seeing magic — and so I opened with something quick very strong, in an effort to get them into a state of outright amazement — right from the get-go. After that, it was “child’s play”. And if there happened to be a bit of room at their table to lay down the cards or a few small items, so much the better. It turned out that the best tables to work at were those that were only half or two-thirds occupied. That allowed me to sit down when required, and work more intimately with the two, four, or perhaps about eight people who seemed genuinely interested in giving me their attention.

In almost all cases, the responses were excellent, and that’s what one would expect from such magic classics as Twisting the Aces; the block of brass from the matchbox; the Rising Card; the Split Deck (with prediction); “Oscar” (naming a card that was merely though of); and so on.  Still, there was a “problem” to overcome, in that you couldn’t possibly have such a large variety of tricks in your pockets. I elected to carry them all in a classy-looking wooden treasure chest.  Rather than carry around an additional foldable table to set it on (carrying the case around by itself was awkward enough!) I simply found an empty chair near each table, and set the chest on it.

Now it seems to me that no matter what you may think of yourself, your ARE in fact, the “clown”.  You were hired to amuse a group of people who — let’s face it — are at a function that does not lend itself to roving entertainers of any kind!  At one of the tables at the dinner, an inebriated gentleman very condescendingly cracked an insult, getting a cheap laugh at my expense. I recovered as quickly as possible by shooting back an old line I’d heard many years ago. With a hint of a smile and a twinkle in my eye I replied, “Well, I won’t even try to entertain this gentleman, as he’s very busy entertaining himself!”   At another table my introduction elicited a few immediate ice cold stares. As I said above, this was the REAL WORLD, and not that of the millions of out-of-touch hobbyists who frequent magic clubs and hang out at the local magic shop.

As the evening wore on towards the end of my gig, I was approached by my contact person, who asked me if I could stay an extra hour. I said “Sure!” He had been watching me, and obviously he was very pleased with what he saw.  Everyone by this time had had their dinner, and some were standing around laughing and drinking.  This was a MUCH easier crowd to entertain!

And that, friends, is what it’s all about — for me at least — in this crazy business of dealing in the REAL WORLD. I don’t work Close-up often, and — to put it mildly — the conditions in which you are asked to work, are far from ideal.

Dennis Phillips




About blueridgemagiciansring320

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