Magic Live: The Close-Up Experience


(From left to right in the photo above: Yann Frisch, this guy, Johan Ståhl, Jon Armstrong, Mike Costa, Steve Valentine, Denis Behr)

Now that it's over, I can finally talk about a really cool thing I've been excited about for the past few months, but had to keep secret. Specifically: performing as part of the Close-Up Experience at MAGIC Live.

A bit of back story: MAGIC Magazine is one of the world's largest magic/illusion industry publications. For the magazine's 10th anniversary back in 2001, they ran a special convention in Las Vegas called "MAGIC Live," an event that essentially brought the magazine to life with three days of shows, seminars, and all kinds of unique special events. It received such an astoundingly positive response that Stan Allen (the editor) has since run several more at 2-3 year intervals. Each one has been very different, and the line-up has always been kept secret before the convention.

It's also particularly noteworthy that out of the hundreds of magic conventions that happen every year, this is possibly the only one that more or less everyone wants to go to. Even the Blackpool Magic Convention (the largest in terms of attendees each year), and the FISM World Championships (the most politically significant) have plenty of people who think they suck and wouldn't want to attend them.

But MAGIC Live? Even with a totally secret line-up, there's almost no magician on the planet wouldn't go if their budget and schedule permitted. That's a hell of a testament to the confidence people have in Stan and the team.

Hence it was a colossal honour to be invited, a few months back, to be part of one of the main shows at the convention. Due to the secrecy of the line-up however, I couldn't tell anyone, and it's been killing me.

I was booked to be part of MAGIC Live's "Close-Up Experience", an intimate-scale show that was repeated eight times to give everyone at the convention a chance to attend. This particular Close-Up Experience was being directed by Jon Armstrong, and featured five performers from different countries. The show was themed around the many different venues that exist around the world for close-up magic.

The performers (Johan Ståhl, Denis Behr, Steve Valentine, Yann Frisch, and myself) performed for between eight and fifteen minutes each. The total show ran a little over an hour, and was an impressively sharp and tight theatrical experience. It was an amazing thing to be part of, and from all reports was very well received by the crowd.

In addition to the obvious thanks (Stan Allen and the Magic Live team for running the convention in the first place, Jon Armstrong for directing, renowned graphic novel writer Mike Costa for stage managing, the other performers for being brilliant to work with, and the audiences for being generally wonderful), a particularly big thank you has to go to friend, colleague, and MAGIC Magazine columnist Ian Rowland for suggesting me to Stan in the first place.

I already owe Ian a big thanks for being my personal introduction to impossible card sculpting, and now the level of gratitude is starting to get ludicrous.



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