Saturday, November 24, 2007

LA Conference on MagicHistory part 1

Finally, I get to start writing again. Training a new employee and working on a new act taking up most of my time. Two weeks have elapsed since the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. This may not be a bad thing. I was able to digest it more fully.

For those who don’t know the LA Conference in limited to 250 invitation only guests. It occurs every two years. Originally sponsored by John Gaughan, Jim Steinmeyer, and Ricky Jay. After the first couple, Mike Caveney replaced Ricky Jay. They are dedicated to bringing to life the history only read about in books.

I flew out to LA at 6 am on just a few hours sleep. Sleeping on a plane is not my favorite activity, reading is an option, but they were showing the film Transformers. Not the ideal place to see this movie, yet it killed the time nicely. I figure if I can check in early I’ll catch a nap at the hotel.

Arriving in LA, I took a shuttle van to the hotel. (Purchased on Orbitz, it is half the price of a cab to the hotel.) As the van driver loads in another passenger, I over-hear he is also going to the same hotel. And I meet Marvin Miller. Marvin, at one time wrote the puzzle column for Magic Magazine. He’s a former VP for Johnson and Johnson and still a “big-wig” in several other companies. He is a best selling author and editor of Games Magazine. We had a nice-getting to know you-talk on the way and spent a few other minutes here and there throughout my stay.

The hotel is the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. Go to the website. Two years ago when I first went to the Conference, I thought, “Holiday Inn?” This place is a retreat, lush, green, almost isolated from the city. The rooms are serviceable. They are only for sleeping (it off) and showering (it off).

First, I head to registration to pick up my packet. The most prominent piece is a 100 page glossy program covering not only this weekend, but being the tenth anniversary, there are the previous nine programs. The graphic look of the Jim Steinmeyer created program is art deco, beautifully set and written as one would expect from a Steinmeyer production. My desire to read the book and take a nap pulls me in different directions. Nap wins.

The first program starts at 2:30; I’m fresh and ready to go. Down at the ballroom, it’s meet and greet time, renewing old acquaintances and find some friends in attendance that I didn’t know would be here.

In no particular order and, surely leaving a few out: Bob Higa, Mark and Sue Holstein, Jamy Ian Swiss, Max Maven, Ricky Jay, Brad Henderson, Stan Allen, Mark Kaschube, Richard Kaufman, Todd Karr, Aaron Fisher, Bill Kalush. I’ll meet a few more for the first time: Stephen Minch, Eric Mead, David Ben, for example. This is all heady stuff for me. I have always been on the out side looking in. To be a part and treated as an equal to my idols puts my world on tilt.

The program starts will John Carney in his character of Mr. Mysto. I’ve always been a big fan of John, but I don’t find his Mr. Mysto character hilariously funny. He does a black bit with the Indian Rope Trick. Amusing, at best.
Dustin Stinett followed with a talk about some new discoveries about the magic duo, Milo and Roger. The absolute best part was some rare tape of Milo and Roger performing on “The Hollywood Palace.”

John Gaughan takes the stage to perform the Shower of Gold effect described in Hoffmann’s More Magic. This is an amazing bit of Victorian conjuring. Later, in the exhibit hall, he will display the mechanism. Quite a complicated bit of machinery, but could be made into a fine performance today.

Mark Kalin and Jinger end the show with their presentation of the Spirit Cabinet. I will say that theirs is the closest in quality to Falkenstein and Willard. They are actually two of the better performers. Tightly scripted and in their own style.

After the show, it is to the hotel restaurant and dinner with Max Maven, Jamy Ian Swiss, and David Ben. We discuss Phenomenon, the upcoming Celebra-cadabra and life after surgery. David and I haven’t really spoken before, but being with Max and Jamy gives me credibility. Jamy and Max are two of my favorite people. Too smart and too direct for their own good, they make the most interesting conversationalists.

In another day or two, I’ll cover Thursday night.

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