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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Scott's Thoughts - by Scott Wells » » Texas Association of Magicians - 2005 Convention Review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Scott Wells
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I am going to try to keep an updated log of my observations on this year's TAOM convention as it happens...rather, as soon after it happens as possible. Anyway, sorry about this being late, but I couldn't hook up my laptop to the internet service in the room last night (I was up until 2:00 a.m.) but I'm now using my son's laptop and it's noon Saturday. So, please stay tuned and I hope you will get a good flavor of this convention.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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The 2005 Texas Association of Magicians started a little late for me this year. Traveling northwest from Houston late on Friday, I checked into the Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio around 6:45 p.m. I was too late to collect my registration badge and material and I of course had missed the two lectures earlier in the day by Harry Allen and Duane Laflin. Even as past President of the T.A.O.M., I had missed the annual business meeting of the Board of Directors. I was delayed by work, not the storm, though I feel registrations will be down a bit this year due to hurricane Katrina. Time will tell.

Well, although I arrived late, they held the show for me (pun intended) as I just slipped into my seat at 7:10 and the curtain rose shortly thereafter. President Don Moravits welcomed us to San Antonio then introduced our master of ceremonies, Duane Laflin, one of my favorite emcees. He used clever props to introduce each act beginning with Eric Evans, stage winner at the 2000 T.A.O.M. convention in Dallas. His beautiful manipulation act was performed to a light jazz tune as he deftly handled cards, coins and silks. Many of the items were turned into pixie dust and just blown away. Though I never saw Cardini perform live, Eric reminded me of the spirit of that act as he seemed surprised at some of the productions in a “sophisticated” way.

Duane introduced the next act with a cute idea using paper boomerangs that he kept “cutting down to size” until he finally turned them over to reveal the name of the next act, Chris Capehart. Chris also worked in front of the curtain with a comedy act that involved kids…a lot of kids. He had a lot of funny bits as he performed a silk trick, Miser’s Dream, a lota bowl using a little girl doll that sat atop the bowl keeping it forever full and a flower botania using a lot of comedy byplay. He ended by having probably every kid in the house (maybe 50) on stage with him as he finished his half hour set with a Hippity Hop Rabbit routine.

Duane introduced the next act with an oversized wand with a “jumping star” that hopped from one end to the other, but when the “wand” was opened, he introduced the 2005 Gold Medal winner of the I.B.M. stage contest, Arthur Trace. This totally original act kills me every time. Perhaps it’s his appearance or maybe the music or the artwork…or maybe it’s the magic. Yeah, that’s it. It’s the whole package. Dressed as a “hipster” in a black pants, shirt and jacket, Arthur reminds me of a beatnik from the 50’s who may have hung out at coffee shops or art shows as he performed around an abstract painting with avant-garde jazz playing in the background. He “plucked” billiard balls off the painting then manipulated them, changed their colors then replaced them on the painting. He found a paint brush and “accidentally” painted himself. The paint was plucked off his jacket as he manipulated the “hardened paint” like colorful business cards. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it all ties together to make a beautiful, tight ten minute routine that was well “framed.”

Well, the evening show started out with such good promise with three solid acts. What a great Friday night show that often features local or cheaper talent. Not tonight! These guys could have been on the bill of the last night of any convention gala show.

Duane Laflin thanked the stage hands with a clever application of the old “Compass” trick that was updated using hands. We then “put our hands together” (a side note: I hate the use of that phrase because if you put your hands together, then why should you take them apart? Just say, ‘please welcome’ or ‘please show your appreciation of the next act’ etc.) for the next (20 minute) act, Nacho Estrada, a ventriloquist. Nacho is a local favorite and the audience seemed to like some of his hackneyed lines as he slogged along through a routine with an old man vent figure then he finally picked up with Maclovio, a figure that I figure he used more often as the lines and timing seemed much more practiced.

It is often thought that an act with stage illusions should close a show, so they found one who had a couple. Dave King, a circus ringleader and attired in a vest and a “puffy shirt” opened his 20 minute act with some unusual and fast paced fire eating. He quickly went to a dove pan production of a dove then used a tear-apart vanish to make him disappear. His bowling ball production from a paper bag was startling as it fell and broke apart his table. Then came the first of his large illusions as his assistant escaped from a set of a dozen or so large hoops or rings that surrounded her. Dave came into the audience to perform the jumbo rising cards then brought a volunteer on stage to assist in a standard head chopper routine. The volunteer was seated as Dave performed a linking ring routine with oversized rings. He closed the evening with a nice presentation of the Hindu sword basket.

The next event was handled a little differently. The public was allowed or rather, asked, to leave and for the magicians to remain behind for the next event. Following a 15 minute interval, Eugene Burger gave an excellent lecture in the theatre. His table was set on stage so anything he was going to do would be impossible to see, though he had a volunteer from the audience up to help him. As all of you know who have ever seen Eugene lecture, it is not so much about the secret of the trick as it is the secret of how to make the trick mystifying. So it was immaterial whether or not anyone could see as the gems he gave us were in his words, not his demonstration. He summed up his lecture in one sentence saying (and I’m paraphrasing here,) “your audience will never think it’s more important than you think it is.” Great food for thought and a phrase that should go over your practice mirror.

I went back to hotel to take a quick trip through the dealer’s room. It was well laid out with plenty of room for everyone and a wide selection of different dealers, too, but not too many like Houston had last year. After a quick pass and leaving a trail of money behind and a promise to return with more money later, I headed to the Collector’s Meeting where the main event was a lecture, display and performances of Alan Martin’s collectible micro-magic. He made and still makes beautiful teakwood working, miniature magic. So, shortly after midnight I retired to my room to write this short report.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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My first errata (of probably many to come): I believe the trick Chris Capehart did was Fraidy Cat Rabbit...not Hippity Hop Rabbits.
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Day Two – Saturday September 3rd. Stage competition started at 9:00 and ended around 11:30 a.m. It looks like the judges will have their tasks cut out for them trying to find a winner.

The doors opened to the 21 dealers at 1:00 today. I applaud the organizers for taking a bold step by closing the dealer room during conflicting events. I have heard dealers in the past complain that too few people come through the room during the lectures or contests especially since they were paying a registration fee themselves in addition to the booth space.

On the other hand, one dealer today complained that there weren’t enough open hors. His feeling was that he came to sell stuff but he couldn’t make money if the room’s closed. Even if it was open during competing events and only two people came into the room, at least there is a chance they might sell something to one or both. It’s like having a store front business. you never know who will come into the shop or how many will come in throughout the day. After all, there are other conflicting events in the world (movies, restaurants, TV, sports, etc.) and they still come in the shop.

Just two points of view on the same issue. No right or wrong answers that will please both dealers and registrants alike. But again, I applaud the organizers for trying something different.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
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Tom Burgoon filled the lecture hall with registrants at 11:00 and taught us a lot of jokes and tricks interspersed with fun and laughter. I’m certain that he must have done brisk business at the dealer table. Gene Anderson’s 1:00 lecture was on his signature newspaper tricks along with his part-time pro philosophy and information on use of a good sound system. He also taught how to make an inexpensive, lightweight side table from cardboard. I might also add that the large screen monitor aided in allowing everyone to easily see everything in the lectures.

The professional close-up show saw five performers rotate among four rooms of registrants. Unfortunately there was no raised seating which made it difficult to see what was happening on the tables except for Richard Turner. It was ironic that a legally blind man was more concerned about his sight-enabled audiences to see more than the others. Richard had a specially made table that was set up in each room. The table had a large mirror on arms that overhung the table and tilted toward the audience allowing everyone to see what was happening on the table.

Steve Beam opened in my room that was all cards and all fun. Steve had great humor interspersed with clever card tricks. If you have never seen Steve Beam perform, perhaps you might think of comedian Bob Newhart doing card tricks with nearly dead-pan humor but with an impish, all-knowing smile that engages the audience and wins their hearts.

Eugene Burger produced a small cup of mocha latte from an otherwise flat, and empty paper sack then followed with an invisible deck-type effect where a named card was found as the only odd backed card in the deck but the deck was then handed out to the volunteer. He did Roger Klause’s Slow Motion Bill Change with a one hundred and a one dollar bill, an “X” card prediction and a card prediction. Naming the tricks that Eugene performed does not do justice to the experience of seeing and hearing him entertain his audience. He creates a frame around each trick that transcends the trick into a magic moment. Two perfect examples followed. He first gave a great dramatization of a dark and rainy night that involved playing cards and a haunted matchbox that lit his small candle used for a very interesting story around the Gypsy Thread.

Richard Turner was dressed in western attire complete with a cowboy hat as worn by an old-time riverboat gambler. Richard demonstrated second dealing, bottom dealing and even center dealing. He then shuffled and had a volunteer deal to allow a chosen player to end up with the best hand. He then won several hands of Texas Hold ‘Em and Seven Card Stud and other games with two volunteers with progressively more difficult revelations. Cards were selected and placed in two separate decks by volunteers then shuffled by the volunteers then found by Richard. He finished with Three Card Monte. An incredible demonstration for any person but all the more incredible when you think that he has less than 10% of his sight.

Chris Capehart was dressed in his signature red shoes and a very bright red jacket. He opened with a card trick who had his own deck of cards followed by a Coins Across trick. His clever ad-libs were given with perfect timing after years and years of working as a successful street performer based out of New York. He closed with an interactive linking rings routine that was very entertaining.

Bob Sheets was another great street performer who has great humor and performing chops. Bob wore a dark colored Hawaiian shirt and a pork pie hat that added to his goofy, funny look. Perhaps the best way to describe Bob is “simply hilarious.” He started with a five card trick with a black card that kept returning much to his consternation then rapidly became the four card trick, the three card, etc. He next did a linking safety pin trick followed by an unusual variation on the Professor’s Nightmare where ropes are inspected then changed to the three different sizes. That one really fooled me. He then did the Three Balls in the Net but not using a net but instead a spectator’s hands. He finished with his signature Card Stab trick with hilarious lines and bits of business.

So ended the Professional Close-Up Show and it was time for dinner. My wife and I enjoyed Mexican food with Rolando Santos, Assistant Editor for The Linking Ring, and his sister then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the second gala evening show.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
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Saturday night show: Dave King, the illusionist from Friday night’s show, served as the master of ceremonies this evening and with his mellifluous baritone voice, he joined the acts together quite seamlessly. Jade opened with her beautiful oriental act with parasols, silks, rice bowls, butterflies on fan and an emotional playlet with a torn and restored Chinese laundry ticket that ended with a Snowstorm in China. She has such pointed gestures and facial expressions that can be seen from any seat in the house. She had great music, timing and choreography that filled the stage and the hearts of the audience. Her quick change at the end left everyone breathless as she skipped off the stage.

Dave King returned to the stage to perform a Crystal Silk Cylinder routine after which he introduced Duane Laflin and his silk act. I’m not one much for an act made up entirely of silks, but I do like Duane and I liked his choice of music which kept his ten minute routine moving along. I will say if you are looking for a colorful act, then you can’t go much further than Duane’s silk act.

Once again as the curtains were closed and the next was readied, Dave King came forward to present the silk in egg trick. I think it’s important to note here as a reminder to emcees that their job is to bring acts on and off stage and to fill time as necessary, but mainly to keep the show moving so it doesn’t seem to drag. Just because an emcee has some material to perform doesn’t mean that they have to do it. They don’t need to perform in between every act.

George Saterial performed his award winning act with doves, candles, silks and a grandfather clock. Not a Lance Burton clone, George is an original thinker though just as stylish as Lance. As an example of his creativity, he plucked the silver ball from the clock’s pendulum then they multiplied as he manipulated them as billiard balls Solid, great ten minute act that always scores big with audiences across the country.

Working in front of the curtain, Tom Burgoon energized the audience with hilarity. He had great gags and funny bits of business that led from one routine to another. He kind of reminds me of a polite Amazing Jonathon with a southern accent and charm. He finished his (what seemed like a quick) 30 minute routine with his signature Timmy the Toilet Paper roll (Oh No!).

The perennial favorite of the T.A.O.M. Rick Walker provided a taste of glitz and glamour in the Las Vegas style. Always elegant, Rick and his assistants moved comfortably from one illusion to another. They seemed to work in harmony with one another quite well. Rick’s choice of big band music added to the glamorous style that is Rick’s hallmark. Rick opened with a dancing cane then went to the Crusher illusion where an assistant who was placed into a box sitting atop a thin base. As Rick pushed the edge of the box, it became smaller and smaller with “her” hand sticking out until the last minute when it was pushed flat against the other end of the box. The girl ended up in the audience as she ran to the stage and the curtain closed. Some of you might remember that Tim Kole performed this in his show in Cincinnati which I reviewed here in the Buffet. You might recall that in Tim’s show, another girl popped out of the box thus showing that there were two girls in the box (therefore solving the mystery of the hands that were seen at the last minute.) I said at the time that the illusion should end as the girl runs from the audience otherwise it is just an education for the audience. Well, in my opinion, Rick did it right. The one girl disappeared, she reappeared from the back of the theatre, applause and trick’s over. Good job Rick.

Rick next had a volunteer from the audience for the Arrowhead Illusion except using neon lights rather than arrows. He also started a running gag with a lota bowl that ended flat when someone erroneously removed his water bucket part way through the show. He then went to a dove production then a transposition, color changing plumes to botania, square phantom tube production of silks and doves finishing with the dove cage vanish/transformation into a girl. The curtains closed again as he presented the milk from light bulb. He then invited two ladies from the audience to come and assist him with a linking ring routine.

Rick then presented Revolution. Billed as a totally new and “revolutionary” illusion that is not being performed anywhere else in the U.S., we felt we were really seeing something special here. Essentially a girl is placed in a 3’ x 3’ box sitting atop a thin table base. Four large, full sized blades are placed through the box thus segmenting it into five pieces. Suddenly the five oversized pizza boxes slowly pivoted in a spiraling fashion on their own accord on one corner. They finally rotated back together, the blades removed, and the girl came out of the box. Curtains closed as he performed a Rice Bowl variation. Rick next announced that this was to be his last stage performance as he passes down his mantle to I.B.M. Gold Cup winner, Chase Curtis. He finished his last performance with a beautiful, well-choreographed Asrah.

A very nice, relatively tight show that went off quite well. The stage crew, sound and light technicians are also to be credited for making everyone look so good. A very professional show, indeed.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
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The 11:00 Bizarre Magic show was one of the highlights of the convention for me. Although I am not a bizarrist per se, I do enjoy a good story told well. And each of the performers this evening did just that. There were seven people on the bill and each did one trick with his own twist that kept everyone up even at this late hour.

Paul Mims emceed the evening as he introduced Bill Palmer who conducted a séance with his uncle Louie using a whoopee cushion and a card trick. Very funny, yet quite bizarre in a…different way. Doug Gorman told a story about his early childhood and playing carnival games and a brush with death in his dream (or was it?). His presentation was accompanied with soft calliope music in the background that added to the eerie effect. Brad Henderson told the story in verse and song of a troubled, mischievous youth who grew to manhood and became a prisoner. The man died in a prison fire but the key to his cell was haunted. Very moving presentation.

Ed Solomon was dressed in bib overalls and a straw hat as he told a story about growing up on the farm and a miracle rain that ended a drought. His background music and chirping birds added to the effect that nearly brought tears to my eyes from his emotional story. Paul Mims talked about the Salem witch trials and methods for determining whether or not one was indeed a real witch. He performed a Needle Through Arm with dark overtones. Eugene Burger was introduced as the godfather of bizarre magic. He showed us a doll that was supposed to bring good luck to poker players. Apparently it worked as the holder of the doll won the ten card poker deal and the predicted hand was written on parchment inside the doll.

Rolando Medina closed the show as he enlisted the aid of three large, strong volunteers. With very serious overtones, he poured broken glass on a blanket. After a short ritual, he laid face down on the broken shards of glass. A 340 volunteer then stepped first on the small of his back then directly on his the back of his neck and stayed there for the full count of three pushing Roland’s face even deeper into the glass. Rolando slowly got up with his hand covering his face to protect us from the sight, but when he removed it, we saw his first smile of the evening as he said, “boo!”

All in all, a very enjoyable and tight one hour show.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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Sunday September 4th was taken up with the gospel church meeting conducted by Duane Laflin and the Invisible Lodge Meeting was the close-up competition with nine contestants. The Dealers again opened later than at usual conventions in order to allow registrants to attend alternate events. The dealers opened today at 11:00 and stayed open until 4:00.

Chris Capehart gave what was considered not only perhaps the best lecture of the convention but what one registrant told me was one of the best lectures he had ever attended. Chris covered the real work of working the streets including handling crowds, positioning and lots of inside tips that professionals need to know. He said his lecture would not be about teaching tricks and if you wanted to buy tricks, then they were available in the dealers room. Of course he had a few things in the back of the room, but this lecture was about what you needed to be equipped on the business side. I understand that his lecture usually runs about two and one-half hours so this was a much abbreviated version. I would love to hear the whole thing sometime.

I regret that I missed the Mahka Tendo lecture though I heard it included good information and tips on canes and cards. George Saterial’s lecture had something for everyone including a card trick, and a very cool idea on how to produce a lit candle from a cane. Other ideas were for stage and parlor.

Steve Beam’s late night lecture after the Stars of Magic Gala show (reviewed in my next post) covered, what else…cards. Great ideas and practical tricks that are within the abilities of everyone. It was too bad that it was so late at night although that’s the time most card workers are at their best as they stay up sessioning most of the night. Steve is a most congenial gentleman willing to share any and everything with anyone.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
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The Sunday night gala show was everything a show should be. It had mystery, fun, magic, variety, color and music all orchestrated in perfect harmony by one of the true masters of the ceremony, Gene Anderson. He introduced Danny Cole, a recipient of the Magic Castle’s “Stage Magician of the Year.” I don’t know where I have been, but this was the first time I have seen this young man perform and what can I say but, “Wow!” He may not have the high energy but his pacing is perfect for his act as it gives time for the audience to more fully appreciate each nuance and flavor of his haute cuisine of magic he serves up. He has extremely original ideas and a certain way about his slower style that allows you to digest the morsel you just consumed. He had a few quick changes of attire and some great mime work with a chair that pulled him away. After pulling a leg off the chair and making it useless, he merely sat back in mid air and crossed his legs as if the chair was still there.

At one point in his act he “sat down” and opened a large (3’ x 4’) book that must have been six inches thick. He riffled through the pages until he reached one with a bird in a cage. He “wiped” the cage clean and “released” the bird. Soon the picture of the bird actually began flapping its wings then took flight growing smaller and smaller until it went out of sight on the edge of the page. He closed with a manipulation of some compact discs (CD’s) that “played” a different instrument as he produced each CD. In the end the CD’s dematerialized into glitter as he finished with a Snowstorm in China (more like a Snowstorm in Virgin Records.) His 20 minute act brought the first standing ovation of the convention. Simply fantastic.

Bob Sheets took the stage with his rendition of Cuba Libre (a square tube is placed over a stack of six numbered blocks and regardless of their arrangement they always return to a pre-selected arrangement.) Most knowledgeable magicians I have spoken with all agree that this trick has “become his.” I don’t see how anyone can improve much on what he has done with it or how it could be more entertaining. Bob then donned a fool’s cap and brought eight children on stage. It could have been pandemonium and an impossible situation except for the most hearty and seasoned performer and Bob was the right one for the task. The next 15 or so minutes was a real lesson of audience management on how to use children without disrespecting them, talking down to them or making fun of them. He used each of the youths in a hilarious cup and ball routine that had the audience in tears of laughter. I don’t recall the last time I saw my wife laugh like that for any magician. Bob concluded his 30 minute routine with a very brief egg bag routine as he let the last child go to her seat.

Arden James took a day off from his contract at the Greek Isles Casino and flew in from Las Vegas just to be with us for this show. He scored big with the audience who showed their appreciation in spades with their loud applause and laughter. Arden did some great mime work including a funny bit with a child who volunteered from the audience. He placed a top hat on the young man but it wouldn’t come off regardless how hard he pulled. And he pulled rather hard as he apparently picked up the young man by the “hat” and swung him around the stage. He had a lady volunteer assist him with a Needle Through Balloon that, when it burst, shot confetti all over the floor as he produced a rose for the volunteer. He then put on an old man mask and danced to a Madonna tune that was a lot funnier than it might read here.

Gene Anderson did a comedy die box routine with a religious theme based on Old Mother Hubbard that drew lots of laughter. He then introduced Nels Cremean, a juggler from Buffalo, New York, who opened with three-club juggling and a lot of funny bits with a microphone stand. He then juggled two diabolos (large spools) and closed by juggling a machete, a pointy stick and a cabbage while balanced atop a balance board. Nels was with us in Dallas at the 2000 convention and was a real hit there. His return was triumphant as he received the second standing ovation of the night following his 30 minute turn.

Gene Anderson returned with a reprise of his now classic and signature newspaper routine which of course finishes with his own newspaper tear. He then introduced Mahka Tendo who absolutely flabbergasted the audience with his extraordinary card manipulation act. Yes, we have all seen card manip acts before, but not like this that included jumbo card manipulations. I remember working with him at Houston’s Magic Island around 1987 and I remember thinking that I have never seen anything like it. Simply extraordinary…but I’ve already said that. To this day nearly 20 years later I still haven’t seen anyone like him. He is extraord…no, I won’t say it again. I’ll just say fantastic. What a great eight minute act. In fact if I can say it here, it was Mahka Tendo that was the impetus of what made Arden James go out of his way just to be with us. When he heard that he could be on the same bill with Mahko Tendo, he did everything he could just to be there. Wow!

And I might say that it was a bold move again on the part of the convention organizers and Alex Gutierrez, Talent Chairman, to think out of the box and close a major convention with a short act and not an illusion act. I think it worked very well though if anything might have been switched around, then perhaps Danny Cole could have closed and Mahko Tendo could have opened. But the whole evening was good and tight and flowed amazingly well. Bravo!
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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To summarize the convention, I must say that it was one of the best on record. Not just one of the best in San Antonio, or one of the best T.A.O.M. conventions, but one of the best national conventions. Kudos goes to Don Moravits the President and all of his staff and helpers in San Antonio who pulled this whole thing together and made it work. Everything seemed to be working for them despite the horrors of the real world outside our state.

But with hurricane Katrina being mentioned, Don who told me that there was only one registrant who he knew about that canceled from Louisiana due to the flooding. There were some who came to the convention to escape the situation and try to have a few hours of fun and to get their minds off of the situation. He said they planned to stay in the hotel a little longer taking shelter there until they figured out what to do. The numbers aren’t in yet but it is estimated that nearly 600 attended the convention this year. A good total in light of the economy, the price of gasoline, the weather, the competing conventions and the internet (competing for the dollar.)

But the weather was excellent in San Antonio…not too hot and no rain. The theatre was excellent and only a short walk from the hotel. The sound, light and stage crew all did an exceptional job of handling the shows making them professional in every way. They set the standard as how magic shows should be run. I never can understand why most magic shows always have technical glitches. I mean, when I go to the theatre to see a play, there are never any technical problems. That is a rhetorical question as I know the answer…limited tech rehearsals. But still, they could be tighter.

If anything was wrong with the convention, it was not the fault of the organizers. That one main problem was known and anticipated but could not be avoided. There were only four elevators serving the 600 registrants who were all herding in the same direction at the same times. The main function rooms for the lecture and close-up shows were on the 22nd floor and the dealers were on the mezzanine with the delegates’ rooms in between. It was a real hassle having to wait for the elevators. But again, it is a hotel problem I’m sure they deal with for every convention they host.

One other thing that needs to be addressed is the dealer hours. I mentioned in one of my earlier posting that there is no pleasing everyone. The organizers chose to limit the hours of the dealers so they had time to sleep and to enjoy some of the activities. But more importantly it was so they would not be open during conflicting events and to encourage more attendance at the contests, both stage and close-up. Good idea and bold strategy. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on this because some dealers liked it while others didn’t. Another thing is that they limited the number of dealers which is a good idea, too. I can see having an unlimited number, but in the end, that probably isn’t good for dealers or the registrants. There are only a finite number of attendees and more important only a finite amount of money those registrants have to spend. Obviously, the more dealers, the more there is spread out among everyone and less per dealer. And if the dealers get discouraged and feel as if they aren’t making it worth their time, trouble and travel to be a dealer at those conventions, then they will not return. And the registrants ultimately lose.

The men and women in San Antonio put their money in talent this year and it showed. It was outstanding. And the communication by Don Moravits was exceptional. He kept in constant communication by posting to the T.A.O.M. website on a regular basis thus allowing everyone to know who was booked, what was new and, as the convention neared, they posted a schedule of the convention. Great job guys.

I didn’t feel as if there were too many activities jammed into the weekend yet I felt there was a good mix and ample time to visit with friends, session as we wanted in the lobby (great little cubby-holes down there), and have access to some of the best shopping and restaurants by being right there on the river in the middle of “tourist central.”

I look forward to returning to San Antonio for a future T.A.O.M. convention. But now our sights are set on Dallas for T.A.O.M. 2006. Due to family business, Carl Jones stepped down and Jeff Lee has become the new President for next year. Congratulations Jeff and good luck. You have some big boots to fill!
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Scott's Thoughts - by Scott Wells » » Texas Association of Magicians - 2005 Convention Review (0 Likes)
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