Conventions


Whitby Firewalk_800

Just back from a great weekend in Whitby at the Doomsday bizarre magick gathering. More information soon. In the meantime, by request, here are a couple of pics of the Friday evening Firewalk. I tried broken glass last year, without ill effect, so firewalking was the obvious next step…

The fire-pit reached a temperature of over 1600 degrees Celsius during the preparation but the embers had cooled to between 600 and 700 degrees for our walk. It certainly felt hot, but we survived without a blister.

Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India – c. 1200 BC. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual’s strength and courage (or, possibly, foolhardiness?).

Any suggestions for next year?

What better meeting place for the purveyors of dark, magickal tales than Sneaton Castle situated on the wind-swept moors above Whitby, a town with plenty of darkly magickal connections itself. On Ashton Carter’s recommendation we stayed at the Number Seven Guest House, near the whalebone arch. The house was built in 1847 and in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, is mentioned as the home of Count Dracula’s lawyer.

I’d been hoping to attend this gathering of practitioners of magic’s more bizarre reaches since Roni Shachnaey first introduced the event. This year I made it. Doomsday VI was the first to be organised by Dan Baines of Lebanon Circle; he is to be congratulated! I’ve attended many conventions in the UK and across Europe and this has to go down as one of the most enjoyable.

We met for introductions and drinks early Friday evening after a somewhat protracted journey from Sheffield. The opening performance was guaranteed to put us in appropriate mood for the weekend: Doctor Diablo‘s Carnival Macabre — classic sideshow featuring “fire, nails, swords, pins, electrocution, escapes and many other dark delights”, plus guest contortionist and sword-swallower Bendini.

Saturday’s array of lectures, discussions and performances opened with Todd Landman’s Mystery Boxes, a real lesson in carefully-crafted story telling magic rooted in a deep understanding of the history and philosphy behind each tale.

Stuart Burrell followed with a discourse on The Dark Origins of Escapology, with demonstrations of ancient and modern devices of restraint. Stuart is a multiple world record holding escapologist and stamina strong man. He finished his piece by bending a heavy frying pan in half and rolling it into a curl.

In At the Heart of the Tale Prof BC revealed his aproach to ‘haunting investigations’, in which his role was as a facilitator working with a group of spectators in a way which got them truly involved in the development of the presentation and its resolution.

The morning concluded with the incomparable Voodoo Mick, The Singing Psychic, with musical revelations of thought-of songs. Thence to lunch in the castle refectory.

Lothar Malmberg, assisted by his daughter Grace, presented Echoes, which gave us a fascinating insight into Lothar’s approach to bizarre magic which aligned with his own religious beliefs — a gentle approach which eschewed the traditional tales of horror and darkness in favour of presentations which could be positive and thoughtful.

Ingeniously constructed first-class mentalism was at the core of Lars Ruth’s Arcanum Mentis — Secrets of the Mind.

To close the afternoon Oskar Hejll opened his Cabinet of Curiosities to fascinate and entertain us with his talk on the history and folklore of vampires and the ‘undead’.

On to the evening show, which opened with a classic performance by Master Bizarrist and godfather of Doomsday, Roni Shachnaey.

Nick Brunger had the unenviable task of following that, which he did with his richly textured Strange Tales from the Darker Side.

CSI Whitby? Tracy Wise’s Crime Scene Illusion brought together mentalism and crime investigation in a novel presentation which featured the enthusiastic involvement of Lounger Tony McMylor as the ‘murderer’.

I’d been primed beforehand to watch out for Brian Maxwell… his hilarious The Travelling Werewolf Show did not disappoint, from the opening werewolf song to the final manifestation of the lycanthrope itself!

Closing a memorable show was Iain J Mindwraith’s Glass-Walking demonstration which he took that extra scary step further by at one point being sandwiched between broken glass and a bed of nails with a hefty volunteer atop the lot. Afterwards he kindly offered to teach a few foolhardy spectators the correct technique of fractured glass perambulation. (I made it without a scratch.)

This bare description of the programmed events doesn’t really give the full flavour of Doomsday. The late-night discussions and unscheduled performances were fascinating, provocative and invaluable in stimulating our own thoughts and ideas. Difficult to single out one item with so much going on around me, but a definite highlight was watching the reaction to Jim Critchlow’s ‘one step beyond’ ACAAN which culminates with the thought-of card at the chosen number in a punched and laced deck, cased, sealed in plastic and wrapped in brown paper.

Next year we’re promised twin Northern and Southern Doomsdays. Put my name down for both!

Props boxed and ready to go. Titanic, a great new routine from Jim Critchlow and Tony McMylor. Limited supply available at the 2014 Blackpool Convention at a bargain price. Not to be missed!

IMG_0128_smWell, Blackpool came and went as Blackpools do. We had a good one; sales were steady, we met old friends and several Sheffield magicians, saw a great show and half a good one, and even got in a bit of dancing (magic can take a variety of forms).

After an initial surge on Friday morning sales slumped somewhat for the rest of the day, although there was a constant demand for our update sheets. They must have had some effect because (despite the fact that I’d managed to miss Bolted! off the list) we had a steady stream of customers through Saturday and Sunday.

Talking of Bolted!, this was a definite hit. Jared zipped across the Coronation Street set (a popular TV programme about people who shout at each other a lot, I understand) and demonstrated virtually non-stop… including in the Ruskin at night.

Since Blackpool he’s been working hard to produce more and we now have additional stock. Please note that Bolted! is a precision-made item, each one being produced and hand-finished to a high tolerance (vital in card magic) so orders are being dealt with in strict rotation. As I write they’re available off the shelf, but to judge by the number of enquiries coming in, this situation is unlikely to last long. Ring or email if you’re interested.

In case you didn’t go to Blackpool and missed the buzz, here’s the promo:

Different Decks from Magick

A good convention in Blackpool with lots of interest in our new products (and quite a few sales too). More information  later, but in the meantime, for all those who’ve been asking for ‘designer decks’ here’s a selection from the range we currently have in stock.

And for professional magicians, we sell proper Bicycle cards too.

Recently moved some boxes from storage and in going through them I came across several packs of old photographs. There are quite a few taken at various magic conventions and events I’ve attended over the years. I’ll probably post the odd one here from time to time as I have a moment to scan them. Here’s one of me giving some up-and-coming magician a few tips on his cup-and-ball routine…

It’s been a busy few weeks here at the Lounge with the IBM British Ring Convention and magical vistors from Germany and Canada, but more of that later. For now, a quick reminder that we are hosting an appropriately seasonal performance and lecture by Andy Cooper under his stage persona of Ashton Carter on Thursday 6 October.

Ashton will be presenting his Mysteriosa show and then talking through some of the effects and presentations. The show has been well received by audiences around the country including several nights in a London theatre and is Andy’s own take on Bizarre and Storytelling Magic.

Ashton Carter takes you on a strange journey into the paranormal and the bizarre. Blending storytelling, magic, theatre and illusion, Ashton will raise goose bumps and send shivers down your spine. Could you be the most psychic member of the audience? How do you gain entry to the most secret of secret societies? Can a bell really foretell disasters? Where did Ashton’s Great Great Aunt meet her final moments? All will be revealed by this spooky entertainer. Warning: Contains dark humour and may make you question reality!

Start time is 7.30 pm at The Magick Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG.  Admission £10, but free to Sheffield Circle members.

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