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.

One of our best-sellers at last September’s IBM British Ring Convention at Southport was John Gray’s Coin Craft DVD, which comes complete with his ingenious Poppit gimmick. We have received new stocks and these are now available again ‘off the shelf’.

Until his retirement John was a busy professional magician working top night clubs and cruises throughout Europe and the USA. So you would expect his material to be practical and commercial. John developed the Poppit a few years ago for vanishing and switching small objects, especially coins. Until the release of the Coin Craft DVD the Poppit was known and used by very few of John’s working magician friends.

The Poppit is a cunning and versatile device which has the power to transform your coin magic. It is as useful as a Topit but you don’t have to wear a jacket, a tie, or a sleeved shirt. Or any shirt, for that matter!

The DVD shows in detail two complete routines, incorporating a series of surprising and entertaining effects: The One-Coin Wonder and The Really Weird Coin Trick. These show the Poppit in action. The components of these routines may be simply adapted and re-combined to suit your own requirements. There are no ‘knuckle-busting’ moves, and many of the techniques required have been honed and adapted by John Gray to suit modern working conditions.

A further section on the DVD covers in detail not just the basic Poppit, but also the Extended Poppit (which allows you to easily and naturally retrieve vanished coins); and Poppit Plusses.

A Bonus Section deals with further applications for this great little gimmick: Tunnel Vanish, Retention Vanish, Multiple Coin Vanishes, Vanishing One Coin from Several, Copper Silver, and Spellbound.

Drop us an email if you’d like more details.

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here. There are times when blogs, and business, have to take second place to more important matters.

In company with a group of like-minded Loungers I did take a little time off at the beginning of February to spend An Evening of Metaphysical Magic with Dr Todd. Described as an ‘evening of brain-boggling investigations into the universe, reality and the inner workings of the mind’, this was a delightful mix of mentalism, bizarre and story-telling magic presented in the Milton Theatre at Huddersfield University. If Dr Todd comes your way, don’t miss him!

Can’t tell you too much about this year’s Blackpool Convention as I missed most of it. I drove over on the Thursday afternoon and set up. On Thursday evening I went to see La Clique (‘a heady cocktail of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety’) in the evocative environs of Blackpool’s Tower Circus. Great show.

This, incidentally, was part of the Showzam festival. Showzam was a highlight for me last year and with the billed vintage sideshow illusions, Carnesky’s Ghost Train, ‘Heat the Streets’, etc., it looked set to repeat its success. Among the new events were the Magic Show exhibition at the Grundy Art Gallery, a Hayward touring show I caught in Derby a couple of months ago (see below); and Ukulelescope, a collaboration between the magnificent Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the British Film Institute. Tim Smithies, street-magician, axe-juggler and renowned uke-dude had swung us tickets for this. I hear ’twas a plucking good night.

Sadly I was called away on urgent family matters shortly after opening on Friday afternoon, leaving the stand in the dextrous hands of the inimitable Roger Curzon (his new DVD VideoBook Pentalism was a hit). Many thanks to Roger and several other Loungers at the Convention for giving up some of their time to help with manning the stand and packing and returning things to Sheffield. Indeed thanks to all our friends and customers for the many kind comments and offers of help at a difficult time.

We had a great time at the IBM British Ring Convention, and while we were there Traudel took loads of great photographs of the personalities and events. I’ve taken a few of these and put them together in short video which I hope will give some flavour of the Convention.

Many thanks to Traudel Albrecht for the photographs. The music, incidentally, is taken from our Magick Media Studio package. This includes 101 tracks of professional, royalty-free music in a wide variety of styles (nearly two hours altogether) which can be used in your projects without copyright problems. Ideal for cabaret, illusion, children’s entertainers, promotional video, websites, etc. There are multiple lengths and mixes, including stingers and loops.

We’ve even supplied a free audio editor for looping, re-timing, adding effects, and so on. Plus eight videos which teach you the basics of simple audio editing. A sound purchase at £20! (Anyone who has ever bought royalty-free music will know what a bargain that is.)

Some time ago I had a phone call from a woman who asked if she could call in to the Lounge to talk about a local magician. The woman was author Ann Beedham and the magician she wanted to discuss was Randolph Douglas, known as Randini. I have to confess that I’d never heard of the guy. Ann brought with her copies of magazine articles she’d written about Douglas — his short career as an escapologist; his friendship with Houdini; his museum, The House of Wonders, in the Derbyshire village of Castleton a few miles from Sheffield.

He was clearly a fascinating character and I promised to see what I could discover about him. I spoke to local magicians and those interested in the history of magic and escapology. Most had only heard of him vaguely, if at all. At this point I was beginning to think that Ann had set herself an almost impossible task in producing an entire book on this elusive man. I’m very pleased to say I was wrong.

A few days before the Southport IBM Convention Ann called in with a copy of the book. Absolutely fascinating! Randini: The man who helped Houdini is impeccably researched, copiously illustrated (32 colour plates alone!), and should be on the shelf of anyone with an interest in the history of magic and escapology. (And that should mean everyone who reads this blog!)

I rang the publisher and managed to get hold of stocks in time to take them to Southport. It became one of our best-sellers. Thanks must go to Peter Lane, who bought a copy on the first day and passed the word around, and to Eddie Dawes, who kindly gave us a mention during his History of Mystery talks.

I could continue, but I’ll let Ann Beedham tell you a little more:

“The stunt that helped to make Houdini a legend — escaping from a straitjacket whilst suspended hundreds of feet in the air wasn’t invented by the Master Mystifier. That honour belonged to a long forgotten Sheffield schoolboy… Randini: The Man Who Helped Houdini is the remarkable story of a fan who helped reinvent his hero. Modelling himself on the escape artist, collecting every picture and news item, the young Randolph Douglas lived in world almost as magical as the music halls glowing like coral reefs in the grey industrial wasteland. His pocket money bought not toys but locks, handcuffs and even straightjackets as he dreamed of future glory.

“But it wasn’t just a daydream. Somewhere along the way fantasy and reality emerged as Houdini, the man who dined with princes, the man who was more famous than anyone, came to tea and began a friendship that lasted to the end of his life. But it wasn’t just a star pandering to a wide-eyed fan…”

“What Douglas did next would change the course of magic’s history.” William Kalush and Larry Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini.

This A5, 240-page book includes copies of letters between Houdini and Douglas; unpublished images from The Magic Circle archives; a detailed look at The House of Wonders, with its eclectic collection of locks and curiosities, details of acts seen at the Sheffield Empire; plus extensive background notes.

We now have further stocks available for immediate despatch from our own little glowing reef here in Sheffield. Randini: The Man Who Helped Houdini is available at the bargain price of £9.99, plus postage £2.65 (UK First Class), £4.20 (EU Air) or £7.77 (Rest of World Air). Paypal accepted.

Still unpacking after Southport, but just a note for card guys: We now have supplies of Bicycle Vintage 1800, Raider, Scorpion, Spider, Propaganda, Purple, Violet, etc., plus Stud, Aristocrat Casino, Bee Club Specials, Colossal (the no-palming version, Andy), Piatnik ESP. And more. Stocks of some items are limited.

The legendary Volvic Awards presented at the IBM British Ring Convention Fringe alternative banquet. Winners were Kimmo and two awards for Jordan who is a model (not that one) but very pretty… That’s what happens when you ask a room full of magicians what their favourite thing about the convention is so far.

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