In the Lounge yesterday: Roni Shachnaey, Roger Curzon and Peter Zenner enjoying a traditional Magic Lounge lunch and discoursing widely on mentalism, cold reading, and bizarre magick, at one end of the room. At the other end Steve Brownley nimbly ranged over Marlo and recent Blackpool bar stunners… with historical perspectives and excellent biscuits from Les Johnson.

Seems to have been a resurgence of interest again in the Rings. Thanks to Todd Karr for this link. Though probably more Jackie Chan than Dai Vernon…

And let’s not forget the Weekly Wheeze this time or I’ll get more complaints…

So Adam says to the Gym instructor, “Can you teach me to do the splits?”

“How flexible are you?” he asks.

Adam replies, “I can’t make Thursdays.”

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I’ve been a little remiss about posting recently; things have been pretty busy around here! So this is a bit of a catch-up.

Scott Penrose is an occasional visitor to the Lounge. He dropped in recently and the conversation turned to magic as theatre, which regular readers will know is a bit of an obsession of mine. Magic is theatre, whether you’re doing a spectacular illusion act in a 3000-seater or what we used to call a pocket trick for a couple of friends.

We are performers — story-tellers? — before we are magicians. And as magicians we too easily become obsessed with secrets, by which we tend to mean the ‘how’ of a trick or technique. Fine; we need that too. But these days those sorts of magical secrets are cheap and widely available to those with a modicum of curiousity.

So what is the difference between a magician and a performer of tricks? I have my own ideas but I’d love to hear yours first.

To help things along I intend to post the occasional video of classic magical performances. Watch this space!

And, of course, let’s not forget the weekly wheeze this time:

What do you call a judge with no fingers? Justice Thumbs.

Packed with Loungers as usual this Saturday. Mindreader/Hypnotist Peter Zenner was in and the discussions turned to psychokinesis as a vehicle for mentalism. Roger Curzon felt that to display too wide a range of pseudo-psychic abilities could be counter-productive. Interesting point.

I’ve played around with invisible threads and ITRs, and have had some success with a floating banknote routine. But that’s clearly a magic trick (though not to everyone, I recall!). For me, something subtler works better; a slight twitch or a slow movement rather than a full-bodied float? Have been using Andrew Gerard‘s Energy Bill for a little while now. (Available on DVD.) Not sure it would work with non-US currency, but it does! Excellent, impromptu, no gimmicks. Effective? Ask Peter.

A range of Kenton Knepper DVDs arrived recently. Includes one on the magnetic attraction business with canes. Not seen this for years, but it’s something I remember Peter used to use very successfully.

Mustn’t forget Adam’s Weekly Wheeze this time:

All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

Well, it has the merit of relevance.

Another packed Saturday in the Magick Lounge. Adam Bell was in to regale us with tales of his close-up capers at London’s Connaught Rooms, co-starring with regular Loungers John Martin and Adie Hurley. I understand that they were called upon to entertain the likes of Des O’Connor, Max Clifford, Theo Paphitis (Dragon’s Den), Bobby Davro, Sinitta, Tim Vine, and some bloke from the popular beat combo Blue. The things these celebrities have to do in the name of charity… Unfortunately the lads had to share a dressing room with The Pink Ladies, but otherwise they were well looked after.

Jim Critchlow was in, describing his experience of being shown his own trick White Star one night in the Ruskin at Blackpool, under a different name, by a magician claiming it as his own. Now Jim is a pretty self-effacing sort of guy, but as it happened there were a number of people around who knew him and were able to point out the unmissable similarities in a polite but direct manner…

Which brings Roger Curzon to mind. Here’s him performing one of his Curzon Envelope routines. Thanks to Lounger Mark Perkins for the video.

This is Roger’s Dream Card routine, which appears in Blood on the Tricks, and also as a supplement to the Miracle Signed Card in Envelope book. The effect was originally released in 1988.

I could go on, and frequently do. But I’ll sign off for now with this week’s Adam’s Weekly Wheeze:

“My Mate’s in hospital from sniffing curry powder. He’s in a korma.”

Saturdays here at the Magick Lounge are always busy. Last Saturday was no exception. There were times when I was fighting my way through the throng to get to the real customers… Only joking guys. Largely.

Local (and not-so-local) magicians tend to start turning up at around mid-day. Magical lecturer and author Roger Curzon (he of Curzon Envelope fame) is a regular, of course, as is Steve Brownley, seen swapping esoteric moves with new visitor Andy Hall. Mark Elsdon was spotted solving a randomly-mixed Rubik’s Cube while blindfolded in 1 minute 43 seconds. (Yes, we have the DVD in stock at £18.) And Les Johnson was dispensing magical wisdom as always from his seat at the radiator end of the comfiest settee.

It was good to see Damian Surr, freezing coins with his breath while taking a break from his busy nights performing at society weddings and heaving nite-spots in the heart of the West Country.

At one point everyone trooped outside to check the rumour that adding a certain minty comestible to a bottle of Diet Coke would have explosive results. It was true. Never mind, Tom, it’ll wash out. The local corner shop must have wondered at the sudden run on mints and Coke.

Talking of Tom Hudson, his mum called into the shop too. At first I assumed she’d come to check up on the bunch of layabout magicians her son was hanging out with these days. But no, she arrived with a bottle of Champagne! The occasion? To celebrate the result of Tom’s post-Blackpool audition; he’s spending the summer performing close-up magic in Spain. It does seem, however, that instead of being suitably grateful for his absence as any reasonable mother of a teenage magician would be, she’s going to miss him!

The Magick Loungers too… who’s going to go for the Saturday fish and chips?

And I must say that the bit left in the bottle formed a great base for a sauce to accompany my grilled spatchcock poussin later that evening.

Another Saturday regular is comedy close-upper (“if you don’t laugh, it’s the magic”), Adam Bell. I can remember him coming in as a youngster, like Tom, spending his pocket money on some close-up miracle. Spending? Those were the days. Mind you, he has promised to buy the Fred Robinson book within the next few weeks. (Be still my beating heart… but don’t leave it too long, Adam; they’re going fast.)

(See how I weave in a subtle plug there? Well, we have to pay for the teas and coffees somehow.)

Adam can always be relied upon to ply us with a plethora of gags at every opportunity. Several of these were quite amusing. So, with his permission, I thought we’d have an Adam’s Weekly Wheeze here. Well, someone has to remember and preserve the old’uns:

“The benefits of simple origami are two-fold.”

And that was one of the plums.

Back soon.