Blackpool Convention 2010 – Part III

O.k, now it almost month ago, but I want do complete my Blackpool report.

The dealer’s room

When I first visited Blackpool Convention I was totally stunned about the size of the dealer’s fair. It covers the whole floor of the Empress Ballroom, its balconies as well as a second hall the Arena. All in all almost the area of football field.

Empress Ballroom

Empress Ballroom

The Empress Ballroom

The Arena

My little shops of horror

While wandering through the dealer’s booths you realize that the majority either sells all the same or sells real crap. To give you a feeling I include here my Galerie of typical horror shops ;-)

To be fair, if you look closely at these “traditional” British magic dealers you can find some real gems and especially if you are looking for some old out of print book you can be lucky.

But I would really appreciate if there would be more diversity and more unique dealers.

Personal Highlights on the dealer’s floor

The third time in Blackpool I tend to stroll over the dealers room without trying to see as much as possible but just drifting. Some booths are there every year and I enjoy visiting them again and again. Here are some of my personal highlights.

DTrick — Wayne Dobson

As last year, I was happy to meet Wayne Dobson and his really nice family at there booth of Wayne’s company DTrik.

Wayne just released his new book Special Effects by Wayne Dobson. I had not the time to read it carefully yet, but after a short glance and the trust that I have in Wayne I just recommend buying it.

Peter Nardi’s Alakazam

I have bought several items from Alakazam from the UK before and what always strikes me is that they almost only offer their own creations / productions.

This year Noel Quarter’s ideck was my favourite, even though it does not fit my style, but the idea is just great.

I also saw for the first time The Extractor in action and I can just say what a devilish device. It’s so good that I even considering to get back to Bicycle Poker cards, just to be able to use it.


Knowing Christian for quite a while I’m still amazed about his creativity and love for details. If you don’t know the company already I heartily recommend to visit his website. If you are looking for high quality gaffed or custom printed cards and great packet tricks (and I say great even though in general I don’t like packet tricks) Card-Shark is the right place to go.

My absolute favourites in his range of products are his Vintage Style Cards and his brand new Phoenix Deck. If you don’t know it, it’s “just” a high quality poker deck with a beautiful back design. Gripping it the first time I was reminded of the Bicycle Card’s quality of the 90s that was far superior than the current ones. The Phoenix fan like silk and as they are cut in the traditional way you can make faro shuffles with ease with a brand new deck just out of it’s case. I’m still tempted to change to the Phoenix from my bridge sized Hoyle cards. Just give them a try.

Yigal Mesika

I was very please to meet Yigal in person. He is a really nice guy. Besides giving lectures he was most of the time at his booth, so you could meet him there.

I was extremely fascinated by his new invisible thread that he is using in his ITR and the new Tarantula. It’s REALLY invisible. You don’t even see any reflections on it.

Watching him levitating a ring of a spectator that really seemed to float freely in midair was treat. When the ring finally landed directly on the finger of its bearer we all broke out in applause.

Making miracles like this possible is Yigal’s newest device “Tarantula” (what you see in the video is really how it looks like standing half a meter away). It’s similar to the spider pen but is concealed completely in the hand of the performer. You can start/stop the motor when ever you will giving you complete control of the ITR. I really like it. My only concern is the color of the gimmick. It’s a bit too dark for north European skin. Hopefully Yigal will offer a version with a lighter tone.

Labco Magic

Labco is a small Danish high tech company. They offer a nice product range of electronic devices for mental magic effects.

The picture on the left shows their remote impression device besides the tiny display that will show everything as its been drawn on the slate. (click on the image for a bigger image)

Besides there remote impression devices they have a need electronic gadget that allows you to register the presence/absence of an object or if an object was moved. The electronic markers used for that are so small that you can literally hide them anywhere.

As being an engineer myself I talked a while with Soren Harbo one of the owners of Labco and he told me quite openly about the used technology. From that I can assure you that their products use cutting edge technology which differentiates their devices from most of the competitors. Also I really liked the high quality their devices are manufactured. They have the same standard as today consumer electronics and not like something kludgy.

Sad to say that Pat Page is no longer with us. Last year I spend quite some time with him at his booth and I really miss him!

The Close Up Shows

If you have not heard about it, there are also Close Up Shows with international top performers in Blackpool.  As there are so many visitors there are about 3 Shows at each day. Every magician performs on a separate small table for about 10minute then the performers change tables and do the show again, so that hopefully at the end the whole audience has seen all performers.

This sounds like a great concept BUT the reality is somewhat different. The venue where the shows are done is a narrow horseshoe shaped corridor at the outside of the Pavilion. The performing tables are directly next to each other only separated by a small screen. Therefore all performers try to be as loud as possible to be heard. Imagine how it must have been performing next to someone like Bill Malone last year. If a performer needs music for his act the whole thing even gets worse. So the performing conditions are not the best to say it politely.

Let’s ignore this misery for the moment and concentrate on the show. I really would like to but already behind the 6th row and there are at least 15 rows of standing spectators you don’t see much of it. At least it would be fair not to call this shows close up but parlour shows giving the performers more freedom to choose material that can be seen by a bigger group.

I really hope that the Convention Committee will find a better solution for close up shows for FISM. With the horse they would disgrace them self.

Because of the bad conditions I waived to watch the close up show this year. So unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about the performers in there but they have my biggest respect and sympathy.

Sunday Evening Gala Show

Sunday evening is the closing highlight, the international Gala Show. Again we are in the Grand Opera House, this time on the balcony, luckily in the middle, as at the top there it usually gets maddening hot during the evening.(BTW. a human being as a heat power of about 50Watt. So keep in mind 3000 people times 50 is 150.000Watt heating, not taking into account any stage lightning). If you are on the balcony you also should be free from giddiness as the seat rows are extremely steep.

Instead of describing every act in detail, I decided to give you the chance of a virtual gala by providing you Videos of almost all acts.


To make the waiting time till the show starts and during the interval in the middle more entertaining Salene with her electric violin was booked again like last year.

As Victor Michael the day before she had a tough job getting attention of the audience. While I like her music, I always feel that she gets a bit lost on the big stage.

I would be happy to see some new act next year in her place.

MC of the evening this year was Mick Miller. Sorry to say but to me he was a real prick. Besides that his English is hardly to understand for any non native speaker (with about 1/3 of the audience from other countries) most of his jokes either had blue content or were aggressive against other nations. This may be old British comedy school but today it’s just not acceptable. To make a nasty comment about China just after a Chinese performer did a great act on stage is out of any question.

Please, please dear Blackpool Convention Committee let Tony Stevens do the MC at the Sunday  Gala Show next year. Don’t book such a foreigner offending “comic” again.

Han Seol Hui

Since his appearance in the Stage Magic Championship at Blackpool last year Han got very well known with is CD act in the magic community.

For me his manipulation is just too fast paced and besides his good choreography and that he is a very likable guy for me his act is not really magical.

Out of Control Wayne Dobson & David Williamson

What a great piece of comedy! David tried to explain the MC the newest high tech development in magic by showing him a radio controlled dancing handkerchief. Although David was working on the remote control as wild, the hank didn’t move a bit, instead Wayne Dobson came rolling in his wheelchair completely out of control on stage, as if the wheelchair somehow got controlled by Davids remote. After making some really dangerous looking circles (David not realizing anything) Wayne vanished with a loud crash from stage and a single wheel rolled across the stage.The whole theater cried laughing.

The Great Kaplan

Just enjoy this video, its excatly the act David did in the gala.

The falling bowling ball was even more devastating as in the video as the Ukulele was lying on a wooden chair that was completely destroyed too. Just great theater!

Dania — Hula Hoop

If you have read Part II of my Blackpool Report you know that I’m not a big fan of David & Dania’s quick change act. But what Dania did solo with hula hoop rings was just amazing!

Clive Webb & Danny Adams

As on Saturday Clive and Danny took care for enough chaos and trash on stage. As on Saturday they where really funny. I enjoyed especially their cups and balls routine as seen in the picture above. In my personal opinion the act from Saturday was the funnier one, but still I was laughing through their whole act.

Huang Zheng

Just beautiful! Manipulation that tells a story and really touched me. The pictures she conjures up are so wonderful that I forgot to look for technical details and completely got charmed by her.


Levent did not register as well as I expected. I think his act suffered from too problems. First it was just a part of his full 2h evening show so he had not his normal built up. Second he is American and his humor might not always match the British one. Make your own mind. The video is almost the same as his act in the Gala. For me he is just great but I might be biased ;-)

Russ Stevens

Russ Stevens was the biggest disappointment for me in the whole gala besides the MC. Billed as directly from Las Vegas we had to learn that this doesn’t always is a guarantee for quality. His act consisted of illusions that all split ladies somehow in pieces and a card manipulation. His whole attitude was that of a pure show-off featuring heroic poses that are not longer contemporary. He was not really likable and did not connect with the audience well.

The illusion you can see in the video was also part of his act in the gala.

Besides his abilities as a performer I wonder why on earth he accepted a booking with a star like Franz Harary in the same show. He could only loose.


After a 20 minute break the show continued with the presentation of the Murray Awards to the IBM British Ring Secretary John Pye and the Magic Circle President Jack Devlin in recognition of their services to magic. Very British.

Followed by

Ken Dodd OBE

the honorary live president of Blackpool Magicians Club. The program stated “Will say a view words” that usual get much more than “a view”.

Again for non native speakers sometimes hard to endure so I spend part of his act outside chatting with some other magicians.

Yo Kato

I saw this extremely likable young talent for the first time and he completely fooled me with his colored thimble routine. Normally I don’t care much about thimbles but watch yourself

David & Dania

O.K. They showed a bit different act as the night before, at least without any feather flowers, but it did not chance my opinion which I won’t repeat here.

Franz Harary

As you could read in the convention brochure Franz Harary is THE magical superstar on earth. Interestingly he seems not to be that well known in Europe. If Genii wouldn’t have featured him last year in on issue I had not know him at all.

So I was eager to see him in action. First, I liked his attitude that was very casual without any heroic poses and strange dancing girls. For me he was very likable, but others who I spoke to felt he was just a show-off. I guess its a matter of taste. When I met him after the show I can only assure that he is a nice guy and not a diva at all.

I also liked the fact that he was not torturing girls like all the other current illusionists, but getting himself into the more gruesome apparatus.

The illusions I recall were:

  • Floating a boy from the audience
  • Getting himself flat into 2D – very nice
  • Exchanging the top and bottom halves of two ladies as you can see in the video below
  • A piercing illusion where he got pierced in a cage that suddenly burst into flames after that he appeared in the audience. For today’s standards it was quite obvious how he got out of the illusion as the part that was moved away was pretty big but, he told the audience that he has a very special emotional binding with this illusion. He designed this illusion originally for Michael Jackson for one of his tours. They became friends during their work and after the tour Micheal made the illusion a gift for Franz. Some might have felt that it was kind of name dropping and showing-off that he spoke about his friendship with Michael Jackson. I felt different. I sensed that it was a real need for him to show his thankfulness to Michael’s support to his career.
  • A do as I do with a boy from the audience tearing a napkin where the boy always failed, finishing with a endless mouth coil that the boy had to pull over the stage. Actually this was the only part that I really didn’t like. If he had choosen an adult like David Williamson with his needle routine he would have had  a real opponent, not a victim, for the comedy in the routine.

Overall I liked him and his act and enjoyed the whole evening.

Final thoughts

Blackpool Magic Convention 2010 was a great happening and I really enjoyed being there. As everywhere there are also shadows but where are they not. I’m looking forward to 2011 and only can recommend coming to everybody.

If you like this article, just buy me a beer :-)

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3 comments to Blackpool Convention 2010 – Part III

  • Hi, Loved your review of Blackpool and the vids show, isnt youtube an amazing resource.

    Didnt manage to get tehre this year but hopefully 2011 or FISM in 2012…who know I may have an act for then…

    Thanks for posting and kepp on keeping on

    James James

  • Thanks for such a huge review. I was not able to make the journey but did want to know the details. I love the idea of showing video’s as an added bonus to your descriptions. I realize it takes a lot of effort to make the notes and write the reviews and just wanted to say thanks…


  • Hi! First of all, thanks for review! Certainly, it make me sure that I’ll go for Italy in 2015.
    I don’t knew Kaplan and I am amazed by his act. What a great performer! What patter! Thanks for sharing!

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