The next day the Holiday Inn, Batavia, was transformed from FFFF to MAWNY ('Magicians Alliance of Western New York'). A very different convention to FFFF indeed. The first event was a massive auction which took up most of the day before lunch, the size of the Dealers Room had doubled, and during the close up show Boris Wild was surprised to hear a voice on the PA saying "Close up performers, you have three minutes left", "Okay close up performers, wrap it up now and move to the next room please." Interesting way to make visiting guest magicians feel welcome.
Aldo Colombini gave a lecture and then, after a buffet dinner that seemed to be comprised of the leftovers of FFFF (I'm not kidding) and thankfully the food ran out before we got a chance, it was time for the stage show. Hank Moorhouse introduced Jason Latimer, Michael Bairefoot, Sue-Anne as Jeannie, Sue-Anne and I together, and several other performers. We had a lot of fun doing that show and it was an energetic and magical finish to our weekend in Batavia.
The next day we shuffled off to Buffalo to lecture. Arriving a little early we checked into our hotel and found a cinema in which we saw 'The Hitchikers Guide to The Galaxy'. It was very true to the book, with the addition of one new character, but despite the bigger budget I found the British TV series more enjoyable, and the book more enjoyable than that.
Our lecture was in a great venue called 'The Screening Room'. As always the Buffalo crowd were extremely hospitable and they made sure we had everything we needed.
From there it was a looooong drive to Louisville where we lectured to a very big group during 'Kentucky Derby' week. They were extremely enthusiastic and responded well to our presentation. 'Runaround Sue' got a standing ovation, and the explanation that followed got a second standing ovation!
Our final club lecture was the next day in Dayton, Ohio. Though this group was only a third of the size of Louisville, they were equally enthusiastic and really got into our approach to magic. From Dayton it was a short drive to Canton, Ohio, so we had a leisurely breakfast in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. It was part of a chain of nostalgic "home cooking" restaurants that sold lots of old-style souvenirs (and we bought a lot!) We also got an audio book on CD which we listened to during the 3 hour drive then returned to the Canton Cracker Barrel store where we got 90% of our money back - what a great idea!
In Dayton I'd spotted a kite that looked like an airplane and I got the idea to have a chosen card 'fly' from the back of the theatre attached to this plane. So that was going to be part of our performance in the gala show at the Battle of the Magicians. When we arrived in Canton I spent all my free time searching for a shop that sold this, or any other kite or potentially flying object that could carry the card.
First up that night, however, was a lecture by Canton's own Joshua Jay. It was well received though the set up in the room made it quite difficult to see him. They had TV monitors on either side of the stage, but often the shot on the monitors was wider than the view you had looking at him live. Josh did a good job though, and kept the group intrigued.
The next event was called 'Duel of the Dealers', and suddenly registrants came out of nowhere and the room filled up. Where were they all? Well the Battle of The Magicians is an unusual convention for many reasons. One is that they don't have a Dealers Room, they have a 'Hallway of Fun'. All of those people who wish to be dealers are given hotel rooms in the corridoor nearest the convention meeting rooms. They can open their rooms at any time and sell directly from them. This means that, at any given time, a large number of registrants may be hanging out and browsing the wares of any open room. Such was the case during most of the lectures.
Not during 'Duel of the Dealers' though. This event saw the dealers presenting items they were overstocked with or simply couldn't sell, then discounting them substantially and selling them to the first people who raised their hands. It seemed odd, buying things you didn't want simply because they were cheap, but I confess to getting swept up in the excitement and making Sue-Anne buy something that she still has no idea what it does.
Finally Ice McDonald was to present his acclaimed lecture but a lot of people headed off. Those that remained really got a lot out of Ice's passionate presentation.
The next day we were first up with our '24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis' lecture. Despite the early hour people seemed fresh and we were able to pull a good sized crowd and keep them entertained for the full two hours.
After lunch came the close up contest hosted by Jessica Reed and won by Michael Bairefoot. This was quickly followed by a crazy, hilarious and educational lecture by David Williamson. Then it was a break for dinner while we prepared for the evening show.
Brad Lancaster was the MC and opening act and, just for fun, we had three items chosen for the MagicSports game 'Make A Trick' immediately before the show started. After brad's spot it was Ellis & Webster with 'Razor Blade Eating' followed by a completely new trick involving a bottle opener key ring, a tiny torch, and a digital timer. In a nutshell, the effect began with me timing the trick by clipping the timer on my top pocket and then randomly choosing a volunteer by passing a balloon around the audience. The volunteer signed a $20 bill which was ceremoniously destroyed in a sequence involving the torch (and a 'Thought Transmitter' used for a very different purpose!) I took my shoe off and inside was the key chain. Also inside was a bottle of beer with the signed bill inside. We opened the beer with keychain but, in the end, had to smash it to retrieve the bill. Finally the trick was over so we stopped the timer and noted the time. The volunteer then took the balloon and popped it. Inside was a prediction with the exact length of time the trick took to perform. Whew! We finished off our set with the 'Great Whammo' arms jacket routine.
After interval we were treated to a very funny vent act and the escape artistry of Morgan. Following this was a 'Salute to Hank Moorhouse'. A very loving, though overlong, tribute to a man who's been instrumental to the success of the careers of many magicians.
Mike Caveney was scheduled to lecture next and again, due to the length of the evening's program so far, a lot of people headed off missing an excellent lecture.
The final day (as far as we knew) arrived and I had finally figured out what was going to fly... I found a strange looking inflatable man (who looked oddly like Boris Wild) in a shop in the Canton Mall, and Sue-Anne dressed him up to become 'Super Magician'. He was to be the one who would fly from the rafters and save the day tonight!
But first... after the early morning stage contest (which Michael Bairefoot also won) came Boris Wild's lecture. During Boris' lecture was a 'Ladies Event' where the ladies could go and paint their own t-shirt instead of attending the lecture. We found this odd so Boris began his lecture by noting the absence of ladies then spotting Sue-Anne, who was wearing a home-made t-shirt that read 'I missed Boris Wild's lecture, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt'.
After lunch we were on the close up show with Boris Wild, Joshua Jay, and David Williamson (what a line up!). While everyone else stayed at the hotel to present awards and enjoy the raffle, we raced off to the beautiful Palace Theatre where we featured on a tremendous show compered by Mike Caveney. Opening act was the stage contest winner Michael Bairefoot, followed by Mike Caveney with his classic routines with coffee and a chicken. Mike then introduced Tina Lenert and her inimitable cleaning woman act. Ellis & Webster were next and I introduced Jeannie, followed by THE card trick where Super Magician flew from the back of the theatre with the signed card in his hand. Thanks to Richard Hughes and his black Asrah thread Super Magician had a smooth flight and 'crowd surfed' his way out of the theatre. Sue-Anne joined me on stage for the Six Card Rap and we closed the first half.
The second half opened with Ice McDonald and his fast-paced dove act, then David Williamson completely changed the pace with a 'Who's your Daddy?' routine featuring a 'Daddy's Boy' (an 'Atta Boy' prop) wearing it's neat little paternity suit. As usual Rocky Racoon made an appearance and David had everyone in stitches. A true 'natural' comedian. John Bundy and Morgan finished the night off with grand illusions.
By the time we got back to the hotel a big party had started complete with buffet and DJ. What a great way to end a convention and, as midnight ticked over, it became my birthday so we hit the dancefloor to celebrate. Our card scaling war, which is sort of like 'laser tag' for magicians, was brought to an end because we were "too enthusiastic" and someone feared it might end in tears. (We subsequently moved it to the hallway of fun).
The next day Sue-Anne and I planned to head off early because we had a ten hour drive to Boston where we were going to catch a planed back to Australia via LA, but we were informed that there was a Sunday Matinee version of the evening show that we were supposed to be performing on. The reason we didn't know about it was that our contract wasn't posted to us because we'd already left Australia when it was written up... After explaining that many tickets had been sold on the basis that we were on the show, we resigned ourselves to a looong drive with no breaks and agreed to do it.
In the end it was good to get to spend a few extra hours with our new backstage friends (even though they were still recovering from the party) and Super Magician was glad to fly again (though we left him in the crowd at interval so I have no idea where he is now!).
We got to Boston in time and booked in our luggage with no problems, no security hassles or anything. We flew to LA and checked into the Tom Bradley International Terminal for our flight home where we discovered the Qantas Lounges weren't quite as nice as they appear in the Qantas Club brochures. Sure, they had three separate lounges - economy, business and first - but they were all exactly the same. None had internet, showers, or even toilets! But at that stage of the trip... we didn't really care. We stumbled onto our flight and went straight to sleep. It had been a very busy, quite exhausting trip, but we met some fantastic people who we really want to keep in contact with, and though they said we inspired them - we are both really inspired and already creating new material for our next overseas trip.