Previous month:
June 2009
Next month:
August 2009

34 entries from July 2009

FISM 2009 - Engrish

Every day the FISM DAILY came out - pretty much just fluff saying how wonderful everything was, but by the last day it had transformed from English to Engrish.

Here are some quotes from today's.

To share happiness together with humorous master Mac King

Mac King, who has performed on the national television special, is a comedy magician and gives more than 60 shows in different events annually. He also serves as a host for some evening parties in which his remarkable stage control is universally appreciated. Wearing a pair of delicate glasses, with a cordial and appealing language, Mac King creates a wonderful effect of interaction between the stage and the audiences, which makes the audience immerse in the great joy brought by magic. What charm Mac King is showing to us!

Mac King says "It is critical for a magician to catch the attention from the audience before he could make a success." He adds, though something is wrong with your performance and your magic doesn't work, you also need to tackle it with a joyous mentality and extend some humour to the audience" 

Indeed, great magic needs excellent skills and artistic ability. Mc King has set us a good example in the combination of the two.

FISM REPORT 2009 - Day six - Afternoon

It's only a few hours until the final awards show where the Grand Prix is decided, and then it's the after party and FISM is over until 2012.

It's been a wild ride, the dealers are selling fake D'Lites again, and I don't know when I'll get internet access again.

I'll be summing up FISM here in a few days, and Sue-Anne's reports will appear soon too, but probably not until we get back to Melbourne.

Hope you've enjoyed the coverage and don't forget to check the photo album too.

FISM REPORT 2009 - Day six - Awards Ceremony

Today started of with the highly anticipated Rocco One Man Show. Though scheduled and introduced as a one hour show, Rocco ran a tad over time and finished at 12 noon, when the Awards Ceremony was supposed to start.

Everyone was very excited to see Rocco, but as the show went on and the objects produced became more and more bizarre... people who weren't used to Rocco's unique style became visibly restless.

I had to leave after an hour to get in position for the awards show, so I have no idea how it finished.

However, THE AWARDS!

First, it was produced and presented extremely professionally with no nonsense, no long speeches, just presentations with plenty of time for celebrations afterwards.

It began with Eric Eswin explaining that one competitor (Juan Ordeix, though he was not named) had been eliminated for using a stooge in his act. The audience actually applauded this to show their approval. (They Jury spent hours on this one act. Juan was questioned and he explained his methods to them, but the methods explained didn't match what he did on the videotape. After extensive deliberation the jury was satisfied that he had broken the FISM 'no stooge' rule and unfortunately had to be disqualified).

Then the award winners were announced:

- Jorge Luengo - Spain

Most Original Act:
- Charming Choi - Korea

Micro Magic
- 1st place ... not awarded
- 2nd place ... Vittorio Belloni - Italy
- 3rd place ... tie Simon Coronel - Australia and Johan Stahl - Sweden

- 1st place ... Shawn Farquhar - Canada
- 2nd place ... Kristian Nivala - Finland
- 3rd place ... Olmac - France

Parlour Magic
- 1st place ... Marc Oberon - UK  (originally in Micro, recategorised by the Jury to Parlour)
- 2nd place ... Charlie Caper - Sweden
- 3rd place ... Latko - Argentina (originally in Micro, recategorised by the Jury to Parlour)

Comedy Magic
- 1st place ... not awarded
- 2nd place ... Brynolf & Ljung - Sweden  (originally in General Magic, recategorised by the Jury to Comedy)
- 3rd place ... Cheff Magic - Denmark

- 1st place ... not awarded
- 2nd place ... tie - Nicolai Friedrich - Germany - and Rob & Emiel - Netherlands
- 3rd place ... Tony Montana - Argentina

Stage Illusions
- 1st place ... Julius Frack - Germany
- 2nd place ... Magic Sky Group - China
- 3rd place ... not awarded

General Magic
- 1st place ... Soma - Hungary
- 2nd place ... Ma Yanyan - China
- 3rd place ... Siebensinn - Austria

- 1st place ... tie - Yo Kato - Japan - and Han Seol-Hui - Korea
- 2nd place ... Sebastian Nicolas - Germany
- 3rd place ... An Ha Lim - Korea

FISM REPORT 2009 - Day five - Social Banquet

Today was the last day of the Stage Magic Competition - though many people attended the Topas lecture which they said was excellent, but they missed out on some of the best and most interesting acts of the competition - but I'll leave reporting on the competition to Sue-Anne.

After lunch was a Henry Evans lecture, a McBride Masterclass (extra cost I think?), a Shoot Ogawa lecture and the FISM General Assembly meeting where they accepted membership of three new societies (including The College of Magic in South Africa), put forward a rule about abuse of people and animals on stage during the competition, and voted Blackpool as the next FISM venue. (Apparently, if more people voted against Blackpool than for it, Eric Eswin would have had 12 months in which to find a new FISM host city). 

Finishing off the night was a big banquet (and I mean BIG!). Same place as the welcome dinner but with a different menu, just as glamorous and luxurious and with a feast of the best entertainment Beijing has to offer. Not a single magic trick but no-one seemed to mind.

We had a full orchestra on stage as opposed to the usual trio, and acts included operatic singers, ballet dancers, a troupe of plate spinners and an acrobatic duo who were truly astonishing. We even had a Chinese version of the all-girl classical music group 'Bond'. Even the songs they played sounded like (but weren't) Bond's hits. The debate of the night was "Were they really playing or doing a Milli Vanilli?" because once or twice not a bow was touching a string but the music still continued... but whether they really were playing or not didn't seem to matter as hundreds of people from the back of the room rushed forward to take photos.

You can see A LOT of FISM pictures here in the Flickr FISM Pool.

Also that night the FISM Special Awards were presented.

CREATIVITY went to Jim Steinmeyer (Mike Caveney accepted on his behalf).
HISTORY & RESEARCH went to Bill Kalush (Max Maven accepted on his behalf).
PHILOSOPHY & THEORY went to Juan Tamariz and the crowd exploded with joy.

It truly was a sensational night and one of the best FISM banquets in past memory.

As the night went on and the drinks flowed we had a debate with some people who didn't think the Jury should ever "Red Light" any competitors. Their logic was that the competitor might be upset and go off and kill themselves. However, they had no problem with acts using electric chairs on audience volunteers or hitting their assistants on their heads because they considered that funny.

Some people just don't get it...

FISM REPORT 2009 - Day four - Stage Gala Show 2

Tonight’s show started with a very clear warning, in English and Chinese, telling people not to video or to use flash photography. This simple warning resulted in a lot less photography than at the previous shows.


The extremely talented Topas came out as host and introduced the first act. Topas has “it” and from the moment he walked on stage the audience loved him. They knew they were in the hands of a professional who would guarantee them a good time.


He began with a song, a “FISM Anthem” which will undoubtedly hit the internet soon. It was hilarious as it spoke about things that only magicians would laugh at and, to cap it all off, for the final verse he was accompanied by “The FISM Choir” of Max Maven, David Williamson, Luis DeMatos, Eun-Gyeol Lee and so many others.


Omar Pasha was first up with his black art. Though we’ve seen the act many times before it was wonderful to hear the gasps and reactions of the hundreds in the audience who hadn’t. They were amazed by every vanish and transformation.


Topas returned and began his great finger manipulation interaction piece with the audience but, when the technicians didn’t bring up the houselights after he asked several times, he just dropped it and introduced the next act, David Sousa.


David Sousa performed his 2006 FISM award-winning act of very slow and deliberate card manipulations, which was so well received he was inundated by fans the next day after photos and autographs.


Topas returned with another MC bit and, because I can’t remember exactly which bits he did when, I’ll quickly go through them all here.


One was ball manipulation accompanied by himself on bongos, another was his combination of sound effects with specific movements, and his main spot was an illusion where he removes the centre of his arm – but repeated three times: first we saw “The First Rehearsal”, next came “The Opening Night”, and finally was “The 1000th Performance”. It had the audience in hysterics.


Topas had a few issues with the crew, which he handled beautifully.


They seemed to think that the best way to let him know the next act was ready was to just open the curtains before he even introduced them.


Another time, while he was doing his bongo routine, a stage hand pushed through the curtains and started sweeping up about six inches directly behind him. When he finally noticed, Topas turned this around and got a great laugh.


The next act was the hit of the night, about a dozen Chinese women doing the most astonishing diablo act this side of Cirque du Soleil. Somersaults, flips, multiple diablos.. more variations than you could imagine resulting in a prolonged standing ovation.


Peter Marvey returned with three illusions that he had to cut from the first Stage Gala Show because it was running too long. He pulled the skin off a girl in a box leaving only her clothes ala invisible man... didn’t really work. He did one where he pulled his own head off and it sat on a table in front of him. This was nice when he did it at FISM Dresden, but it just seemed to go on a bit too long tonight. Finally he was sawed in half riding a unicycle... yes, I know it sounds weird, it looks weird too. He gets into a very strange box with a crane thing grabbing his waist, then is sawed in two and then his lower half rides the unicycle around the platform of the box... personally I preferred the small trick he did as build up where he sawed a ten foot pole in four pieces, put the pieces in a small bag and restored them.


Shi Lei & Jiao Jiandong are very famous here for their bird impressions and hand shadows. After seeing their act I can see why. It was another highlight in the show.


Merok was dressed all in black with a sombre attitude (Craig Mitchell described him as “one of the Addams family”) and he performed manipulation and dove work. I enjoyed it and felt the odd character made the act interesting. Others didn’t.


I.Ma.Gi.A was another act that some people felt didn’t belong on a show of such a high standard. Again, I disagreed. Their act is set with cardboard boxes all over the stage with two guys moving the packages about. Lots of magic happens and the main effect is a levitating cardboard box with a girl inside. (If you were at Blackpool this year you would have seen the Dutch trio ‘Magic Unlimited’ copying it).


I.Ma.Gi.A provided yet another style of magic, a different colour, on the show and I enjoyed their act.


Victor Voitko however, was disappointing. He began with his award-winning floating linking rings from FISM 1994, but the end messed up. He then got a member of the audience up and had her go into a tent and change clothes and put a wig on. “She” did a sexy dance in the tent (we saw her in silhouette) and then went to a table and sat down where Victor woke her up and did a very long, sexy levitation before transforming her back to who she was... and then making the sexy girl appear too and sending the volunteer back.


Magic aside, what was the message he was sending in all this? The plain girl from the audience wasn’t sexy enough for him. And when he got his sexy girl he didn’t need the audience member anymore.


Yunke was the second last act with some interesting illusions. First he made his assistant appear from a chair, which was quick and effective. Next he had her lie on an ironing board, covered her with a cloth, and steamed her flat. I loved it. I thought it was completely original and box-free. Finally he did the “table of death” where he had to escape from the table before the spikes fell on him. They did fall on him (we saw it in silhouette) then he pushed them off him, whipped the front curtain away and jumped out of the box. Similar effect, with the same impact, as a finger chopper.


 Jeff McBride closed the show with a long set beginning with his mask changing routine. Next came his miser’s dream and water bowl act, both of which were very effective and a change of tempo, and he sent the audience crazy at the end with his high energy card manipulation act. (He told everyone “If you have my DVD grab a deck of cards and play along.”)


Overall it was a sensational show and full credit to everyone on the bill.

FISM 2009 on TV

From Anders Moden: 

"Yesterday I got to know why there are 3-4 cameras shooting all contests and shows, and why what is shown at the big screen and the inhouse tv's is so edited, with lots of cuts. This has annoyed me, but what is shown inhouse is actually edited for national TV.

The channel cctv3 is showing 2-3 minutes of every competition act and parts or whole routines at each show. 

You can see it here:

It is broadcasted for about two hours every night, between 7-9, maybe 7.30 -9 p.m."

FISM REPORT 2009 - Good News & Bad News

The good news is that FISM 2009 has taken a hard line with those registrants who are videotaping the shows, lectures and competitions. Rather than admit defeat and simply say “Everyone is doing it so what can we do”, they have reverted to the old-fashioned approach of making announcements in different languages before the start of each session. This results in 90% of the audience cheering and clapping because, as they are also performing artists, they don’t want the other performers rights disrespected.


In addition to this, Gay Ljungberg (competition co-ordinator) gave six staff with the authority to remove people, as well as laser pointers, and had them scanning the audience for live video cameras.


This has resulted in a dramatic drop in filming on the last few days.

Other good news is that the FISM staff are cracking down on gate-crashers. Many Chinese registrants were collecting the nametags of their friends, going back out through security and returning with new friends wearing the nametags. Now anyone not wearing a nametag inside the CNCC is thrown out.



On the other hand the Dealers Room is a very unhappy place if you’re an ethical dealer.


Despite the fact that every dealer had to sign a form agreeing not to sell any rip-offs at FISM (if caught, the merchandise would be confiscated, and if they refused, they’d be told to leave) when I finally got the chance to visit the Dealers Room I was shocked.


During the week I’d heard about some great work where the Dealers Committee caught some dealers selling knock-off D’Lites, Tarantulas, and other effects, and the props were confiscated and the offenders warned. Domenico Dante had asked me to keep an eye out and let him know if I saw any pirated products.


In less than a minute I was confronted by a dealer with bags of knock-off D’Lites who was spruiking them up and down out the front of his stand. This same dealer was the one who’d already had his D’Lites confiscated. They also had fake ‘Wow’ by Masuda (50% of the dealers were selling these, one even had a jumbo version he told me he “invented”), copy Royal Magic Fun Inc mini colouring books (same cover art, slightly altered, but still bearing the Fun Inc logo), and appearing canes which were copies of Mahka Tendo’s designs (which at least 8 other dealers were selling too).


I also found a dealer with a knock-off Impaled illusion in full view in front of his stand, and an Origami copy behind the counter.


Eventually, after about 40 minutes of going through the right channels, the Dealer Committee (accompanied by a very irate Rocco) confiscated the few remaining fake D’Lites, but the dealer denied selling ‘Wow’ (as he’d sold out) but Michael Sullivan found one remaining on his stand and the Dealer claimed it was a broken one not for sale. It was also confiscated. But the dealer was not asked to leave or asked to pay some remuneration for the massive sales they made selling the copy items.


We went to the illusion stand next and they chose to have the Impaled confiscated rather than close their stand down. They put the Origami back in it’s roadcase.


After chatting with a few other dealers I was directed to a stand selling knock-offs of Sean Bogunia’s ‘Sketch Pad Surprise’ and his ‘Animated Dancing Hanky’. I chatted to the stand owner who admitted they were copies and, when I told him he had signed an agreement saying he wouldn’t sell copies he just laughed.


Another dealer was selling ‘Ghost Disc’. The instructions were photocopied listing George Robinson of Viking Magic as the inventor, but the prop inside was not George’s. More than that, the instructions were for an earlier version of the effect and spoke about putting a special liquid on the disc. I asked them if they manufactured the item themselves and they said they got them “from the factory”... whether it was their factory or not was unclear... but George will be getting the trick in the post complete with their contact details.


For many of the dealers at FISM 2009 it was more about the money than the magic. Obviously some would agree to anything (on paper) in order to get the chance to sell more stock than they sell in a year, but the penalties for breeching the agreement were simply not enforced.


Arguments were “It’s not black and white... it’s hard to enforce... other people sell knock offs too...”


It’s FISM. If people want the privilege of selling at FISM they abide by the rules (and FISM can make up any rules it wants to). If they break the rules, their must be harsh consequences and they must be enforced.


Yes, it might scare off some dealers, but only the dodgy ones, and FISM should not want them in the dealer room anyway. This year the fear of having to sell your products in the same room as massively cheap copies of your products unfortunately was not unfounded.


It was this fear that kept a lot of the reputable dealers away.

And, as Rocco pointed out, what kind of respect is FISM showing their guest artists if they allow dealers to sell knock-offs of that artist's products in the same room as he is selling his original creation? Or even Jim Steinmeyer - who they gave the FISM Creativity Award to last night - yet for five days a knock off Origami was on sale in the Dealers Room unchallenged?


Next FISM is at Blackpool in 2012. Derek Lever runs a very tight ship as far as dealers are concerned. Hopefully a structure can be put in place in the dealers room where dealers and registrants can report concerns to a central position where they will be dealt with immediately.


FISM had all good intentions with this year’s efforts, and it was a start. Hopefully Blackpool will take some giant steps forward and attract only the premium, ethical dealers and make the others disappear.

(Photos of the dealers room and some of the offending dealers will be in the Photo Album)

FISM REPORT 2009 - Update

It's now Day Five here at FISM, and I was unable to post any reports yesterday because I've been flat out with jury duties on the final day of the close up competition.

However, I'm now resisting the temptation of the dealer's room and I'm going to try to post my report on Day Four's (last night's) Stage Gala Show.

Plus I'm adding a few more pics to the photo album here on the blog.

FISM REPORT 2009 - Day three - Close Up Gala Show

Tonight there was a delay in opening the doors to the 2,500 seat theatre where the Close Up Gala was staged. Once inside, Hank Moorehouse announced that the cameras had not been available earlier in the day, but they were going to do the best they could without any camera rehearsal.


So, with a camera on stage, one on a crane, three on a huge podium (and at least another thousand in the laps of disrespectful registrants) the show began.


David Williamson kicked the show off as MC and immediately put everyone in a good mood with his charm and spontaneity. He ran through the crowd and selected two volunteers to sit at the close up table on stage (directly under a big screen with two huge LED screens on either side) and introduced the first act.


FISM award-winner Henry Evans performed some of his trademark card effects including the inimitable ‘Ten Exact Cuts’ and though a lot of the card work was hard to see, it was still very enjoyable.


David returned to perform ring and rope and while he did he’d arranged a Chinese tailor to come on stage and measure him up for a nice cheap jacket. You can imagine the comedy than ensued climaxing with David throwing the guy over his shoulder and walking off with him as he introduced Shoot Ogawa.


Shoot suffered the worst at the hands of the TV. First he had to remove his white jacket because it was too bright on the screens, then his dark shirt and pants made him blend into the background. He performed several effects including his ‘Ninja Rings’ but when he did a very nice coins to glass effect, some of the magic was completely missed because of poorly composed camera shots.


David returned in his new suit, which look comically awful, and kept the show pacey by introducing Miguel Puga.


Miguel began with a great synchronised audience-clapping bit (which would have been more effective if the video screens didn’t have a one second visual delay on them) Next he did some nice card work, but his act really went up a notch when he got two volunteers on stage performing signed card to pocket with him. At one point he asked the cameraman to move back a bit. He didn’t. So Miguel physically pushed the camera back about 15 feet. The cameraman just moved back much to the audience’s amusement. Obviously the director was speaking through his headphones and overruling the performer’s request...

Next up was Hernan Maccagno who looked like a cross between early Juan Tamariz and current Weird Al Yankovic. He started with a ‘Zone Zero’ type effect where oranges where produced and thrown to the audience, but then he talked – a lot – and English is not his strong suit. By the time he sat down and began a trick with four cards that went on for quite a long time, the audience had already grown very restless. In the end he performed a very nice routine to a music box, but he was the low point of the show.


David introduced Lennart Green next, and everyone was very excited. He sat down and began with a trick with a glass of drink, but the camera angle from the side exposed it. He also had some serious trouble with his deck which caused him to toss the deck and start again with a new one. His finale, blindfolded with gaffa tap while his head was wrapped in tin foil, was sensational and even though he seemed a little off form, the audience loved him.


David Williamson returned with Rocky (and the crowd went wild!) He found possibly the cutest kid in China sitting in the front row (and he spoke English!) and did an hilarious Rocky routine that really got the show back on the rails.


Rick Merrill, World Champion of Close Up Magic (for the next three days), closed the show. He began with some coin magic and went into a six card selection and revelation that included some gags and one Pendragons joke that pretty much crossed the line. Rick then went into his award-winning coin and sharpie act and got a sensational reaction.


Still no standing ovations, and this time it looked like the lights, sound and video people had better things to do than support the magicians (maybe they spent all day tech rehearsing the acts for the Thursday banquet show?) There were many instances of audio feedback, the lighting was too dark in many places, house lights did not come up when they were asked for, and the camera work (essential for such a huge crowd) was very poor compared to the Opening Show.


Maybe next FISM we’ll get back to a more traditional size Close Up Gala of say, only 700-800 people?