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Cover: Raymond Crowe's Wonderful World!
It was very nearly not such a wonderful world when Raymond Crowe caught his fingers in the winching mechanism of a lighting rig, backstage at a magic convention. We all nearly missed out on his innovative billiard-ball work and may never have experienced the magic of his hand shadows. But disaster was averted and now nearly 20,000 people a day watch his YouTube “Shadows” clip. And with an average of two or three large corporate shows each week, he is arguably Australia's most well-known and well-loved magician. His recent appearances on both the David Letterman show in the US and the Royal Variety Performance in England have earned him further international recognition and acclaim. So where did this prodigious Australian talent come from?
By Timothy Hyde
In Their Words: The Chicago Session
Simon Aronson, John Bannon, and David Solomon
It’s a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon on the North Side of Chicago. Simon Aronson, John Bannon, and David Solomon amble northward on Clark Street toward Frances' Deli. An attentive waiter ushers them from the front door, through a bustling cluster of tables, to a corner booth. Menus are studied, Denver omelets and corned-beef sandwiches emerge from the kitchen at regular intervals, coffees are refilled in a steady stream. All the while, happy patrons downing sodas are unaware that the three men near the back of the room are responsible for some of the best close-up card magic of the last thirty years.
Aronson, 64, came to Chicago from New York to study law at the University of Chicago. He recently retired from a successful career in real estate law. Bannon, 50, grew up in Virginia (among other places- his father was in the Navy), and practices law with a firm headquartered in the Sears Tower. Solomon, 64, is a print broker and Chicago native. He lives in suburban Highland Park.
Informally, the triumvirate has been dubbed “The Chicago Session.” Every Saturday, Aronson, Bannon, and Solomon gather to talk about card tricks. The contribution each has made to the field is unquestionably substantial. Their passion for the subject is unceasing and their reputations impressive. There is a relaxed atmosphere among the three old friends, but even after twenty years they continue to challenge one another, butt heads, and bust chops. Cards are on the table before the ice water arrives.
By Adam Rubin and Gabe Fajuri
Murray: Up the Down Escalator
Escalators are fascinating things - much better than stairs. On a staircase you have to work to climb upwards; the higher you climb, the harder it gets, muscles pumping, breath coming shorter and shorter ... no one will carry you, you're on your own. An escalator, on the other hand, will take you to the next level without any effort at all, other than to make the decision to take the ride, at which point you rise effortlessly until the steps smooth out and you're on the top. Easy.
Unless you are trying to go up the down escalator. In that case, it's a real struggle. For every step you take, you move backwards one, causing exhaustion and discouragement long before you reach your goal - especially if the escalator is a fast one. Showbiz is a very fast, downward escalator, but Murray Sawchuck is trying to race up it, two steps at a time, determined to make it to the top.
By Rory Johnston
Forty Years of Memories; And the Winners Are...
It happens every spring. Since 1968, the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc., the California non-profit corporation dedicated to the art of magic and founded by the Larsen family, has held its annual Awards Show and Banquet. At this black-tie gala each year, the Academy honors outstanding names in magic with the Fellowship Awards. The members of the Academy also vote for “Magician of the Year” in each of the Castle showrooms - the Close-Up Gallery, the Parlour of Prestidigitation, and the Palace of Mystery - as well as for Lecturer of the Year.
On April 5, the Academy held its 40th Annual Award Show at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. That's forty years, more than 400 awards, and more than a thousand presenters, including celebrity members of the Magic Castle and stars of the world of magic.
Tales of past Awards Shows are legendary. They involve surprise appearances, gags, sketches, electric and emotional moments, and acts both incredible and interminable. And the Academy of Magical Arts has much to be proud of in the past forty years. From the time Bill Larsen Sr. and Genii Magazine gave birth to the organization in the early 1950s, the AMA was the first organization to honor magicians and magical creators for their entire body of work, rather than in competition. For this reason alone, the AMA Awards are unique in the world of magic.
By Mark Nelson and Shawn McMaster
The House That Gerry Built
By all rights, this place shouldn't work. All things considered, it should have closed down shortly after it opened, a victim of location, poor attendance, and unrealized pipe dreams. Let's face it, in a city of fewer than 37,000 people and covering only 12.5 square miles, who would have thought that top entertainers in the magic field - seasoned professionals who regularly play venues such as Las Vegas, Reno, and the Magic Castle - would even think about performing in a 2,000-square-foot storefront location passing itself off as a dinner theater? And who would have thought that people would travel from neighboring cities - San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento - to fill seats? Nobody, that's who. Nobody but Gerry Griffin, that is.
The California Magic Dinner Theater recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, and it had a lot to celebrate. In four years, it has become the premier location to see live magic in Northern California, gaining the respect of performers and audiences alike. Think of it as a “Magic Castle of the North” - admittedly not as spacious and filled with antiques, but just as inviting with its fine dining and intimate atmosphere. What California Magic lacks in elegant accoutrements and Victorian style, it makes up for in audacity and spunk. Griffin has effectively transformed this space into a nightclub of very impressive proportions.
By Shawn McMaster
People in general make snap judgments, and they tend to interpret everything that follows in a way that is consistent with their initial assessment. If you want your audiences to pay attention, to care, to invest themselves in what you're doing, you can't wait until you get to the magic. You have to hook them at the start. And so when working on a trick, it is especially useful, whether you are going to script a presentation or not, to spend some time working on the first line.
By Pete McCabe
And Much More!