President's Report - September 2021
What seemed like a long drive to the Austin area was accentuated by the horrible traffic conditions of a holiday weekend. Jim Henson and I made it to our destination, checked into our hotel and prepared for more traffic congestion.
We started the adventure in a small very rural area south of Austin, Texas. Prior to our trip, as mentioned above, we were told of a Magic Theater and Museum that was not to be missed. Taking the advice of Blayk Puckett we planned the trip.
Jim had phoned ahead to ensure our visit would be possible. You see, the day we wanted to visit there was no show scheduled. Still, we wanted to see the museum. Our gracious host, John "Magic", as he likes to be called, welcomed us at the door and began our tour.
To our surprise, this place was quite large. If memory serves me correctly, John said it was just over 7000 square feet. Inside John housed many magic related artifacts, including a replica "Water Torture Chamber" which he built himself. I believe the most impressive artifacts he had were all the original posters. Ok, we know what we think of when the word poster is mentioned. These were not your ordinary type! Imagine the side of a building covered in a canvas poster advertising magic. That is what we are talking about. Sure, there were the standard posters, some even original, but the huge ones were impressive.
As we walked through the place there was a concession stand named after Dean Dill. A little further John opened a door and we walked into a huge theater complete with a full size stage, lighting and sound.
Along one wall near this entrance were a few dozen photographs of John with celebrities he ad worked with. John said he had been in the movie industry for many years and had the opportunity to work with some of the greats like James Garner, Mel Gibson...the list goes on and on.
I neglected to mention the first room we ran into when walking in, the close-up parlor. Nicely decorated with cozy seating for about 10-15 on risers. There was not a bad seat in the place, including the huge theater. We ended the trip with dinner.
The TAOM was my first experience with a magic convention. Yes, I know, shame on me. In my opinion, the first day ran a little slow with the first two lectures. That is not to say the information wasn't useful or informative...for someone else, it just wasn't for me or Jim.
As the day went on we began meeting people, some whom Jim knew. One fellow stood out of the crowd with his bright blue derby. His name is Joe Fox from Florida. Quite the opinionated individual but very polite and interesting. When Joe found out Jim and I were Veterans he reached into his bag and pulled out two copper challenge coins and gave us each one. He thanked us for our service. That is the kind of guy Joe is.
There were many more interesting people we met during the breaks and lunches. Many were itching to perform at the table to show off their skills.
Brian Brushwood, famed YouTube video maker known for his bar challenge videos did an impromptu presentation taking the place of someone who was unable to make it. Frankly, it wasn't too good but it wasn't bad either for just making it up on the fly. He turned it into a story contest. If you had a bad experience during a performance you were invited to the mic and tell it.
Long "story" short, Michael Ammar had the best story...that is until a lady, name not remembered, came up and told of her incident. She was hidden in a secret compartment waiting to change places with a tiger. Unfortunately, they had fed the tiger raw meat before the show and while sitting in the cage above the secret compartment, decided to rid itself of a little of the digested meat. Yep! She got pooped on! Yep! She won the story telling contest.
I don't want to ramble much more to keep this medium short so I'll hit the highlights. If you have never met or seen Michael Ammar either performing or his lectures you are seriously missing out. He is one classy guy. I believe him to be my favorite.
Bizzaro was as crazy as ever. He too had a lecture and performance not to be missed. Jim even commented that he wasn't expecting such a good lecture from Bizzaro and was pleasantly surprised.
Brian Brushwood's scheduled lecture was OK but the performance turned on him. Too hard to explain here but something unexpected happened to him and he lost it...laughing too hard. He was able to finish but this made the show.
Cody Fisher. All I can say is wow. This young man is very talented and quite the showman. His lecture was solid and very interesting along with being entertaining. There were so many things I learned from his lecture that I want to try out.
Then there is Carisa Hendrix, a.k.a. "Lucy Darling". For good comedy and pants-peeing laughter, her Lucy Darling show is a MUST see. I would love to see her full on show and would even travel to attend. Carisa had full control of the audience and the stage. She even paired up with Bizzaro and created a running joke with a mouse trap that carried through the entire weekend shows and lectures. If she ever performs within reasonable driving distance you should not miss the opportunity.
Finally, at the gala, The Magical Mystical Michael opened with some zany magic and a great looking floating lady. To close out the gala show a young man called Sterling put on one fantastic show that included a "silent" linking rings routine, plenty of Spanish style dance and plenty of production of items.
We cannot finish this without Paul Prater and his take on the strange and spooky magic. Paul intorduced a pendulum mystery where is volunteer held the pendulum and without moving, pointed to a selected card. Paul also did a lecture that had some very interesting and useful ideas for adding a little haunt to your performances. We should try to get him to the meeting and lecture for us.
Well folks, I hope I covered everything. Feel free to ask Jim or myself about the trip and I am sure there will be plenty of stores to tell.