Lexington Club Pioneers a Virtual Convention
By George G Hunter
For 45 years, Lexington, Kentucky’s Ring 198 has staged a regional “Unconventional Convention” near Cumberland Falls. Each year featured one performer/lecturer who was known in the world of magic; that and scheduling the lodge and several dealers, required advanced planning. Almost everything else, however, including the performers for two evening shows, was based who showed up!
The coronavirus pandemic made a 46th event at the falls impossible but, through the leadership of Mike Woodward and Craig Means, the club staged a virtual Zoom convention, November 7-8. Some 68 magicians “attended”—approximating our usual numbers at the falls. The stunning list of presenters appealed to many. After Craig featured a cartoon magician and explained some Zoom rules of etiquette, our program began.
Friday evening was informal-- introducing people and telling stories from the first 45 conventions. One year, for instance, a gorilla showed up at the lodge! The evening concluded with a virtual tour of Mike Woodward’s extensive magic collection—posters and props, including props invented by our late Clarence Miller.
Saturday’s day of presentations began with Duane Laflin presenting from a former hardware store in Colon, Michigan that, with renovation, now houses Duane’s theater and magic shop. He began with an effect that fools an attendee’s eyes and another that involves equivoque. An astonishing rope trick may have been his biggest hit, and he performed several effects that one can buy from his
laflinmagicsgore.com. We then followed him on a virtual tour of his shop and theater.
Jamie Salinas, from Houston, performed engaging closeup effects, one involving M&M candies and then the old reliable—but always surprising --thumb tip. He performed a tongue-in-cheek Bullet Catch that required (on, no!) some preshow research. Jamie demonstrated the two effects for which he is best known-- Lotto Fever 2.0 and Perfect Personality Readings; both are available from Penguin Magic.
Nick Lewin addressed us from his home in Austin, Texas. Ray Anderson interviewed Lewin and showed several video clips from Lewin’s performances. Then Lewin demonstrated six effects that are available from LewinEnterprises.com, including his approach to the classic Gypsy Thread effect, his slow-motion Newspaper tear, and Multiplying Bottles—typically his closer.
Atlas Brookings, from the UK, closed the afternoon by teaching “The Solution”-- his recent and notable approach to learning a memorized deck. He sent each attendee his e-book that normally sells for $50.00; since attendees only paid a $30.00 registration fee, the e-book was big time gravy.
The day was interspersed with brief presentations from dealers. Tim Soneflet (WonderImagery.com) demonstrated several effects, including one that featured an egg-laying rooster, and he featured one of a dozen portable backdrops that magicians can buy. John Sterline, (sterlinimagic.com) showed us a range of silks—his specialty, and his variations on Multiplying Bottles and Miser’s Dream, and a set of six replicas of classic magic posters. And, with Christmas approaching, we were pleased that Harriet Jacobson’s B JW Magical Jewelry offers classy magic-
themed things to wear.
That evening, Jeffrey Alan led a virtual tour of The American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan. The walls featured period posters of Houdini, Blackstone, Chung Ling Soo, Thurston, Henning and many others, including regionally prominent magicians. The museum features notable exhibits—like Robert Houdin’s wand, Houdini’s milk can and water torture cell, Doug Henning’s zig-zag woman prop, an exhibit of cups and balls spanning several centuries, and one of the three first printings of Reginald Scott’s Discoverie of Witchcraft that are known to exist. The museum also includes a library of 20,000 volumes.
The virtual Unconvention concluded when Stan Allen interviewed Mac King and Lance Burton. As boys, King and Burton discovered magic together at Louisville’s IBM ring, and in their late teens they performed together for several summers at a Kentucky resort named Tombstone Junction-- three shows a day, seven days a week.
Lance and Mac told stories from their contrasting careers—King in a long-running gig in comedy magic, Burton performing large-scale stage shows. Burton, for instance, used to saw in half a live white turkey; this hit became even bigger the day the turkey pooped on the stage before entering the cabinet.
In the summers at Tombstone Junction, Lance and Mac recalled that they lived together in a trailer, honed their craft through a thousand tweaks and performances, and became each other’s coach. Mac suggested that Lance might have ultimately become the better magician, because . . . he had “a better coach!
Mark your calendar for next years Unconventional Convention on Friday November 5 and Saturday November 6th!
Copyright, 2018 Thoroughbred Magic Guild