Blackpool - Internationasl Close-up Show 2007
February 2007
Reported by Mandy Davis



This year the organisers of the Blackpool convention concentrated as much on close up performance as on stage. To this end there were many lectures overlapping so no one person could attend all events. There were also two days of close up shows. The performers worked at six tables for three shows spread over one day and once in the new VIP lounge on the other. They performed nineteen times! I was in the VIP room for the two days so my report will cover the acts as they appeared there.

Our first performer was Henry Evans from Argentina and he proved to be a huge hit. His lovely manner with both the audience and his volunteer endeared him to all and you just wanted him to do well. He opened with ‘the fastest cards from box in the world’ and followed this by simply dropping the deck onto the table where the colour of the backs changed on impact. He demonstrated various ways of shuffling before asking several members of the audience to shuffle the deck. A selection was made and this was found in various ways. Henry moved on to use a borrowed deck to demonstrate an interesting effect where a value was selected and all four cards were placed in various positions. A number was named and the cards were then proved to be at intervals of the chosen number throughout the deck.

Jay Sankey is a Blackpool favourite. He showed the four most vicious cards in the deck – the four Queens – and performed a version of Cannibal Cards as these four ate three selections. Three cards were taken from the deck and a spectator called stop three times as the deck was dribbled matching the selections each time. This was followed by some silent coin work, appearing, vanishing, Coins Across, Coins to Pocket and then a double Torn and Restored playing cards. Jay ended with a routine involving a written prediction.

Losander offered us on a very magical journey beginning with a salt vanish and reappearance. He also vanished a silk which reappeared inside a large one before repeating this to find the small silk in a spectator’s wallet. This demonstrated some very clean uses of a Thumb Tip. He continued with a Thumb Tie before ending with his marvellous signature Floating Table.

Ian Rowland was very enthusiastic and swept the audience along as he changed the face of a card to that of a previously selected one. He displayed two ‘infallible’ predictions and showed that the first vaguely matched a spectator’s chosen card. The same happened with another selection but when the flaps of the envelopes were lifted the names of the chosen cards were printed inside them. Finally a lady volunteer chose one of two pictures of birds and then named a playing card. This was placed on the front of the deck and by rubbing it slowly with his hand, Ian transformed the card into one which had the chosen bird cut into it – one of Ian’s special hand-made cards which was given out as a souvenir.

Marc Oberon performed his award-winning act to the delight of the audience in the VIP room. Golden balls appeared and disappeared to music, finally becoming an Oscar statuette. Marc then gave a demonstration of ‘Any Card Called For’ before going back to the music and changing the deck into a golden one. He continued with coins before his final productions of larger and larger golden keys.

Jupiter started with music and card scaling before producing coins for matrix type effects implemented by two giant cards and a Coins Across routine. He then joined and unjoined some pieces of rope, following this with large cards which turned over one by one before becoming the four Kings. From under these he produced many coins onto the table. Two hankies became a giant rabbit printed silk, then it was back to matrix routining and the production of so many large coins from under the cards that the table was covered.

Michael Rubenstein displayed an empty purse so produced coins from the air instead and vanished them one by one to reappear inside the purse. Coins Across was followed by Coins Through Table and then some copper/silver transpositions before all vanished to reappear in the purse once more.

The final performer that afternoon was Gregory Wilson who apparently had not been told about this show and took ages to appear. Consequently the audience was somewhat depleted, having given up the wait. In spite of this he had lots of brilliant banter and worked with a borrowed deck of cards in his usual fast and furious style, spinning selections out of the deck and performing Ambitious Card routines – all completely unplanned yet still enormously entertaining.


The final afternoon once again saw the VIP room filled with an eager audience. There were 500 people who had paid the extra £10.00 for this special treatment but, thankfully, they hadn’t all turned up at once!

David Roth, master of coin work, started the show with his superb handling of three half dollars and a portable ‘hole’. Coins disappeared and reappeared, always ending back inside the purse frame displayed at the beginning of the routine. Using a tuning fork there was some fun with sounds dropping into an empty glass before these were also used to make coins appear and disappear at will. Coin work with a brass box followed before we were shown a small globe of the world. This was used to turn several coins into foreign ones, one at a time, according to the country displayed. Finally they were vanished only to be found nestling inside the globe.

Aldo Colombini told the audienCe that if they didn’t like him kissing his wife they should no longer book him! He then performed a routine with two differently coloured ropes which linked and unlinked in a spectator’s hand. A card was selected and returned to the deck and the cards were discarded in twos until a face up card was reached; this was found to be marking the chosen card. The discarded piles were shown to have an Ace on top of each and all the cards in each pile matched the colour of its Ace. Finally twelve cards were selected by twelve spectators and found one by one.

Simon Lovell, fresh from his long-running off-Broadway show, gave us a very relaxed performance. A spectator chose a card. The four Aces were placed face down on the table and Simon took a card to ‘tippy tap’ over them in order to find the suit. Once the selection had been found it was signed and returned to the deck. Simon found the card whilst holding the deck behind his back and singing as Pavarotti’s voicemail (as only Simon could!) The selection was torn into pieces, and after some typical Simon banter, the pieces were found to have disappeared and reformed as the selection in the centre of the deck.

Shimshi, a house magician from the Mirage hotel, Las Vegas, performed the tricks he had explained in his midnight lecture on the first night of the convention. His performance was marred by his insistence at heckling Bobby Bernard much to the discomfort of the audience who supported Bobby throughout. Shimshi performed colour-changing - two black tens to red -, a haunted deck effect, causeing a selected card to jump out onto the table, and a Ten becomes Thirteen, then Twenty routine; all was ended with some spoon bending.

Randy Wakeman, another legend of close up magic, aided a spectator to cut to the four Aces before cutting them back into the deck and dividing it into four packets – only to find the Aces on top again. A mentally selected card was cut to by the spectator before ten cards were displayed together with one which had a different back from the others. The cards were mixed and shown face up. The spectator chose one of them and was shown that this was not the odd backed one – or rather it was because now all the other cards had changed to match the original odd one.

Aaron Fisher had Aces which jumped from different parts of the deck to be found on top. A selected card was found face up, then the whole deck was shown to be face up too. A second selection was returned face down and once again the deck corresponded. Another selection was found face up between two selections in a ribbon spread deck. The four Aces were then found again in various ways before the whole deck was shown to be in new deck order even though we’d seen that it had been a shuffled deck previously.

Nathan Kranzo performed Three Fly before offering a deck of cards for a selection be be scorched and returned. This was found by the spectator stopping on his face down card as the deck was dribbled from hand to hand. One card was named the Voodoo card as whatever happened to it, the same would happen to the selected card which was now inside the card box. When the voodoo one was first folded and then scorched, the selection was found to be in the same state. A nice heads and tails gag followed before another card was selected and returned to the deck. Random numbers were written down and added up, the sum being the number counted down to in the deck to reveal the selection – and this was celebrated with a party popper being set off!

Dan Garret ended the close up at this year’s convention with some ring and rope effects using a borrowed ring. A thought of card was found inside his wallet and then Dan displayed a routine he’d explained in his lecture. A card was selected and a corner was removed and kept. The rest was torn into pieces and placed inside an envelope. By waving a small sword over it, the card was now shown to be restored and the spectator was expected to perform the trick himself! This time the pieces were placed in an tiny purse but when it was opened there was a note asking that the envelope be examined. Inside was the restored card which was now laminated too.

We had been treated to some of the top close up performers in the world over two days and it was great to watch these experts at work. Who will be next year’s performers? Can’t wait!

© Mandy Davis, March 2007