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The International Brotherhood of Magicians Gala Magic Show


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Pick a card, any card! There's no telling how many times that phrase was uttered at the Talking Stick Resort & Casino lately as the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) held their 2019 convention at the Scottsdale, Arizona venue July 10-13. Professional and amateur magicians came from all over the world to attend, and a magic show open to the public was presented each night. Some of the acts that appeared over the course of the first few days were Misty Lee, Paul Kozak, Mike Hammer, Bizarro, Jessica Jane Peterson, Robert Baxt and David DaVinci. A star-studded lineup made the event's closing Gala Show one to remember with performances by Shawn Farquhar, John Farentino, Les Arnold and Dazzle and Vaudeville 3000. Ken Scott emceed the program.

Before the Gala Show began, the IBM had some business to attend to, and a bunch of awards were handed out to youthful magicians, including acts from Canada and Japan. A short film featuring rock star Alice Cooper and Arizona's longtime favorite magician Michael Finney was shown; the pair talked about how Cooper got interested in incorporating magic into his stage act, famous at one point for a trick where Alice seemingly gets his head chopped off by a guillotine. There was also a brief ceremony as Finney, the outgoing president of the IBM, turned over the magic wand to incoming president Alex Zander.

John Farentino got the Gala Show started; his shtick is a spoof of an inept magician and he drew big laughs from the crowd as he had trick after trick go awry. Farentino's act slowly morphed from his comedic misadventures to real magic tricks, leading the audience from guffaws to gasps. Farquhar performed a number of tricks including a version of "the rope trick" but the highlight of his show was a bit he did with a female audience member. Farquhar and his volunteer each held a tube with a bottle inside, and they started out with their bottles facing right side up. The volunteer's task was to mimic Farquhar's moves so that after a series of movements her bottle would end up facing the same direction as Farquhar's. Hilarity ensued as she tried a dozen times, even cheating once, but failing every time to match Farquhar's bottle.

Les Arnold and Dazzle, often seen on television show "Masters of Illusion," were a hoot from the very beginning, as Dazzle displayed her talent for over-the-top dancing, poking fun at the typical magician's assistant with exaggerated moves that delighted the audience and, as part of the act, seemed to annoy Arnold. Forget about pulling a rabbit out of a hat; Arnold made a duck appear and besides using it as a prop in a couple of quick tricks, he also used it in a funny way to shoo away Dazzle. High energy all the way through, the pair's act culminated with a mind-boggling trick where Dazzle disappeared from one box and appeared in another while a man dressed as Dazzle appeared in the first box. Neither Arnold nor Dazzle ever say a word during their performances.

Vaudeville 3000, a group consisting of Kevin James, Rudy Coby and Les Bubb wrapped-up the evening's fun. Bubb is a mime, but not the "let me out of a box" kind of mime. A "box" did figure in Bubb's act though, as he "struggled" to push an (of course) invisible trunk across the stage, and in a particularly hilarious bit, wrestled with a bottle that had a mind of its own. Rudy Coby, a lanky fellow with a hairdo and look that reminds of Kramer from "Seinfeld," performed sight gags like a routine where he appeared to have four legs, that is until he chain sawed the extra ones off! James is famous for his "floating rose" trick, a feat that amazed the entire audience, especially the little girl volunteer from the audience who got to see the trick up close.

The 2020 International Brotherhood of Magicians convention will be held in Pittsburg, PA July 8-11. For more information go here.

The International Brotherhood of Magicians Gala Magic Show

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