For the past year, I have been organizing a magic convention that finally took place last week. It was a TON of work, and there were plenty of headaches along the way. But if you asked me if it was worth it, I would have to quote one of my favorite professional wrestlers, Stone Cold Steve Austin, as I replied “OH HELL YEAH!”
First, a quick back story on how this all came about. In 2009, I attended the TFD in OKC convention. It was the MOST fun I’ve EVER had at a convention. The atmosphere was so friendly and everyone wanted to session. The feeling was electric. It was also where I first had the opportunity to meet some amazing magicians who I had previously only known through my conversations with them on The Second Deal and The Magic Pebble forums. A couple years passed by and I continued to wish that for an announcement for another convention. Finally, I thought to myself that instead of waiting around, I should get up off my butt and start looking into getting another one started myself. I checked around and I found that I wasn’t the only one itching for another get-together.
So, a few of us teamed up and worked out the details. We all agreed that NONE of us would make a dime from the event. The registration fees went to help us pay for travel expenses for the talent and for the printing of the booklets. The only thing we were getting out of the deal was a chance to session with our friends and to see some great magic. All of the profits would go to charity. This meant that were were taking all of the financial risk without any chance of a financial reward. Luckily, we had enough people register to cover our expenses, so no one lost out on any money.
The booklet I wrote added to my workload, but it came out looking beautiful. Rich Aviles did a great job with the layout, Brian Rasmussen took the photos, and Tyler Wilson was a brilliant editor. There were 18 contributions in all from a who’s who list of card magicians (Allan Ackerman, John Carey, Tyler Wilson, Rich Aviles, Jack Carpenter, Mike Powers, John Guastaferro, Ben Train, and more.) The quality of the tricks is top notch. Every attendee received the booklet for free. Even though it was an extremely limited release, I’m very proud of the work we did.
I may be a bit biased, but TFD 2012 ranks right up there as one of the best conventions I’ve ever attended. It certainly captured the spirit and feel of TSD and the Magic Pebble which was our goal from the start. I could list highlights all day long, but here are just a few of the standout moments for me.
- Scott Robinson fried me with a super direct mind reading routine. I expected a lot of fishing and then BAM, he nailed the card I was thinking of. I was so fooled that I originally assumed that he just remembered the card I usually name (8 of Hearts, by the way) from some trick he’d maybe done to me at a previous convention. Later he tipped the work, and I was WAY off base. It’s a fooler.
- Jean Thomas Sexton showed me his version of the Searchers plot. Not only is it the BEST version of the plot I’ve ever seen, I can’t imagine it looking any better.
- Tony Chang seriously mind-f~~~ed me with a simple but powerful idea that convinced me he had produced my named card… when he really didn’t. It’s very Ascanio/DaOrtiz-ish. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was also being distracted by the incredibly visual sleight-of-hand he was performing. His appearing card trick looks like real magic. I’ll never be able to do it, but if I could make a wish and instantly be able to add something to my repertoire, this would be it.
- It was a pleasure to finally meet Allan Ackerman. He sat me down and performed his version of my iDeck routine from High Spots. I thought I was going to need a copy of the book to put on my lap. Let’s just say it’s exciting to see one of your heroes performing something that you’ve created.
- I’ll never forget Allan’s excited outburst during his lecture after showing off a Brother John Hamman cull. “And just like that, I’ve got all four nines on top… Now isn’t that F~~~ING GREAT!!!!” It’s a cool thing to see someone with so much knowledge and experience still fired up about card magic in the same way you might expect from someone who’s brand new to magic.
- Ben Train and Chris Mayhew put on a great show/lecture with a ton of funny gags. The best one, of course, was the unexpected bit where Chris slapped Ben’s stacked (and recently switched-in) deck out of his hands, causing them to explode onto the floor.
- As many of you guessed, David Williamson was the surprise guest. I wouldn’t even categorize what he presented as a lecture… it was much more than that. He was a master holding court while some of the best magicians in the world are hung on his every word. Talk about information overload. David Williamson is from a different planet than us mere mortals. He’s known for his comedy (and he was RIDICULOUSLY funny), but he’d still be a master magician if he played everything straight. God, he’s good.
- By the way, for those of you who care, the first word of every line of my initial announcement about David’s guest appearance spelled out his name. I can tell some of you figured it out by the posts that followed…LOL. In later posts, each of the bold words, when combined, formed an anagram of his name.
- Speaking of masters, Jack Carpenter was on fire. I knew he was technically skilled and had a creative eye for good material, but I had no idea how great he was as a performer. He’s the kind of guy I wish all of my friends and family would get a chance to watch someday so they would realize why I do this whole magic thing. Out-freaking-standing!
- I almost died on the way to an amazing hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant on the first day. Allan was in the back seat telling great stories, Jack was in the front seat trying to show me a card trick, Van was on the phone trying to give me directions, and I was trying not to run into anything. They say texting and driving is bad!
- Tyler Wilson was a treat as always. You’ve got to see his trick in the TFD booklet (which wouldn’t have been possible without his help, by the way). None of you will go to the trouble to do it, but it’s really neat. Paul Harris, eat your heart out.
- Rich Aviles is a jerk. 36 hours after I passed out the booklet (which we’ve been working on for months), he shows me a variation on the trick I submitted… and I like it better. Thanks for that, Rich…. Thanks for that.
- Noel Stanko was there to wow the crowd in the bar. His chops have to be seen to be believed. When you’ve got Jack Carpenter eating out of the palm of your hand, you know you’ve got to be good.
- Steve Reynolds did a bang-up job hosting the traditional Move Monkey session. I’ve known Steve for awhile now and it’s so cool to see how much he’s progressed with his performances. His dry wit had us all in stitches. You can tell he’s a “worker” now.
- There were so many guys who I wish I could have spent more time with: Zach Lambert, Mark Aspiazu, Justin Wheatley, Van McGee, Mike Powers, and the list goes on and on. I could have spent a month hanging out with this group and still not have had my fill. The earliest I went to bed was 5:30am and I wasn’t even close to being the last man standing. Whew!
- Perhaps I should be happiest for the fact that we didn’t end up losing any money. It’s always a risk when you try to set something like this up. We actually came out just a little ahead, so anything left over will be given to charity.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended. The attendee list looked like a headliner list for any other convention.
Double thanks to Trini Montes, Aaron Delong, and Ben Train for their help in organizing the event.
Triple thanks to Tyler Wilson and Rich Aviles for helping to create an AWESOME TFD convention booklet.
Quadruple thanks go out to Allan Ackerman, Ben Train, Chris Mayhew, Jack Carpenter, Mike Powers, and David Williamson for providing us with some excellent lectures.
It was a lot of work putting on an event like this, but it was all worth it to get a chance to jam all night with you guys. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. Let’s do it again sometime.