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The Magic Memories (100)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: 100th Anniversary comments; Giro d’Italia 2022.

These are The Magic Memories 100, gone online Sunday, November 27th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

100th Anniversary

Officially, this is issue # 100 of The Magic Memories, with issue # 1 having started on SUN, 3rd JAN 2021, but a real count shows that the idea of these “blogs” already began on 10th JAN 2019 as Secret Newsletter. These were a combination of advertising a few new products and short essays on various subjects that are still of interest, in my opinion.

That’s how it all started 10th JAN 2019

So, if you want to look them up, and maybe extract the pure information (there is a lot!) and make a new PDF of it, go ahead – CLICK HERE: And you may share it, of course.

Actually, if someone does the work and wants to share it, please send the finished PDF to me, and then I’ll upload it in an upcoming The Magic Memories for all to access (with your name).

However, between the Secret Newsletter and The Magic Memories was still another hefty item, The Magic Advent Calendar 2020, were I posted a substantial item every day from DEC 1st to 24th, with PDFs and video clips – you can still access those for free by CLICKING HERE, or if you want to show your support and say “Thank you” you can buy the collected PDF by CLICKING HERE – I just lowered the price from 24 to 10 to make this really easy and affordable 🙂

Anyway, here we go with a report on my ten-day Italian Tour, and then we’ll see how far I’ll get…

Giro d’Italia 2022

During all my professional life my philosophy has been: Never perform the same day you travel, and stay at least one extra day in any place you go to.

As a matter of fact, for practically every show I’ve done around the world, in the most beautiful cities and places, I convinced those who booked me to pay for two nights – occasionally, if the place was of particular interest, I would add a third night that I would cover myself.

I remember asking my dear and missed friend Daryl once if he had been to Florence, and his answer was “Oh, yes!”. And Rome, Madrid, Paris, London, all cities I had been, too, and he answered, “Oh, yes” each time – he had actually done a “World Lecture Tour” that had taken him virtually around the world. But when I asked him what he had seen on these occasions, he explained, “Not much. I usually came in in the afternoon, went to the hotel, prepared the lecture, was picked up for an early dinner, did the lecture, was taken back to the hotel, and next morning took off for the next city, one city a day most of the time.”

I decided then and there that I would never do that, and recommend anyone who plans to do magic professionally to do likewise, as there is more to life than magic, as Ascanio used to remind us youngsters when we sat around a good table with him handling cards instead of enjoying the meal.

Daryl and Roberto, Muttenz 1997

Having said that, this trip broke this rule several times, reminding me that Art does not follow any rule, which is something Groucho Marx had to know when he uttered this epochal wisdom: “I have my principles, but if they don’t fit, I have others.”

Lugano

THU, 10th NOV, I hit the road and drove from Muttenz to Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, bordering to Italy.

With nine different events ahead – shows, lectures, masterclass – I admit having been a bit apprehensive about it. After all, I have – like many of us – performed very little in the past two and a half years, something that had never happened in the past 35 years of my professional life. Anyone performing knows that practicing and rehearsing is just not the same than standing in front of a real audience – all those nuances of how to stand, look, pause, deliver punch lines etc. can only be learned by combining intelligent practice with real-world performing.

Add to this that I was going to perform and lecture all in Italian. Although Italian, by linguistic definition, is my native language, I rarely use it, as at home we speak Swiss-German, and German has become the language I speak best. As an aside, you might be surprised to learn that Switzerland, with only eight millions inhabitants in a relatively small area, has four official languages and cultures. German, French, Italian and Romansh. And we all get along quite well… possibly this is Switzerland’s most important message to the world 🙂 Maybe the secret is like that of all good magic: Do the right things, and do things right.

Anyway, as I was driving down I was more nervous than usual. And rereading my own essay on the subject (CLICK HERE) did not help much… But then I reminded myself in what an incredibly privileged situation I am: I have been able to turn my hobby into a profession, actually living what Confucius had said over 2’500 years ago: “If you do what you love doing, you’ll never have to work in your life.” This is what I have been doing since 1988 when I turned professional. In all these years I have not done anything else than magic to spend my days and earn my life, not just for me, but also for my family: a wife, children, a house, a car – in Zorba’s words “the complete catastrophe”, which was not so bad after all 🙂

I’m neither a dreamer nor particularly romantic, but rather down-to-earth. Nonetheless, I’m fully aware of the poetry contained in my life when I think that as a child and youngster I was reading these magic tricks, imagining how it would feel to be a magician who could do all these wonderful things, and how they must look for the audience, and had to admit that I am doing exactly that, right now, living my passion, transferring it to my audiences, sharing my experience and knowledge and not keeping it all to myself, through my performances and books and videos, and honestly paying taxes to contribute to my country’s welfare. Meanwhile, I’ve come to believe that the Meaning of Life, the Trinity of Life, resides in finding your talent, developing it to its best, and to then share it with others.

I have neglected to put these thoughts into my above-mentioned essay on how to master nervousness. But as I pondered these questions while driving the burden literally fell from my shoulders, and I was also reminded what Cato the Elder had told his son as they discussed speaking in front of an audience: Rem tene, verba sequentur – if you master your topic, the words will follow.

I can honestly say that I have dedicated the past forty years of my life to the study and performance of magic, never putting fame or money first, but love of magic before anything else, the rest having somehow followed in various proportions that allowed me and my family to live a happy and satisfying life. Not so bad, after all 🙂 My nervousness vanished like a mirage on the hot desert sand, to paraphrase Albert Goshman 🙂

Lake Lugano with view of the Alps

The almost three-hour car drive flew by on these thoughts, and below you can see the view from the lovely hotel I stayed in, which looks like an island in the Mediterranean, but is a village in the hills of Lugano. I arrived early, had a proper lunch in a “Grotto”, the equivalent of a Bistrot in this region, checked out the performance location (see below), and still had time to walk around the beautiful city of Lugano (see photo above) for a few hours enjoying a late Cappuccino (only tourists have a Cappuccino after 11 in the morning… but I was a tourist, so…). Back to the hotel, Siesta (with capital “S” and part of my “success ritual”), and then off to the event, with the show starting at around 10 pm.

Comano above Lugano

The show in front of 60 people in Lugano went well, although I had to draw on all my experience and authority to obtain a setting that would result in a satisfying performance. The room was long and rectangular with eight tables one next to the other, without the possibility of special lighting nor microphone, a truly sub-optimal situation that would have caused great aggravation to less experienced performers.

I politely explained the situation and made them change the orientation of the tables, and just before the show started I had the host move the guests from the two extremes of the room to the center, some sitting, some standing. This resulted in a compact audience configuration that could hear and see well. Furthermore I quickly adapted my tricks substituting a strong mental effect (conceptional) with the Linking Rings (visual), and together with my Rope Routine as an opener, the Card Stab as a closer and the message cut from a large paper as an encore (Kirigami) I had the ideal act for the situation.

The magical phrase to use in such cases and to make even difficult customers listen to you is: “In my professional experience of many years…” Take note.

Lecture at CLAM , Milan

Milan is just a good hour’s drive from Lugano, so I was at the Hotel Sunflower (where the “European Close-up Magic Symposium” organized by Giacomo Bertini had taken place for several years) and was able to enjoy the full afternoon as a tourist in Milan with weather and temperature like in spring.

Below you can see the breathtaking beauty of the world-famous Cathedral of Milan. Needless to say that visiting Milan is a top priority if you ever travel to Italy. The specialty is “Cotoletta alla Milanese”, which I had at “Brunello” said to have the best in town – it certainly was good (white wine recommended over red as its acidity balances out the slight fat in the veal and fried bread-crumbs).

Milan is a city that still boast lots of privately owned shops and not only the big brands you can find anywhere and which are everywhere the same.

Il Duomo di Milano

In the evening I gave an almost 3-hour lecture on Stand-up Card Magic at CLAM (Club Arte Magica). President Jordan (Giordano Riccò) who had welcomed me before several times to his club, was the perfect host. We started the lecture at 9:30 pm and it lasted to almost midnight.

Jordan said they had not had such a large turnout in a long time – the room had ca. 60 seats, and some had to stand. I take it as a success that all stayed until the end, and beyond to take photos and sign books: Twelve of my seventeen books are translated in Italian, so I’m the Italian author with the largest number of magic books 🙂

CLAM is the club I have possibly given the most lectures over the past forty-plus years, having been “discovered” early in my career by the then President Ottorino Bai. I have since made many wonderful friends in Milan but won’t name them here for fear of missing one or two!

Busca and Dronero

The next day was arguably the toughest of my tour: I had to travel about four hours by car to the village of Busca, a small hour from the world-famous city of Alba, which is known for its white truffles. CLICK HERE to see how a large white truffle is auctioned off at 184’000 Euro (over US $ 190’000).

At Busca the local magic club BLINK! – tag line: “The happiest magic club in the world” – had organized a show at the local theatre, which was sold out at its 150 seats.

This was the event I was most afraid of, as I’m not a theatre magician, although I have done hundreds of corporate shows before even larger audiences, but the expectations of theatre-going audiences are different and would warrant a lengthy essay of its own which I’m not doing now 🙂

Briefly: The show started with the short performance of four club members, and I then did a small hours, resulting in a ca. 80-minute event which I can say without exaggerating was enthusiastically received – and everyone was happy, even I was!

My “act” was: Rope Routine (Shigeo Tagaki), Exit (Thomas Vité), Tutti Frutti (Roberto Giobbi), Card Stab (Roberto Giobbi), Kirigami (unknown).

On hold were Linking Rings (Dai Vernon and Richard Ross) and The Red Card (Roberto Giobbi), which I did not perform, as the show was already running late (in Italy they start the shows at 9 pm, this one started at 9:15 pm).

If you like to practice your Italian and read a short review of the show and see some action photos, CLICK HERE.

And to watch a 20-second-clip of the show CLICK HERE.

Roberto at Teatro Civico Busca performing “Tutti Frutti”

The next day was supposed to be a “morning lecture” – it ended up being a full-day masterclass starting at 10 am and ending after 6 pm, with a lovely lunch break in-between… and if you say “lunch-break” in Italy you mean a two-hour lunch with aperitivo, four courses, wine, coffee and lots of amicable chatter about magic and life. This was exhausting, but it is exactly the way I like it!

Lecture in the morning and session in the afternoon at Blink

In the evening I undertook the one-hour drive to Cherasco to visit and stay with my good friend Don Silvio Mantelli, a Salesian priest, who has a magic theatre, a magic museum and one of the largest magic libraries in the world with well over 10’000 titles, not counting the hundreds of magazines in countless languages. I reported about Don Silvio and my experience in earlier The Magic Memories and let you find them…

MON, TUE & WED were days off, which I spent in the library studying, discussing magic with my friend Marco Aimone, and sharing a few meals, the Italian way… no comment 🙂 The highlight being the yearly truffle lunch at Tre Re in Castellamonte.

Chef Roberto Marchello preparing the best Zabaglione in the world

Livorno

Next stop was Livorno, a lovely port city on the Ligurian Sea on the western coast of Tuscany. Although all regions in Italy have something extraordinary to offer, Tuscany seems to have the ideal balance between the sea, hills, magnificent cities like Florence, Siena, Volterra, Pisa, even some a bit too “touristic” like San Giminiano, but still worth visiting, and, naturalmente, stellar food and some of the best wines in the world.

On the way to Livorno I made a 30-minute stop at the city of Recco, right at the coast of the Mediterranean, and the place of choice for many retired North-Italians in the cold months of January and February as the climate is mild with lovely weather. If you have a “travel notebook” make a note to go there, in virtually any bakery, and buy a “Focaccia di Recco” which is the most simple and delicious Focaccia on this planet. As the “Guide Michelin” would say: “Worth a stop” (and even a detour).

Lecture at “La corte dei miracoli”, Livorno

I had to get up at six in the morning in order to arrive in Livorno just in time to have their specialty for lunch, Cacciucco, a fish and seafood soup reminiscent of Bouillabaisse, but with an identity of its own. Luciano Donzella and Francesco Fontanelli were my gracious and generous hosts.

I spent the late afternoon until the lecture at Luciano’s splendid home discussing magic and admiring his impressive collection. Luciano is a journalist by profession with some remarkable books to his credit, and the president of the club called “la corte dei miracoli”, the court of miracles, nothing less!

Indeed, their club location is a small theatre, with fully equipped stage, where I gave my lecture on Stand-up Card Magic to a full house. Again, it ran until almost midnight, and the audience was most appreciative to say the least.

Florence

Next morning I left Livorno and reached Florence after a short ride to meet my good friend and publisher Francesco Maria Mugnai, of Florence Art Edizioni fame, who has been of great help in publishing and printing my German books as well as my latest literary effort, Sharing Secrets.

As a little thank you I invited him to the legendary “Bistecca alla Fiorentina“, for lunch, with a worthy Brunello di Montalcino, one of the great Tuscan wines. (BTW: I’m just back from Berne, Switzerland, where such a piece weighting over three pounds costs over three times as much and is half as good – now you do the math…and it reminds me of what Vernon once said to his friend Tony Giorgio in jest: “Tony, if you were only half as good as you think you are, that would still be twice as good as you really are!”).

After coffee – in my opinion the best in the world is in Italy – and a Grappa, of course, a short Siesta (Spain’s most important contribution to a healthy lifestyle), I gave another almost three-hour lecture to a group of about 30 people. The topic I choose for them, since they had already seen my lecture on Stand-up Card Magic a few years earlier (I have a standing invitation in Florence…), was “How to find original presentations” (this is now number 63 in a series of original lectures…).

As so often it ended up being a mixed lecture, as I have long since stopped adhering to a strict curriculum: I consider magic a complex and infinite universe, and everything connects to many other topics. Therefore, although following a guiding thread, I also mention ideas and concepts on how to practice, how to take notes, how to prepare and construct an act, how to handle difficult audience members, how to deal with nervousness, and a myriad of other relevant topics.

From Ascanio I learned that a lecture must never have a commercial purpose, at least not as its top priority, but rather be structured like a university lecture and discuss a subject in an academic way, without ever losing the connection to the real, professional performing world. Like a good book, I believe that after a good lecture the audience must leave knowing more than before, having been given information and an experience which goes beyond what has been said and done. I’m glad that the feedback I received confirmed that I am successful in doing this most of the time.

The following day was a rainy day, so unfortunately I could not enjoy the city of Florence, one of the most remarkable in the world, but fortunately could get together with a few of my friends for another memorable dinner.

Below you can see, from left to right: Alessandro Daloisio, an inspired amateur magician, student of Paolo Morelli (see The Magic Memories 75), Giacomo Bertini, organizer of the European Close-up Symposium and author of System of Amazement, Francesco Di Luciano, a lawyer by trade, who translated Erdnase into Italian, transcribed the complete Revelations video tapes (!) and other prodigies, as well as Francesco Maria Mugnai, Italy’s foremost publisher of magic books and an accomplished theatre performer. So, you see, I keep good company 🙂

Alex Daloisio, Giacomo Bertini, Francesco Di Luciano, me, Francesco Maria Mugnai

Milano e Ciao Bella Italia

Finally, the last day arrived. Magician extraordinaire Hernan Maccagno from Buenos Aires had just completed his lecture tour through a few Italian cities and met me in Florence, from where we drove together to Milan. The conversations we had would make an interesting book!

In the evening I did a very special private show for just 12 people whose identity I’m not supposed to disclose, suffice it to say that it was exclusive company…

I did my “act” as can be seen on my Penguin project “The Act”, plus a few extra items, and Hernan did, as an encore, his very original Cups & Balls Routine, and I hope that you get to see it at some point, as it is truly astounding.

Next morning we hit the road, and after a five-hour plus trip arrived at my home in Muttenz, near Basel, where Hernan did his excellent lecture to an intimate group of only 5 people. This is really a shame, as he would have deserved a full house, but attendance at lectures has dramatically dropped in the past years (not to speak of Corona, of course), and we are seriously thinking about dropping the tradition of having from five to six lecturers a year, a tradition that I started about forty years ago, when we used to have forty or so attendants!

Arrivederci!

I hope today’s The Magic Memories are not too long (yes, they are…), but, to paraphrase Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662): “I did not have time to write a shorter one.”

Wish everyone an excellent week and hope to see you back in seven days (always on Sundays, always at 0:07 o’clock)!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (99)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: More Italian memories (photos).

These are The Magic Memories 99, gone online Sunday, November 20th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

La Dolce Vita in Italia (Episode II)

I’m still touring Italy, almost finished as you’re reading this, and back home on Monday, 21st November to translate Hernan Maccagno’s great lecture in Basel.

Meanwhile, here are a few more reminiscences from my Italian travels in the past – I could certainly write a book about my magical adventures there!

Lecturing on Secret Agenda at CADM Torino 2016
…after a Masterclass with Juan Tamariz and me (Torino 2019)
Dinner with Silvan (ca. 1995)
A friendly table in Italy: Juan, Carmen, Roberto, Aurelio, Vanni (ca. 1990)

Remember to check back here for The Magic Memories (100) – The Anniversary Edition, on SUN, 27th November!

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (98)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Italian Memories (photos); The Magic Memories go on a two-week vacation as I’m on a show & lecture tour through Italy.

These are The Magic Memories 98, gone online Sunday, November 13th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Italian memories – Tanti saluti dalla bella Italia

This week and the next one I’m touring through Italy, from Lugano (Switzerland), to Milano, then Busca and Drionero in the Langhe, Cherasco (Magic Museum and Bollito Misto), Castellamonte (yearly truffle lunch), Livorno, Florence, Milano, and back to Switzerland with Hernan Maccagno who will lecture at the Zauberring Basel on MON, 21st November.

Italian Memories: Tony Binarelli and Lamberto Desideri (Rome 1991)
Talk with Cachadiña and Don Silvio at Museo della Magia, Cherasco 2019
Saint Vincent Convention 1984: Ascanio, Costi, Paviato, Giobbi

 

Star of the table: White Truffle! (San Miniato, Tuscany, 2018)

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (97)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Escorial Card Conference 2022; Looking for Erdnase; Michele Isenburg does magic; Remembering Max Maven.

These are The Magic Memories 97, gone online Sunday, November 6th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Escorial Card Conference 2022

After having taken a forced pause of two years, due to the Pandemic, the Escorial Card Conference is back and took place at the Hotel Lanceros in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain, from Friday 28th to Sunday, 30th October 2022. This is a three-day meeting, by invitation only, of ca. 50 of the most talented magicians in the universe of card magic.

Escorial 2022 – Group photo 8photo: Consuelo Lorgia

I write “talented”, because some who have attended the “Jornadas”, as the event is called among the attendees, are truly world-famous, such as Alex Elmsley, Arturo Ascanio, Herb Zarrow, Bernard Bilis, Reinhard Müller, Magic Christian, Paul Wilson, Rafael Benatar, etc., and, of course, the initiator himself, Juan Tamariz. Many, though, would be names you’ve never heard of, most young Spanish virtuosos who, nonetheless, are among the best in the world when it comes to the pasteboards.

This photo made it into the national newspaper “El Mundo” (ca. 1990)

Genesis

You might be interested how this meeting, that started in the mid-Seventies, came about in the first place.

You can read about the history of the Escuela Magica de Madrid (EMM) in one of the lengthier essays I published in my Ask Roberto, available as an e-book at a very modest price, but here it is in brevis:

In the early Seventies Juan Tamariz attended a magic convention in France. On his way back, thinking about what he had seen and experienced, he realized that magic, unlike other artistic disciplines, did not have any “schools of thought”, such as there would be in literature, painting, etc.

Inspired by the manifest authored by André Breton for surrealism, he single-handedly set down an original and never-before-done text that would serve as the foundation of a group of magicians then living in Madrid, and who would then call themselves “Escuela Magica de Madrid”, the Madrid school of  magic, with “school” not meaning an institution selling courses for money to beginners, but a “school of thought”, in the sense used in the arts and sciences.

With Juan’s permission and with my initial help, the text was translated for the first time in English for Dan & Dave’s Magic Con 2011. You’ll find it as part of my essay in Ask Roberto, but for your convenience, and as a gift to you, CLICK HERE to read and/or download it.

Escorial 2007: Listening to a talk (photo: Magic Christian)

The members of the EMM would meet at least once a week in the home of José Puchol, who was himself a very well-informed amateur magician with a huge library, and as the owner of a successful company a kind of sponsor who received the group in his beautiful home. I had the chance to experience his hospitality on one of my early visits to Madrid, together with Tamariz, Camilo, and others, among whom Flip from Holland. I don’t remember the magic performed then, certainly great, but I do remember Puchol served us a Siglo from Rioja, vintage 1927 (!) – this was the oldest wine I ever had, and it was absolutely delicious!

The group would study magic through all sorts of activities (see Ask Roberto), and at some point someone had the idea to find a way to extend the group beyond Madrid. This was when the idea was born to host a yearly meeting outside of Madrid – San Lorenzo de El Escorial at ca. 50 minutes car drive from Madrid was chosen – where other talented magicians could join the group in a three-day marathon dedicated entirely to card magic.

At first these were only magicians from Spain, but very soon they would invite experts from outside, among the first were Reinhard Müller, Dieter Ebel and Erhard Liebenow from Germany, Bernard Bilis from France, etc. I had the privilege of joining the “Jornadas” in 1979 for the first time, after having met Tamariz for the second time at FISM 1979 in Brussels and being invited to his home in Madrid. You can imagine this was quite something for Young Giobbi, then twenty years of age. In spite of the honor it meant, and the opportunity to learn from the best, being still a student it was a lot of money I had to bring up: I remember that a flight to Madrid at that time cost around $ 700 (!). Only today do I realize that this was not an expense, but an investment, and that the Art of Living consists, at least partly, in being able to distinguish one from the other.

Discussing topics for Escorial (2002)

Las Jornadas

The idea of the meeting is that various groups study a specific subject throughout the year, and then present it in a talk-demonstration at the meeting.

Typically, there were four subjects: one technical (e.g. Riffle Shuffles, Glimpse, unusual Palms…), one related to an effect/theme (Card to Wallet, Thought-of Card…), one to a conceptual topic (misdirection, timing…), and one to some unusual subject (magic for TV, magic done by several…).

Occasionally, the entire Jornadas were dedicated to one single person, or to a single book. So, one year we had “The Card Magic of Alex Elmsley” as a subject, and Tamariz managed to get Elmsley to join us for three days of magical extravaganza. Another year we had Jerry Andrus, and yet another year we discussed Erdnase, well, his book, without the author…

From left to right: Alex Elmsley, Aurelio Paviato, Roberto Giobbi, Ron Wohl)

One of the most memorable presentations I was involved with, was about the Dr. Daley Notebooks, a three-hour presentation curated by Vanni Bossi, Aurelio Paviato and myself – we studied this most difficult work over the year, met several times in Italy and at my home in Switzerland, and then delivered a presentation with lots of performance pieces we had reconstructed and that found the favor of the group.

I still have the minutes of my part of the work, and if a few write in to manifest their interest, I will try to make it available as a readable PDF for the 100s anniversary issue of theses The Magic Memories.

Topics 2022

This year (2022) the topics were:

The Card Magic of Edward G. Brown

Unusual Trick Cards (no double-facers, double-backers or other current trick cards)

Magic Done by Several Performers Together (Two or More)

History of Card Magic in Europe (Countries Not Yet Discussed)

“The Magic of E. G. Brown”, a book written by his friend Trevor Hall in 1973, was presented by the Italian group, who focused on three of his best tricks: “The Poker Hand”, “The Twelve Card Thought Transition”, and “The Diminishing Cards”. Giancarlo Scaglia, one of the maybe lesser-known in the big world of magic, showed an excellent and original combination of “Diminishing Cards” and “Cutting the Aces”.

As usual there were quite a few comments from the attendees that complemented to talk. These “additional comments”, which come spontaneously from the (very knowledgeable!) group, is an internal part of the Jornadas.

I should mention that there is a beautiful new edition by Andi Gladwin of the book that I recommend. Personally, besides some excellent tricks, I found the transcription of Brown’s talks he gave at the Magic Circle of London to be worth the price of the book, especially his talk on the force is very, very good. Even by today’s standard this would be a splendid lecture.

BTW: This is a 25-page transcription that I have copiously annotated, and if it were not for copyright issues I should be happy to make it available… maybe someone wants to ask Vanishing Inc. (Andi Gladwin)?

Another subject with some remarkable contributions, especially from Argentina’s Hernan Maccagno, were unusual trick cards – amazing to see to what point Hernan has been able to put the most unusual looking cards to good use for astonishing and very entertaining effects.

Additionally, Camilo Vazquez presented a written contribution (a book!) that Reinhard Müller had sent, which gave a historical and panoramic view of the subject of unusual trick cards. Reinhard has been attending the Jornadas for almost three decades, but in later years decided to travel less. Nonetheless, every year he sends in a huge work were he extensively researches one of the topics, and his writings are a highlight for everyone attending to take home. I will ask him how you can get hold of at least some of his work, as I know some among you would be greatly interested in it.

Schär & Giobbi – La Cartomagia en Suiza

Lorenz Schär and I did a one-hour presentation “The Card Magic in Switzerland” as part of an ongoing study about the origin of card magic in Europe. Lorenz is the arguably most promising young magician in Switzerland, with a vast knowledge and skill (he helps Denis Behr curate the “Magic Archives”).

Lorenz created a very attractive PP-presentation to which I have added a few pieces of information, so that it now gives quite a comprehensive picture of how card magic developed from an early mention of card magic in 1367 (!) in Berne, to today’s modern card magic. We found several pieces of information most were not aware of, such as some of the earliest card books in Switzerland, or that Ascanio had been inspired to come up with his Ascanio Spread after seeing Swiss magician Jean Garance, or that Edward Victor was really a Swiss (family name Neuschwander), and lots more that would surprise you. Also, Erdnase might have been a Swiss! (I assure you that the theory behind this is not crazier than some others – see the entry below about the movie…).

Lorenz and I plan to complete the PP-presentation with a few more details and might then put it at the disposal of all interested – I’ll keep you informed.

There was a highly emotional moment during this presentation when we talked about the few modern cardicians in Switzerland: Juan Tamariz rose and very kindly pointed out my merits in the matter, and then initiated a minute-long standing ovation. This is certainly something I’ll never forget, and I hope you’ll forgive the immodesty of mentioning this 🙂

Standing ovation at Escorial 2022 (photo: Christian Engblom)

On Sunday, the presentation about several magicians performing together done by a mixed group of German and Spanish magicians was highly entertaining and brought forth some very useful and unusual ideas – this is a lecture that would suit many a convention. I would even go so far as to say that about half of the presentations given would make attractive lectures at conventions, were it not for the fact that many convention organizers either do not have an academic interest in magic or they bother too much about thinking that the average conventioneer would not be interested in it – I think they are mistaken and underestimate the intelligence of their magic audience…

There were several other very interesting presentations, and the whole event would deserve a lengthy report, which I cannot give at this point, as I’m already preparing for my next “Giro d’Italia”, a ten-day tour from Milan, over Torino, Livorno, Florence, again Milan, and then back home, with lectures and shows.

To close, let me say that besides the most interesting subjects treated by some of the best cardicians on this planet (but not always presented with the same talent as they present their magic – because giving a talk is a profession of its own…), the possibly best part of it are the personal interactions as well as the great meals in some great restaurants, all at very moderate prices (compared to London or New York).

The photo below shows a typical late dinner – Spanish time – at 10:30 pm, so as to be back for 00:30 am to start the next session! From left to right, clockwise. Juan Tamariz, Consuelo Lorgia-Tamariz, Camilo Vazquez, Paul Wilson, Christian Engblom, unknown…

Escorial 2022 – Late dinner at Charoles

The talks used to start at noon, go until 2 pm, then lunch break, continue at 5 pm to 10 pm, then dinner break, and finish with a “gala” of many performing until 2 or 3 am. After that it’s sessioning… Now times have been adapted to the “Tamariz Rhythm” and the talks start at 7 pm and go until 4 or 5 am… Eccentric people, eccentric times 🙂

Escorial 2022 – Sessioning at 5 am
Andrus deals us in…
After Escorial 1995, at Ana Tamariz’ magic shop in Madrid

Michele Isenburg

In The Magic Memories (92) I reported about Roland Heuer using an idea from Secret Agenda to create Private Shows in his own home in a most creative way, combining his skills as a musician and a magician. Now my dear friend Michele Isenburg from Milan, Italy, sent in some photos and told me how he has adapted the idea by offering performances in shops.

Below you can see him perform at his Barber’s shop for the owners and a client. He’s about to perform “The Invisible Card” from Card College 3, p. 523, (you can watch a more recent version with additional details in Lesson of the Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction videos).

“I’ll hang the imaginary card in the air…”

Below Michele performs a perennial audience pleaser:

…yet another happy customer!

Remembering Max Maven (1950 – 2022)

The magic world and I are immensely saddened by the departure of one of the truly most important and influential magicians in history, Max Maven, born Phil Goldstein, 1st November 2022.

Max was a friend and mentor since my early years, responsible for quite a few important moments in my professional career, such as booking me for the first time at the Magic Castle when I still was in my Twenties, or getting me to the possibly most important magic convention ever held in Japan in 1989.

Lots more to tell and say, and I promise to do it in one of the upcoming The Magic Memories in more detail, as this one is already quite lengthy.

Wittus Witt has put together a lovely special issue of his magazine Magische Welt with an interesting interview – it is available both in German and in English. Go to Witt’s homepage where you can read and/or download the English or German PDF on Max, CLICK HERE.

With Max & friends at Joan Lawton’s home

The Magic Memories (98 and 99)

The next two The Magic Memories 98 and 99, due to go online on SUN, 13th and SUN, 20th November, will both pause, as I’m on a small Italian Magic Tour. Again, provided I did not catch Corona before…

So, I look very much forward to chat again with you on The Magic Memories (100), on SUN, 27th November, as always at 0:07 o’clock sharp! This then being the 100s edition will be “special”, I hope 🙂

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (96)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: No The Magic Memories this week, as I am attending the Card Conference in San Lorenzo de El Escorial… but a few photos!

These are The Magic Memories 96, gone online Sunday, October 30th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Jornadas Cartomagicas del Escorial

“Jornadas Cartomagicas del Escorial” is the official title of this card conference, and I will report about it in the upcoming The Magic Memories (97).

Here are a few impressions of past editions:

Young Giobbi doing Zarrow Shuffle for Herb Zarrow (ca. 1985)
Quick lunch in good company
Late night session at Escorial (2013)

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (95)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Card College books again in stock; Card on Sword by Crauwels (free PDF); Picasso inspired by El Greco; Guest Book reviewed; The Magic Memories 96 pauses.

These are The Magic Memories 95, gone online Sunday, October 23rd, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Card College Back in Stock

…back in stock!

Just a short notice to tell all of you who asked about the availability of the Card College books: They are all back now, and you can order for yourself and your friends (great Xmas Gift)!

Remember that if you order form me directly, you can ask for the book to be signed to your name, and you always get some free bookmarks, plus a signed photo 🙂

If you don’t order from me, order from Penguin Magic. You may, of course, order from your favorite dealer, but be aware that if you order from any dealer (except Penguin who is my publisher), in the case, e.g., of CC1 that costs you $ 40, I’ll receive $ 3.20 (yes, three Dollars and twenty Cents). This is because most dealers buy from a jobber like Murphy’s who gets a discount of 60% from the publisher and resells at 40%. So far for numbers…

It seems hard to believe, but for months Card College Volumes 1, 2, 3, 5, as well as Stand-up Card Magic had been out of print. This is due to the still very difficult situation in the printing business, where there is paper shortage, paper has multiplied its costs. logistics, binding, job shortage, well, as Alexis Zorba the Greek laments, in accented English, “Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man, so I’m married. Wife, children, house–everything. The full catastrophe.” This is all true for me, too, but on top of that I’m also an author of books at the mercy of his publishers 🙂

BTW: The Penguins, my major publisher, have promised to reprint Confidences early next year (they said the same thing in 2021…), and Card College Light, also out of print, is scheduled to arrive before the end of the year, 2022, I mean…

Card on Sword by Crauwels

Danny Crauwels from Belgium wrote in, as he has kindly done several times before, always with some pertinent comment, to generously share a work of his. Danny is  a specialist in memory deck magic, and his alias “Maigret” may hint at his former profession 🙂

He makes reference to my The Magic Memories 87, where I briefly discussed an idea for “Card on Sword”, well, titled there “A Little Idea” (there’s also an idea with an umbrella used as a sword).

Danny Crauwels’ (Maigret) Card Sword

It so happens that Danny has authored a most interesting – and I would say almost comprehensive – work on the history, technique, effect and presentation of the classic “Card Sword”.

In Danny’s own words:

“As stated in the copyright notices, this is a free eBook for all magicians interested in it.

The latest version can always be downloaded HERE.

The creation of the eBook is actually a story in itself. It was never my intention to write this eBook. In it you can read on page 88 (epilogue) how things went. Thank you for paying attention to the eBook that is indeed intended for everyone who is interested.”

End of quote.

If you are interested in more of Mr. Crauwels’ work, especially memdeck, and want to know a little more about the man, CLICK HERE.

Picasso Inspired by El Greco

A few weeks ago Barbara and I visited the Basel Kunstmuseum, the Basel Museum of Art, where they have a most inspiring special exhibition on “Picasso and El Greco”. On one of his visits to my home, Bill Kalush, of Conjuring Arts Research Center fame, declared this museum one of the best he had seen – who am I to argue…

Years ago I happened to be in Madrid, where the Museo Reina Sofia, one of the three in the “magical” “Museum Triangle”, had an exhibition dedicated to “Picasso and Goya”; that was quite something, especially the room where they displayed Picasso’s “Guernica” against Goya’s “The Executions of the Third of May” – hugely impressive (for reasons of copyright I’m not allowed to show the paintings here, but a quick search on Google will show them in a few seconds).

In Basel things are less dramatic, but equally fascinating.

Works of Picasso (1881 – 1973) are displayed opposite works of El Greco (1541 – 1614) that did inspire Picasso. The exhibition tells of the themes and techniques used by El Greco, and that inspired Picasso to interpret them in his very own way.

It reminds me of the quote, “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”, often attributed to Antoine Lavoisier (1743 – 1794), but possibly such a truism has already been pronounced by some Greek philosopher, or Confucius etc. This is similar to magic, where most intelligent thoughts can be traced back to Robert-Houdin or Hofzinser, and if it’s a technique obviously to Marlo 🙂

Giobbi Devant Picasso

PS: For those among my readers who are new to magic, I’ll explain the “Giobbi Devant Picasso” caption above: As the anecdote goes, David Devant (1868 – 1941), the famous British conjuror, and one of his students go to an art museum. At one point they watch a painting depicting David fighting against Goliath. The painting, being from a French artist, bears the title “David Devant Goliath” (David in front of Goliath). Whereupon the student admiringly says to Devant, “Mister Devant, that’s incredible, you are not only a great magician, but also a famous painter!” Apparently, he was serious…

Inevitably, admiring Picasso’s paintings and his open admission (great quotes with each painting) to have virtually “copied” another great artist’s work, made me think of how our greatest performers are inspired by other famous performers before them. If I was the artistic director of a magic convention (I was twice, and will never again be…), I’d think about a ca. 45-minute format where four or five very good performers would each perform the same trick. It would then be possible to experience that no trick can be done in the same way twice, and that there are infinite variables that make up a performance. I’m sure this has never been done, and that it would prove quite a hit for an intelligent audience.

Another idea I had, again as artistic director, is to ask four performers to perform a trick that has been directly inspired by a trick of a past master, and to explain the thinking that went with it. The could be done in a 90-minute session in front of the plenum.

Below is an example of a comparative exhibit: On the left El Greco’s “Christ driving the traders from the temple”, on the right Picasso’s inspiration from it “The crucifixion”. If you look closely you can see the soldiers playing dice on the lower right (see painting HERE).

El Greco inspires Picasso

Due to Corona I hadn’t been in a museum in almost three years, but I must say that each time I go to a museum, regardless of the subject, I come out with new insights and ideas.

I highly recommend that you do likewise, especially to my younger readers I’ll say that a good educational background is as important as your skill and understanding of magic. An all-round education, as the British call it, is part of your person (not persona!), and your person is the only one thing that is unique to you and nobody can copy, it is and remains the most important thing, before a good trick, before impeccable technical execution, and before presentation (in that order!).

Guest Book Reviewed

In Secret Agenda, entry of November 28, I briefly discuss an idea that Gaetan Bloom gave me when I visited Paris the first time around forty (!) years ago, namely a Guest Book you leave on the table after you’ve performed close-up. I won’t say more, look it up, it is worth its weight in gold for any performing magician. You can thank me later – it’s soon Xmas… (anything considered unhealthy is absolutely fine).

Roland Heuer (see The Magic Memories 92) sent in two photos of his interpretation of the idea, very nice. Note the custom-made brass label, the ultimate class 🙂

Roland Heuer’s hand-bound guestbook
Guest’s inscription in guest-book (Roland Heuer)

The Magic Memories (96)

The next The Magic Memories 96, due to go online on SUN, 30th October, will go on a one-week hiatus, as I’m attending the Card Conference in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid. The advantage for you, I hope, is, that I will report on it on my comeback (provided I did not catch Corona on the trip or during the stay). Keep your fingers crossed…

So, I look very much forward to chat again with you on The Magic Memories (97), on SUN, 6th November, as always at 0:07 o’clock sharp; some of you may think this is “Swiss Precision”, but this is far from true, it is a feature of WordPress, the web content management system of USA-UK origin I use to create and publish this blog!

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (94)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Paris, Paris, Paris; Simplex Force and Robert-Houdin’s (Partagas) “Card at Number From Pocket”.

These are The Magic Memories 94, gone online Sunday, October 16th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Paris, Paris, Paris

I’m just back from three days in Paris, after a forced absence (Corona!) of three years!

From Basel, Switzerland, I can reach Paris with the fast train TGV in three hours: If I leave at 08:30 I’m at the first meeting with a magician friend at 12:30 – needless to say that such meetings take place in a good restaurant!

Paris is my favorite city. Certainly, Barcelona, Florence, London, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Torino, Vienna, Rome are unique, too, and much appreciated, and I have great friends there, which is the best reason to visit. But Paris, well, is “special”…

Today’s Magic Memories is an attempt at explaining why this is so, with the aid of my latest magical adventures:

Magic in Paris

There is no other city I have given so many (different!) lectures, workshops, masterclasses and performances, at least once a year in the past thirty plus years.

This is due to Paris having so many different magic clubs, associations and groups. Years ago I joked about having to go to Paris for four days in order to visit four magic friends: I know no other city with so many talented magicians, who do not get along with each other; at least when I was young this was the case. Quite the contrary to Madrid, where everyone was meeting with everyone and sharing their magic. I maintain that this is the reason why in Spain in general, and in Madrid in particular, there is arguably the highest level in close-up magic, especially card magic. And Juan Tamariz was the start of it all, but that’s another conversation.

I’m reminded of when I visited Vienna years ago for the German Cardworkshop, the pendant to the Escorial Card Conference which in that year exceptionally took place in Vienna at Magic Christian’s amazing magic club, located in the basement of his even more amazing home.

Anyway, I was walking through the streets and, surprise, surprise, meet Gary Kurtz, who said he was in Vienna to lecture.

Roberto, “How long will you be staying?”

Gary, “Five days.”

Roberto, “Oh, you do one lecture and stay five days?”

Gary, “No, I do five lectures, for five different clubs, one on each day!”

Gary Kurtz at Roberto Giobbi’s home with Rafael Giobbi, Reinach 1992

Yves Carbonnier

Yves has been a friend for decades, and he’s another reason for my frequent visits to Paris, as on several occasions he’s been organizing or at least facilitating my lectures, workshops etc.

In the documentary The Secret World of Magic you can see him along with several others from the Parisian magic scene (Georges Proust, Bebel).

BTW: The documentary also features a few scenes recorded at the playing card museum “Musée de la carte à jouer” in Issy-les-Moulineaux, which is just a few minutes from the last stop of “Mairie d’Issy”, the southern terminus of Line 12 of the Paris Métro.

I’ve been to several playing card museums, and I find this one to be the best, not only for the quality and quantity of the exhibits, but also for the architecture of the building, and above all for the didactical concept that enables the visitors to relate to the exhibits. Didactics is, in my opinion, the ultimate challenge for every museum, especially those that expose objects that are not immediately self-explanatory. This is certainly the case with playing cards and their history. It is worth visiting even for people who have absolutely no affinity for playing cards (such as your spouse, maybe), but I promise they will be delighted. Especially if you take them to a Parisian restaurant afterwards, which is very well possible, as the museum opens at 10, the visit can be completed in ca. 90 minutes (don’t forget to leave 20 minutes for the museum shop, small but interesting).

Two years ago Ludo Mignon and his “Marchand de Trucs” released Grand Livre de Cartomagie with Yves’ card magic that certainly deserves to be translated into English, and I wrote the foreword 🙂

Well, Yves is also quite a chef, and if he had a restaurant it would be on the Guide Michelin’s list for sure. Every time I come to Paris Yves invites me along with two or three other magician guests to his home where we celebrate the three most important things in life: Friendship (stands for love and respect), Magic (stands for finding your talent, refining its and then sharing it), and Gastronomy (stands for the environment and the universe).

Through the years I have shared these culinary-magical happenings with some of the most interesting people in Magic, such as Bernard Bilis, Jean-Jacques Sanvert, Abdul Alafrez, Georges Proust, Jacques Tandeau, Yann Frisch, Arnaud Mattern and so many more.

On my most recent visit Yves invites two young magicians, Arthur Chavaudret and Cyrille Savelief. The photo below shows us in Yves’ kitchen.

Yves, Roberto, Cyrille, Arthur, Paris 2022

This brings to mind one of my favorite books that I also recommend at the end of the theory chapters in Card College 2, in English simply titled Hitchcock/Truffaut  (1966), in the French original Le Cinéma selon Hitchcock (in German Mr. Hitchcock, wie haben Sie das gemacht?), where French director François Truffaut conducts a lengthy interview with the master od suspense, and where they discuss fifty of Hitchcock’s films in chronological order. At some point Hitchcock mentions that when his wife and he invited guests for dinner, the VIPs had to sit in the elegant dining room, but the good friends get to eat in the kitchen!

Arthur has some remarkable ideas, and he’s already well-know in his own country, but I predict an international career for this exceptionally talented young man. He handles cards and coins with equal virtuosity, and he did one of the best coin assemblies I’ve ever seen. I want to go back to Paris to catch his show which he tells me has some incredible effects – he showed me some video clips and it certainly did look incredible (the effect and the method).

As a teaser you can see Arthur do a lovely coin vanish – CLICK HERE.

Bernard Bilis

Bernard and I have known each other for over four decades now, and this paragraph cannot do justice neither to his genius in magic nor to our friendship.

I met him for the first time when I was around twenty and spent three weeks in Paris for my language studies. We met at Guy Lore’s magic shop, and he invited me to my first “Fondue Bourguignonne” (look it up in Wiki), with lots of magic into the wee hours, naturellement!

Over the years, we’ve met regularly, and each time he surprises me with never ending original creations. He certainly belongs to the top cardmen in the world, with an extraordinary technical virtuosity, but also with fooling original methods and effects. If you enter his name into YouTube you’ll be spoilt for choice, especially his appearances on the legendary Saturday evening TV show “Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde”, which he did several hundred times!

There are a few booklets of his work, e.g., Close-up French Style, and a Penguin Live Video Lecture, in English. If you read and understand French you can get one of his many DVDs for beginners and advanced cardicians. Be ready for some real knuckle-busters and mostly elaborate routines, but all quite brilliant.

The good news is that there will soon be a huge book documenting his work, written by Jean-Jacques Sanvert, edited by Darwin Ortiz, and published as soon as he gets around to do the extra almost eight hundred photos that are still missing… As a book author and publisher myself I know how hard this is, how much time and money it takes, and how relatively little the reward is, with very few exceptions, ask Steve Forte 🙂

Bernard is also a superb patissier who took courses with Conticini, one of the world’s premier exponents of sweets. On our recent meeting he made some delicious Canelés, a specialty from Bordeaux, which found my deepest appreciation…

We spent a morning and afternoon together, with a firework of his latest creations, and I’m so glad to see that after all these years he’s been into magic, with great commercial and public success, he is still as enthusiastic as a teenager!

Bernard and I also share gastronomy as a passion – how else – so had a great “Aligot“, a specialty from Auvergne, lamb, and a “Baba au rhum” to knock you out of your socks.

Below you can see us sitting outside of the restaurant (they kicked us out but said we could stay as long as we wanted on their terrace), after smoking a cigar, and still picking cards – notice Bernard uses my Card College Playing Cards 🙂

Bilis & Giobbi, Paris October 2022

So many more things to tell, but we’ll have to leave it at that… my four hours I can devote to the pleasing task of writing this blog are over… and I need to reread it all… and as always I beg your indulgence for any typos, clumsy wordings etc. – it’s a labor of love.

Simplex Robert-Houdin (Partagas)

To round off the “Parisian Tales”(part of it…) I’d like to offer a very simple piece that harbors some interesting thoughts.

First, I found it in a German magic book for children by Martin Michalski. The forcing technique, and the subsequent control, are of greatest simplicity, but I believe that it will fool most members of a magic club… and the work is minimal.

This will be especially convincing if you can do difficult sleight-of-hand: You’ll find you’ll pull this off with great conviction, confirming the adage that “the simple is the privilege of the Masters”.

Notice the subsequent effect that comes directly from Robert-Houdin’s landmark book Comment on devient sorcier (ha, this is the connection to Paris!); It’s the first card trick in the book explained on p. 195 of the original French edition, titled “La clairvoyance du toucher”, which has later been copied (among others!) by Joaquin Partagas and published in his also landmark book (for Spain) El prestidigitator optimus (1900). For many years I thought the trick was original with Partagas, and it inspired me for a trick and deck switch, until Yves pointed out to me that the trick is already in Robert-Houdin’s book from 1868!

Simplex Shuffle Force The card to be forced is on the bottom of the deck. Perform a Riffle Shuffle in the Air, retaining bottom card. Follow with an Injog Shuffle, cutting at the break to the table. The force card is still on the bottom. With the right hand pick up the tabled deck, turn your head away, and tell the audience to remember the card that the hazard of the shuffle has brought to the bottom. (Michalski, Hexerei mit Karten, “Die wievielte Karte soll es sein?”, p. 31).

Continue by another set of shuffles, simply retaining the bottom card at the bottom. Why not? That’s a lovely “control”, and similar to the McMillen Control (see Confidences or the Card Magic Masterclass video on Controls).

To do Robert-Houdin’s trick, place the deck in the pocket, have a number called out (x), take x-1 cards from the pocket, dropping them on the table, and then produce the selection at the number named.

To make this even more baffling apply exactly the same strategy discussed in last week’s The Magic Memories (93) as used in the trick explained there “Stop Trick With Back-palm”.

And obviously the whole thing can be made into a deck switch (see The Art of Switching Decks); I thought I had invented this, but Al Baker was first 🙂

Original source in the Michalski book

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (93)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: “Dave Attwood visit & podcast 2015”; “Feedback on Card in Balloon”, “Reminding you of Behr’s archives”; “Stop trick with back-palm”; “Magialdia 2022”, “Vintage Chart”.

These are The Magic Memories 93, gone online Sunday, October 9th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Dave Attwood Visits & Podcast

One of the “additional benefits” (forgive the marketing language) of writing books is that I seem to have many more friends than I personally know! This is not a paradox, but reminiscent of what Jean Paul (1763 – 1825) once wrote: “Books are only thick letters to friends.”

It is indeed one of my great pleasures when someone comes up to me after a show or a lecture, especially at magic conventions, and says something like, “Your books are my bed-side read”. It certainly makes me feel close to such people although I’ve never met them before. This cannot be bought with money, but it comes free as a result of a lot of unpaid work.

Years ago Dave Attwood from Victoria, Canada, of “Dave Attwood Show” fame, one of the first magic podcasts before they became fashionable, did a two-part interview with me, one of the first on Internet, maybe the first for me… it was back in 2015, which by today’s software standards is medieval or earlier…

Anyway, Dave called saying he was on vacation in Europe and took upon himself a six-hour train ride from Munich, where he had attended the “Oktoberfest” for 3 days (!), to visit with me an evening and afternoon, before heading out to Vienna, and then back home over Paris – quite a trip.

Below is a photo, taken after a tasting of 5 Sherries (see Magialdia report below), and a great meal with venison ragout, a Swiss specialty (it’s game season). In the background part of the over 80 Giobbi-titles, including the foreign language versions and new editions 🙂

Attwood visits Giobbi

If you are new to these Magic Memories, you may want to liste to the first part of the podcast (CLICK HERE): You’ll have to fast forward through the opening chatter to get to the beginning of the interview at ca. 22:00 – to compensate for this, there is a part 2, which you can find on the long list of other guests.

Feedback on “Card in Balloon”

To discuss a trick from time to time seems to please my readership, therefore we’ll have another one on this week’s Magic Memories thanks to Leo Hevia from Silver Spring (USA) who wrote in to comment on last week’s item “Card in Balloon” (The Magic Memories 92) , which used the back-palm:

With the exception of Jim Steinmeyer’s version of Cards to Pocket from his Conjuring Anthology book, I’ve never before read a card trick that utilized the back palm as a secret maneuver.

So, if you have the book, look it up!

Reminding You of Behr’s Archives

I agree that the back-palm has not that many practical applications outside of stage manipulation, BUT there are more than you think 🙂

As always, when faced with such an issue, a first quick fix is to check on Denis Behr’s “Archives”. If you go to conjuringarchive and enter “back-palm” into the search field you get 18 entries (CLICK HERE). That’s far less than if you entered “thumb tip”, which yields 384 entries (!), but it’s a start…

Below is yet another idea which I’ve used to great success in the past to fool more than one knowledgeable individual – can’t remember where this is from, but you’ll want to try this on your wife, girlfriend, magic buddy, or other victim, as soon as you finish reading it.

Stop Trick With Back-palm

Stand behind two containers such as pots, Baseball caps etc. (originally two hats were used).

Have a card selected and control to 4th from top. Place the deck face down in the container to your left. Take the top card, hold it with the back towards the audience and say that they can call out ‘stop’ anytime they like, and that the card you are holding will then be their card.

Place the card in the container to your right without showing its face. As you take the hand out of the container hold it as if you had a card back-palmed, but as natural as possible. Then reach in the container on your left and repeat as you explain the procedure.

You’ll find that you have to take a small step back and stand a bit more behind the left container to make the hand movements look natural. Or hold the container with your left hand. Try different ways.

As always: Use your head!

Your “explanation” should be done by the time you’ve placed the 3rd card into the container on your right.

From now on back-palm the card – the selection – each time you apparently place it into the right container, and reproduce it as you reach into the left container as if it was a new card.

Whenever they call stop, you can show the card you are holding to be theirs!

The presentation is reminiscent of Vernon’s Stop Trick as detailed in Confidences (“Stop Trick With Second Deal”, p. 212 – palindromic!) or “The Double Bet” (“Lesson 41 – False Deals” in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction).

You can considerably enhance the deceptiveness by initially controlling the selection to the top. Start to place the deck into the left container, but on second thought hand the container briefly out to check “that there is nobody inside”. Again, start to put the deck into the container, immediately thumb off the selection into the container, when on second thought you remember that the deck should be shuffled. Let them do so. Take the deck back and set it next to the selection already in the hat. Now proceed as per above. Thanks to this ruse the audience will be convinced that they shuffled the cards, and that the container is “free from guile”. For lack of another name I’ll call this the “Partagas Ploy”.

Try it – with a little attention to the angles this is quite practical and good!

(This is one of the many items that did not make it into Stand-up Card Magic.)

Magialdia 2022

I spent the days from September 14th to 20th in Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain. As those who have been following these posts over the past two years know, this is my favorite magic convention. As a reminder, here is a view over part of the historical center of the city that has a population of ca. 200’000.

View from convention headquarter NH Hotel Canciler

Again, for the newcomers, you may want to catch up on what I already wrote about this convention and the place in earlier installments of The Magic Memories #41 and #44 (I remind you that you can read all past posts HERE – scroll down on that page that lists every link individually).

What is so remarkable about Magialdia is that it is a three-week Festival of Magic sponsored by the city – this is quite an achievement. Their chief organizer, José Ángel Suarez, is even employed part-time to organize this big event, part of which is a three-day magic conventions with ca. 400 attendants from all over the world, but mainly from Spain.

One reason why the convention and the dozen of activities around it run so smoothly is that José Ángel has been working with the same team over decades – this year was the 33rd year. In most countries the national convention is handled by a different team every year, and they keep making the same mistakes.

Another reason for its success with the public is that many events are free, although you have to get a ticket as most activities take place in a theater, or in a bar-restaurant, in a library etc. with limited seating. This is of course quite exceptional and only possible thanks to the local sponsors and supportive government.

In 1990 I was artistic director of a convention we put up here in Basel, Switzerland, hosting about 250 people. After that I wrote a ten-page report with ideas on how to avoid certain mistakes, what could be improved, new ideas etc. I sent it out to the then president of the Swiss association and to the next organizers… never heard back from them.

As an example I’ll mention one small idea: Every convention has some kind of badge, most hanging from a cord around your neck, with a plastic envelope containing a printed cardboard in the format of a large playing card. The smarter ones place the schedule on it, and this works very well for a two- or three-day convention.

Question: What is the most important thing on the badge?

Answer: Your name!

Problem: You can bet your life on it (don’t!), that the name is only printed on one side of the badge, which means that 50% of the time it won’t show up. And when you see someone you know, but haven’t seen in many years and don’t remember the name, thanks to Murphy’s Law, his or her name won’t show.

Solution: Print the name on both sides on top of the badge, like a banner, and there will be plenty of space below to print the schedule… Also, print the name in a BIG type, with the first name above the family name, because most are on first name basis with each other, and print the first name even a bit larger.

This is just one of the many very simple things that cost nothing more and can be immediately implemented.

This reminds me of Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), who once said; “All people can think. Some can think well. But only few think something through from beginning to end.”

This is, BTW, one of my favorite replies when after a show someone comes up and says something to the effect, “I know how you did it – you switched the bills, I didn’t see it, but that’s how it must work.” That’s when I quote Russell, followed by, “You see, even if I switched the bill, how does your bill from my pocket get into the lemon? And if it is another bill, how does your signature get on it? I believe even Professor Russell wouldn’t have been able to explain that, but I’m almost sure he would have agreed with Socrates, who said, ‘I know that I know nothing’! So, the best thing is to simply enjoy the magic.”

You may use this, if you like 🙂

Back to Magialdia: One of the highlights – and there are many (!) – is the final show on Sunday night that takes place on the beautiful plaza in the center of the old town – this is something you only get in the Old World: They put up a huge stage, similar to those used in large concerts, and then ca. 800 people or more, depending on the weather, gather on the plaza to enjoy the ca. 70-minute show.

Another idea that is debatable from an artistic point of view, but sells the convention to the sponsors, is to go to eight shops in the commercial center of the city and have them empty one of their front windows, which is then replaced by a small performing area where a magic performer will show his or her act. In the past there have been luminaries such as Otto Wessely, Sylvester the Jester, Armando Lucero and others.

One year, can’t remember which one, they even made this into a competition and asked me to be in the jury along with Bepa Fernandez, a well-known Spanish journalist and producer, Joanie Spina (1953 – 2014) of Copperfield choreography fame, and José Ángel, the boss himself. There were eight international acts, and the winner was Armando Lucero who received an award that included a prize money of 10’000 EURO. Now, that’s not so shabby, as most of us perform for half as much 🙂

In the photo below we are sitting in front of such a window with an enthusiastic audience around us.

Jury: Pepa Fernandez, Joanie Spina, Roberto Giobbi, José Ángel Suarez

To me personally, however, the highlights are the meetings with old and new friends, and these inevitably end up around a civilized table.

In Vitoria there are places that offer a 4-course gourmet meal for € 25, that’s less than $ 30, wine, water, coffee, tax & tip INCLUDED. This is just something else than having a Hamburger with Coke and industrial ice cream, for the same or more money, in a noisy, cheap eating place, where the waiter brings the check to the table before you’ve even finished your coffee. We from the Old World will never get used to that when we go to the New World 🙂

Below is a photo taken at a lunch, with Marco Aimone on my left, President of the magic club of Torino, Italy, the largest independent club in Italy with over 300 members. To my left are Lincoln Hiatt and Andrew Golder, producers of “Fool Us”, who come each year to Magialdia to scout and audition for talent (that’s the reason they put forth, in reality they come to eat the suckling pig from “El Portalon*, one of the best in Spain, and drink the wines from Remirez de Ganuza, one of the top Rioja winemakers), and then there is Paul Wilson, who is working on a documentary on Juan Tamariz (again a pretext…). We certainly had a blast.

Marco, Lincoln, Andrew, Paul at “El Portalon”

Yet another impression with organizer José Ángel, co-organizers Marta and her husband Victor, analyzing what was good and what could be improved. All these lunches and dinners are of course strictly business, and no fun at all…

In the center of the table see a bottle of “Predicador” from another of the most famous Rioja winemakers, Benjamin Romeo; his top wine, the “Contador”, consistently gets 100 points from Parker. I’m very lucky that Benjamin is an amateur magician, who is a fan of my books… once again a case of Schopenhauers dictum, “My philosophy never earned me anything, but it saved me a lot…”; these philosophers are just very smart…

Paul, Roberto, José Ángel, Marta, Victor

Vintage Chart

Speaking of wines: I just received the latest vintage table from one of my wine shops. Even a novice will understand that this lists the wines according to their origin and year (vintage), and then classifies them from fair to exceptional and tells you whether to keep or drink them.

Vintage Table

It occurred to me that someone might want to adapt this to magic: On one axis you could list the classics (the “tricks”), such as “Ambitious Card”, “Cards Across”, “Coins Through Table”, etc., on the other axis list various performers, and then rate their interpretation of the respective “trick”.

I believe this has never been done before – maybe someone has the courage to make this up. If you do, send it along, and I’ll publish it with your photo in an upcoming Magic Memories.

Yet another idea could be to create a similar “chart or table” with your repertoire, and then have the audience choose which item they want to see in view of the “classification” made by the “International Academy of Performing Conjurors” (make up your own association…). Why not?

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (92)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Private Shows (Roland Heuer and his “Intimate Theatre of Magic Program”); “Coach & Dine with Roberto Giobbi”; “Card in Balloon”; Preview to Magialdia.

These are The Magic Memories 92, gone online Sunday, October 2nd, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

One of the pleasures of running this NPB (non-profit blog) is that I receive quite a bit of feedback containing interesting ideas. I try to include them from time to time if I think it could be useful to some of you. And I’ll start today’s Magic Memories with one of them.

Private Shows

Roland Heuer from Stuttgart, Germany, whom I have mentioned before in my blogs and who is the only one to send a comment after EVERY Magic Memories (!) – he hasn’t yet missed one post – was inspired by an idea I had published in Secret Agenda, “July 6 – Invitations by Avalanche”, to solve the problem of having no performing opportunities during Corona time.

Below is a screenshot of the article for your convenience (BTW: Secret Agenda has been reprinted, but is also available as a practical PDF-ebook).

 

From: Giobbi, Secret Agenda (2010)

The fact remains that not having enough occasions to perform to many still is a problem, and it is an eternal problem for those who practice magic as a hobby.

Roland’s idea was to create a close-up show for just two to four spectators: He invites them to his home, in-between the guests get drinks and Sushi, and at some point he performs his show, sometimes in two parts. To this I should add that Roland’s wife Ikuko, originally from Japan, and an equally accomplished violinist as Roland, now both retired, is also an excellent chef who seduced the guests with drinks and Sushi.

As a musician as well as a magician he chose to call his performances “Kammerspiele der Zauberkunst – Programm Nr. 1” – you might translate this as “Intimate Theatre of Magic – Program no. 1”. Roland tells me that he gave this about a dozen times in the past months, and now starts a new program.

As Roland set it up this was not a commercial idea intended to generate money, as Roland and Ikuko are fortunately financially independent; it was simply meant as a great opportunity to perform in a time there were no performances.

However, I do not exclude that even on such a small scale this could be transformed into a business idea, certainly not a big one, but fun and covering the costs plus some extra.

It’s an open door…

Roland Heuer and guests

Roland opened with “The Program is Wild”, which you can find on my YouTube Channel and which I have discussed in The Magic Memories 39 and 40 (there is also a free PDF):

Roland doing “The Program is Wild”

Below you can see Roland with “Gipsy Thread” as detailed in my Penguin video The Close-up Act of Roberto Giobbi.

Amazing version of “Gipsy Thread”

Roland also reports great success with “Traveling Queens”, a short card routine with multiple effects by Pavel (to which I have added a few touches) – you’ll find it in The Magic Memories 69 of APR 24 that includes a free PDF of the original trick. To know whether this is a good trick or not you only have to look at the spontaneous reaction of the two spectators… it says it all.

Heuer with the Pavel-Giobbi “Traveling Queens”

Coach & Dine with Roberto Giobbi

Although this is not the same idea as Roland’s described above, it reminded me of something I had started before Corona time and have picked up lately.

I have offered an afternoon coaching, 3 to 4 hours from 2pm to 6 pm, followed by an aperitif at around 6pm, and then a full dinner for a visiting magician and his partner (the partner would join us at the aperitif and be visiting the attractive city of Basel in the afternoon), with me and Barbara as chefs and hosts (including wines from my international cellar, Swiss water, Italian coffee and Cuban cigars!). We’ve done this half a dozen times to great acclaim, but then Corona forced us to take a break…

I was surprised that somehow the exclusively male magicians (BTW: I did not receive one single answer from lady magicians reading these Magic Memories, as predicted in my last post), who seems to have forwarded the idea to their wifes, who in turn contacted me to give such a “Coach & Dine with Roberto Giobbi” to their husbands as a birthday gift!

As a bonus some friendly bonds were created as a result of this meeting – this I must say is the real magic of life.

I think it’s a lovely idea, and you have my blessings to use it if you teach magic.

BTW: I charged 500 Euro for this (all inclusive), and everyone so far said it by far exceeded their expectations. Seems like a good idea then.

Card In Balloon

I’ve touched to this subject before, i.e., items that did not make it into the books, always remembering one of the many aphorisms from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s Wastebooks (highly recommended): “Of some authors I’d be more interested to know what they decided to discard from their books than what they kept.” Whether the item below is à propos or not, it is an idea some one may want to pick up, as it is a good one. It did not go into Stand-up Card Magic as it is not entirely angle-proof, however, if you try it, you’ll see that with proper blocking you can do this at almost any venue.

Show an empty top hat (open if collapsible) and set it opening upward on the table – the hat has a needle protruding from the rim. As always, I suggest to introduce the presentational plot of the piece through a Prologue (“Prologue and Epilogue”, p. 88/89 in Sharing Secrets).
You could for example say, “What you are about to witness is a piece of classic card magic. In honor of my predecessors, who had this feat in their repertoire, I will use a top hat, for most magicians in former times performed wearing a top hat.” This is one of many ways to stage the use of an otherwise anachronistic prop.
Have a card selected and control it to the top. As you lower the deck into the hat and start to mix the cards around a bit, you have ample opportunity to get the selection into a right-hand back palm (lefties use their left hand, of course). Then hold the hat with both hands, covering the palming hand, approach a spectator, and ask him to further scramble the cards in the hat, which you move up and down to ostentatiously further mix them.
As your right hand is still holding the hat by its rim, with your left hand reach into your pocket, take out a ballon, give it to a spectator with the request to blow it up (why do all the nasty work yourself?).
The following choreography beautifully covers the back-palmed card from practically all angles except from behind: The left hand takes the ballon and holds it up as you approach a small table. The right hand places the hat on the table, and then immediately seizes the ballon, which you now hold with both hands.
Lower the ballon over the top hat, so that it burst, thereby producing the back-palmed card.

(inspired by an entry in: Duplicate Deceptions  by Billy Wells 1993)

I will remind newcomers that the content of Stand-up Card Magic has been almost entirely translated into a video in my first Penguin Live Lecture which lasts 5 hours and 25 minutes. I’m still holding the record for not only the longest but also best-selling Live Lecture 🙂 the Penguins tell me… You can get it as a download from Penguin Magic, or from me as a physical DVD (as long as they last – there are about 20 left, and they will never be reprinted again).

Next Week: Magialdia

I’ll have to postpone my report about the Magialdia convention in Vitoria, Spain, to next week, but below, as a teaser, the view from my hotel room, with the Cantabric Mountain Chain in the background behind which hides the world-famous Rioja wine region – now you can imagine the magic:

View from convention headquarter NH Hotel Canciler

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (91)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: The Austrian magic convention in Bad Aussee… and lots of topics triggered by it.

These are The Magic Memories 91, gone online Sunday, September 25th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

I’m back from two eventful travels, and I admit that I really needed it!

For over two years now I have traveled very little, had almost no performances and lectures, and was somehow thrown off track. These two conventions reminded me how it used to be, and how it could be in the future. The rest of September up to the end of October things are again quite, but I hope that the global Corona situation will allow me to attend The Escorial Card Conference end of October – I’ll have something to tell you if I do 🙂

Before dwelling on the first convention I went to with a few comments you might find interesting, here is a brief flashback:

Post Scriptum on “Signing a Card”

Glad to see that my little essay on the topic of signing a card “To Sign or Not to Sign a card” from The Magic Memories (88) was well received, and several wrote in with additional comments.

Leo Hevia from Silver Spring, USA, wrote: “I first read about the importance of having a selection signed from Frank Garcia’s Exclusive Card Secrets back in 1980. He warns the reader that audience members who had a bit too much alcohol might deny it was their card if it was not signed. Garcia warned that a paid professional cannot afford to be wrong when the selection has to be verified at the end of the trick.” I agree that this is certainly yet another benefit of having a card signed: Nobody can argue that it is not the previously selected card when it is produced at the end of the trick – good point. And of course this also holds true if they forget the card, regardless of the reason 🙂 – once they see their signature, or whatever they wrote on the card, they will be reminded of its identity, and everyone else can confirm.

Frank Garcia’s Exclusive Card Secrets

I said it before, and will repeat it here: As a general note my advice for anyone interested to perform before real people (“magicians” are also “real people”…) peruse the works of working professionals and extract not just their tricks, techniques and lines, but also their practical advice and bits of business. Once you master the technical and presentational part of a performance piece, these “little things” are the moments that separate the men from the boys, and the women from the girls, I should add 🙂

BTW: I’m curious to know how many lady magicians are reading these Magic Memories. If you are not male and reading this, would you drop me a line at info@robertogiobbi.com? I’m afraid it won’t be more than two, and if it is more, I shall be happy to mention this in my next The Magic Memories. And if it is less I promise to publish a short essay I wrote on the subject of why there are so few ladies in magic, and which I published years ago in La Circular, the official bulletin of the Escuela Magica de Madrid (that was ca. 20 years ago, and a lot has changed in the demographics of magic since – might be interesting to some).

Just reread the paragraph above and hope non-binary people will not be offended – it certainly is not meant to be.

Fröhlich Zauber-Kongress

The Austrian Annual Convention took place from THU 8th to SUN 11th of September, and I was invited to do a lecture and appear in their final stage show.

Stop-over in Salzburg

Barbara, having now retired from her job at the local public library, exceptionally decided to accompany me to the convention, and so we took off two days earlier and did a stop-over in Salzburg, Austria.

Below a view from the “Makersteg”, a bridge with virtually thousands of “padlocks of love” – talk about “Seven Keys to Baldpate”…

Salzburg by Sunset in September

I’m sure most of you will know this city from the world-famous “Salzburger Festspiele”, in English simply called “Salzburg Festival”. Albeit a bit “touristy”, it remains a beautiful place and is worth visiting.

Speaking of the “Salzburg Festival”: The events mainly take place in the equally world-famous “Salzburger Festspielhaus”, that traditionally only allows music and drama. However, exceptionally, several years back, it hosted the “Dreiländerkongress” magic convention, a cooperation of the three countries Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

This tri-national convention was only held twice, in Salzburg and then in Zurich (Switzerland), before the organizers realized that such an undertaking posed more problems than there were solutions… I was the artistic director of one of them, but that’s another story, and I might tell it one day, when I have overcome the trauma it has caused to me 🙂

Anyway, Rico Leitner, who then was the president of the Swiss magic circle (Magischer Ring der Schweiz – MRS), called one day and asked if I would perform in the tri-national close-up gala. Not thinking much of it, I agreed. Turns out this was not a close-up gala but a competition!

My “act” (I never really had an “act”) was of course not geared for the occasion, but I remember it still got some attention, especially because of my performance of “The Nap Hand Deal”, the details of which you’ll find in my Stand-up Card Magic. Other than that, I only remember having done Patrick Page’s “Cards to Pocket” from Lewis Ganson’s Routined Manipulation Finale (p. 200).

The book is a blast, really, with some of the greatest tricks (e.g., “All Backs” by Elmsley, or “Hanky Panky” by Koran), and Page’s routine is a “worker”, for sure. I did it for a short period but then stopped after a while: It certainly was entertaining and had a good pacing, but it was not as deceptive as I would like a trick to be. You’ll have to find out the reason for yourselves 🙂

A bit I remember doing, and something you might be able to use in some similar context, was the way to show the right trouser’s pocket to be empty, whereas in reality it already contained the 3 Aces and 3 Queens for the last part of the “Cards to Pocket”.

At the time I simply used a double-pocket sown into the right trouser’s pocket – that’s the safest solution. But you can also use a white handkerchief, which you open up, put in your pocket, and then simply pull out its center to simulate the lining of the pocket. Don’t know whom to credit with this devilishly clever idea, but if you didn’t know it, it is worth its weight in gold (but you can send a ham or a salmon, that’s fine, too). Into the pocket I placed a normal folded handkerchief, one of those collapsible rubber beer bottles made by Norm Nielsen, and a small handful of sand.

So, when the moment came to prove that the pocket was empty, I reached into the pocket and first took out the hank, as expected from a pocket, then hesitated, reached again into the pocket and took out the beer bottle. This caused quite a reaction. As an additional bit I laconically remarked: “Oh, this is from last night’s party on the beach.” (Salzburg doesn’t have a beach… just the river Salzach.) This is when I reached into the pocket for the third time, grabbed as much sand I could, and then let it flow from my hand in the style of the “Salt Pour Trick”.

A bit of preparation is required, but this is certainly the most impressive way I know to say loud and clearly (without saying it), “I have NOTHING in my pocket!” I’m not sure, but I believe Henk Meesters (see The Magic Memories 85) told me Fred Kaps used this idea in some kind of trick where he needed to show his trouser’s pocket being empty.

All this said, the benefit of it was that for years I could put in my curriculum that I have performed (with a contract and a fee!) at the Salzburger Festspielhaus! Nowadays, nobody cares…

Another thing you might have heard of are the acclaimed “Mozartkugeln”, a small, round sugar confection made of pistachio, marzipan and nougat, covered by dark chocolate. Some smart confectioner took advantage of the fact that Salzburg was the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and created the “Mozartkugel” to commemorate this fact (and make some money along). There is the industrial version, which has to be avoided, and the handmade one, which is “highly recommended”, as the magic reviewers would say.

The real secret to producing Mozartkugeln

The Convention

The convention took place in the town of Bad Aussee, the birth place of magician and mountebank Joseph Fröhlich (1694 – 1757). More info on Wikipedia HERE (unfortunately only in German). He was the court jester and magician of Augustus the Strong for many years.

I leave it to you to discover more about this remarkable person, but all that matters for us is that Hanno Rhomberg, the convention organizer and president of the Austrian magic circle (Magischer Ring Austria – MRA) managed to convince the political and economic decision makers of this small town in the state of Steiermark (Styria in English) to sponsor a Magic Festival taking place every year, and every second year hosting the Austrian national convention. So, they get some money, the facilities, and a lot of goodwill. That’s the way to do it, really, and it is similar to what Magialdia does in Vitoria in the Basque country, and about which I will report next week.

“Joseph Fröhlich” biography by Rainer Rückert

The difference between such an event and another traditional magic convention is that the latter is a “closed event” catering to magic aficionados, while the former has an “open format” that communicates magic and its characteristics to the public. A lot of lip service is paid to making magic a recognized art in the perception of the public, but most conventions, not even FISM, do anything to support this formidable idea, other than doing a public performance or two live and for TV. However, as I’ve mentioned various times before, to let the public see performers in theaters or TV does nothing to add to what they already know about magic. I repeat myself… and few care.

As for the convention itself, there were three things that I would like to comment on and which I believe are good ideas that could be picked up by other magic convention organizers.

1. The Leitmotif

Hanno Rhomberg and his team had the idea of giving the convention a “leitmotif”, in this case “The Magic of France”, focussing certain events within the convention on the magic of France and French magicians. Practically, they gave “carte blanche” to a team of talented French magicians who put up an excellent evening stage show on Friday. Considering that these artists had never worked together in this particular composition, and that they only had a few hours to rehearse in the theatre (as in every magic convention where budget and time are tight), it was a remarkable accomplishment and pleased the audience. I’d love to tell you more, but limited space and time do not allow this here. More info on Hanno’s blog (see below).

However, I would like to say that this idea of having a “leitmotif” for a convention is a very good idea that adds an extra dimension. It doesn’t have to be a nation, it could be any other subject, such as an influential individual or a group of people, a time period, an instrument etc.

2. Aladins Surprise Bag

Aladin is the official organ of the MRA – I have a column in it 🙂 So, it is a double entendre that refers to Aladin’s Wonder Lamp and their magazine.

This was a 90-minute segment presented in front of all in the theatre and consisted of short talks, all with a different subject.

As an example the trailer of the Erdnase film was shown, and then various were asked to give their opinion. When I was asked I said something to the subject that “Erdnase”, meaning his book The Expert at the Card Table, albeit being a classic of the magic literature, of great importance in its time that also marked the shift of the supremacy of European magic literature to the New World, it is absolutely not indispensable nowadays, neither to understand magic, nor to become the world’s best card magician – the book is simply hugely overrated. There is a bit more complexity to it, as always, but that’s my opinion, generally speaking. You are of course welcome to disagree 🙂 The film, BTW, doesn’t focus on the book or its content, but mainly on the mystery around the person writing it – and that’s a different conversation.

Another part of the format was what Hanno dubbed “Elevator Pitches” where otherwise unknown participants could present a product or idea of their own in 3 minutes.

Yet another part was a short interview with a few guests on a specific topic.

Briefly, this was my favorite event at the convention, and I think that any convention could benefit from a similar format.

3. Fröhlich Award

I hope you’ll forgive the immodesty of mentioning that on the occasion of the Saturday evening stage show, which had also a lay public participating, the “Fröhlich Award” for excellence in magic was bestowed upon me and Barbara: After all she did all the drawings and photos, as well as the layout on several of my publications, and if it is true that a picture says more than a thousand words, she deserves this accolade more than I do 🙂

Fröhlich Award: Barbara, Helge Thun, Hanno Rhomberg, award recipient

Jokes apart, as I’ve mentioned above – and this completely apart from the fact that I received the award – such prizes are important to raise the image magic has in the eye of the public, as it tells them that there is a huge iceberg beneath the tip they keep seeing from performers, regardless how talented and good the latter are. I think few among laypeople, including leading intellectuals, realize what a complex world hides beneath the surface: That magic has a long and meaningful history that reflects all the cultural changes of the evolution of civilization, is based on all known scientific disciplines, arguably most of all on psychology, entails a sophisticated network of stagecraft, drama, communication, and of course specific principles of sleight-of-hand, as well as a large etcetera that is hard to put into words.

I firmly believe that all of this can at least be hinted at by making such awards public, and – believe it or not – this is the principal reason why I like to receive all these awards, but I deeply regret that nobody knows about them outside of the world of magic, and even within the world of magic only few care – but how can we expect the rest of the world to care, if we don’t? As Tamariz once said to me: “The problem is not that the public doesn’t believe that magic is such a profound art, the problem is that many who practice magic do not believe it.”

BTW: The award I was given is by far the most original of the dozen or so I have: They have casted a photo of mine in a lovely looking plexiglas block that is equipped with a light from below and really makes the person within “shine” – finally I can say to have received an award that guarantees Enlightenment (provided you operate the switch)…

The Fröhlich Award enlightened

The Lecture & Sunday Matinee

After over two years I have finally been able to give again a lecture in front of “real” people. About 150 attended my lecture on Stand-up Card Magic which lasted 90 minutes plus a few more minutes… As Thomas Otto, a good friend said in jest (I hope it was in jest…): “Roberto Giobbi is the only one I know who can answer a simple yes-or-no question with a lecture…”

I’m happy to say that nobody threw tomatoes, and everyone stayed until the end of the lecture… awake!

As part of the lecture I was finally able to personally perform (and fool!) “The Red Card” and “Prophecy”, and Barbara, who helped with sales, sold out of everything. After two years of almost zero shows that was necessary…

On Sunday morning (at 10 o’clock!), they closed the convention with a “magic matinee”. As Eugene Burger once remarked, “Magic should not be performed before sunset…” I fully agree with him. Nonetheless, everyone was there, and the show was very well received, Otto Wessely obviously being the “star”, simply because he’s a genius, and I regret we didn’t have more time to chat, because this man is as smart as he’s crazy!

As for my part, the MC choose to introduce me with these capricious words: “You know Roberto Giobbi as the author of, well, a few card books… so we asked him: Can you also do something else than cards. Yes, he can. And here he is – Roberto Giobbi!” I performed my take on Takagi’s Rope Routine, which he taught me decades ago and with which I’ve been opening my program for laypeople over the past thirty years, and I closed with Card Stab (see “Stickler” in Stand-up Card Magic).

I was a bit nervous before this show, as I had done just three or four shows in the past two and a half years, and also because my “professional tricks” are not necessarily what amateur magicians like to see at a convention, but I was glad to see I still could keep up the necessary pacing and connect with the international audience. I’m even a bit proud to have managed the first spectator, a lady, so well that after an initial hesitation she left the stage as happy as a clam (as my friend Mike Perovich would say). Getting a lady up at a magic convention where you know most of the magicians and their wives is not an easy task…

Rope Routine on Sunday Matinee

As I don’t have the kind of competition act that is expected at magic conventions, and my professional “show” is 40 minutes plus, I could just do two pieces from my program, but am happy to say that nobody physically attacked me after the show, and I even got a few expressing their admiration. The lady below even wanted to marry me…

Caroline Marx, a talented French performer, and unknown…

Hanno Rhomberg, organizer of the convention and president of the MRA has a blog, and if you read German or want to practice it, you can get more details from his blog by CLICKING HERE.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little report, and that my opinions have made you think about this or that, regardless of whether you agree or not 🙂

Wish you a great week, and look forward to chatting with you next week in The Magic Memories (92).

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi