Yesterday my fourth wedding in four days! Easter has truly signified the beginning of the wedding season. I spent some of the drive home thinking about how to turn the fact I had performed four weddings into some kind of “four weddings and a …” type headline, but I drew a blank. Clearwell Castle is a lovely venue in Coleford / The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. I have been there on numerous occasions (above is a photo from one of my previous visits) and this is already the third time I have been there this year. The place is very very bad for mobile phone signal, but the car park is a decent size so this wedding magician is happy to take the rough with the smooth.
As I attend so many weddings to perform close up magic it is very rare that I see something that I haven’t seen before. However, yesterday I saw a 16 piece brass band playing. I believe they were the Ross on Wye town band. I took a short video - sorry for the bad quality but you’ll get the idea. Anyway, they sounded great and a fun thing to have at a wedding I thought.
On Saturday I attended my third wedding in three days at the Marsh Farm Hotel in Royal Wootton Bassett. I have performed close up magic in Royal Wootton Bassett several times before (including when it was just plain old Wootton Bassett!) and it has always been in the pleasant surroundings of the Marsh Farm Hotel. The bride and groom saw me at a wedding in Circencester last year some time and kindly asked me along to be the wedding magician on their big day. As far as I know, there are no professional close up magicians or table magicians in Royal Wootton Bassett itself, seeing as it has a population of around 11000. The town is so small that even my fellow magicians don’t try to SEO their websites for it. Although, as a pioneer I have decided to. That’s right - I am a magician for hire in Royal Wootton Bassett people.
My second event of the Easter weekend - a trip down to Southampton to the New Place Hotel at Shirrell Heath near to Southampton for a wedding. The couple saw me at a company dinner last year some time and very kindly invited me to perform on their big day. I have been travelling down to Southampton/Hampshire for many years. In fact, one of my very first gigs was in Romsey (although I don’t think I have ever been there since). Also when driving past Chandlers Ford I am reminded of the magician Glyn Coy who has since retired from performance. I went to Egypt performing with Glyn over 10 years ago. So hello Glyn if you are Googling yourself.
Also many years ago I was booked for several short cruises sailing from Southampton. I say cruises, I think I was tricked as they were basically corporate charters of the ships lasting three nights. All entertainment and facilities were basically ceased and the television in my cabin was only showing footage from the conference that was on board. Each day I had two hours of performance time and that was it. So, essentially I woke up in the morning and had literally nothing to do until the evening. The agent that booked me for these gigs convinced me it was going to be fun. It wasn’t. Thankfully this was a long time ago and now whenever I am back in Southampton I am there more of a close up magician Southampton or a wedding magician Southampton and the gigs are usually much more enjoyable.
Today was the first day of a busy Easter weekend with a trip up to Wethele Manor in Leamington Spa. Eve & George the bride and groom had been recommended to me by a friend a while ago. The weather has been rather cold of late so all the guests were crammed into the bar area rather than outside as planned. There was a lively and fun atmosphere and I performed close up magic during the drinks reception stopping just as guests filtered through to the main function room to eat. I can’t say that I have done too many bookings as a magician in Leamington Spa, although I have performed all around that part of the world! There is a convention for magicians held in Leamington Spa which I have attended a couple of times, but I think this may have been my first wedding there.
Looking forward to a busy weekend ahead.
Last night I was booked for an event at Warwick University (in Coventry - bit confusing!)
The booking was as exclusively as a pickpocket and I had a great time. I occasionally perform at an event purely pickpocketing but not that often. I was able to steal watches, a couple of ties, several wallets and even a pair of braces all without the owners realising.
The event was fun as, as well as myself performing I was working alongside the lovely Luisa Calvo the caricaturist and the after dinner speaker was Hugh Dennis. Great fun, well organised and on a Tuesday night. Now, if only they were all that easy..!
In the last few years there has been something of a growth in regular live magic shows in this country. As audiences seek alternatives to high priced theatre shows or the ubiquitous comedy clubs, a few magic fans have quietly set up evenings that have started to attract attention and build a loyal following. I am pleased to say that I have performed at all of the following evenings!
One of the oldest running is Magic Night - a fun, raucous show held fortnightly at Madame JoJos in London with cutting edge magicians rubbing shoulders with drag acts, jugglers and burlesque acts. Every time I have visited the atmosphere has been excellent and as buzzing as you might hope a weekend show in Soho would be.
Also in London is Conjuring at the Court - this time in West Ealing at the Drayton Court. Held on the last Thursday of every month, the bill is usually exclusively magic, with the occasional ventriloquist or balloon modeller. The audience come because they know they are going to see some amazing acts drawn from the ranks of the Magic Circle as well as visting magicians from other countries.
Finally in the big smoke, The Magic Circle host a couple of different public shows. Firstly, Meet the Magic Circle where you can get a tour of the building, see close up magic and finally a stage show. A fun night. The audience tends to be quite senior owing to the fact that the majority of them have come in via a coach trip! A slightly younger crowd can be found frequenting Close up at the Magic Circle - four top performers performing miracles for intimate crowds.
A relative newcomer is Morgan and West’s Magical Menagerie which is held monthly in Oxford. Morgan and West have, over the past few years, become known as an excellent and innovative act and this show has them performing and introducing two other acts, all within the pleasant surroundings of the Old Fire Station theatre.
Moving up to Sheffield and Steve’s Magic Show run by the effervescent Steve Faulkner. Acts from all over the country make their way up to the city of steel to perform at the Greystone’s pub. The back room of which is, as luck would have it, the perfect environment for stand-up magic.
Bristol has a regular season of magic at the Tobacco Factory. Peter’s Friends is curated by local magician and thesp Peter Clifford. Usually taking place on Sundays in the summer months, the shows are always very well attended. Attracting sold out audiences, the shows are always of exceptionally high standard.
Staying in Bristol, the city can now boast it’s own cabaret magic venue. Owned by magician Mark Bennett who has previously opened the Illusions Magic Bar, Smoke and Mirrors is unique within the UK. Situated in the very heart of the city, right next door to the Bristol Hippodrome (the biggest theatre in the area), it hasn’t been open long but has already hosted some amazing performers. Shows take place a few times a month and regularly sell out.
On Saturday I made the trip to Middlesex to perform close up magic at Oscars Restaurant inside the gates of Shepperton Studios. A very good place for magic as it was the location for the filming of one of the Harry Potter films, as well as some other classics such as Laurence of Arabia and Star Wars. This was my first time visiting Shepperton Studios, although I have performed at a couple of events at Pinewood Studios. The occasion was a 50th birthday and I had a great time. Friendly people who were very much interested in seeing close up magic, pleasant surroundings and a great atmosphere.
I have been performing as a close up magician for over ten years professionally now. That’s a lot of cards chosen, and coins disappearing. Around 2004 I started to steal watches from people as part of a trick and found it to be very difficult but highly rewarding if carried off successfully (I mean rewarding reaction-wise, I don’t mean I sold the watches on). You apply the attention control skills of a magician to a slightly different discipline. Slowly I learned to take more things as well as watches - wallets, phones, even belts and ties! Pickpocketing is not easy, and if people know what you are up to then it’s game over. As such, it’s only really in the last twelve months that I have taken on some bookings exclusively as a pickpocket. I am still performing just as much normal magic but every now and again I have been asked to turn up with the sole objective of taking what I can! I immediately got booked to do this at some high profile events including the wedding of Kym Lomas from Coronation Street and at a party for LinkedIn in London.
I have just uploaded a few videos of me picking pockets: two are live performance videos and one is taken when I went out on the streets and tried to see what I could get from people without them realising I was even an entertainer. Take a look at them here: Pickpocket.
Tonight I was back performing as close up magician in Bristol. The second event of the week in Bristol. And, unusually, another new venue that I haven’t been to before - The Paintworks Event Space on Bath Road. The event was a masquerade ball for first year University of Bristol students. Although the venue was new to me, I have performed at countless events for Bristol University over the past few years. I debuted a newish routine tonight involving a borrowed ring. I have been working on it a few months and tonight, as there were about 250 guests, I got to do it a few times. That’s one of the best things about being a close-up magician - if you have something new you can perform it multiple times on the same night and by the end of the night, it is considerably more polished.
Thanks again to Bristol University for hiring me tonight!