One band of people finds treats year round in tricks, and one lesson never gets old for Mike Heidtman: “It’s not the trick; it’s the presentation, the performance.”
The coordinator of the fourth annual “Magic at the Beach” convention this weekend in Myrtle Beach and its gala show for the public, “Champions of Magic,” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Calvin Gilmore Theatre, said the aforementioned pointer remains sharp also when professionals speak at other conferences he attends.
Heidtman, a second generation magician who also has worked as a circus assistant singing ringmaster, said a magic trick might take “a simple method,” but with the right presentation “to weave the wonder around that effect, that’s when the magic really happens.” So, it’s not necessarily the effect that carries an act, but its delivery.
In such a “short amount of time,” Heidtman said, the “Magic at the Beach” weekend, always scheduled in the post-Christmas break time for local theaters’ house shows, continues gaining a foothold in respect among magicians nationwide, if not globally.
Jeff McBride, who asked to take part in the 2012 gala, had heard from fellow colleagues who performed in the first two Myrtle Beach conventions, Heidtman said.
“Jeff is quite a mover and shaker in the world of magic,” Heidtman said. “We were really impressed when he contacted us.”
In another dimension, the “Champions of Magic” coordinating committee keeps a dream list of performers to invite to future shows. Calling this part “a booking game we have to play,” Heidtman said planning for each gala takes a year-round planning timetable, which for 2014, begins next week.
“The talent we bring in,” he said, “are typically international entertainers, and their schedules are etched in stone years in advance.”
Driving for more diversity demands another focus to scheduling, and not just for the variety of magic. Three of the eight acts for Saturday have women, including a native of China – Juliana Chen – and Russia, Dania Kaseeva of the quick-change duo David & Dania.
“Stereotypically, a lot of people think of magic as an old man’s game,” Heidtman said. “It’s always great to have diversity on stage. We’d love to see more women get involved in magic. They bring their own whole other side to the presentation.”
For younger, aspiring students of magic, or even adults turning a new leaf, a beginner’s kit of tricks available for purchase at the show contains “self workers,” Heidtman said, that is, “magic that is self-working.”
He treats magic as “a performance art,” and an entry level kit merits “tools” with which individuals can learn to perform for other people’s amusement.
Never too old to start
By phone last weekend from the Florida Keys, where he plays several nights a week, Michael Trixx said he has blended rock ‘n’ roll with his act for about 15 years since first seeing a magic trick up close at age 25.
A bass player in the 1980s and ‘90s, Trixx said the trigger for his switch to full-time magic arose from having a lit cigarette plucked by a man who made it disappear in his hand.
A request to learn that trick on the spot put Trixx on a new track.
“Fortunately,” he said, “I don’t smoke any more, but I still do the trick.”
Having picked up a kit in a magic shop in Bradenton, Fla., to delve deeper in this newfound pastime, “it was the best $40 I spent,” Trixx said.
He never has enough of the world of make believe, either.
“It lets you know, or lets you think, that the impossible can be possible,” Trixx said. “It gives an escape from reality. It’s good to let your imagination run wild. It brings out that childhood feeling in everyone.”
Trixx said for youth who learn, or grow, to not believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, or have those cool fantasies ruined by reality, magic lasts forever.
Growing older with magic also reassured Trixx, who sometimes finds a surprise in an audience when someone later shares a memory of seeing him perform when that person was 10.
When children who share their inspiration from him move on to master tricks to show their parents and friends, “it’s a good little payback,” Trixx said.
He could pinpoint any number of his own tricks he has at his fingertips at any given time, especially because crowds might differ per place or night, but Trixx said, “You study way more than you’ll ever use in a show.”
Even with a deck of cards that becomes known from top to bottom, “you can make every little thing different” within that material used, Trixx said.
He said his first show covered three minutes, but has since grown to 45, although he’ll trim it to 10 for the gala in Myrtle Beach, his fourth convention in a row here.
Trendwise in the business, Trixx said card manipulation has become hot, this year with neon color cards, such as bright pink or green.
Working in rock music by such groups as KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison and Quiet Riot into his set, Trixx said anyone “within 20 years of my age” often shares in a “nice little flashback” with his soundtrack.
Myrtle Beach debut
Farrell Dillon, an honors graduate of the Chavez Studio of Magic, spoke by phone a few hours Saturday before a show in New York. Born in Boise, Idaho, but based in California, he said the convention and show this weekend will make for an ultimate first visit to Myrtle Beach, especially with springlike weather of late to boot.
He said to distinguish himself in a field full of talent, he combines “really skillful material with comedy that I write myself.”
Dillon also has prepared different sets for opening the convention, for other magicians, and his shift at the gala, “the public show.”
He said his routine will provide an “interactive comedy portion” of the show.
Thinking back to his pre-teen years, Dillon said after seeing Tony Clark perform, “I just wanted to be him. He was the coolest dude in the world.”
That was his hook into a hobby he kept and nurtured by himself, but did not unveil publicly until age 18, although friends knew of his passion for this art.
“I was kind of a fan of magic, and I would practice,” Dillon said, “but I was not a performer. I was just learning and absorbing.”
“By studying magic so closely,” he said, “it’s made me a better magician. Every time I do a show, it’s feeling like I can make an impression on at least one person ... and I get to do this for a living.”
Dillon, who also will perform on the “Masters of Illusion Live!” across North America into spring, said he tries to make his routines as “timeless as possible” so they never seem dated, thus preventing any need to retire a routine.
“The more I do the show, the more I grow into the character,” he said.