Eight members competed for the title of Close-up Magician of the Year honors tonight. Under a tight time limit, the night moved along at a great pace.
Joe Tabasco began the night by shuffling a deck of cards, then producing the four aces. He surprised us all by fanning the aces, then turned them over and they turned into four of a kind. Mimi Szalaboth gave her first performance in a contest with a nice story about her finger puppet “Buster the Beagle” who had a keen sense of smell. After a volunteer selected a playing card, Mimi shuffled it into the deck, and then picked out four cards. One by one, “Buster” shook off cards until the final card excited him, which was the previously selected one.
Bill McElvenney sang along with his phone to a classic love song from the 1920s in celebration of Valentine’s Day. His stories are always well scripted and funny. He told us how he bought his valentine a special gift for the day, a red balloon. Bill inflated the balloon and then popped it to reveal a bouquet of beautiful flowers. As Bill said, “Love creates the magic!”
Former President Hunter Gaul asked himself what could he do for a close-up contest. Hunter said that since magicians don’t really believe in magic, he wanted to try to make us believers. After having a volunteer sign an envelope, he placed it into a wallet and then shuffled a deck of cards, and cut the deck. The volunteer selected a card and then Hunter shuffled it into the deck. After a seeming mishap, Hunter revealed that the envelope had a card that matched the cut-to card.
John Kostyal had a jovial approach to his routine that drew us right into his special spell. John’s routine had two decks of cards, and he did two tricks at the same time. He also had a matching card appear inside a sealed envelope. In his final effect, “Choice or Chance” three cards matched a selected card.
President Chris Fabiano regaled us with remembrances of the Mel Gibson movie Maverick. As he reminisced about the film and cowboy gamblers, he shuffled a deck as aces and money cards appeared. Then one of these cards vanished and instantly appeared on the table in front of us! Smooth work, Chris. Chris finished the routine with a very nice tiny silver cup and ball that continuously vanished and reappeared. The ball, that is! A great “Chop Cup” routine with a double finish of large rubber balls!
Wearing his signature turban, the Amazing Pont (Aurelio Pontarelli) entertained with clearcut mentalism. He had a page number selected by a volunteer, showed a “Lucky Charm” card in a small box, and a shuffled Tarot card deck. He finished with a surprising triple prediction; all items turned out to have the number five on them.
Silly Reba (Reba Strong) began with a comedy card prediction, a card with all of the cards printed on the face. But then the deck where the card came from vanished from the table. She asked a volunteer to fold up one of the two-dollar bills she had, and then did a puzzling pass-through of the bills. All members then voted, and the results: Third Place ($50 prize) Amazing Pon; Second Place ($75 prize) John Kostyal; and 2017 Close-up Champion (and a $100 check) Chris Fabiano.