December 2023 Banquet & Awards Report

Our annual banquet was held at the normal meeting place, Denny’s. (What we lack in fancy, we make up for in fun!) No business after the food — it was time for awards!

A member of Assembly 248 for decades, and club officer for many of those years, Jerry Ferguson received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the local assembly. And then receiving the Magician of the Year award for 2023 was Assembly 248 member Robert Bengel, a true professional. 

And then, time for the show!

Have you ever used a full bottle of wine as a hidden load — and then had it slip out of the harness crashing onto the floor to start a show? We did! Twelve minutes and three mops later the show started for the second time, and the smell of wine just made everything that much more exotic. 

Club President Robert Ray opened the show by borrowing a $20 bill and making it appear inside a balloon that was already blown up (and empty). Then he showed his mental powers by making someone raise his hand by thought alone, and then demonstrated his ability to transfer energy from one person to another across the stage.

Member Gary Lazok came next with an egg bag routine, and then turned to classic sleight of hand with a magic candy stick and then his four coin trick. He ended with a torn & restored signed playing card.

Club Vice-President Tank Hanna told a true story about trying to learn telepathy as a kid, and showed a re-creation of the tool he had tried to move with his mind at 12 years old. Even with a glass cover over the top of it, the rest of the room saw it start slowly spinning, but poor Tank missed out — it stopped just as he turned back to it.

Club Secretary Jay Jennings was next with a version of Colin Cloud’s Safe Opener, but with an iced coffee as the load, and it just happened to match the kind that Jerry guessed ahead of time (caramel macchiato). As he was on the topic of drinks, Jay then performed a new routine called Mind on the Rocks where he mentally divined the names and special drinks that three spectators chose.

Local pro Eric Giliam amazed (and amused) the room with his act. It started with the manipulation of playing cards, and then candles, and balls. All done to music with a few comments from Eric as he performed. He brought someone out of the audience and did a fun Miser’s Dream and then ended his set with a torn & restored newspaper.

Member Robert Bengel closed the show with some card close-up that wasn’t completely close as it spread throughout the audience. Multiple people chose cards from different parts of the deck and Robert was able to find every card in a different manner. If that wasn’t enough, he then blew some minds by having four people each think of a card, someone else in the audience shuffled the cards, and then he spelled to each card as the helpers named their card.

Brad Zinn, founder of the Phoenix Magic History site, was the show’s emcee and proved what a lifetime of entertainment can do for you. He not only kept the show running smoothly, but did some funny bits including a rope routine (cut & restored, among other things) and a version of Carnac the Magnificent which included a great impression of Johnny Carson.

The show ended, the stage was struck, and we all wandered out to the parking lot for the typical meeting after the meeting. We are blessed to have so many professional magicians (in performance, if not profession) in our club, without a big ego in sight. 

Photos pulled from the video of the show.