A magician escapes from a straight jacket as an audience member downs shots. Another magician wanders blindly around this room with his head wrapped in foil. A third reveals a chosen card … from behind the fly of the magician’s own pants.
Offbeat and edgy, those bits and more were included in this year’s slightly out-of-control edition of the Magic Showcase at Dozen Street. A new tradition for Assembly 206, the showcase was held at the East Austin Dozen Street lounge and included six magicians, a stand-up comic and a piano player. The June 16th fundraiser was produced by Assembly President Jake Dyer and magician Jack Darling.
The club was sweltering hot, especially after it began filling to capacity shortly after 8 p.m. About 30 seats were scattered around the front of the stage, and more audience members stood along one side. Local mojo-man Saul Ravencraft told fortunes before the show and during a brief intermission.
The opening performance slot went to Assembly Vice President Cranius Astounding, who demonstrated his powers of awesomeness by retrieving a selected card from a vicious looking rat trap. Cranius also played one of his crowd-pleasing original ukulele tunes.
Following Cranius was Joe Walden, a rising young talent from the University of Texas Magic Club. Walden performed two very interesting mind-reading bits, including a book test.
Saul Ravencraft came next. He performed a fascinating cold-reading bit — and mixed into it a heaping dose of his uniquely entertaining creepiness.
Magical Mystical Michael, also known as Michael Kaufman, was the last onstage before intermission. Michael had the crowd guffawing with a hilarious rope bit, and he also did a funny routine in which he repeatedly produced and vanished red lights from his finger tips.
The second half of the show began with a beautiful solo from Ezra Reynolds, the on-stage piano player for this year’s showcase. Ezra also provided background music throughout the evening.
Ella Gale, another non-magician, came next. The stand-up comic told a hilarious (and slightly filthy) story about vacationing with an old boyfriend.
Following Ms. Gale was Albert Lucio, another Assembly VP. He extracted himself from a straight jacket as an audience member downed a line of soft drink shots. The bit ended with Lucio getting plugged in the face with a cream pie.
Last up were Jack Darling and wife Christine, performing as Turning Tricks with the Darlings. After a ludicrous mind-reading bit involving differently colored whoopee cushions, Jack and Christine ended the Showcase with their “what’s in my pants” routine in which an audience member extracts a pre-selected card (and other items) from Jack’s open fly.
Assembly President Dyer, who served as co-host for the fundraising event, said that through it he hoped to help promote magic in Central Texas. Implicit in that goal, said Dyer, is working to nourish a magic scene that is unique to Austin. That means reaching out to potential new audience members who may have little familiarity with magic, but who nonetheless frequent offbeat music venues like Dozen Street.
Dozen Street draws an eclectic crowd of college students, artists, musicians and bohemian types. “But we may nonetheless be outgrowing it,” said Dyer. “It was standing room only for the Showcase — which was a good thing — but we may need to find a bigger venue next time around.”