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 (and officer) of Ring 55 for decades, award winning magician Brad Zinn received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the local magic clubs and putting together Phoenix Magic History, a site documenting the history of magic in the area. Receiving the Magician of the Year award for 2023 was member Chris Rose, who has many claims to fame including creating the Magicians on Missions organization. 

Brad Zinn – Lifetime Achievement Award

Chris Rose – Magician of the Year Award

And then, time for the show!

Bruce Kundin opened the show with mentalism including telepathy and psychometry with greeting cards inside envelopes — he was able to reach into his pocket and match the card the spectator was thinking about. He ended his set with the audience helping him match socks, and then the final mis-matched pair ending on his own feet.

Club Secretary Jay Jennings was next with a story about growing up in the middle of nowhere Alaska, eating strange animals. “Have you ever eaten roadkill?” may have been the strangest opening for a set, ever.  He capped it off with his Carnivoracious, reading the minds of four audience members and telling them what animal they were thinking of.

Chris Rose came to the stage with a variation of a routine he performed on Penn & Teller Fool Us — it changes the carny effect Human Blockhead into an actual magic effect, yet still has that “ewww!” feeling of the original. Seeing it live was so much more fun than on TV!

Next was Geno Ploeger, the 2019 IBM youth close-up champion and junior member of the Magic Castle, who started his energetic set with a conversation about doing magic on social media and illustrating it with color changing silks, culminating with a bottle production. Next were a couple cards effects, including a card stab through a paper bag, and then a glass of liquid appearing from the same bag. 

Truly nice guy Robert Bengel took the stage next with a card effect that can simply be described like this: People throughout the audience chose cards from different parts of the deck and Robert was able to find every card in a different manner. Those are the facts, but reality was mind-blowing, hard-hitting magic with a lot of laughs.

Next up was past club President Gary Lazok with a story that recreated the first trick he saw, an appearing lemon from under a pan lid. Then he showed a prediction effect using imaginary coins, and then turned to classic sleight of hand with a magic candy stick and his four coin trick. 

Club President Robert Ray closed the show with some light manipulation (as in, colored lights appearing and disappearing) and then a demonstration of his mental powers using his ability to make a person feel a touch without making physical contact and then transferring energy from one person to another across the stage.

Brad Zinn 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 (and amazing) bits including a theatrical mind-reading routine and a version of Carnac the Magnificent which included a spot-on 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 courtesy of Stuart Friedman and Wanda Jennings.

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