Updated: Jun 12
It’s the start of the new year, 2023, and I thought it would be a good time to announce that around this time last year I was awarded Best Close-Up Magician (Melbourne) in the sixth annual Australian Enterprise Awards, 2022.
You might ask why I have not publicised this award until now…? Well, because, apart from the fact that it is a completely subjective question and either possibly true or not, I have many thoughts on it that express my feelings about art and magic in general that prevented me from publicising something that was disingenuous, ( and yes I see the potential hypocrisy and irony of writing about it now, but there is a greater salient point to this ). I will say from the outset, that some of the conclusions here are echoes of a recent article by Tom Stone, a brilliant and highly experienced Swedish magician. [ If you want to reference his article the link is here - https://www.tomstone.se/en/magic-world/the-merlin-award - but I have to say, his article is an in-depth take down of a con man and an international fraud of an award giving organisation, The Merlin award, so it probably won’t be of interest to you if you are not a magician …]
So the award that I “won” came to me randomly via an email, which was subsequently followed by further emails trying to upsell me to packages. Yes, there was Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, topping out at a whopping $5,895 AUD for the Platinum Package.
So this is a made up award for a made up organisation for a made up publication, all done in some pyramid scheme of a scam to get money from me to further publicise my winning in a non - existent competition I never entered, awarded to me by a ‘Senior Awards Executive’ from the APAC Insider ( magazine? - do they even exist anymore??? ), which is a ‘registered' company situated in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England!
So what would they know about close-up magic performers and magicians in Melbourne, Australia…?
And even in the basic package, I had to pay for my trophy, outlined as such like this:
Crystal trophy: $595 AUD Slate trophy: $595 AUD
Wall mounted plaque: $595 AUD Personalised digital logo: $395 AUD
Personalised digital certificate: $395 AUD One page of dedicated content: $795 AUD
What award organisation asks you to pay for your own trophy? Well, there’s the ‘Merlin Award’ ( see the Tom Stone article ), or a Star on the Hollywood walk of fame - yep, they are $55,000 USD a piece, paid for by the artists, or their agents, themselves.
The point of all this is that there are scammers everywhere. I may well be the best close-up magician in Melbourne, but someone with experience in the field would actually have to judge that and otherwise it’s a completely subjective question in any case and furthermore what are the criteria for judgement? I know for a fact that there are better technical magicians at close up magic than me. I do think that I am one of the best entertainers with or without magic, in Melbourne though, having been a professional actor, character entertainer, MC for a casino and so much more. And so, where do you draw the line? And what is the point anyway. Magic and close-up magic are entertainments and can be useful for a great number of things and for a great number of functions. The best performer is the one who can deliver the best solution to the problem or the request at hand, and best serve the purpose and the need of the person hiring the skilled entertainer. It may not be an easy task to find the right performer for your function, but, being an award winner is no guarantee of quality if the award is not legitimate.
And as Tom Stone rightly points out, it is time to speak up about these shoddy, scamming, rip-off attempts by any type of illegitimate group, individual or organisation. Otherwise, silence allows it to continue and the detrimental effects of that are exponential. The oft quoted aphorism that ‘silence equals consent’ ( is problematic for a number of reasons but ) in this instance taken at face value, has a valid point in application. Or perhaps more apt is the sentiment philosopher John Stuart Mill delivered in 1867 “ Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. “
So it is important that we call out fraud in everything but especially in the art of magic, because the art is built on deception, but it is an honest art only if the reputations of its practitioners are not built on deception.
And so I hereby reject the award of Best Close-Up Magician (Melbourne) in the sixth annual Australian Enterprise Awards, 2022.
Let's make this year and the years to come, the times to speak up and to not just look on and do nothing.