I had a pleasant surprise the other day when I learned that The Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood had nominated me for “Lecturer of the Year” award.
This is an authentic award, unlike more dubious awards. These awards have been presented annually since 1968, and there are two categories: Contributions during the year, and merit-based honorary awards known as “Fellowships”. The latter are decided by an expert panel, while the former are voted for.
It was hugely flattering to be awarded the ‘Creative Fellowship 2015’ with its life membership to Magic Castle, as it was bestowed upon me by very knowledgeable authorities whom I have admired since I was a teenager. Of course, it is equally flattering to be nominated by the grassroots of the organisation.
The nomination is made in the following way. The approx. 4,000 members get a list of the hundreds of magicians who have performed and lectured at the Magic Castle during the year, and then they get to vote for five people in each category who they think did the best job during the year. The votes are counted, and the five in each category who received the most votes are now presented as the five nominees. That’s where we are now. The next step is a second round of voting where the 4,000 members vote for a single person in each category. It will be exciting to see the outcome of the vote! Because I sincerely believe that I won’t have any shot at all at getting the award.
The other 4 nominees are so insanely talented and ambitious that it should be clear to anyone how unlikely it would be that an introverted Swede would get enough votes. Just for fun, let’s take a closer look at who the other four nominees are.
Garrett Thomas is from New York, USA. Unfortunately, I don’t know him and I have a rather limited knowledge of his work and artistry. I think we met in passing once and exchanged a few words. My friend Max Maven said that Garrett and I should get together at some point. That we would probably find a lot of interesting things to talk about, but so far no opportunity has arisen. He has a very good reputation and is well respected in the field, and the little I’ve seen I’ve really liked! He has as strong opinions as I do about artistry in magic, but is far more articulate than I am. A strong combination of knowledge, theory and practice.
Lucy Darling is a Mae West-like character played by Carisa Hendrix. She is from Calgary, Canada and her brilliant career has really taken off in recent years. She received the prestigious Allan Slaight Award (a Canadian arts and culture award) a couple of years ago, and has also received the award “Stage Magician of the Year 2019” from the Academy of Magical Arts. I think she could possibly be the first female magician to be nominated for Lecturer of the Year. I worked with her for a week here in Sweden, at the “Conjuring” course in Sigtuna 2019. She is an ambitious, knowledgeable and fearless artist who is also skilled at conveying her knowledge.
R. Paul Wilson
R. Paul Wilson is from Scotland. He is extremely knowledgeable, and has been a magic consultant for a large number of movies and TV series. He is also a noted filmmaker and author. Due to his naturally dour visage, it took many, many years before I understood that he actually liked me and my ideas. A frown and a skeptical glare is apparently the closest approximation of a friendly smile he ever manages to achieve. The photo to the side here was taken at Tokyo Hands in Japan in 2017. If you look closely, you can tell that he is actually laughing his head off right there. I kinda like the guy. Knowledgeable with strong artistic integrity. I could listen to him for hours, but since he’s not very talkative, I don’t have to.
Paul is also a skilled photographer with an interest in unusual cameras. The photo below was taken by Paul with a Widelux Panoramic in Saint-Vincent, Italy in 2016.
Shoot Ogawa is from Japan, but lives in the US. He is also a part of the group of magicians that I greatly admire. A very kind, humble and generous man, who possesses almost supernatural dexterity. The photo on the right was taken in Nagoya, Japan, where we both worked in 2018.
In many ways, Shoot is the universal conjurer, as he excels in all genres of conjuring. His talents have been recognized by the Academy of Magical Arts, and Shoot was awarded “Stage Magician of the Year” in both 2015 and 2017, “Close-Up Magician of the Year” in 2005, “Parlour Magician of the Year” in 2007 and 2008, and the Honorable Mention “Award of Merit” 2022. I am happy to call him “friend”.
That said, with such an amazing set of nominees, it’s highly unlikely that enough votes will come my way, but who knows? The results will be made public on May 25. Regardless of who wins, I can say with certainty that the award will end up in the right hands.
Update: At the awards gala at the Ace Theatre in Hollywood, May 25, the award “Lecturer of the Year” went to my friend Shoot Ogawa. Well deserved!