Magic is one of the oldest performing arts still in existence. Illusionists, sometimes incorrectly accredited with paranormal activity and sorcery, appear in many written scriptures throughout history, spanning back to ancient Greek times. There has always been a social fascination with magic. People want to know how the magicians pull their illusions off. If there is a magic trick taking place on the street, even if you are not interested, it is hard to pry your eyes away from something so spectacular. Illusionists don’t sell magic as a power and disassociate themselves as a supernatural force. These are merely tricks on the mind. Harry Houdini would attract thousands of people in major cities to his shows, but things have evolved since then. It was easier to fool people before, whereas now, with the internet and social media, you are able to ascertain how tricks are done with relative ease.
The main objective for any magician is to get the audience to stop thinking about how the trick is done and just get them to believe in it. That’s when the real magic happens. It is a great feeling, especially for youngsters and can instil nostalgia for older members who are thrown back to their younger years. This releases a feel good factor that people take with them after the show and can even help them reconnect with their younger self, “The aftertaste of a magic show is great. I love to make this cocktail of illusion for the audience and it’s great to see adults come up to you after the show grinning like children and congratulating you on your performance. Sometimes they are even happier than the kids. You don’t get that in any other show, but it only happens if you let yourself go and drop your scepticism,” said local magician Jordan Lopez from ‘Faster than Magic’. “Thousands of illusionists make up the network of magicians and the internet has revolutionised the industry, making it much easier to get into magic. Even something on YouTube could spark someone into becoming the next Harry Houdini.”
The old Theatre Royal was the house of magic on the Rock in days gone by where the realms of the unknown would send unnerving sensations through the audience. Richardi, a famous magician who resided in La Linea, performed scandalous acts on the Rock that had a real shock factor. He would cut people in half and used lard and cow blood on stage to make it seem real. He also used animal organs and pulled them out as if they were from his ‘victim’, “After this, magic just stopped because there was no continuity. We need more people to come out and take to the stage. That is what we are trying to do with this festival, to create an atmosphere in Gibraltar where it is easy to get involved. I think the workshops this year will put testimony to the fact that people are interested in magic if it is easily accessible.” Jordan says that this fact is even more prevalent due to the massive magic movement taking place in recent years around the UK with more television programmes centering around illusionists, “Magic was a bit stagnant and has gone through a boom recently.
Nowadays, we have many largescale projects that essentially fool masses of people into disbelief. The environment where you are witnessing magic now is different. It has evolved exponentially.”
The Gibraltar International Magic Festival will run from the 5th to 11th December with world class acts from around the world relishing the chance to bedazzle you. The reigning International Federation of Magic Societies champion for Close Up Card Magic, Shin Lim, is one of the performers and it is no wonder that this year’s show has raked-in so much interest. A self-proclaimed, “Sleight of Hand Artist”, Lim performs carefully choreographed routines rather than pretending to defy the laws of physics both in real and digital worlds. There will be street magic during the day with performers going up and down Main Street conducting close-up magic in cafés and in various other locations. The main show kicks-off on Wednesday and will run for seven nights with seven magicians taking part. Friday and Saturday will see the close-up shows come to the stage through Dani
Da Ortiz and Luis Olmedo and there will be workshops for different age groups available, “In this show, we have tried to bring in modern stuff that people can relate to. One of our acts uses a giant plasma screen that the illusionist interacts with. It is very current and very interesting how he communicates with it. I am sure that locals and tourists alike will really enjoy it. It’s a bit of fun and is the first time we are doing it. I hope that I can develop it year on year and encourage more people to take up magic as well as attending some great shows.”
Jordan said that this festival was the culmination of roughly ten years of work that all started with Dutch illusionist sensationalists Magic Unlimited, “I was in Spain around ten years ago and they had built a magical palace there. I met them out of the blue when I saw an international magic show advertised and decided to grab a ticket. I hadn’t realised just how big these guys were in Holland and I was blown away by their performance. I was eager to meet them after the show and it turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” The magical entourage have a summer home in Marbella and often perform in theatres there, but as an international act, they work all over the world. Over the years, as Jordan saw more of their shows and met them personally, they ended up ‘magically adopting’ him. When he was shown into their magic store, Jordan became like a kid in a candy store as his eyes lit up excitedly with the illusionist props and tricks lying around, “They had large shipping containers where they kept all sorts of magic stuff. You could imagine the look in my eye when they said to me ‘go on, take whatever you want’. Are you serious? I thought… but before long I was roaming around in awe of these huge props like fire and tiger cages and other massive illusions. I took quite a few things but my favourite was the sword basket and I used it in one of the first shows I ever did with my sister Shailah. It was our first stage
illusion. Now we build our own things, but it was a push in the right direction. We did a small thing with them in Gibraltar some time ago, but ten years later, they are now taking part in our first Magic Festival. It is thanks to them that this has become as big as it has here.”
One of Jordan’s close friends hates card magic, but he was determined to change his perception of this through one of the masters, Dani Da Ortiz. He develops card tricks for the best magicians in the world, but is also a performer in his own right. Funnily enough, he also lives close by, in Estepona. It seems as if many magicians like the South of Spain and it is a great boost for local magic to get them to perform on the Rock, “You will never see anything like his close up magic before. He records his DVDs in a studio there and he always calls our team to head down as audience members. We literally stay with him until 5am because he is so passionate about it and has a fantastic museum of magic there. He tries all his new tricks
with us and they blow your mind, quite frankly, I can’t understand even half of what he does as you need to be a genius mathematician to be able to come up with these things. By his second trick, it is beyond comprehension. Luis Olmedo is another who will take part in the show and his tricks are jaw dropping. I would recommend anyone to head on down to see them if they want to see something special. It is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but totally worth it.”