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Friday Gala Show - 10th July

Entitled the “World of Illusion” – Friday’s Gala show was mc’d by Debbie McGee - and the once likeable Paul Daniels who we would later discover would go from charming MC to instant stick-your-foot-in-it, target of audience derision. Oh the joy of magic.

Ya Ya Man- full on ballerina who did her near entire card manipulation act on her ‘tip toes’ Flying parasols, card spinning and more.

Otto Wessely – comedy is a peculiar thing and you either love this man or hate him. I find his humour puerile and insufferable – but am definitely in the minority, as the Chief Genii seated next to me was canning himself throughout ;-)

Marco Tempest treated us to one of his digital iphone segments followed by Michael Moschen – who for me was by the far the most disappointing juggler I have ever come across on a magic gala show. As anyone knows – the juggler is guaranteed to kill … but not in this case.

His performance lacked all energy – it was long and drawn out – and his contact ‘juggling’ bit with a steel rod looked more like interpretative dance gone wrong. He continually walked off stage at the end of each sequence ( what professional performer does this ? ) and he simply ended his act without so much as a bow or climax. Terrible.

By this stage, Paul Daniels’ MC segments became longer and longer – and he now committed the most cardinal of MC sins … your job is to keep the show moving, not hog the spotlight.

Cyril and Henry Evans tag teamed for a human card effect on stage with multiple spectators. Powerful effect – but a little too drawn out. Kudos to Cyril for reading the audience and speeding things up.

Eun Gyeol Lee presented a George Mielies ipad interactive effect as seen at the recent AMA Awards Show. Very creative but certainly not the most enjoyable of his vast amount of material. EG plays packed houses in South Korea – and it would have been great to see some of his other ‘non technology’ material.
Paul Daniels had by now quickly overstayed his welcome– humiliating Luis de Matos’ partner on stage with his demeaning sexist comments and behaviour. Anybody else would have slapped the man and walked off stage rather than sit through his chauvinistic attitude.

From 21st century ipads we dashed back to the ‘80s with Vito Lupo. Amongst billowing smoke – it was near impossible to see what on earth he was doing at the start. Cigarette manipulation in a horribly dated piece complete with sprinkle glitter, breakaway fans, streamers and my personal FISM favourite – snowstorm.

Paul wasn’t done yet and made the stupid mistake of taking it upon himself to insult the attendees … bursting the delicate bubble in place between performer and audience. The artists had already been warned to ‘tread carefully’ in light of the Juan Mayoral ‘protest’.

Paul’s diatribe instantly alienated half the audience by telling anyone who dares has the audacity to complain to not bother coming back to the next one ... and resulted in mass jeers and boos ( predominantly from the back of the audience where the general populous were seated )

And rightly so.

There seems to be this bizarre belief that any sort of criticism instantly makes you an enemy of the establishment. His side swipe comment that magicians should go join a golf club to see what is “expensive” – shows his complete detachment from reality … and as one so accurately put it “an embarrassing lack of class perspective”

Attendees had saved for months to attend what was one of the most expensive FISM registrations of recent times – only to be told "you come here, you get lessons from us and you can make money"

The arrogance defies belief.

Video here

By the end of the diatribe – he simply walked off stage with a cursory mention of Franz Harary as the next act.

The lack of professionalism displayed by Paul was unforgivable … effectively leaving Franz to play without so much as a build-up and to his detriment, a now hostile crowd.

What gave Paul the right to do this ?

We were by now at 2 ½ hours closing in at well-past midnight. And Franz suffered. He did his best under difficult circumstances – and having previously seen his full show, it was not a true reflection of his capabilities as a genuinely engaging performer.

The marathon show finally ended – delaying the late night lecture schedule even further. David Berglas I believe only got started well after 1 am …

Never a dull moment at FISM.
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Why do some categories show as "not awarded"?
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Fism has their own standard and criteria to reach the award.
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Ok. Thank you!
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Your very welcome
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DAY 6 - cont'd


After the bitter-sweet feeling of the awards ceremony – the FISM insignia magically returned for the Grand Prix show featuring the 1st place winners in all the respective categories.

Hosting was expertly handled by Max Maven who brought the necessary dignity back to the show. Unfortunately the minute the TV cameras came on for the Grand Prix announcement it was back to Masters of Magic mode … goodbye FISM logo … good bye Max – sell out FISM and welcome Italian TV show presenter. Embarrassing.

The most comical moment of all – came at the end. Grand Prix winners were announced … confetti cannons launched and end of show. Or so we thought.

Turns out no one bothered to rehearse the full awards ceremony – or once the Masters of Magic crew got the footage they needed, they didn’t care any longer ( I’m leaning towards the latter )

They forgot an award! So whilst the crowds are filtering out … Domenico Dante walks on stage and attempts to bring on Danillin to present his sponsored prize of $12 500 to each of the winners ( seems if you want to buy facetime at FISM – it’s a simple case of sponsoring a cash prize ) No one had thought of a microphone for his translator – Danillin is rambling on – and the crowds are filtering out … amateur hour once again – a stark reminder that if it didn’t interest the TV special – it wasn’t of consequence at FISM Italy 2015.

The final punch – an announcement that if anyone wants to stay behind – they would be filming another TV special unrelated to the FISM awards ceremony (!). They really don’t know when to stop.

And so drew to a close FISM Italy 2015.

As with all FISMs – there are always ‘disagreements’

In terms of the results – I firmly believe that the best acts won. Both Pierric and Hector Mancha were worthy Grand Prix winners. Congratulations to them both. Many, however, had strong feelings otherwise … such is the international mix of cultures and perspectives that attend a FISM.

In the cards category - Woody Aragon did a superb act– but was clearly overtime and as such disqualified. The protests are already doing the rounds online that magic is an art and should not be constrained by mere “time limits” …. along with rumours of the jury wanting to ignore the time limit and still award him first place. Thankfully the contest rules were applied without fear or favour and the disqualification was upheld. I truly feel sorry for Woody – but to make an exception for one would be unfair to all.


As I reflect back on the last week – I am constantly reminded of how fortunate we are to be a part of this family of magic. FISM is like no other event in the world. And I would never miss it.

It is, however, important that we continually push ourselves to do better. And analyse what worked and where we fell short.

Identifying areas of weakness is not showing lack of support, it shows we care. The World Championships of Magic deserves nothing less. The challenge is not just to have a good FISM but to make it great …

And with that – some closing thoughts before we commit FISM Italy 2015 to the history books

The Good

*Destination: Rimini was a beautiful town. Picturesque, laid back – it was a slice of the good life in Italy.

*Design & promotion: the quality of the marketing was of the highest order. FISM has not had this quality marketing and design before – ever.

*Convention program: a beautiful booklet that was the nicest I have seen.

*White gala dinner: feeding 2500+ magicians is a recipe for disaster. The Italians did it with aplomb …

*Incredible talent: FISM Italy had an amazing line-up of artists – quite the easily the most number of performers that I can recall. Nearly anyone who was someone in magic was there.

*Lecture variety: no matter your tastes – there was a lecture for you.

*Contest standards: Overall – the contest was one of the strongest in a long time thanks to the preliminary continental events.

*AV technology: from Ultra HD screens to one of the most sophisticated lighting rigs ever – FISM Italy took available technology to a whole new level

*Free wifi: a must-have at any event.

*Close-up auditorium: despite being poorly setup for the contest– the auditorium itself was ideal complete with USB charging points !

*Free stuff: Hanky Panky magic set & Card Shark deck are always a treat in the delegates bag.

*Dealers positioning: some hated it, others enjoyed it. Having the dealers throughout the venue personally allowed me to see more of them than I normally would have

*iPhone App: the FISM Italy app was a great and useful resource.

*Outdoor late night area: thanks to glorious summer weather – the outdoor session area proved to be a hit.

*Gay Ljungberg: the master of backstage contest management. A true miracle worker.

*Max Maven: a “King amongst men” … there are very few who can so easily read a crowd and turn an event around.

*David Williamson video: small touches like this are truly appreciated. They tap into the ‘zeitgeist’ of an event and give expression to what an audience is feeling

The bad

*Unrealistic expectations: calling yourself the “best FISM ever” is setting yourself up for disappointment.

*Travel: the FISM experience needs to start at the airport on arrival ... I never forget the welcoming at Dresden airport in 1997. Organisers must put themselves in the shoes of an attendee arriving in a foreign country for the very first time.

*Hotels: The official hotel agency was charging more than booking through Expedia or dealing directly with the hotel. When you are booking 1000+ rooms – you should be wielding significant purchasing power. Don’t rip the delegates off before they even arrive

*Host city support: there was no visible evidence of any support from the city of Rimini itself. The FISM event pumped millions into the local economy – and no discernable contribution from the city itself.

*Location and transport: the convention centre was in an isolated part of town with no nearby amenities – and the promise of hotels within easy walking distance was a downright fabrication. Getting to and from your hotel was inconvenient & expensive … so easily remedied by the provision of a complimentary shuttle service that did the hotel loop throughout the day.

*Convention centre: the PalaCongressi was woefully ill-equipped to deal with the number of people in terms of food & drinks. Staff were slow and inefficient, queues everywhere and trying to get something on the run next to impossible. The convention centre needs multiple restaurants, quick & easy food options and better still – bring the refreshments to the attendees … why not be offering snacks for purchase right in the theatre itself between acts ?

*Punctuality: punctuality is non-negotiable for an event of this scale. If you are starting events 90 minutes late – then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in your planning.

*Registration: registration was an unmitigated disaster. Simply unforgiveable. This is the one element of a convention which can be prepared and ready to go months in advance. Registrations were missing, bookings could not be found and bag distribution resembled rugby scrums. You need a strong administrator to be managing this aspect from day one – and better still professional convention organisers.

*Reserved seating: it really is not that difficult to offer reserved seating for theatre shows. Ticketing companies manage to ticket entire stadiums without hassle – why can we not do 3000 seats ? Writing ticket numbers by hand may be an indication that you’re going about things the wrong way. Due to the complete breakdown in administration, reserved seating was quickly forgotten.

*Lack of tiered seating: 2500+ seats on a flat surface is not ideal. The back section of a venue needs to be tiered.

*Televison: this wasn’t a FISM event … this was a Masters of Magic made for TV show. The blame for this falls squarely on the FISM executive for simply handing over the rights with no control and for zero remuneration.

*Contestants: they needed to be afforded VIP status. They are the heroes of the event.Treating them with disdain results in animosity.

*Lack of communication: this was a hallmark of FISM Italy 2015. There was no newsletter. No one welcoming anyone. No one telling the audience what was happening. Give the event a face – and simply talk to people. If an event runs late – communicate. The contest jury also need a clear communication system with backstage … and please can we give our MCs ear pieces. This business of “are you ready yet” is a bit much after every act.

*Attitude: ‘ushers’ and ‘security staff’ more closely resembled Mafioso and towards the end of the event, full on bouncers were brought in. This resulted in a very clear antagonistic “us vs them” approach. The Help Desk was generally anything but … and as problems mounted, they literally went into full defensive shut down mode. A smile goes a long way.

*Ushering & theatre logistics: Mafioso security had the delightful desire to lock down all theatre doors and heard 3000 people through a single entrance for shows.

*Security bracelet: this was a ridiculous and unnecessary requirement. How many people do you possibly believe flew all the way to Rimini and attempted to sneak into FISM without paying ? I guarantee no more than a handful … far outweighed by the cost, aggravation and expense incurred to everyone else.

*Name badges: forget about legible names - just having a name on a badge would be nice 

*Timing lights: let’s find the biggest and largest timing light possible – so we don’t have contestants complaining after the fact that they couldn’t see the light.

*The budget airline approach: FISM Italy went the route of the airlines. New VIP category ( with non existent benefits ) and the removal of things that we previously took for granted. The delegates bag given to standard attendees was a real budget affair.

*Close-up: close-up was the poor cousin of stage at FISM Italy. Complete lack of production value and not even a backdrop for contestants.

*Monitors in the hallways: unlike previous FISMs there were no large screen monitors relaying events throughout the venue.

*Overscheduled: this was by far the most jam-packed FISM in recent history – to its detriment. And with the lack of punctuality, and lengthy events – the knock-on effects were severe. Wouldn’t it be great if we could start the contests at a more reasonable hour such as 10 am ?

*Lack of a personal touch: maestro Frank Wilson would have helped immensely – and given the event that much needed personal human connection.

*Awards show: lets make the awards show a strictly formal affair. Having contestants up on stage in jeans and t-shirt to receive their trophies is embarrassing. Ideally, let’s hand out all the awards in a single session and not leave any out ;-)

*Paul Daniels: his insulting the audience took FISM to a new low and lacked all professionalism. He lost the respect of thousands of his peers that night.

In closing, Walter Rolfo’s heart was squarely in the right place. He had a clear love of magic but unfortunately fell short of what he so obviously desired in attempting to make this the “best FISM ever.”

Despite the ‘issues’ – there are always the special things which happen irrespective – camaraderie, inspiration and friends from around the globe. I truly enjoyed my FISM Italy experience and will remember it for many years to come. For everyone who helped make that a reality, I thank you.

See you in Busan in 2018!
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Very accurate, and I wholeheartedly agree. We love FISM, we travel from all corners of the earth, and we all want it to be great. Thanks for the reporting. See you in Busan!
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Grazie! Very good work. As an Italian I'm sorry for all the unpleasant issues that you and all the other magicians around the world experienced in Rimini. Let's hope the Korea team (and the next teams that will host a FISM) will take note of the issues to avoid them in the future; actually many mismanaged things surprised me. As a local I know very well that. in general, we are not the best organized people... The lack of shuttles, huge delays, food and drinks inefficiencies (but at least food was not too expensive), and the rude handling of ushers were some of the complains I heard more frequently.
Fortunately, as you said, the overall experience, the opportunity to make some new magic friends and IMO above all the quality of a good amount of magic seen in the context made this a lot more tolerable and a pleasant memory anyway!
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Thanks for the great coverage. I almost went and am glad I didn't.
GrEg oTtO

Richard Kaufman
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You should have gone: you would have had a great time. I did!
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I agree with the majority of the posted Final Thoughts.

Overall FISM 2015 was great and so much superior to FISM 2012 which was an unmitigated disaster, thanks to the classless organizer.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Busan in 2018. Hopefully, the organizers will take note of a lot of these comments.
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Thank you for the review. Exactely how I experienced it in Rimini.
Let's hope FISM organisers learn from the mistakes...
T.G. Jones
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I considered going this year and based on the reviews it looks like I made the right decision. It was billed to be better then Beijing, Stockholm and Blackpool but from the evidence presented it looks like it might have been the worst one yet. I enjoyed Blackpool and Beijing, less so Stockholm. The question now is whether to go to Busan, hmmm?
Steven Leung
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Thank you so much for posting this thread. Especially for those who did not attend Rimini FISM can glimpse what we experience over a week in Rimini.

It was only my second FISM, I have mixed feelings and quite emotional about this FISM as well.

It was the first FISM in Europe that I attended, previous FISM I went to was Beijing and now I have a better understanding of the difference in terms of dealers and competitors in contest. To be honest, both elements were much better if FISM organize in Europe, so you can expect what happen in 2018 for elements I just mentioned.

However, speaking of hardware in terms of hotels, convention centre, catering, unfortunately to say, Rimini is not an ideal place. No shuttle bus back and forth from convention centre to hotel area was a disaster. I was fortune enough to share taxi two mornings with others, walked more than 40 mins in one day, then reserved taxi the day before for other two days to make sure that I do not need to walk under melting sun in the morning.

The air conditioning was really bad in convention centre and dealers on second floor suffer direct sunshine on day time, and day time last until almost 10 pm in Rimini.

No one care about filming is prohibited during competition, I even saw many people with crew T-shirt on using smart phone to film, there is no difference in close up gala, stage gala whatever until the last day a sign no video / photo show on the enterance of stage hall.

I still wonder why we need to wear that wrist band made by paper otherwise the mafia security kick us out from convention centre, please note we all had our badge on our necks.

Delay over 90 mins on opening gala, stage competition, double up attendees tiredness on day one. I spent over 30 hours, 2 air flight + 3 trains with loading and unloading heavy luggage from my country thousand of miles away and not expecting things organize like that.

Sorry I have to say that what Paul Daniels said really offended most people. FISM is not the most expensive convention but it is not cheap either. Speaking that way did not help to make the situation better in gala shows in front of 2 thousand brothers and sister of the magic family.

Juan Mayoral is a hero.

From what I know, at least 5 person got robbed / steal during their trip to FISM in Italy...

Sunday soft opening reception was a disaster... I stood there for 2 hours just to get my welcome pack.

For those who want to know Juan Tamariz Magic Bar, the organizer seems have no idea what Juan needs and need Maestro to ask and we all follow Maestro at first just to get chairs that we simply want to make it happen the first night. Ridiculous, how come it need the Maestro to ask at the scene the proper simple room to perform for his audience?

On the bright side, I have went through...

6 days with David Williamson and he introduce me more magic friends. I looking forward to continus magic journey with this giant in magic. His lecture is a must watch, standing ovation as usual.
2 standing ovation magic nights, 2 standing ovation one man show, workshop by Maestro Juan Tamariz with standing ovation of course.
Gaeten Bloom lecture made me cry, emotional touching lecture.
Guy Hollingworth's standing ovation lecture and I helped to clear the line for all who get his sold-out new lecture notes.
Hong Kong made their new page in history of magic, two contestants awarded second runner up in Parlor and Card Magic, magic scene in Hong Kong will not the same and will getting only better.

I hope that I can make it to Bushan in 2018, and looking forward to see you guys there. Note, the bidding document of Bushan said we can walk 5km in 5 mins and I start to doubt ... fingercross...

In summary, I would like to quote the Grand Prix winner Hector Mancha speech, one the best I ever heard.
'Thank you Magic of Spain, and thank you Ascanio and Juan Tamariz!'
Most memorable moment - with Maestro Juan Tamariz & Consuelo Lorgia in FISM Busan 2018.

"Being fooled by a trick doesn't always mean they are having a good time" - Homer Liwag
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Not sure if anyone still read Forum like this.... I am suffering from FISM withdrawal and no one has written about it. (I guess not many read nowadays, most prefer videos?) so here goes... let me know if you are reading and enjoying it. Smile Will post on different aspects everyday:

FISM Busan 2018

Busan is port city of South Korea. Known for its beaches and seafood (a lot of my Facebook friends posted videos of them eating live octopus! Eeeek!!!), the city has a lot of accommodation in the area which makes the cost of staying very affordable. The convention centre, Bexco, is connected by the subway. Taxi is inexpensive. There are numerous food choices around and the organisers even added food trucks midway through the convention to cater to magicians who just wanted a quick snack.

Some magicians commented that this year’s program was not as packed as previous. I felt the schedule was just nice! It gave us some time for magicians to catch up over lunch and dinner! (NB. This is only my 3rd FISM and I haven’t attended magic convention for the past decade partly because of my young children.)

The schedule started at 8:30am in the morning and didn’t end until 12:30am! Magic overdose? No! A lot of the magicians continued to hang out to eat and talk magic!

The Convention of Shows
This convention had the greatest number of shows I had ever seen. There were 5 one-man shows and 5 theatre shows, not including the contests and award ceremony!

Some magicians put together shows not seen before. For instance, Shoot Ogawa and Simon Colonel created this 2-man show exposing the small chats and ego-challenges which went on backstage while magicians rested!

Eun Gyeol Lee opened the first gala with his illusion show; his showmanship was impeccable. This was the first time he had done this show in English and his hard work shined through the performance.

There were different directors for each show so we saw totally shows of different style. The best for me was the Korean Night. (

To be continued.....


P.S. I am a writer for MUM so I thought I share my experience. There will be an interview with the Grand Prix on insights of their acts. So do join Society of American Magicians for more exciting reads. More information at

for more information about me, go to or
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