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Old 09-03-10, 02:09 PM   #1
nick nickolas
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 528
Default Lisbon World Street Magic Festival 2010

Lisbon, Aug 2010.

Street Magic World Festival.

After 30 hours of mini meals, mini wines, mini TV. and mini sleeps I arrived in Lisbon Portugal. The heat slayed me, vaporising my eyes.
“ Hola Nickolas” It was Alex, a cog in the Luis De Matos wheel, organisers of the 5th Annual Lisboa Street Magic World Festival.
Luggage loaded, bodies belted, Alex drove weaving at poo popping speeds, explaining that Portugal is the 2nd most dangerous place to drive in the world next to Colombia. “Why Columbia?” I ask. “They have guns!” was the reply.

I let my eyes and body focus; we arrived at Hotel Tejo, base camp for the next 7 days. A small bearded ferret like face appeared with greetings and hugs, it was John Fealey a street performer/magician of many years past. Originally from Liverpool, John’s frequented bags, bus stops, hotels and couches globally, for decades. An old acquaintance I was happy to see.

Hotel Tejo was a corner plot, derelict apartments across the road and a genuine Portuguese Chinese supermarket next door.
A fine hotel none the less, a multilingual porter handed me key to room 306.
Air Conditioning; clean sheets, two beds, T.V, two baths; one for the body and a smaller one for the feet!

Showered, jetlagged, I joined a shuffle of magicians in the lobby being escorted to a very fine restaurant by Fatima, Mr Matos and crew. This exqcesisit-dining establishment occupied the 20 or so of us deep in their stern.
Multitudes of languages filled the air.
I was flanked by Steve Trash, a bearded resident of Frog Pond Alabama and Moska, distiller of the finest dente vino, (Portuguese firewater I had sampled a few years earlier).
The food was suburb as was the wine. More than midnight came and went, we walked back to Tejo.
I took up conversation with Ben Woodwood and Nigel Mead, both Londoners, refreshing sarcasm and irony exchanged, comprehending without thinking I pass out in 306.

After waking up, digesting, coffee, croissants and yogurt in the Tejo basement restaurant. I scored some agua from China shop next door. Props and magicians in the van, we head up to Largo Camoes.
15 magicians from 7 countries invited to play the streets of Lisbon for 5 days. 12 shows each, 180 shows in all. I was on in the noonday sun on day one.

Largo Camoes was the top pitch, up a hill, under a statue in a tiled square. The pavements and squares of Lisbon are all surfaced with tiled cobbles, mosaiced patterns every step, quite wonderful really, other cities should take note.

We were to play 4 to a set roughly 20 mins each. Estiban Quito and Cindy Entes, magic with pithe helmets, an invisible dog, balloons and whips, I had met them last year in Germany.
I wish I could understand the Spanish.
Malo El Mallissimo AKA Donald from The Bronx, spoke also in rapido Spanish, sponge ball magic combined with hat juggling, fire eating and clown.
I was later to find out he teaches at a circus school in Madrid.

Steve Trash performed silent, decked out in black trousers, black jacket and a giant black top hat, he dripped, it was 35 degrees. He ended up talking; English (American), and the people totally got him, lapping him up, coke can routine killing.

During my set of broken Porto English and sweaty shifts a local drunk emitting porto, grime and decay decided it was his turn.. He wandered in for a chat; I treated him with grace and courtesy before pulling a silver dollar from his butt.
Audience, watched, laughed and applauded as he waddled away fingering his hole for more. Glorious c:
We autographed programmes, the crew packed our kits into the van and took them back to Tejo. Oh what luxury, no dragging cases and tables for street scum this week.
A litre of agua was consumed then vaporised, it was hot, and it was time for coffee and beer.

Largos de Chiado; A pitch next to a statue of an old man pointing to a empty table at a terraced bar, I took the seat ordered my refreshments.
The crew set a large table under the statue.
Bebel from Paris took a seat, crowd gathered to watch a master of the pasteboards perform his presdiditation. Fantastic work, his French I could understand slightly. What he was doing with the cards not so much.
I was later to find out he has played the same corner in Paris for over a decade sitting performing card miracles, hatting crowds. Andrely from Brazil came on and the crowd got big, I couldn’t see what was going on but he had them all aghast and laughing, orating in the native tongue.

It was getting late in the afternoon, siesta was calling, one thing I like about these cultures, three hours every afternoon, shops, restaurants and people all shutter up to sleep. Other countries should take note, we were born to siesta, siesta is healthy!
We had been given 80 Euros of tickets to use at different eating and drinking establishments over the week by Fatima. Fatima was the boss, she said we go and we go, she said we stay and we stayed.
Mista Salad, Spaghetti, beer, 10 tickets, siesta.

Every morning I’d be woken up with a phone call at 9am from
Ulla and our two and a half year old daughter Rubyanna, 30.000 kms away, animal noises and emotions down the phone, it pleased me.
Then elevator to floor -1, for coffee, croissants, bacon and yogurt. The shower, the shave, the agua, the van, the people, the shows, the porto, everything merging, 3 days becoming 4, 5 nights becoming 3.

The evening shows started about 7ish, I’d spend 50c at China Crisis for a litre of agua, I was on 4/ 5 bottles a day it was to become a comfort blanket for us all, those 50c aguas.

Rua Augusta was a wide tourist street. restaurants, terraces, shops and grifters, designed to extract Euros from tourists. Bowls, bags, coffee, postcards, pasta, roosters.
Every 10 meters you’d hear “Hashish, Grassis, Coca”.
“Nada, Nada, Nada” was a phrase I perfected very quickly.
I wondered why the multitude of police parading the strip never stopped, hassled or arrested them. Later I was to find out that every thing they sold was fake; in fact there was more contraband in an aspirin than in their glad wrapped packets.
“Nenhuma droga aproxima o oficial ”.

The top of Rua Augusta had an archway eroded by years of pigeon fowl, graffiti and history. I watched as Ben Woodward began to get flustered and confused when a woman wanted to think of a card in Flemish and a child couldn’t find his balls, the crowd howled and applauded in amazement when the egg whisk solved all problems he’d created, great work, great whisk, great balls.

We’d all eat as a group around 11 every night, suburb food, fine vino and grande beers were consumed amongst laughter, card tricks and linguistics.

Shows were fantastic, blinding heat during the day, bodies emitting tears of sweat, glistening with magic and laughter.
Cool evening crowds joined together in applause and gratitude. Oh joy what fun we had.
Magica came and went, slept and played. Nigel Mead from London first time on the street had put together a needle through tongue, and card in crash helmet, nicely parodied as a bullet catch.

John Fealey a veteran of concrete and cobbles, decided to do a clever rope/ scissors/ needle/ card/ balloon trick on day one, ending up with a bit of rope and a spinning ball by day 5.
In fact the longer the days went on the classier his suit got and the less tricks he’d do. Truly a master of the nothing.
We’d have bets on the temperature by the local Farmaca clock, It hit 42d, I lost $2.50.
Florette, French lass with amazing eyes and poise, left them enchanted and confused, with roses, fire and garters.

Jose De Lemos who fooled me with card in banana, and confused me with language represented Portugal.
Gaeton Bloom from Paris, a man of high standing indeed.
4000+ shows at the Crazy Horse and numerous inventions to his name held his own out there on the streets, blowing them away with his salad trick.
Amazing presentation, very funny and brilliant magic, fooled the shit out of me.

Chris Powers and Carlo Ramirez from London popped in for a few days. Two truly great cardsmiths. Chris and I first met when I was about 15 at an IBM. I’ll always hold true the pointers he gave me then, simplicity and situation.

On the last night I was sitting with them both, also with Dani Daortiz from Spain.
I saw stuff, got fooled, baffled and spun, like never in years!
First Chris tripped me with a shiner, Carlo got the card under my glass, and then it was upside down in Danis’ pack, which was in his pocket.
I witnessed The greatest triumph effect ever, vanishing decks, invisible, visables, steps ahead, woh those boys were good!
Carlo as a topper, later nailed me to the cross at Tejo with a coin routine. Masterful, thank you boys!

Also from Spain was Luis Manuel, he did a great ring routine.
and card effects and Pablo Clabo who’d finish with clever rope magic to music. I don’t understand a word of Spanish but the audience did, applauding and squealing gleefully.

Methinks we have to thank Tamariz for the amount of fine Spanish magicians out there, also to Luis De Matos for the blooming of the magical artes throughout Portugal.
Paulino and Luis from Zamora Spain, great act and great people, I’d met a couple of years ago appeared and added again to the magica family that week.

Mighty fine photographer and good friend, Paula Abrantes documented the event.

In fact the whole team are good friends as is our extensive magica family.
Fatima ‘The Boss’.
Luis ‘The Creator’.
Vanessa ‘Designer/Carer’.
Joking ‘Security/ Information’.
Alexander ‘The Driver’.
Muska ‘Mr Firewater’.

I thank you all, the people of Lisbon, our magica family, the Indian/Italian restaurant and the agua from China Crisis, for the good times we all had the last week.

After 30 hours of mini meals, mini wines, mini TV. and mini sleeps I arrive in Melbourne, the morning chilled fog hits my lungs, steam i exhale.

Nickolas Sept 2010
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Old 09-03-10, 04:34 PM   #2
Peter Snow
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1

Hello Nick,
Nice description of the festival, you write well (rare for street performers, we are a mostly illiterate bunch).
Just received an e-mail from Gaetan Bloom who also mentioned the heat and the fact that he lost his voice!
I played Lisbon in late december 1978 or 79, can't remember exactly. I was the only performer back then, I played in the big square (Plaza Mayor?). Good crowds but poor. I recall children in barefeet. And crowds following me down the street (I kid you not).
After a week or so I got pulled in by the Police who politely asked me to leave town, saying "come back next year".
I like Portugal!

Ran into Arizona Jones recently who says he's your neighbour. I believe that Mr. Bunk also resides in your vicinity...

Be well and enjoy the winter (summer).

Peter Snow
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Old 09-03-10, 05:11 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2003
Location: FL
Posts: 93

Outstanding report.
I'd like to join the party some day.
Would it help that I speak Portuguese?
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