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Oklahoma City Magic Club gathers for its annual 'Pandemonium'

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A handful of the state's most experienced magicians and several newcomers will conjure everything from mentalism to tricks for childrens at Saturday's "Pandemonium of Magic," the annual fund-raiser for the Oklahoma City Magic Club.

FIRST MONDAY
DIVERSITY

This year's event includes acts that combine magic and comedy, as well as "close-up" magic performances, similar to those of David Blaine.

The club has held "Pandemonium" since 1993, when current treasurer Michael King and three other members created it to raise money for club activities, including bringing in guest lecturers. The organizations hosts between five and 10 lecturers every year, King said.

"Pandemonium" is suitable for all ages, said club president Jeremy Stillwell, and will feature some performers who specialize in children's magic.

FIRST MONDAY
The Oklahoma City Magic Club is part of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and meets the first Monday of each month, except September, at City Arts Center. Most of the members have day jobs: King works for the Federal Aviation Administration, and Stillwell is a journalism instructor at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa.

Member Marty Ludlum joined the group in 2000, and said the club has become a really close group of friends.

"It's one of those groups that you show up once and you feel like you've known everybody forever," said Ludlum, who performs throughout Oklahoma and northern Texas as "The Magic Dad." "They're very open and friendly, they're always willing to share, willing to help you with magic tricks, and learn more about magic."

The club also allows magicians to experiment with and develop their technique "? before presenting it to an audience.

"At the magic club, you can perform in front of people, and if you made a mistake, or if you're working on something, or if you want try new things out in front of people, it's safe," Stillwell said.

DIVERSITY
King said one of the most notable things about the club is the diversity of its members. Ages range from 10 years old to senior citizens, and current members' occupations include everything from dentist and lawyer to computer programmer. The diversity is representative of magic in general, he added.

"People ask me the types of day jobs people have who are magicians. I tell them, well, you name it, every industry," King said.

It might also surprise people how much the members enjoy watching each other perform, Ludlum said.

"We perform it, as well as we're kind of a group of historians about it "? folks that collect early magic stuff. We're just genuinely interested in it, even if we're not in the center of the stage," he said.

Stillwell, for example, has a full-time job and performs in a band, so he rarely performs magic for an audience. Instead, he devotes time to learning about magic through books or DVDs, and the club gives him an opportunity to perform for others and learn from the skills and experiences of other member magicians.

Because many club members rarely perform, or are relatively new to magic, "Pandemonium" gives the members valuable stage time and experience with audiences.

"Having that time in front of the audience, paid or unpaid, is a time for the individual to hone their skills," King said.

Money raised through "Pandemonium" also helps fund the group's outreach projects, which includes group treks to elementary schools or working with hospitals to teach patients basic magic skills to help them redevelop hand-eye coordination, Ludlum said.

"All of it goes for a really good cause," he said.

Pandemonium takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday at City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing.

"?Lea Terry

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