FANTASMA RING 257, Las Vegas HONORS JOHNNY THOMPSON
December 6, 2004 By Amadeo Swiss
Fantasma Magic is the proud sponsor of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring in Las Vegas. Called Fantasma Ring #257.
The Fantasma Ring 257 Las Vegas is one of the newest (only one year old), but most talked about I.B.M. Rings in the world. This is due to its location, dedication from its members and support from the Fantasma Magic Company.
The Ring decided to pay tribute to the "Godfather of magic", Johnny Thompson and named him their honored magician of the year. The event that took place on Monday December 6 th, will go down as one of the most memorable nights in magic where friends got together to say thank you , give praise and throw a few punches. The holiday get together took place inside Jeff McBride's Magic Center, location of the world famous Mystery School. What had originally been planned as a nice little dinner and show turned into a show business event of incredible proportions with a veritable who's who of magic both in the audience and on stage! After a buffet dinner and wine we all entered the Wonder Dome theater. The patented white dome theater really helped create a magical atmosphere.
Jeff has been extremely supportive to the Fantasma Ring 257 and his generosity and commitment to promote the art of magic is appreciated by the whole community. Johnny and Pam were, of course, sitting in the front row. After a brief mystical video of Jeff introducing the event Roger Dreyer, CEO of Fantasma Magic and producer of the show, took the stage to introduce the MC for the evening, the King of Coney Island Capers, Todd Robbins.
The show that followed was a line up unlikely ever to be seen on one stage again! Penn and Teller opened in a way that only the duo could. In a hilarious manner, they managed to chain Johnny to a pair of handcuffs while teaching him how to do an effect. They then left to do their show leaving Johnny handcuffed in the chains on stage! Johnny, as with many of the top artists in Vegas, has been a consultant with Penn and Teller's excellent show at the Rio. The show started at 7 PM and Penn had to be on the stage of the Rio at 8 PM sharp playing the bass for the opening of their own show. All were appreciative to them for making the effort to give tribute to their friend and entertaining the audience with their unique style. Johnny, in tears of laughter, proceeded to take his seat all chained.
As Todd was introducing the next act, a shadow of a magician behind the curtain, The Amazing Johnathan, was doing one of the funniest and unprintable openings of the evening. He proceeded to roast Johnny in a wonderfully funny and most irreverent manner. One of the highlights of the evening was when Johnathan's partner, Penny Wiggens playing the fabulous Psychic Tayna, decided to attack Pam for being a better stage performer than her and actually pounced on her wrestling her to ground! Johnathan's appearance was also very much appreciated. He and Psychic Tayna had to perform at the Riveriera Hotel that evening.
Jay Marshall, "The Dean," also roasted the great one leaving Johnny in tears of laughter along with the rest of us. There is simply no one like Jay and his timing is still the best. Rumor has it that many women were all over the Dean after the show bestowing kisses upon him. Jay was very thoughtful to help the Fantasma Ring 257 and fly over from Chicago just for the event. Next up was AJ, one of the original Ronald Mcdonalds. He presented Johnny with an additional award from the Shriners, a nice plaque presented as only AJ can. Needless to say his approach was also somewhat unprintable! Jamy Ian Swiss flew in from New York just to surprise Johnny. Jamy is writing a book on the work of Johnny Thompson. While on stage, he performed an entertaining card routine.
Next, a burst of positive energy came forward from the back of the audience... Lance Burton. Lance made a surprise unannounced appearance and performed a eulogy for Johnny in a very, very funny way. Lance is a real pro and his stage presence was perfect as he performed a broken wand ceremony. The next performer was The "World's Greatest Lover. "Well, at least this is the way Simon Lovell is advertised on his DVD's. Simon Lovell put Pam in the spotlight by inviting her on stage and, after a wild version of card to mouth, presented her with his trademark paper rose. No one does a paper rose as great as Simon. Pam is the consummate assistant. Todd Robbins performed next showing his Coney Island skills and swallowing swords to the delight of all. Todd's show Carnival Knowledge just completed a great tour. When in New York, make sure you check him and Jamy out at Monday Night Magic. Who else could close this legendary show other than the legend himself, Billy McComb. Billy had us all in tears talking about Johnny, making jokes about false books appearing in the future by Peter Reveen, and watching the best vanishing birdcage I have ever seen. Billy was on fire! In a hilarious reconstruction of a Houdini story Pam rushed to Johnny to kiss him and pass the key to the cuffs to him 'mouth to mouth'.
A very funny moment indeed! Roger then invited the IBM National Youth Champion, Dakota Rose on stage to present the now free Johnny to accept his award. Fantasma Magic actually paid for Dakota Rose and his mother to experience this event as a part of the prize package they sponsor for the I.B.M. Youth Contest. Seeing Dakota produce one of James Dimmare's doves on stage along with Johnny is what the art of magic is all about. Robert Vinson, The Club's President and its members did a great job.
Just when everybody thought it was all over Siegfried get up on stage to say more about our gracious honoree! It meant a lot to Johnny and everyone to hear Siegfried give a heart filled impromptu speech. No one could ever follow Siegfried after his comments about his friend for many years Johnny Thompson. Wow, what a way to finish the show.
In the delighted audience I spotted, Channing Pollock, Peter Reveen, James Dimmare, Paul Harris, Criss Angel, Steve Dacri, Gary Darwin, Apollo, Rick Thomas, Kevin James, Luna Shimada, Mike Close, Tobias Beckwith, Bob Kohler, Stan Allen, Bill Smith, John Gaughn, Norm Nielsen, Rich Bloch and the list goes on and on. But the true star of the evening who outshone them all was, of course, Johnny Thompson! Truly a night that will never be forgotten by those who were at the sold out show!
Roger said, "We are all very fortunate to have all of the greatest magicians come out to support the Fantasma holiday show and tribute to Johnny. He is loved by everyone. The Fantasma Ring 257 is about promoting the art and not club politics. Wait till you see next years show! Watch ring257.com for details. All are invited."
(Amadeo Swiss is a retired sleight-of-hand specialist who lives in NYC with his pet cat, Armageddon. He enjoys high stake poker games, fine cigars and expensive whisky.)