I started off the year doing a show on January 1st for Phoenix House in Dallas. It’s for teens with drug and alcohol addiction problems. Before starting the teens are mouthy and skeptical. After I begin they huddle around me and request more. By the time I’m finished they don’t want me to leave and I’m there friend. It’s always empowering to see how my magic connects people. After that the year continued with lots of private parties and corporate events for regular clients and many new ones. Drew accompanied to one fun gig that was an auction for charity that raised over $100,000 plus it was a chocolate soiree with great food, music and wine in Wichita Falls. They have me back each year and I’ll return in 2024.
Come February I stayed busy working and planning our big trip to England. I returned to Blackpool to lecture at the world’s largest magic convention for the third time. There were about 4000 attendees. My lecture was well-received. I also performed in the close-up show alongside four big named close-up magicians. I was showered with compliments after and held my own. It’s not a competition however. I was happy to be working with some of the best in the business. Before Blackpool Drew and I saw some of my family near Leeds and visited the Armory there. I was excited for everyone to meet Drew and vice-versa.
As we made our way south we met up with family in Great Waltham. My cousins Adrian and Laura own a nice restaurant there. Laura’s parents Graeme and Geneen put us up and all were very hospitable. I loved seeing all of my family there and spending some quality time with them. Adrian and Graeme showed us an amazing flight museum. Adrian gave us a wonderful tour of Cambridge. And then Adrian, once again, gave us a speedy but thorough tour of London. We saw all the favorites like Big Ben, The Eye, Tower Bridge, toured the British and Sherlock Holmes museum, and saw the Tower of London. It was an amazing trip but sadly I felt rushed so we hope to return soon. I had to fly back to do a show for a high profile client. Plus Drew stays busy with her job too.
Once home I was hired to work Jason Kidd’s birthday party. Jason is the coach for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and his achievements are unbelievable. He and his wife Porshia were fun to entertain. Jason couldn’t get enough of my magic. Many of the Dallas Mavericks were there witnessing me work and most thought I was the Devil. Ha ha. The owner Mark Cuban was there with his wife Tiffany. Both said nice things about me and my magic. It was an unforgettable evening. I was happy to be part of that memory for everyone. I have a wonderful job and lead a blessed life.
Come March my plethora of shows continued as I prepared for my third lecture tour across New Zealand. This time I built in more vacation time so that I wasn’t only seeing lecture venues, hotels and airports. I setup stops in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown. Luckily Drew was able to go with to make it extra special.
We flew the direct flight of about 15 hours from Dallas to Auckland. We built in a free day to relax and site see. New Zealand is breath-taking. The next day we visited a museum to learn more about the Maori people. That night I gave my lecture to a fun bunch of magicians. The next day we went on to Wellington and I gave another lecture and did some site-seeing. We also visited Hobbiton where the actual set from the Lord of the Rings still remains. It was a fun and informative tour. It definitely made me want to watch the movies again. That series of movies is probably the leading cause for most tourism in New Zealand. Peter Jackson’s work on those films has done wonders for New Zealand’s economy.
From there we went onto Dunedin to the Law Courts Hotel owned my friend and tour organizer Jia Liu. What an incredible human he is! He set up the tour, chauffeured us around the whole country, runs the hotel and has a farm. He’s originally from China but has called New Zealand home for 25 years. His hotel has slowly been taking on a magic theme. I performed a lecture there one night and did my one-man show there the next night. He’s created an amazing theatrical space to perform in. Plus Dunedin is a beautiful and fun town that most have never heard of. I can’t wait to go back and see my friend there. Because of Jia I’ll have some cool projects in 2024.
Jia showed us around Dunedin proudly and then took us to Queenstown. The multi hour drive was very scenic and Jia knew all the cool places to stop. If you’ve been to New Zealand and seen the north island only, then the south island will blow your mind. It’s other-worldly. Drew and I had a blast touring this island. We visited many wineries at the foot of mountains, did hikes, drank in a bar with everything made of ice, walked along many beaches, visited Jia’s farm, went to the top of the steepest residential street in the world, ate well, rode a gondola to the top of a mountain and even rode a luge several times, etc.
From there I went on to lecture in Christchurch to another fun group and we made our way back to Auckland to prep for our return trip. Alan and Michele Watson were kind enough to meet us coming and going to Auckland. We had a nice dinner with them and Andrew Wonder with his wife Alli. Everyone was wonderful and the memories are countless. We flew from Auckland to Sydney, Australia which is about 4 hours. After a few hiccups or long layover became longer and we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in the same Qantas lounge. Then we made our 15 hour flight home. That was a long day!
The next day we attended the Texas Pinball Festival with some of Drew’s family. Imagine about 500 mostly pinball machines and some arcade games on free play. Typically there is one new release that everyone will line up to play. This year there was about ten!! New machines like Scooby Doo, Pulp Fiction, Galactic Tank Force, The Godfather, Foo Fighters, etc, were displayed for our amusement. I am the proud owner of 11 pinball machines now. My two latest additions are the new Godzilla and the must desired classic Twilight Zone. Yes… I’m a big kid! Seen here is my friend Alex Gerst who made the pinball/magic video tour of my collection.
Come April 1st we flew to Oregon to entertain a lady who has become a great friend. 30 years ago I developed Hodgkin’s Disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. I underwent a few surgeries and radiation treatments. My oncologist was Dr. Margie Sunderland. She helped get me through it and became a friend in the process. So she flew me to Oregon to entertain her and her family for her 70th birthday party. What an honor it was to be amongst them all. I was happy Drew got to meet her. While so close to Drew’s brother Mike in Battleground, Washington we made the trip over to spend a couple of days with Mike and his wife. They were lots of fun to play games with and relax with. Now Drew and I are soon to celebrate each of our birthdays this month plus one year of dating. Time flies when you’re having fun!