Luke and Paul Review Stuff! Part One - The Merlin awards!Luke and Paul Review Stuff is a new, semi-regular series wherein we intend to attend what you cannot contend with. Furry convention in town? We'll review that. Sash! concert? We'll review that. Bodybuilding award ceremony? You'd better believe we'll review that. We’ll even touch some freakshow muscles. That’s not a euphemism. We'll go anywhere, do anything, and drink whatever we have to to get the job done. And we thought we'd kick things off with something… MAGICAL. *glitter explosion*
You probably didn't know this, but the magic community is thriving. We were told this by a man named Tony Hassini, the founder of the International Magicians Society, who, presumably, look exactly like this.
Although, Tony Hassini does definitely look like this:
And every year they hand out something called the Merlin award to the magician they feel has brought the most magical milkshakes to the yard of magic, which I assume from an aerial view resembles a pentagram, or a really old book. Or something. Either way, as Tony was at pains to point out – it came up twice in a two minute speech – the International Magicians Society is the largest in the world, as declared by the Guiness Book of World Records, with over 37000 members. And this year, the award for Most Original Magician went to Cosentino.
So, this is Cosentino:
From what we can tell, Most Original Magician is basically code for man with most ridiculous neck muscles. But this is a not insignificant honour. Previous awardees include David Copperfield, Sigfried & Roy, Criss Angel and the fat kid from Hey Dad [PAUL: I suspect he is in fact both Penn AND Teller]. Moreover, Cosentino is the first Australian to ever receive the honour, so, you know, good on him. What makes this night a little strange though is the fact it’s basically an award ceremony for one guy in one category where he’s the only candidate and everyone knows he has already won. I imagine this is a bit like how it goes when Kim Jong-un wins something in North Korea. Still, an awards ceremony is an awards ceremony – there was a two metre long red carpet! – and at least this one promised MAGYCK!
No... just no. That’s Magikarp. Never nominated for a Merlin, never will be.
Maybe a Marlin.
First up: it was hard to avoid the sensation that we had just gatecrashed a Cosentino family event. Managers, family, choreographers, costume guys, and general hangers on; amongst the fifty or so who filled the transparent wonder-tent clinging to the side of Crown Towers, we estimated most (if not all) were related to Cosentino in some way. We could imagine that if we went to the Cosentino family home in three weeks time (CHRISTMAS), we would witness the exact same line-up. This isn't a slight against the man; if we were being given this award, and god willing one day we will be, we’d expect every key figure in our lives to be there. Including Molly Meldrum.
That’s right. Molly Meldrum. Because when you hear the word magic, you think “Molly Meldrum”. After an hour of drinking and making snap judgements about each attendee based on shininess/corpulence, the 2m long red carpet area began buzzing, and with an explosion of flashbulbs Molly appeared atop a flight of stairs leading down into the presentation area. Our take on things: he looked good, considering the circumstances, those circumstances being (a) he recently fell off a ladder, and (b) he was about to MC at the presentation of a Merlin award. When he took the stand for the first time, we became a little worried as guy looked shaky on his feet and kept hat-butting the microphones, but then he made the comment “So, fuck you to the ARIAs” and started dropping F-bombs left, right and centre and we unclenched a little. That’s the Molly we know and... tolerate. He also told a story about a duck shitting in his mouth and later made a joke about how he could have used Cosentino when he was in hospital because he needed someone to turn his water into wine. We get the creeping suspicion that someone might already have done that for Molly tonight.
[LUKE: For me, the highlight of the evening was when Molly handed over to Cosentino’s manager Ralph, who took the stage with a joke about Molly falling down some stairs. The audience were... not amused.]
After hearing from Cosentino’s manager and Tony Hassini – he really wants to assure you that the International Magicians Society is the biggest in the world – it was time to hand over the award. Parenthetically, it’s worth pointing out that Hassini, who Luke quite candidly said was the best dressed man he’d seen in a long time, looked like Slash from Guns and Roses, stripped of his rock accoutrements and furnished with an unbelievably well-crafted (and over-sized) tuxedo. The man radiated style, of a sort, and he approached the stage holding this.
Oh, we’re sorry. We appear to have accidentally put up the greatest photo ever taken, ever, of a young Tony Hassini, resembling in general demeanour and career trajectory this character.
Tony gave a speech, bragged about how awesome and prolific and generally magical everything was for the society of magical super friends, and all the while he clutched the statue to his well-tailored chest. A statue that from a distance really, really looks like it was made of shiny plastic.
Surely now, we thought Cosentino (or “Cos” as they call him) would dazzle us with rainbows and rabbits and explosions and glitter. This is after all “The Grand Illusionist”, the runner up in Australia’s Got Talent, a man whose tagline is “Always Belive” and a magician who, according to his website, drew out of Kyle Sandilands the comment, “I am amazed for the first time in my entire life”. He took to the stage. He accepted the award. We looked at one another with deep expectation. Then he thanked his family, his Nonna (twice), his entourage, his manager and his stylist, Pierre, and left. Then they played a video.
That wasn’t the video, but it was still the end of the ceremony. Which had taken, in total, maybe 8 minutes. There was no magic. Just pleasantries. Not even a vanishing coin. The most remarkable thing about it had been the fact that Molly Meldrum was upright and cursing. It was pretty much the equivalent of reading the press release. In the company of Cos’ entire family. So, let that be a lesson to you: never trust magicians. Because they will let you down. We just wanted wonder, Cos. And all we got were platitudes and the confused stares of your nearest and dearest.
Oh, and our body weight in miniature burgers and complimentary beer. Those magicians sure know how to cater an event. Accio satay stick!
[PAUL: I want to give a shout out to the catering staff, who I'll wager must have catered all manner of Eyes Wide Shut-grade creepy shit. Their poker faces were stunning, and their demeanour doubly so; they broke up what would have been a decidedly baffling affair with some seriously delicious vittles, but at no point did they acknowledge what was going on around them. I suspect they'd be equally unaffected serving sashimi at a Bacchanalian orgy, though I didn't have the heart to run this theory by them. Also, if I had they probably wouldn't have made us the focal point of our night. It's like they could smell our normalcy; every time they scudded out of the kitchen, they subtly veered straight towards us and gave us the vaguest of knowing looks, whilst we clumsily fisted fishcakes and satay sticks down our throats. It was during these moments that Luke and I felt safest, like infants floating through space, given a momentary reprieve from the vacuum courtesy of a miraculous oxygen-filled boobie.]
[LUKE: Finally, I would like to specifically apologise to the lovely waitress who, bringing us some satay sticks, made the innocuous comment “They’re from Malaysia, just like me”, to which I made the innocuous reply, “Ah, a good pedigree” before realising that this made me sound like a character from a Joseph Conrad novel. At which point I stared at her in mortified horror until she left. She... did not offer me any more food.]
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