It could have been any convention for any organization. After the "dealer's room" closed the bar began to fill up. As the attendees of the first ever KAX convention began to relax after a long day of demonstations, talks and presentations they could not help but talk shop.
"What would you do with Axtell's Moose puppet?"
"I think I would keep the magnetic red nose on him and make him Rudolf."
"What I really liked was the new Zombie puppet Steve created."
"Yeah, don't you think that the floating Zombie is more of a puppet effect than a magic trick. For me it takes a puppeteer to really give that illusion its punch."
At some point I noticed that most of the cocktail waitresses wearing some form of balloon sculpture on their bodies. Not the standard poodle and dauchound balloon twists but intreicate braceletts, hats, necklaces, crowns and broches. Buster Balloons was in the house. Buster was sitting at the bar with a special canvas bag filled with thousands of dangling balloons of every color waiting to become a master piece. In some alternate universe Buster is Toulouse lautrec creating master pieces out of latex for the salon crowd.
If the subject of puppetry, magic, balloon twisting,ventriloquism or clowning came up, someone sitting near could be an expert witness on the subject. You want to talk stage back drops, sound systems, self cuing sound effects or a three card monte using Library cards this is the place to be. Not the bar.... but the convention.
KAX the first ever midseason meeting of Kidabra, an organization started by Mark and Tami Daniels. Kidabra is usually held only once a year at Piegon Forge, Tenn. but this extra attraction was added on the west coast. Kidabra is decicated to family/kids show performers and they are here to help entertainers on this side of the country. The fact that Axtell Expressions is just up the street from the hotel where the convention is taking place is no coincidence.
Steve Axtell supplies a large percentage of puppets, props, mechanics and secrets to most of the people in attendance. In fact KAX is the conjunction of Kidabra and Axtell in Oxnard California.
I am no stranger to the genius of Steve Axtell. I perform with several of his creations two of which are part of my Tony Award winning show "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only." Nethernore and Arthur Drew are both Axtell Expression creations. When Steve said the Kidabra convention was coming to Oxnard, CA which is only about an hour drive from my house and he was going to conduct tours of his studio/workshop, I found a way to weasle my way in. Little did I know that I would be able to witness a bit of retro-History.
I was able to get a picture of that moment. Mark Wilson one of the legends of Magic pictured here with René and his creation of the puppet of Pilsbury DoughBoy "Popin Fresh". With the puppetry of René giving him life Popin' interacted in real time with Mark on his early 70's television show Magic Circus. For the puppet/magic/ live entertainment community the brain trust of creativity between Mark and René is as significant as the colaberation of Gilbert and Sullivan. Both men now in their mid-eighties will perform at the Gala performance to cap off the convention tonight. SuperBowl be damned this is the spectacle of the season. I personally can't wait. It will not only be a reunion of Mark and René but also a family reunion of my partner Bob and his creator. See I get to MC the show with Bob and René is Bob's creator.
Thank you Mark Daniels and Steve Axtell for the invitation. I hope you won't forget me next year.
As you were,