Wow. What a jump Penguin made from last year’s “Penguin Expo’s” to this year’s “Maxx East!”
Admittedly there was some sticker shock, as I think last year’s early bird price was $19.99 and this
year’s was $99.99. So the mega question is “Was it worth it?” And the Answer is “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The biggest difference between the two formats was that before it was essentially a dealer fair with
a headliner (Mark Wilson at the one I attended,) and several shorter seminars with a little teaching
and a lot of selling.
But this year, there were about a half-dozen headliners and a TON of
teaching. I filled up five single-spaced notebook pages with comments. It opened with the “Gala
Show,” which I would have easily paid $35 for just on its own. For somebody who follows magic
closely, it was a special treat to see so many top-tier magicians perform their signature effects,
such as Lousander’s “Levitating Table,” Diamond Jim’s Tyler’s “Diamond Jack” routine, Dan Harlan’s
“Card In Glass” routine with a cheese sandwich, and Michael Kamiskas’ “Cups and Balls.” (The latter
effect is one that everybody does, and hardly anybody does well.) I’d put Kamiskas’ routine up
against any I’ve seen before, and that includes Gazzo’s busking routine, and Penn & Teller’s clear
While the classes included a ton of teaching, they didn’t diminish from the
dealer’s room. Most of the dealers had show specials, and many had products that weren’t yet
available online. I especially enjoyed chatting with Chad Long and John Lovick/Handsome Jack.
You could tell that Penguin really paid attention to the comments from last year’s expos and
made some distinct improvements. For one, the lecture hall had much better sound, big screen
projection and most importantly, was separated from the noise and hubbub of the dealer’s room. The
higher price tag and longer, more detailed format, cut the crowd down to a manageable size, which
was great. While I enjoyed last year, the crowds made it tough to see the dealer demos, seating for
the speakers was limited, and there were too many people and novice questions to have an effective
back and forth dialog between the teachers and the audience.
You’ve likely heard the
cliché’, “If you learn one thing you’ll use from a class, product or book, it will be worth it.”
Well in the case of Penguin’s Maxx East, that adage proved itself many times over. I learned a lot
more than just one thing, and much of that will be going into my performances immediately!
1 of 1 magicians found this helpful.
Well, the MAXX East convention in Newark, NJ was terrific and a real bargain. There was a stellar
lineup of talent performing and lecturing on Friday night and all day Saturday. The facility was
perfect with Penguin bringing in lights, video enhancement and sound to properly showcase the
talent. In addition to the "stars" there were so many great "names" that came out just to hang.
Highlights for me were the Michael Weber, Chad Long and John Lovick lectures, as well as the Nick
Locapo and Michael Kaminskas Pro-Tip Sessions. Plus, the Saturday night Jam Session made me glad
that I stayed over the extra night. Just the chance to hang out, session and get advice from some of
these guys was worth the price of admission alone. Well done Penguin Magic and if they do a MAXX
Convention anywhere near you, it is well worth attending.
Penguin MAXX is a vast improvement over last year's Expo, and though the location was a bit
inconvenient for me (It was *just* far enough away that I had to really debate between booking a
hotel room or returning home between the two days), it was ultimately worth the time and expense.
- fun show
- excellent lectures
- friendly people (staff as well as
- though I initially balked at the cost (and took advantage of a discount), this
event is actually worth the full price
- The opening night show started half an
hour late, and that delay cascaded into the lectures that followed, which were already scheduled to
- The gift bag was good, but not worth anywhere near the amount advertised.
Ideas for Future Events:
- Don't advertise the gift bag; let it be a surprise bonus. The
event itself is worth the money. If anybody was convinced to purchase based on the value of the
gift bag, that person was disappointed.
- List the topics of the Pro Tip sessions on the
schedule. I think this can result in a more engaged audience. (I also didn't show up to the first
few because I slept in due to the previous late night, but I might have attended if I knew they were
on a topic I had a particular interest in.)
- Send schedule changes out via email to the
registrants. Though the change was announced at the venue, I imagine some people missed part of
Diamond Jim's lecture because they didn't arrive until the originally scheduled time.
lobby between the lecture and dealer rooms was largely wasted space. Maybe the tables that came out
at the end could always be there? Host informal workshops on basic card and coin sleights?
(This is my personal wish.) A lecture that focuses on scripting, character building, or other
theatrical aspects of performance, rather than just tricks. In fact, I would like to see a lecture
that only teaches one trick, and spends the rest of the time exploring different ways to present it.
My wife and I were at the Penguin MAXX East event held at the Newark Hilton in June 2018. What a
great time we had!
To start the event couldn’t have been more professionally run. The
penguin staff were on top of everything to make sure of that.
It was incredible that Nick
Locapo, Brent Braun and Brandon Gerald were doing so much both days between running the event,
hosting the lectures, and demo’ing tricks and effects for us that it seemed like magic itself.
The dealer room didn’t feel like it was just a place to buy the newest item or revisit an old
trick you might have forgotten about. It was a place to visit with the Penguin staff and lecturers,
ask questions, trade stories and even see a mini performance close up. These guys were ON all day!
The Lectures and Lecturers were all top notch and each had their own unique point of view
on the subject of Magic. That was most of the fun – watching and listening to them show some of
their favorite routines while giving personal stories as to WHY they perform them the way they do.
Each Lecture became an intimate entertaining performance that always broke into an
instructive Q&A. There was just so much magic jammed into their allotted time sometimes it was hard
to keep up.
BESIDES the lectures, the event started off Friday night with a show MC’d by
Dan Harlan. We got to see Michael Kaminskas, Chad Long, Diamond Jim Tyler, John Lovick and Losander
perform what I suspect was some of their favorite magic. And it showed. These guys really know how
to grab and entertain a crowd.
Right after the show, Michael Weber and John Lovick each
gave a performance and lecture. Both shared ideas and methods to help make us all better
Lectures on Saturday just continued to flow with ideas and methods all geared
to make us think about how we perform our magic. We got to hear from Nick Locapo, Losander, Michael
Kaminskas, Diamond Jim Tyler, Chad Long, and Dan Harlan each showing something special.
What we really enjoyed throughout the event was the comradery and the love of magic that was
shared by everyone. We got to see old friends and we even made new ones. This love of magic was
really apparent after all of the lectures were over and the stage lights were turned off. I don’t
know if this is a new feature to these events, but it’s a good one. Right after the last lecture we
all got together for a jam session. Tables were set up. Chairs and sofas were already there.
Everyone got comfortable, visited, and just talked and performed magic in a relaxed atmosphere. You
couldn’t ask for a better ending to an event.
I definitely came away with tips, techniques,
and a few new ideas to help make me a better performer.
When this Penguin Maxx events comes
into your town don’t hesitate – just hit the “Add to Cart” button and be prepared to have one of the
best times you’ll ever have.
My wife and I attended the Maxx East conference in Newark this past weekend, and I can't say enough
about how great this event was. There were plenty of sessions, opportunities to meet and talk to
many magicians (Eric Jones, Xavier Spade, Brent Braun, Nicholas Lawrence just to name a few..), and
attend some wonderful lectures throughout the weekend (which lasted way into the morning hours).
Can't wait to attend the next one! Well worth the price IMHO!
The most precious commodity is time.
I was only able to spend a few hours on Saturday at
the MAXX 2018 2-day event and would imagine the rest of the convention was equally as praiseworthy,
but I can attest to the fact that the presentations by Nick Locapo, Losander, Michael Kaminskas and
Diamond Jim Tyler were extremely informative. I particularly enjoyed the pearls of wisdom handed out
by Losander that were more about presenting illusions in general than about the specific magic he
displayed that afternoon.
These guys were extremely entertaining as well. Sure, being a
magician, you may know how it was done, heck, they even explained it to the audience, but you still
had to smile and appreciate how expertly presented their deceptions were.
If you have a
chance to go, even for part of it, do yourself a favor and get over to a Penguin Expo for a real
Going to MAXX East 2018 (Newark) was a last minute decision for me, but it was made easier because
they packed this "mini-convention" into a Friday evening and a full (morning to midnight) Saturday.
What a fantastic time! The Friday evening show was fun, the lectures were all great, and the
quality of the lecturers and the dealer room was top notch with leading stars in the magic
community. (Diamond Jim, Handsome Jack/John Lovick, Dan Harlan, Losander, Michael Weber, Chad Long,
etc!) In addition, the lecturers were around all the time with lots of opportunity to chat, ask for
feedback, or just get to know them. Also, the formal jam session was facilitated to really make it
easy to hop tables, meet people, etc.
I can't say enough good things about MAXX East. One
suggestion: I do think Penguin could inexpensively bulk up the gift bag to look a little more
substantial, maybe by including some free written material that they put together just for MAXX
events (like a compilation of articles from Penguin monthly or something - wouldn't cost that much
b/c they own the copyright I assume), or maybe throwing in a Professor's Nightmare kit and
instructions with a card that says to spread the magic and give and teach the trick to someone
interested in magic, etc. Or at least a tote bag or something that you can then carry all the
goodies you buy at the event. Something that gives the appearance of a little more heft and thought
to the composition of the gift bag. But this is a minor point - don't let it detract you from going
to this great event!!!
Everything was quite well run and pretty much on schedule. The facilities were excellent. The
program was even better - top notch in every way. I would definitely recommend this to all
magicians, professionals as well as hobbyists. I won't miss the next one for sure.
Great line up - check.
Great performances - check.
Great Pro Tip Sessions - check.
Great Lectures - check.
Variety of vendors - check.
Spent too much money - check,
On top of all of that you were able to meet with everyone and spend some
quality time making new friends. Lodging and parking pricing was a little high. Definitely worth
going for the whole event.
Thanks to the whole Penguin crew for pulling this off.
BRENT BRAUN IS A BADASS!!!!
CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE!!!