International Magicians Society
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The International Magicians Society (IMS) is the world's largest magic society as recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The IMS began in 1968 and now has over 41,000 members worldwide. It was created to help promote and preserve the art of magic and provide a format where magicians could share their secrets and ideas.
The IMS named Siegfried & Roy as the Magicians of the Century in 2000 and named David Copperfield, Doug Henning, Harry Blackstone, Jr., Criss Angel and David Blaine as the most influential magicians of the past 25 years. The organization awards the Merlin Awards, every three years. "Every three years, the International Magicians Society hosts a banquet dinner, where those magicians who have achieved the highest level in their craft are awarded the coveted Merlin Award. The voting members begin with approximately one hundred names and narrows down to a handful. The criteria that the voting members consider are talent, showmanship, originality, skills, and above all the rare ability to entertain under any conditions."
The Merlin Award is given to magicians in recognition of their contributions to the performance and creation of magic around the world. While sometimes called the Academy Awards of magic, the Merlin Award lacks much of the oversight that enhance the credibility of awards in other industries.
The award was created by Tony Hassini and his International Magicians Society and is given out to invited guests at triennial banquets as well as in person by Hassini himself with greater frequency.
 The award is intended to be a recognition for magicians who perform at the highest level of skills on national and international stages. Merlin award can be obtained in three ways.One is to attend Merlin Award banquet dinner on invitation, after being voted to receive the prize. Another is by participating and winning a Merlin Award competition organized by IMS and held in different countries. Third way is for the organizers to travel to the magician’s country to present the award there. The criteria considered are talent, showmanship, originality, skills, and an ability to entertain under any conditions.
The award statue was commissioned to over 100 art students in a nationwide search. The winning design was created by Carol Michaud, a New York University art student, in 1968.
List of Merlin Award recipients
Below are the list of past recipients of the award.
Below are the details of 2010 edition of Merlin Awards:
- Florian Zimmer- Most Creative Magician
- Lu Chen- Most Original Magician
- Jeff McBride- Most Innovative Magic Show
- Eugene Burger- Close-Up Magician of The Year
- Harry Lorayne- Lifetime Achievement
- Juan Mayoral- Most Innovative Magic
- Alexander One - Best Stage Magician
- Deddy Corbuzier- Mentalist of The Year
- Bryan Stanley- Mind Reader of The Year
- Marco Tempest- Best Contemporary Magician
- John Taylor- Illusionist of The Year
- Fukai- Outstanding Contributions to Magic
- Albert Tam- Outstanding Contributions to Magic
- Dirk Losander- Classic Magician of The Year
- Ernesto Planas- Most Charismatic Performer
- The Fercos Brothers- Best Magic With Exotic Animals
- Brad Ross- Best Family Entertainer
- David Koenig- Best Radio Magic
- Tony Clark & Paul Reder- Best Magic Show Producers
- Xavier Giro- First Place Most Original; Riga, Latvia Competition
- Timothy Trust- First Place Stage Magi; Riga, Latvia Competition
- Jimmy Kikuchi- First Place Cabaret Magic; Riga, Latvia Competition
- Fairy Star- Best Cultural Magic; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Competition
- Jorinn Chee- Best Female Magical Entertainer; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Competition
- Liong Ket Foei- Best Comedy Magic Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Competition
- Liu Guan Hua- President of Happy Valley Shenzhen, Best Magic Festival In China
- Ru Xian- Best Female Illusionist China
- Rizuki- Best Female Magician Indonesia
- Jeff Lee- Best Cabaret Magician Taiwan
- Tse Tow Joon Yeen- Best Close-Up Magician Brunei
- Louis Yan- Best Stage Magic Hong Kong
- Ali Raj- Best Family Magic Show Bangladesh
- Leow Fee Loong- Lifetime Achievement Malaysia
- Vincent Tan- Best Magic Organizer Malaysia
- Mamada- Best Family Magic Thailand
- Raymond Iong- Best Family Magic Show Macau
- Sergey Tsymbalist- Best Family Magic Show Ukraine
- Bone Ho- Best Manipulations Vietnam
- Joshua Jay- Outstanding Contributions to Magic Literature
- Bob Chua - Best Closeup Magician 2001
- Luca Volpe - Mentalist of the Year Europe 2013
- Romanos- Mentalist of the Year Europe 2014
- Avery Chin & Sylvia Lim - World's Best Quick Change Artist 2018
In August 2013, several magicians were honored with the coveted Merlin Award in Las Vegas. Johnny Thompson, Paul Vigil, and Morgan Strebler, were among those that received the award. In November 2013 Luca Volpe was the first Italian Mentalist to receive the prestigious Merlin Award with the title of Mentalist of the Year Europe.
In May 2014, Romanos was the first Greek mentalist to receive the prestigious Merlin Award as “Mentalist of the Year Europe 2014”. in May 2014, Moustapha Berjaoui was the first Egyptian Illusionist ever to receive the Prestigious Merlin Award as "Best Illusionist Egypt 2014". In November 2014 Antonio Arredondo A.K.A Tonny Poker was awarded with two Merlin Medals for his original performance, one of the awards he received was for "Best close up magic" and another for "Best comedy magic" he was the only double-recipient of this award in the Cali-magico competition held in Colombia.
Zenia Bhumgara. Her passion and enthusiasm for this offbeat career paid off on the third week of September when she was awarded the prestigious Merlin award by the International Magicians Association in Mumbai, India.
Handy Altan. He is known for one of the outstanding close up magician in Indonesia. His passion and enthusiasm in teaching magic to the lay people, developing the art itself, and his art-movement to unite magic art enthusiast in Indonesia has been an excellent example. For this, on October 2015 he was awarded the prestigious Merlin Award by the International Magicians Society for the Best Magic Movement.
in May 2016, Hany show received the Prestigious Merlin Award as " Best Stage Magic Middle East 2016.
Merlin Awards are not listed with either category or date:
"Sometimes, I am asked why don’t we publish the year and category for each magician’s Merlin Award on our website. The fact is that when the magician receives his award, during the press conference, we announce the category. Thereafter, it serves no purpose to publish the category or the year on our website. Because some categories might sound more glorious than the others, there’s no point of hyping or diminishing anyone’s award or the year they received it. And there’s no point in dating their awards either. The bottom line is everyone who received the Merlin Award is a Merlin Award Recipient period and is entitled to enjoy the glory for the rest of their life without dating or categorizing it.” - Tony Hassini
It has been suggested that the Merlin Awards exist purely to generate publicity for the artist and income for the IMS. Tony Hassini clarifies this in the FAQ page of The International Magicians Society.
"I’m also asked how do we consider a nominee for the Merlin Award? A magician must send to the IMS World Headquarters a videotape or DVD of his complete act for our Board of Directors to consider. (No promo DVD’s or online videos are accepted.) The other question I am asked is “Are there any costs to receive the Merlin Award?” First, I must say that the Merlin Award is not for sale at any cost. Regarding the actual out-of-pocket cost, this varies from situation to situation. There are three ways a magician can receive the Merlin Award. One is to attend our Merlin Award banquet dinner; this is by invitation only, after the recipient was voted to receive the Merlin Award. Two is to participate and win a Merlin Award competition in different countries, which is organized by IMS with the event and convention organizers. And three is for us to travel to the magician’s country and present the Merlin Award to them in their own country. So let’s look at the cost of the first scenario, which is where the magician must obtain a visa from the American embassy to travel to the USA. He must purchase airline tickets, other travel related costs and fees, hotels, meals, and $500 US dollars per plate at the Merlin Award banquet dinner. In the second scenario, again the magician must travel to the event where the Merlin Award competition is taking place. He pays all of the same travel expenses as mentioned in the first scenario and pays for the entrance fee to the convention or to the competition, whichever applies. In the third scenario, where we have to travel from the USA to the magician’s country, either the magician or the magician’s producer pays for all of the travel expenses, hotels, meals, airlines, and other related expenses. Within any of these three scenarios, it’s always a trade when it comes to the cost. Within any of the three scenarios, our main focus is to generate as much PR as possible with the general public. A good example of this is when we were going to present the Merlin Award to Louis Yan in Hong Kong, we could have presented the award to him in our Hong Kong IMS office. Or we could have had our IMS members meet at a nice Chinese restaurant and present the award to him there. Then we came up with an idea. We approached one of the largest shopping malls in Hong Kong. Not only did they build a custom stage and provided enough seating for the audience, they also provided guards for crowd control. The mall management, with their media contacts, were able to invite newspapers, radio, and television to cover the event. Both the mall and Louis Yan received tremendous PR and public awareness." - Tony Hassini 
The distribution of Merlin Awards to virtually unknown magicians in countries like Thailand, India and Vietnam and unethical  dealers like Tora Magic who received the "First Producer and Best Designer of Magic Items" Merlin Award has also caused many prominent magicians within the industry  to question the authenticity of the award as well as industry journalists. "A YouTube promotional video...also touts the Merlin Awards, which are handed out by a frizzy-haired Marty Allen look-alike named Tony Hassini. Casanova, meet every other magician in town!" - Mike Weatherford, Las Vegas Review Journal 
Tony Hassini visited Guam on January 4, 2018 to present magicians Chris & Ryan Zubrick the famed Merlin Award for “Best Family Magic Show” for their show “Zubrick”, currently running at the SandCastle Dinner Theater.
During the presentation ceremony Toni Hassini was quoted saying, “We look for originality. We look for showmanship and above all we look for magicians who can perform under any circumstances. And for the first time we are presenting the Merlin Award on Guam and to very fine and very talented two magicians, [The] Zubricks,” said Hassini.
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