Biography of Auckland professional magician Alan Watson QSM and 2002 Dragon Award winner
Alan Watson magician

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Alan and Michele
New Zealand's **Star** Performers

By Richard Webster
Last updated 6/1/2019

In the past Alan and his wife Michele were without a doubt one of the busiest show business teams around the world. Back then on a typical day, the Watsons may have started at a children's birthday party, then entertained at a corporate function and he regularly finished his day performing close-up magic in a restaurant.

It is this versatility that provides the Watson family with a good living in New Zealand, a small market of only four million people. Alan’s consummate professionalism, coupled with a background in sales and marketing, has enabled him to break long established records, set new standards, and, in the process, generate valuable publicity. He is also an expert at the computer, and constantly keeps up with leading technology to give him a winning edge over his competitors.

For five years Alan was resident close-up magician at the renowned Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, where he performed for an incredible 1,423 nights. This is a record for any New Zealand magician. Originally, he was booked for one week at Fisherman’s Wharf, but ended up performing there five nights a week for five years. For 26 years he was the resident magician for New Zealand largest theme park Rainbows End where he presented the Alan Watson family magic and illusion show. Alan deserves his success, because he works hard at every aspect of his magic business. I witnessed an example of this when I saw him performing his close-up act in a restaurant. At one table, all the diners were Japanese. This made no difference to Alan, because he was able to present his entire show in broken Japanese!

All this hard work pays off with lucrative bookings. In the 1992 - 1993 financial year Alan presented a staggering 1,005 shows, including close-up, children’s birthday parties, trade shows, strolling magic, and performances at shopping malls and corporate shows. Alan does not perform that number of shows a year these days, as he now specializes in more lucrative bookings.

Michele and Alan work well together. Michele is skilled and relaxed on stage, and is totally professional. She is an excellent assistant and a strong performer in her own right. The family prefers working together, but work singly when required. Many magicians’ wives dislike magic, but Michele loves every aspect of it, including keeping up to date with what is going on in the world of magic. Not long ago, I enjoyed dinner with Alan and Michele and a couple of overseas magicians. I was impressed at Michele’s knowledge of magic, and was delighted to discover her passion for magical history.

Alan and Michele Watson were recognized internationally by the J. Marberger Stuart Foundation who presented them with the 2002 DRAGON Award before an audience of more than 1,400 magicians at the 100th year anniversary of the Society of American Magicians in New York. The DRAGON Award is presented in recognition of outstanding teamwork in the art of magic, and is the highest international award that has ever been presented to a New Zealand magician. The award was presented to Alan and Michele by the previous year’s winners, Paul and Debbie Daniels. The DRAGON Award name is an acronym for Drama, Romance, Artistry, Glamour, Originality and Necromancy. The winners have to demonstrate outstanding ability in each category.

In 1995, the legendary Magic Circle in England presented Alan with their highest degree of which he is most proud: Member of The Inner Magic Circle - M.I.M.C. with Gold star. One year later, Alan showed the New Zealand public why he deserved this award, when he performed the close-up magic section in “The Great Kiwi Magic Show” on TV3.

Alan Watson has also been recognized by the entertainment industry in New Zealand. The Variety Artists Club of New Zealand presented Alan with New Zealand’s leading entertainment award, The  Benny Award - a lifetime Achievement Award, in October 2006. Less than one week later, the magicians of New Zealand presented him with the Grand Master of Magic Award - The Supreme Award for excellence for a New Zealand magician. Alan has been recognized by the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand five times in the past: four times for being the top magician in New Zealand, and once because of his dedication, professionalism, achievements and excellence in the field of magic.

One of the highlights of Alan’s career came in 1987 when he was invited to perform at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle. Alan and Michele were the first close-up magicians from New Zealand to appear at the Magic Castle.  With his typical marketing flair, Alan promoted New Zealand and its products, including Kiwifruit and Kiwi Lager, as part of his close- up routine.

The late William Larsen, then President of the Castle wrote, “He delighted our audiences with his unique technical skills. They are at once astonished and well pleased, a rare combination for any professional to master. His act is of the highest quality and he is one of the finest talents to appear at the Magic Castle in a long time.” Alan and Michele visited the Magic Castle again in 2002, and have performed in both the Close-up Gallery and the Parlour of Prestidigitation.

Alan Watson has always believed in giving back to the magical community, and has a deep passion to promote New Zealand and New Zealand magicians. In 2015 Alan received a New Zealand Royal Honour "The Queen's Service Medal" (QSM) - For services as a magician. He is a Past-President of the New Zealand Society of Magicians and Ring 160 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He co-founded the MagicNZ bulletin board in the early 1990s, introducing New Zealand magicians to the Internet. Incidentally, this was the first magic bulletin board in the world to be connected to the Internet. Alan is possibly best-known to international magicians for his weekly Magic New Zealand® e-zine, which is read each week by over 17.000+ magicians, in more than 78 countries.

Alan Watson is the International Deputy for the Society of American Magicians for New Zealand. He also acts as the New Zealand representative for The Magic Circle. Over the years, he has organised more than 100 lectures by international magicians to educate and benefit NZ magicians. In addition to all this, Alan has served on the committee for seven national New Zealand conventions, and at two of these, was responsible for publicity and marketing. Alan is one of the very few Kiwi magicians listed in the International Who’s Who of Magic. In his limited free time, Alan works tirelessly to prevent exposure of magic tricks and methods.

Typically, Alan’s fondest memories relate not to his achievements, but to the times when he was able to help others. One special moment occurred some years ago when he was performing strolling magic at the Lynn Mall shopping centre. During the afternoon, Alan made balloon animals for a group of four special needs children and their caregivers. He made a teddy bear for the last child. When he asked her for her name, one of the caregivers said, “I’m sorry, she doesn’t talk, she’s autistic.” Alan wrote the girl’s name on the teddy bear’s arm and then handed it to her. To everyone’s amazement the little girl said “thank you”. Alan’s eyes glisten as he recalls the moment. “Everyone broke down,” he told me. “Even the caregivers cried with joy and one of them told me that it was the first time she had spoken. That was a truly magical moment that I will treasure always.”

Alan and I have been friends for almost forty years now, and I have watched him progress from a part-time entertainer to an international performer who is recognised around the world. I am in awe of his talent, professionalism, business acumen and determination. I am not alone in this. The late J. Marberger Stuart, founder of the DRAGON Awards, considered the Watsons to be amongst the top magicians of the world. After seeing Alan performing at the Magic Castle, Mr Stuart was motivated to write the following letter:

Dear Alan
Congratulations on your marvellous success at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. My wife Marjorie and I thoroughly enjoyed your show, which we saw many times. We were especially delighted by the style and charm, which shone throughout your entire performance. As a judge of many magic competitions in the United States and Europe, including the most recent FISM, I have been privileged to see many fine magicians. I can honestly say that I consider you to rank among the top magicians in the world.

I envy the people of New Zealand who have an opportunity to see your world class magic on a regular basis. Please come to the United States more often. New Zealand should share its star performer with us all.

Best wishes for your continued success

Sincerely [signed] J Marberger Stuart

Unsolicited letters of this sort, and Alan has many more, demonstrate more convincingly than anything else that Alan Watson is New Zealand’s leading magician. The Magical Watson Family has done more than anyone else to promote New Zealand and New Zealand magicians internationally, and every Kiwi magician receives the benefit of this.

Over the years, the Magical Watson Family has performed before hundreds of celebrities. The list includes: Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Robert Muldoon, Phyllis Diller, the Sheik of Bahrain, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV (King of Tonga), Jackie Chan, Denzel Washington, Patrick Macnee, (John Steed of the Avengers), Raymond Burr (Perry Mason, Ironside), Sir Peter Blake, Whoopi Goldberg, Lynda Evans (of Dynasty), Dane Te Atairangikaahu (the Maori Queen), Elle McPherson, and numerous TV, radio and political personalities. We are fortunate that one of the world’s leading magical families chooses to live here. There can’t be too many people in New Zealand who haven’t been entranced by this talented family. If you have not yet seen New Zealand’s favourite magicians - the Magical Watson Family - in performance, I guarantee you will be captivated by them too, just as soon as you see them live on stage.

New Zealand Royal Honour:
2015 -
The Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) - For services as a magician

International Awards:
2010 - Presidential Citation
- from The Society of American Magicians President - for his extraordinary support and countless hours of service for the betterment of The Society of American Magicians through Magic New Zealand, enthusiastic participation and willingness to assist with any and all requests made of him as an International Deputy of the Society, and for being a member that all would do well to emulate.

2006 - Order of Merlin - from IBM International President - for a long-standing [25 years] and service to the Art of Magic

2005 - Presidential Citation - from IBM International President - for his contributions to the advancement of the Art of Magic and to the Brotherhood of Magicians with continuing interest and donations of time and effort

2005 - Best Mental Effect -
Linking Ring Awards - A Plaque

2002 - DRAGON Award -
from the President of the J.Marberger Stuart Foundation, Inc. - A lifetime achievement award given to a team in Magic who excels in Drama, Romance, Artistry, Glamour, Originality, and Necromancy.

The Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum, Inc. have dedicated a wall to winners of the DRAGON Award.

2002 - Certificate of Appreciation -
from IBM International President

1990 - 1st place - Close-up
- 22nd Australian Convention of Magicians

1982 - The Peter J. Shield Award
- 18th Australian Convention of Magicians
[for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Mentalism]

National Awards:
2006 - The Grand Master of Magic Award® - The Supreme Award for excellence for a New Zealand magician

2006 - The Golden Benny
- Lifetime achievement - The most prestigious and highest Award of The New Zealand Variety Artists Club [Life Member]

2003 - Agnew Excellence Award - Achieving excellence in his chosen field as a professional magician. The citation also acknowledged his dedication and professionalism and saluted his achievements in magic - Variety Artist's Club of New Zealand

1999 - Scroll of Honour
- In recognition for his major contributions and achievements in the professional art of magic and also for his expertise and dedication to introduce cyber technology to the entertainment profession - Variety Artist's Club of New Zealand

1997 - Shure Golden Microphone
- Most Professional Entertainer - Variety Artist's Club of New Zealand

4 times Top Close-up performer - New Zealand International Magic Conventions

6 times Top Children's Entertainer - New Zealand International Magic Conventions

4 times Benny Top Magician - Variety Artist's Club of New Zealand

Magical Affiliations:
Member of The Magic Circle London [M.I.M.C.] with Gold Star [15 years New Zealand's Representative]

Global Member of The Academy of Magical Arts (The Magic Castle® Hollywood)

Society of American Magicians [International Deputy for New Zealand & Life Member #246]

International Brotherhood of Magicians [5 times President Ring 160 - Life Member]

IBM The Global Electronic Ring 2100

MagicNZ BBS [Co-Director and Co-Founder]

Magic New Zealand® e-zine [Founder and Editor]

New Zealand Society of Magicians [4 times President, Past FISM Delegate - Life Member]

Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc. [7 times President - Inner Circle Member]

David Berglas Foundation for Promoting the Art of Magic

FISM Special Awards [Committee Member]

Publication Articles Alan Has Instigated:
The Magic Circular [UK]
- August 2015 - Front cover - Pages 234-237

Vanish magazine - April/May 2013 - Front cover - Pages 30-45

The Linking Ring - November 2006 - Front cover - Pages 35-40 plus 68-70

The Linking Ring - July 2004 - Front cover - Kiwi Magic pages 83-107

The Linking Ring - November 1998 - Front cover - Kiwi Magic pages 87-105

M.U.M. magazine
- September 1997 - Watson family front cover - Kiwi Magic pages 15-25

Australian Magic Monthly
- November 1996 - Alan Watson featured on front cover with accompanying article

The Magic Circular [UK]
- December 1995 - Front cover - New Zealand special section pages 223-230 . Also in this edition Peter Blanchard wrote a double page spread on the Watson family 'This is your life' pages 234-235

Genii magazine [US]
- October 1992 - Front cover - New Zealand special issue for which Alan compiled pages 805-819

Other Publication:
Magicana Magazine [NZ]
- Four times on front cover