Where Magic Takes You

Perhaps you got a Magic Kit as a kid. Maybe that’s what got you started. Maybe you saw a magician at a party and you got the bug there. It doesn’t matter how it started, it’s like falling in love. The attraction becomes stronger. Some people lose interest, but for those who don’t, its magic. You may not make it your career. Probably that’s a good choice because it isn’t easy. No matter how good you are, it’s a hard business to break into. But that doesn’t mean it can’t take you places. It can make you a hero to your grandchildren or even your boss!

Someone came in the other day looking to buy magic. He said he used to come here often as a kid with his father and he had a list and would buy the stuff on his list. It was a great time for him. Then he grew up and had other things on his mind, but he never gave up the magic. He fooled around with cards and coins and other close up stuff that he had. One day his boss came into his office and saw a deck of cards on his desk. He works for a big company.

“What are the cards for?” he asked.

“Oh, let me show you.”

He did a trick for him and blew him away.

“I didn’t know you did magic!

“Well, now you know.”

“We’re having a conference in a few weeks, maybe you’ll do some magic there.”

“Sure.”

So this fellow goes about practicing up on his walk around magic and one day his boss comes up to him and says, “By the way, just let me know what kind of lighting you need or tables, etc. Whatever you need.

” Just a minute. What kind of magic do you expect me to do?”

” Oh, you’ll be on stage for about 30 or 40 minutes. They’ll be over 100 people.”

“I thought I would just walk around and do magic for small groups at a time.”

“Oh no. We want a magic show.”

I guess it’s hard to say no to your boss.  This customer has the personality for it. He pleasant, outgoing, and a great sense of humour. All we have to do now is put a show together for him. We’ll try to steer him in the right direction.

To be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading Magic

When we started our business almost 40 years ago, people were not learning magic over the internet. There was no internet. There weren’t even magic videos. They read books. There’s an idea for you. New books were highly anticipated.

Now many people  learn magic on the internet. You may learn a trick or several tricks and even do them well, but unless you read books, which you can get on the internet, (perfectmagic.com) you won’t understand  what is involved in the art of magic. There are many kinds of magic books, how to do magic, history of magic, card magic, money magic, close-up magic, street magic, trade show magic, stage magic,  mentalism, illusion building, magic biographies, party magic, you name it, there’s a book on it. What you also get in many books is the back story of the trick, who invented it, who improved upon it, who made it famous, different ways of performing it, in what setting it works best, what you can use to make it easier for you.

At some point the internet learners decide they want to go to a real magic shop. The other day a young man came in. There are many things he didn’t know existed and and was happy to learn about them like Fanning Powder, Fingertip Lotion, Wax ( soft and hard) Coin holders, Roughing sticks, Reels, Octopalm, etc . These are not tricks in and of themselves but you can do do real magic with them or make tricks possible or easier to accomplish. They would go under the heading of  accessories. Most of them come with instructions on how to use them and some come with effects as well.

Magic goes back thousands of years. The first mention of magic that I am aware of goes back to  the Bible, Exodus 7:10-13. It tells how Moses threw his staff to the ground and it turned into a snake. If you don’t read books on magic you are probably not aware of whose shoulders you are standing on and of the valuable information they passed on, and if you are not aware of the importance or use of accessories, you’re missing a lot.

 

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Understanding Magic

We’ve been in the magic business almost 40 years. Besides that I have a knack for figuring out how most tricks could be done, even if it’s not the way they are done.

I have a customer who is into mentalism. I have many customers who are into mentalism but this particular one buys a lot of good magic. He was ready to make another purchase so I decided to look through a lot of mentalist  effects so I could make a recommendation to him. I looked at a lot of stuff, from inexpensive to very expensive and I did like a lot of them. One that I liked was in the $30.00 range. I liked it because I was sure it worked on the hot rod principle but it didn’t. I could not figure out how it could be done, but Phil had an idea, and said it was the only way, but to me it sounded too complicated. If you have it please don’t reveal it, but if you don’t have it, see what you think. the effect is called Symbol.What do you think?

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Teaching Your Brain To Do Magic

The brain is a wondrous thing! It is under used. Many years ago I was walking along the street with a friend and a chill came over me. I said to her, “I just got a chill. That happens sometimes and the next morning I always get a cold and sore throat. It’s like a forewarning.” And she said, “You expect to be sick and you will be. Why not tell yourself over and over that you are not getting sick.” I went to bed that night saying to myself I am not getting a cold. I am not getting a sore throat.” Guess what. I was fine the next morning. I haven’t had a cold in years. What does that have to do with magic?

We had a customer that was trying to teach himself how to do the one handed cut. He said he was working on it for weeks. I told him to keep on going. He would get it eventually if he kept at it.  Then a couple of weeks later he came in and told me he got it, but said he realized he could have saved himself a lot of trouble and learned it a lot faster. How? I asked him. He said he should have tried with his left hand first. Once he learned it with his right hand he thought it would be cool if he could do it with his left hand and to his amazement he could do it almost immediately. I had a good laugh. I explained to him that he had established the pathways in his brain when he had learnt it with his right hand and the switch to his left was a minor change.

The point is if you are trying to do a move that seems impossible, and give up, of course you will never do it. But if you keep at it, you’ll get it.

Which brings me to my granddaughter. When she was 6 or 7 she saw a juggler doing the Devil Sticks at a street festival and everyone was encouraged to try out the props. She was determined to learn how to do it. I gave her a set from the shop and she practiced and practiced all year. She finally learned how to do it and could do flips in the air and all kinds of stuff with it. The following year I went to the festival with her. She picked up a set of the sticks and started performing. Two guys were standing beside me watching her and one said, Hey, let’s try that. It looks easy enough. That little kid is doing it. So they both tried and could not for the life of them understand why she could do it and they couldn’t. Practicing teaches your brain. You just have to keep going until your brain gets it. If you give up learning a move because you think it takes too long to learn or that it’s too hard, that’s what separates you from the greats!

 

 

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Comedy Magic or Magic Comedian

There is a difference,  at least to me. There are tricks on the market that are comedy tricks, like, Tricky Bottles, Comedy Egg Can,  Comedy Funnel, Comedy Rope Trick, Cut, No Cut Scissors, Comedy Book Test to name a few, and these are effects a magician can put in the act to get a laugh. And that’s fine, we all like a good laugh. The trick has built in comedy.

But then there are comedians who put magic in their act. They are comedians first and magicians, second, not that their magic isn’t top notch, but it sort of a by the way thing.  They can perform a serious trick, but their comedic mind turns it into something funny.

I remember going to the Comedy Nest at the old forum in Montreal. Every so often David Acer would have a Magic Comedy night and the performers were magicians of course. Many of the spectators were also magicians. I forget who it was, but one of the performers did Cards Across,  but instead of using cards he used Kraft cheese slices in the cellophane wrappers. For the magicians it was hilarious.. The non magicians must have wondered why there was such an uproar in the place. He was a funny guy. The Great Unknown (Daniel Raymond)

Typical Daniel

The Great Unknown

was also a comedian first.  Romaine, although his magic is serious, has comedic bits throughout his act.

The Chinese Linking Rings can be a thing of mystery or comedy or both. It all depends on the magician. This is where one has to find oneself. Sometimes that’s not a problem, sometimes it takes work. Not the magic, but the kind of show or persona you want to portray on stage; a magician with some really funny tricks, or a comedian doing some magic. One is not necessarily better than the other. It depends on your personality and your comfort zone.

 

 

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The Most Important Element In Magic

It’s a pretty large field to cover in a post. It would depend on whether it’s close-up, stage or walk around, or street magic. In general, however, I think its important to have the audience, no matter how big or small, on your side. They should begin by liking you. How do you get them to do that if they don’t know you? It’s that first impression that going to help or hinder you. How do you start your show? How do you dress? Are you well groomed? What are the first words you utter?  How do you introduce yourself? Are the effects you perform appropriate for the particular crowd you are performing for? How do you react if you screw up a trick? How do you treat your volunteers? Everything counts. How do you engage the people? You could have a great show but  have you connected personally with the audience?

These are things you should think about before you get on stage. A lot of this comes with experience, of course. Something works, you leave it in,  it doesn’t, you take it out.

 

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Magic, The Next Generation

School is over and camp has begun. I don’t know what’s happening in your neck of the wood, but here in Montreal we have some excellent Magic Day Camps. The first session must have finished as we had a slew of kids here the past few days, most of them wanting the same things. I am so glad I had them in stock. The kids are wonderful, bright, polite and enthusiastic. I’m sure their magic teachers had a great deal to do with that.

Not only that, but some schools have magic as part of the program. I just read a post on my face book that said, “When we were young we were taught to say “please” and “thank you”, implying that this younger generation has no manners. I can only speak for the ones that come into our shop and they are all polite and respectful. (I can say that for most of the adults too.) On top of that, it’s getting harder to fool them, so I have great hopes for the next generation of magicians.

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Phil Matlin vs Julius Caesar

 

julius caesar 1Pianist-comic-cartoons--Stock-Vector-piano-playing

Gladiators in the arena, or in other words, there’s no business like show business.

If you’ve  been to the Perfect Magic Facebook site, then you know that Phil has a few gigs  playing piano for the Cote St. Luc Library on the first Tuesday of the summer months. A piano had been donated to Cote St Luc and it went to Rembrandt Park and was inaugurated by none other than Oliver Jones. The media was there, as well as the politicians and it was a big deal.

The first Tuesday of June came along. We had our plans but nature had other plans. There was a storm the night before and the tarpaulin didn’t do its job and the piano was ruined. But in the tradition of show business, the show went on. Some folks from the library came to our condo and carried down Phil’s electric keyboard and speaker and whatever else and he played. It was not his best show, a little trouble with equipment, and whatnot, but people came over after and said they enjoyed it thoroughly. The other day in the elevator, a lady said to Phil, “You’re the piano player. It was so wonderful.” and he said “If you enjoyed it I’ll be there again this Tuesday.”

Did I mention the park managed to secure another real piano? Phil hasn’t even had the chance to try it out as it was supposed to be tuned yesterday. In any case, as I write this, we get an email that the Shakespeare in the Park troupe has a dress rehearsal of Julius Caesar at Rembrandt park at the very time that Phil is booked. They rehearsed there on Saturday and I saw them and heard them as I took my grandchildren there to play. They are loud and have drums that are also loud.

Phil said he’s going anyway. It’s been advertised by the library and we have notices in the building and we know people are coming. So it’s Phil Matlin vs Julius Caesar. The outcome will unravel tonight and by tomorrow when this post is complete you will know the outcome. ***

Now it’s tomorrow and my gladiator won. Actually the troupe was extremely co-operative. They agreed not to use the microphones and it made all the difference. Phil gave them one of his CD’s as a token of his appreciation. It’s good when everyone gets along and makes peace instead of war.

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A Different Kind of Magic

Phil and I were having breakfast this morning and the phone rang. It was my daughter. In the course of conversation she told me she was taking the kids to the Museum to see the Pompeii Exhibit. My granddaughter, age 8, overheard her talking and asked if Bubbie (that’s me) could come too. So my daughter asked if I would like to come along. I hesitated because I took a few days off last week as my back went out and Phil had to hold the fort on his own and I had stuff I had to do at the magic shop.

At the same time it felt so good that my granddaughter wanted me to come and I did want to see that exhibit, so I said I’d call her back. Phil asked what the call was about and I told him that they were going to the Museum etc, and asked if I would I like to go. Phil asked if I wanted to go. I said yes. He said. Go. I phoned her back and we made arrangements. Phil said, “You didn’t say you were going today. I thought you meant on the week-end.” I said “No, it’s today.” He said, “But it’s a short week.” (Canada Day) and I said “It’s a short life.”

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Are You Magicians Ready to Share?

Yesterday on Facebook  I wrote

“I bet when Darcy Oake got his first magic trick, as a kid I presume, the furthest thing from his mind was that one day he would be going to London to visit the Queen. Get your kid a magic trick !”

 

Then I got to thinking that I got my first magic trick when I was 8 years old. My father went to New York  and went to Tannen’s  (I think that’s where he got it) and when he came home he gave me a Nickels to Dimes trick, made of brass. I can look back and see myself  sitting on the blue linoleum kitchen floor, banging away with that bang ring. I wonder if it left marks in the floor. I treasured it and found it amazingly clever, but I don’t remember performing it for anyone outside of the family. They did not have “Show and Tell” in school when I was in Grade 2. If they did, I surely would have brought that because it was something that none of the other kids would have had.

So now I want you, my dear reader, and probably magician, to share with us. How old were you when you got your first magic trick? What was it ?  How do you think it affected your life?  Do you think it was responsible for your career in magic? I eagerly await your reply!

 

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