Magic Mentors – Max Malini
Max Malini the Magic Globetrotter was born in 1873 in Poland. At a young age, he emigrated to the US settling in New York City.
Malini’s maxim of life was: To make money you have to mingle with people who have money. This principle and a ton of self-confidence were the best prerequisites for a legendary career in magic. His most famous trick was to produce a block of ice under a borrowed hat.
He started out as a busker in salons which gave him the knowledge and confidence to be able to deal with any situation. It took him only a couple of years to make the move from the bars to the high society. He did magic with everyday objects, knives, glasses, matches, coins, cigarettes, a deck of cards.
He developed the perfect methods for misdirection and with people surrounding him, that watch every move he created a circle of admirers that spread the word about his unique abilities.
On the search for people with money, Malini went to the places where you would find them, the luxury hotels. Many times he just booked the most expensive room in a hotel without a cent in his pocket. He arranged for a meeting with the hotel manager and showed up with a nice leather binder, containing referral letters from presidents, prime ministers, secretaries of kings and queens. He suggested arranging for a show in the hotel for the guests and local celebrities. After the successful show, the hotel manager usually didn’t charge any for the room.
Years ago I bought the book, Malini and his magic and was studied some of his effect. The great thing is that with a little adaption to the current time you can still perform these tricks.
Maybe I should try his approach rent a suite and arrange for a show.
Patrick “Pat” Page (17 March 1929 – 11 February 2010) was a Comedy stage and Close Up magician born in Dundee, Scotland. He appeared on TV with Paul Daniels in the 1970s and worked on a variety of show business productions. In 2006 he was asked to be a consultant on the film Casino Royale, which used several scenes involving playing cards. Patrick Page also worked as an adviser for Derren Brown. Throughout his long career, he worked the club circuit, wrote books, and recorded instructional videos for magicians.
I was introduced to Patrick Page’s magic during his seminars in Germany. Most likely I attended his lecture more than any other magicians’. His approach to magic and performance was based on years of experience. Working in all different kinds of venues stage and close-up he was a master of both. I am still using some of the things he showed in my stage and close-up performances.
The fact that I am a professional magician now is partly because of him. He asked me what I did for a living and if I liked it or if I preferred doing something else. I said not particularly and he asked me what I rather that. I said magic. He looked at me, paused and said then do it for a year and see if you like it. That’s what I did years later and never looked back. Here is a short clip of him performing at a lecture one of his favorite routines.
Tommy Wonder was the stage name of Jacobus Maria Bemelman, a Dutch magician, inventor and author, who performed close-up and stage magic. He has published 2 major books, the Books of Wonder. Born in 1953 in Lisse near Amsterdam he, unfortunately, died way too early in 2006, after a brief battle with lung cancer.
He developed an interest in conjuring at an early age and studied acting, dancing and singing for three years at the Performance Academy in The Hague subsequently touring for two years with De Haagsche Comedie. Because Wonder designed and developed all of his own repertoires, he is still held in high esteem amongst his colleagues in magic.
I met Tommy Wonder at a magic convention in the ’90s in Ludwigsburg. At the time I had heard about him but had never seen or read any of his work. He had a certain quality, to give magic importance and certain class. I have never been so mystified by a magic performance like that. His direction of attention and how it is implemented in his effects were second to none. Because of this lecture, I started to work more on the finer points of a presentation and direction of attention. Here is a short video of a TV performance that highlights 3 of his effects, enjoy.
- Take your performance and magic seriously
- Give the performance a touch of class
- Continuous ‘re-engineering’ of effects and presentation
- To be effective you must be in command
- Books of Wonder Vol. l, 1996
- Books of Wonder Vol. II, 1996
In the next couple of posts, I will introduce you to people, the magic mentors that have inspired me to become a better performer. You’ll meet people who have offered advice, or acted by example, to help develop and direct my career as a magician.
Some of them are alive, some have passed on and some were alive before I was born. By reading classic books and magazines I have stories about their life and performances that inspired and influenced me. They are mostly magicians but also a movie director and Karate masters.
Magic Mentors – Joro
We will start with Joro (Bruno Hennig). Joro was born Oct 1928. He was working at a bank and part-time as a magician. He has published multiple articles in magic magazines and has invented effects that are still used by professionals worldwide today. The dancing cork and the card in the box. Here a clip the famous Dutch magician Fred Kaps performing one his effects on TV.
In the lecture, Joro highlighted to focus on a handful of effects and perform them over and over again and develop your own way of doing the effect. It took me a long time to put this advice into action. But today, almost 25 years later I can say that it was exactly what I needed at the time.
I believe that Joro has influenced hundreds of magicians in Germany with his style and thinking and I would highly recommend reading his books on his stage show and other effects as well as his book on the cups and balls. Unfortunately, they are only published in German.
I met Joro at 3 magic lecture at the Magic Hands magic shop in the mid-’80s. I was lucky that this shop was about 45 min car ride away from my home town. Joro, despite the fact he performed part-time, was never an amateur. He had a very interactive stage show that had been honed in hundreds of shows. The lecture came for me at a time where I consumed a lot of magic. I read books, bought effects and I was chasing alway the latest trick on the market.
Kleines Becherspiel-Kompendium, Coesfeld 1999
Das Joro-Buch – Verlag: sic, 1993, 1. Auflage, 18×25, 192 Seiten
What are the types of venues and events that can make use of a Roving Magician?
Last week I performed close up magic at 3 different events and each of them was set up differently.
The first engagement was a performance for Givenchy at Bar Rouge. It was basically a cocktail event leading up to the launch of a new product. The client asked me to involve some of their items into the performance. I created an effect using a make-up container inside which a freely selected card appeared. Typically for an event like this is that the magician works for small groups of people and the performance is usually about 5 minutes. The performance does not require any setup and it is ideal for events where the show is not a highlight but an addon to support the theme.
The second engagement was a performance at an award dinner at the Marriott Hotel. I was hired to perform in between the 4-course dinner. The difference to the cocktail event before is that one can cover more guests in the same period of time. At a banquet each table seats on average 10 people. In an hour, about 6-7 tables can be covered which means one performer can be used for 120-140 guests. The performer is also able to do a complete mini act of 8-10 minutes for each table, which give the guests a feeling of a personalized performance.
The last engagement was at a restaurant at Chijmes. The dinner was held in a private room at the restaurant. I was engaged to perform a formal 30-minute close-up after-dinner show for an audience of about 50 guests. Usually, the performance takes place after the main course or dessert. This type of show requires more planning but in my opinion, it is the most memorable option of all.
Magic Convention – How magicians improve their skills
The question I am asked the most, apart from how did you do that, is how did you learn your craft and how do you improve your skill.
Like with any other business, there are conventions. There you can attend lectures held by famous or not so famous magicians, there are shows and usually exhibits that shows the latest and the greatest trick.
Personally, I don’t go very often because of the focus on tricks and sales. I believe improvement comes from doing as many performances as you can and analyzing what went well and sometimes what went wrong.
Every now and then there is a magic convention that goes off the beaten track. Earlier this year I signed up for a convention/lectures in Madrid Spain. What drew me to it was the fact that it was limited to 15 participants. It is called Campus Magico.
They had 6 teachers and the focus was on the way magic is approached in Spain. There were lectures about the history of Spanish Magic, lessons in active theatre and mime, storytelling and others. Each lecturer did a full day seminar with various exercises.
The location was about 30 km outside Madrid in a beautiful farmhouse. There was nothing around to distract your attention, so full focus on the lectures and exercises was guaranteed.
What I liked best is that I didn’t learn a single effect but improved on the ones I do already. Furthermore it was great to meet other performers from the UK, Germany, Spain, Canada and the US. I hope to be back next year
Event Entertainment Roving Magic
When it comes to event entertainment roving magic, also called strolling magic, close-up walk around or sometimes street magic seems to be a very popular option for cocktail events, private or corporate dinner parties.
What are the advantages of a roving magician?
Your guests will socialize better because magic is a great conversation starter. People that don’t know each other will talk about what they have just seen. It is also a good way to get different groups together.
Your guests are given the opportunity to socialize, not just to see a performance. Unlike a stand-up show or illusion show roving magic does not interrupt the flow of the event. It doesn’t require the attention of the entire audience but only of the group that is currently involved in the presentation.
The performance is personlized and your guests will have more fun getting their own show. Usually the magic happens in their hands.
There is no additional costs for a stage, lights and sound equipment. Roving magic can be done almost anywhere, under almost any conditions.
Finally it is possible to customize the effects to involve for example your company name and logo or message. For private events e.g. birthday parties or anniversaries a message can be included leaving the main person or couple with unique souvenir.
How long is a performance? Typically 5-10 minutes per group
How many people can be you perform for? As a ballpark, at a cocktail event about 40-50 people can be covered in one hour. At a sit down dinner (tables of 1o) about 60-70 per hour
Can this also be used for a small group of 5-20 people? I would recommend to do a close-up show of about 25 minutes for the entire group.
Below are pictures taken at a recent performance. It was required to perform during the cocktail hour and later at the dinner in between courses.
Now I will have a few days to recuperate and spend some time with my wife and friends, I’d like to wish everyone who has supported me and my business this past year, be it corporate or private clients a great start in 2018 and 365 successful days. Without you I wouldn’t be in this wonderful position to be able to perform and do what I love for a living. Thank you for your ongoing support and I look forward to working with you again in 2018.
I will be developing a one man show for the forthcoming year and will be offering it to existing clients first. If you would like to be on the list please sign up to my Newsletter on the website.
For the time being have fun with the holiday workout!