In answer to the question, “How did you get into magic?” David Blaine may have said it best when he replied, “You don’t get into magic; magic gets into you.”
Magic “got into me” when I was seven years old. My uncle was an amateur magician, and enjoyed performing magic for his nieces and nephews. When I began to show an interest in learning the art of magic, he was my first teacher. Each time I would visit, he would bequeath to me a piece of magical apparatus: a magic box, perhaps an old book of secrets, the binding split and the pages yellowed, that I would pore over for hours at a time, eager to glean from it, the secrets of the art.
In grade school I met another budding magician, and we would invent our own tricks using popsicle sticks, paperclips, construction paper, coffee cans. We read every book in the public library on magic, including biographies of Harry Houdini. This inspired us to pretend that we were the Houdini Brothers, hanging upside down from the swing set, testing our endurance holding our breath underwater, and trying to learn how to swallow lock picks and regurgitate them without necessitating a trip to the hospital.
When I was 12 years old, I started to play the trumpet. Music, however, did not “get into me” in the same way that magic had. But next door to the music store, where I was enrolled in trumpet lessons, was a magic shop. So each week, after a dreary session of scales and etudes, I would run next door to hang out at The Top Hat Magic Shop, where I became a regular fixture. Here I could rub elbows with “real” magicians; magicians who were serious about the art, and who – if it pleased them – might reveal a closely held secret or two.
The owner of the Top Hat Magic Shop, Mike Shannon, took me under his wing and when I was old enough, I began my work as a magician’s apprentice. Working for Mike brought me into contact with all facets of the art of magic, and most importantly exposed me to the Three Rules of Magic which I still follow to this day:
After six years of apprenticing with Mike, when he felt that he had taught me everything that he could, he advised me to go to college to study theatre, to formalize my knowledge of stagecraft and drama. It was a turning point for me, as I learned how to script a compelling story, how to affect an audience as an actor, and how to take an audience on a theatrical journey.
Upon leaving school I joined the corporate world for a while, but magic still had a hold of me. So when a chance arose for me to make a career change, I seized the opportunity, and began learning the art of the entrepreneur. Being able to start with nothing, and then create something of value, is the most powerful kind of magic.
Magic returns us to a state of astonishment, a childlike state of wonder. Through magic, we are brought home to our natural state. Our world may seem dry, dusty, and mechanical. But magic opens our eyes to wonder, and reveals the truth: the world in an astonishing place. And so, for a moment, we regain a proper sense of perspective, and the world, once again, unfolds in its awesome, beguiling, and wonderful magnificence.
As an entertainer I can engage an audience of 500 performing magic from the stage, or amaze an audience of four or five by performing magic up close– right under their noses, even in their own hands. For a person that magic has gotten into, it’s a wonderful life.