Many of my close friends know that one of my main passions in life is researching the art of Alchemy. Often at our events here at the Magic School, I am asked, “Just what does alchemy have to do with thep erformance of stage magic or close-up magic?” One of the many definitions of alchemy is that it is the “spiritualization of matter.” At our workshops, we have an exercise where we ask our students to select something very mundane, perhaps a simple magic effect, and combine it with some of their personal experiences. Be adding these personal elements of our lives — our strength, will, love and imagination — we can transform the most ordinary “trick” into a sensational piece of magical theater. I grew up in Rock Hill, New York — up in the Catskill mountains. I spent a lot of my youth exploring the woods. Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed transforming ordinary places into extraordinary magical spaces. It all started with my earliest magical installation: my walk-in closet/haunted house. Then on to my magic show theater setups in the basement and continuing on to my participation in creating art installations and ritual theater events at The Mystery School, Mysterium, Desert Moon Circle, Firedance, Burning Man, The Wonderdome…. There is a mysterious creative force within me that wants not only to perform magic, but to create enchanting, magical spaces as well. Now that we have finally opened the Magical Arts Center we have over 5000 square feet of free space for our magic company and all of our friends in the magic community to create and transform their inspiration into art, their lead into gold!
What is real magic? I can tell you this from my personal experience: When I perform sleight of hand magic, folks know I am the source of trickery behind the illusion. Often the reaction to this type of “skill-magic” is shock, amazement and applause; also, appreciation of techniques I have mastered and a respect for skill I have attained. But when I perform mentalism, the effect on the audience can be quite different. Often there is a stunned silence, a questioning of reality…was it real? I do regret not starting to study mentalism earlier in my life. Only after I turned 30 was this field of magic important to me. But I do have great teachers that have helped me catch up on my learning. When I asked Max Maven to teach a course on “21st Century Mentalism” with Eugene Burger, he said yes, but he would call the event “Handling Humans”, because that is what mentalism and close-up magic are really all about: managing people during a performance. Last year’s class was incredible and I’m expecting the one this March to be even better!
When you come visit us in Las Vegas, I want to show you around our 5,000 square foot multi-media magic facility. As you enter I will say to you, “Welcome to the WONDERDOME!” A few years ago my friend Gary Stadler had an idea to help me create a new kind of magic theater. We ran with the concept and developed a light-weight portable dome theater and took it to the Burning Man Art Festival to try it out… it worked! That idea led to the WONDERDOME! Last week we hosted an open house party for the all the magicians in Las Vegas who attended the World Magic Seminar. Inside the Wonderdome that night we mixed magic with a live DJ, shadow-dancing, techno-tribal drum and dance, and grand illusions with live synched video projection! If you wantto see some fun photos go to our media galleries.