When you pass through the fire, you pass through humble
You pass through a maze of self doubt
When you pass through humble, the lights can blind you
Some people never figure that out
There’s a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out.
— MAGIC AND LOSS by Lou Reed
I want to share some thoughts and feelings about my friend and mentor Lou Lancaster.
I got the call a few days ago while I was on tour. On July 5th Lou drove himself to the Veterans Hospital here in Vegas. My friend Phyllis said Lou collapsed and never got up again.
Lou had a great influence on my magic and presentational style. His “Chan Lu” act* was the very first Asian themed I ever saw. In the mid 70’s, Lou was performing at the Grossinger’s Hotel in the Catskills at magic convention hosted by George Schindler and Frank Garcia.
I remember the impression Lou made upon all of us as he breezed through the lobby of the nightclub just before the show. I had never seen Lou in his full-on Chinese make-up, coolie hat, and formal costume. It was an awesome sight! Onstage he looked as if he was from another world! His act was very mysterious and pure manipulative magic. I got to meet Lou at this convention. After the show he took the time to help me with my fledgling card fans. A few years later I moved to NYC and would meet up with Lou at the old Tannen’s magic shop. He held court at Tannen’s. Lou could “go behind the counter” at any time he desired to show us his magic and moves. Lou was magic shop royalty, and the card acolytes would be awestruck as he first back palmed the entire deck and then produced them in fabulously full fans, and then in impossibly intricate interlocks! Lou was THE MAN! We shared many hours together at the shop and various local magic hang outs, begging him to “tip the work” and tell us his war stories of life on the road.
As the years went by, Lou took me as a student and taught me the inside work of the traveling stage manipulator; the hidden pockets, secret gimmicks, the steals, the moves and the routines he had learned over his many years and travels. After a few years of apprenticing with Lou, he gave me my first big break; a steady job performing at the world famous Club Ibis in NYC. Lou was the house magician there for years but he felt called to the sea. He bought a sailboat and was off to explore the world….. and offered the Club Ibis gig to me. I stayed for 3 years working 6 nights a week 2 shows a night. The pay $100.00 per week; I was in heaven.
This steady gig gave me the experience working tough NYC crowds and a place to showcase for producers….it was the opportunity I needed to get my show polished!
Much of my professional repertoire I learned from Lou: Card fan Manipulation, silent linking rings to music, Zombie, and his version of the multiplying candles with the Chinese fan. I still perform these routines often and pass his techniques on to our students at the school. Lou’s creativity and magic will live on to inspire many other generations.
Read much more about Lou here – http://www.loulancaster.com
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ON TRIXX!
Our friend and student Michael Trixx is a veteran of many of our classes. Trixx will be on America’s Got Talent soon! Here is what Trixx has to say:
“Jeff McBride’s Magic and Mystery School gave me the courage, skill, and confidence to take my show to the next level — which landed me a spot on America’s Got Talent! I thank Jeff and Abigail McBride, along with Eugene Burger, for all their time, help, friendship and support. And I will continue to visit the school, It
We are thrilled to announce that we’ve booked Jeff’s show “Magic at the Edge” into the Sound Trax Showroom at Palace Station here in Las Vegas starting August 21st! The show, which is an updated version of the show we’ve performed in Laughlin and Atlantic City over the past 18 months, will run every Wednesday – Monday nights with performances at 7:30 each evening.
Tickets will be available for sale as of August 11 by going to www.stationcasinos.com and following the entertainment links to the one for “Magic at the Edge.”
Not only that, but Palace Station has also agreed to host “McBride’s Wonderground” club experience every Friday and Saturday evening for the run of Magic at the Edge! This moves up our schedule on that project significantly…and expands it from once a month to twice a week. We’ll be looking for lots of help from our friends (that’s you) to make both events the success that Jeff’s vision deserves.
We’ve written you before about the Wonderground, but in case you missed it, here’s a clipping from the press release: More than a nightclub, the Wonderground features interactive close-up magic, uncommon variety acts, and performance art. The experience will include special performances by Jeff McBride and celebrity guest artists, and will change every evening. Installations and attractions include a psychic sideshow, celebrity interaction with the stars of the show, and plenty of dancing with magic DJ Leo Diaz.
“The Wonderground is a techno-tribal revival,” says McBride. “It’s a party that will thrill and give both locals and visitors great stories to tell their friends when they get home.” McBride’s Wonderground encourages each guest to dive in and help create the overall magical club experience.
As many of you know, Jeff moved to Las Vegas in 1997. “I chose to live here because Las Vegas is the magic capital of the world. Vegas has more light per square inch than anywhere else on the planet – and it has some of the darkest shadows. In this show, I enjoy exploring that edge, between darkness and light. This is where the magician finds his home.”
“When I’m at home, there’s always the telephone ringing and there are people around- it’s what I ask for and what I want and what I love. But when I’m on an airplane — it’s like having your own private office; you disappear in to the clouds and nobody knows who you are. So I say, ‘Could I have the seat next to me free? I have a lot of work to do.’ And they say yes if the plane isn’t very crowded, so most of the time I get it, and I spread out my things and I work and I think. And when I’m finished I look out at the clouds and I think of the wonder and the magic of the universe.”
–Leo Buscaglia, from Living, Loving and Learning
Many of you ask me with all of my demanding world tours how I get the time to reflect and integrate all of the rich experiences that I am blessed to receive. Often, it is on the long flights to and from my magical adventures that I get the chance to sift through my memories and pluck out the gold nuggets of experience. Here are a few golden ingots of my Inca Magic adventure.
A few months ago, I was invited to represent the United States at an international magic event named INKA MAGIC. (yes, Inka is the old spelling) Part of the tour was a special adventure to the spiritual center of Peru, the city of Cusco. Our hosts Jholu and Juan Carlos did a fantastic job of arranging this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS
Machu Picchu is enveloped in an eternal aura of mysticism. Its temples convey ideals of the amazing empire which built them. It is also a place which takes us on a journey to the spirit of serenity, and to our eternal connection with the magic of the Incas. I was one of thirteen magicians that made the journey from Lima to Cusco, and then boarded a mountain train running along the Urubamba river, to go high up into the awe-inspiring Andes. This was the “easy way to travel.” Many of the hard-core pilgrims hoof it, taking the 88 km Inca trail from Cusco all the way up. It takes four days. “Machu Picchu” means Young Mountain. For over four hundred years, the Incas built an empire, and this was one of their most sacred cities. Suddenly, all the inhabitants vanished, and no one will ever know why. Scientists are still puzzling over this.
THE “MYSTIC 13”
Our small band of magicians was comprised of some of the top performers from all over South America and the USA. I was joined by my friends Michael Ammar and Costya Kimlat. We bonded not only because of our shared interest in magic, but also our passion for the mythology and our eagerness to explore the rich history of Peru.
Our merry band of magical adventure-seekers took every opportunity to perform street magic for the local villagers and guides. There happened to be a film crew doing a documentary on sacred sites in Peru. We ran into this film crew a number of times during our travels, so they decided to do a feature story on us! The day after our Machu Picchu expedition, we journeyed to Cusco, which is known as the “navel of the world.” Cusco was the center of the Inca empire. Many of the ancient rituals and traditions are still carried on there.
As good fortune would have it, we had the opportunity to witness a recreation of perhaps the most ancient and sacred festival of the Incas, “Intiraymi,” which means the Festival of the Sun. Over ten thousand villagers and tourists gathered on the mountainside just outside of the city. In the center of a large field, hundreds of colorfully garbed drummers, dancers, flautists and conch players heralded the arrival of The Inca. This god-man appeared on a throne of gold and was carried to a central pyramid, where he re-enacted the ancient rituals of the returning sun. This re-enactment also reinforces the people’s connection to the natural world and sources of life.
INKA MAGIC CONVENTION
This is the largest magic event in Peru. I was astonished by the high quality of the organization and hospitality. I have been attending magic conventions since 1970, and this event was one of the best I have ever attended. It might have something to do with the amazing talent of the South American magicians, or maybe it was the energy of all the pilgrims that had traveled so far to experience the magic of Peru. The Latin American close-up card magicians rocked my world. Among them, Luis Otero is a true star in the world of card magic. I spent many hours studying his techniques and hope to share them with you the next time we meet.
I was most impressed with the quality of the “children’s shows.” One of the main events was a show comprised of performances by many of the top children’s entertainers in South America. They take this kid-stuff very seriously! I was amazed to see full on theatrical productions with lighting, music, dance, puppetry and quick-change. There is a sophisticated aesthetic that permeates this form of “young adult theater,” that has yet to be seen in other areas of the world. Later this year, the largest magic event in South America, FLASOMA, will be held in Peru. I hope to return if I can arrange my tour.
WISTERIA CORNSTALK FESTIVAL
Abbi and I, along with Michael Wall, Joshua Levin and Nikki are all going to be at the Cornstalk Festival in a few weeks. This event will be happening July 30th – August 3rd, at the Wisteria campgrounds, in Ohio. Here’s a link:
The Cornstalk Festival is “A Magical Convergence of Spirit, Earth, Art & Music, with a focus on blending the Earth-loving, Magical and Fantastic in five days of blissful entertainment, camping, celebration, awareness and eco-education…”
Abbi and I will be doing our full on Las Vegas magic show on the main stage. Kan’Nal will also be playing there. Spinner & the Web will be doing a set in the coffeehouse, and, of course, there’s going to be some outstanding fire circle magic happening…. There will also be two nights of fire circle magic, drumming, dancing and ritual theater. If you’re in the Ohio area, consider this your personal invitation to join us!
I’m off to Oregon for a few shows. First up is Portland, OR, July 7th and 8th, where I’ll be doing my full show, a lecture and a Master Class. Call Mark at 360-261-1606. for more info on the show or class.
July 11, 12, and 13th, I’ll be performing at the Oregon Country Fair, with our friends Nicki Scully, Johnny D, BrightHawk, Mz. Imani, and Michael Wall. For other upcoming dates, check my tour schedule:
I hope to see many of you on tour, or here for one of our classes in Las Vegas! Enjoy your summer… Keep the magic alive!
Jeff & Abbi
We have some late breaking news from the U.K. — Jonathan Shotton, who will be with us for our July extended class, sponsored by The Magic Circle, was just featured, along with former student Romany, the first woman ever to be named Magician of the Year by the Magic Circle.
You can see the video at:
While our July Extended Master Class is completely full, there are still a few spots open for the August class. This will be the last extended class of 2009, and we expect to have some special surprises for those who attend. Sign up now at http://www.magicalwisdom.com.
Best to all!