Shock & Awe: Courage in the Darkness

Jeff McBride in China

“Everyone has a talent; what is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.”
— Erica Jong

Greetings Friends…

We are in the season of dark places. Today, only the most courageous and talented will avoid the grim reaper of pop culture, and become immortalized in the book of ages. My question to you is how much are you pushing your edges? For, you see, there are a few daring young ones among us, who are pushing far beyond what we ever thought possible, or even acceptable!

Shock & Awe, Blood & Gore
Sometimes it takes a lot of high weirdness to get people’s attention these days. With the amazing amount of information coming at us, often people think they need to screeeeeeeeam or draw BLOOD to get attention. It is rare that performers take an artful approach to this sort of “geek magic.” However, I know two magicians that are very good at doing just that.

Barry, Stuart and Jeff McBride

Here is a photo of Barry, Stuart and me, halfway through our recent all day magic brainstorming session.

Thanks to Youtube, we can see many of their television specials, which air in the United Kingdom. My favorite series of theirs is MAGICK. Eugene Burger and I have the great honor of being consultants for their show. This week, Barry & Stuart came to Las Vegas for the very first time, and we got to spend the day together, working on some of their TOP SECRET new mind-exploding concepts. DJ Master Diaz and I hosted them around town, and took in a few shows. We even kidnapped them and took them over to the Darwin Society Magic Club, where we forced them, at wandpoint, to do an interview for I never really thought, when I started magic, that I would be involved in some of the most interesting “think-tanks” in the world of magic. I’ve worked with Lance, Criss, and, oh yes, here is a clip of me working on a recent Hans Klok extravaganza. My piece starts at 1:18. It’s a sneak peek of a casual private session.

Nowadays, I find time to work with many of my students via Skype. This is a great new way for you and I to work together, and to upgrade your magic skills, even if you can’t get to Las Vegas. Just send me an email ( and let me know you’re interested, and we’ll take it from there!

Abbi and I are just back from two weeks in China, my second trip there in two months! Magic is HUGE in China, and I am sure Tobias will be arranging more tours for us in 2010. So, to all of our new Chinese magic fans and students, you’ll be seeing more of us soon! Here is a photo and a video clip from our time there:

Jeff McBride in China

See you at one of our Skype sessions, or on the road soon!

Jeff, Abbi and all of the Magic and Mystery School Faculty

From Tobias:

Fall has become a time filled with fascinating activities for so many of us. Following fast on the heels of Magic & Meaning will be the Magic & Medicine and Magic for Mentalists master classes – both filling fast but with a few slots still available.

It seems the end of October now kicks off the holiday season, so some of you may want to know about our new McBride Magic & Mystery School Gift Certificate, good towards tuition for whatever class you might choose. Something to place on your own wish list, or to buy for your favorite magician! Just go to magicalwisdom.comand you’ll see the link for it!

I’ll write more about the holidays and some upcoming adventures Jeff has planned in our next note. In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of “national magic month!”

Best wishes.
Tobias Beckwith

Back to School



Street magic is one of the fastest growing new styles of magic, yet it is one of the oldest forms of magic as well! Today, there are many successful magicians that began their careers working the streets. The streets are a place where a beginner can go and get real world experience. When I first moved to New York City, I had the pleasure of studying with the man who literally wrote the book on Street Magic. Jeff Sheridan and I met in the mid-1970s in New York City. Over the years, I have met many of the top “classical” street performers from all over the world, including Jim Cellini, Chris Capeheart, and Gazzo, and I have learned something from every one of them. There is also a new breed of internet street magicians, like Cyril, Marco Tempest, and David Blaine, and they have lessons to teach us as well…. The world is changing.


The old school street performers are very low-tech and high-touch. Their effects must be able to be performed in the round. They have to play for small audiences as well as large audiences.


The new school techno-mage designs effects that are often specifically created to play for “the home viewer.” Many of these effects are shocking, get spread as viral videos, and reach a global viewership. Years ago, a young magician might upgrade their stage show by adding an illusion, such as a zigzag or sub trunk. Today’s new magicians are getting a high-def video camera as the upgrade to their shows. The amazing thing is that some kid living in the boondocks can make a clever magic video at home, and be seen by thousands, perhaps millions of people. Twenty years ago, this was unheard of. Street magic, and the internet, are changing the way we experience magic.


I have been very blessed in my life to have traveled the world with my show. Street performing has taught me many important lessons:

  • how to draw a crowd
  • how to take command of an audience
  • how to sustain their attention
  • how to use audience participation
  • how to deliver my message clearly
  • … oh yes, and how to get good money for something that I love to do!

Many of the lessons that I learned in the school of hard knocks are ones that I still use today, whether I am designing a corporate show, a theater show, a casino show, or even when we design a show to play a luxury ocean liner.

I’ve learned many tricks of the trade and secrets that make a great street magic show. These lessons can help you. I will be sharing these secrets with many of our friends at the Magic School, October 9, 10 and 11th.


“Magic is the art of reaching into a deeper reality and bringing gifts from it into the ordinary world”
—Robert Moss

The Magic and Meaning Conference is a distinctive, annual small-group conference that focuses on creating meaningful magic routines, effective scripts, and new venues for performance. If you love magic, storytelling, motivational speaking, the philosophy of magic — or want to learn more about it — this is the place to be!

The 2009 conference will feature Keynote Addresses by Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Robert E. Neale, and Lawrence Hass. The conference also features a select number of Short Talks by conference attendees on subjects relating to the themes of the conference. Also, the conference will offer interactive small group sessions as well as “works in progress” shows where we create a safe and fun space to try new ideas and get valuable feedback on your magic.


Magic is exploding in China. Recently, a Taiwanese magician named Lu Chen appeared on the biggest Chinese New Year’s television show. He only did three close-up effects, but it made a huge impression on the Chinese viewers. Now, the entire country is crazy for magic. I experienced this recently, at the World Championships in Beijing, and I took a few videos, too! You can see them on my internet television channel here:


Our entire company is off to Shenzhen, China, to a huge theme park called Happy Valley.

See you on the road, or here in Las Vegas!! (We’ll be back October 8, just in time for the Street Magic Class).