Archive for the ‘MuseLetters’ Category

The Magic of Focus

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
– Alexander Graham Bell

Dear Friends:

As I write this Jeff and Eugene and most of our faculty are off to host a teen workshop at this year’s combined IBM/SAM national convention in Louisville. I hope many of you reading this will see them there.  Jeff will be leaving the convention early, as he is booked to appear at FantasyCon in Salt Lake City July 3-5. And so it has fallen to me to write you all today.

Tobias Beckwith

Many of you are already aware that I recently released my new book Beyond Deception, Vol. 2: From the Wizard’s Corner. It’s a collection and expansion of my “Wizard’s Corner” segment on our Monday Night Mystery School show ( At this point, the book has been out just under 2 months, and it has been receiving some nice feedback.  But I’m not here to pitch the book.

I’m more interested in talking about focus. That’s what was required to get the book finished and published.  For an hour or two every day for several months, I set aside time just to work on that project. No matter what else happened, I managed to spend at least one hour focusing intently on the book…until it was completed. And that kind of focus is just what you need, too, in order to complete whatever that big project you’ve been dreaming about – whether it’s a new effect, a book of your own, or your own show.

So, I thought I’d share a bit that’s from Beyond Deception, Vol. 2 with you today. As it happens, it’s all about the importance of focus in our work as magicians. I hope you’ll be inspired:

I remember when I first met Eugene Burger over the phone as we were planning the first Mystery School.  I had read one or two of his books, and had begun teaching myself to do magic again, after some 20 years away from it.  I remember telling Eugene, “I’ve got about 20 tricks I can do reasonably well again…of course it’s not like what a real professional could do.”

“Oh?” said Eugene. “I’ve finally got my working repertory down to 15 tricks.  I’ve been thinking of I could get it to just 12, I could be really good!”

That was 20 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot from Eugene and many others since then.  One of the biggest things is that finding one or two things that really inspire you,  and giving them your full focus is a far better strategy for success than trying to pursue a hundred different paths.

As we say in some of our advertising for the Magic & Mystery School:  You probably already have too much magic stuff.  Tricks, gimmicks, etc.  You probably know too many tricks, have too many books and videos – and most of you are still wondering why you haven’t hit the big time in terms of your success.

Why not take just one thing, one short piece, and work on that piece until it is the best version of that piece in the world.  Perhaps it will have a more creative or moving story.  Perhaps it will be more deceptive and magical than anyone else’s presentation of that effect.  Maybe you will just become the best performer of that effect, engaging with your audiences more fully and effectively than anyone else.  But just one such finished, polished, “best in class” piece can make all the difference.

Think for a moment of how it feels to be that person who knows and can perform 100 tricks…all just adequately.  How do friends and audience respond?  How do you feel being barely good enough when performing?  Do you think that is the best way to serve the art form you’ve chosen?

Then think of how it must feel to know you have just performed one thing better than anyone else in the world has ever done.  How will you stand, talk, sleep at night, knowing you are the absolute BEST at that one thing?

There’s only one way to reach that state…and it is through intense, laser-like focus on one thing.

End of excerpt. If you want to read more:

It’s that time of year: Magic Festival and Convention time! Jeff has just returned from Spain, where his performances received standing ovations at the 33rd Congreso Mágico Nacional in Cáceres. He also spent time hosted by Angel Vicente, exploring the very rich magic scene in Madrid.

Jeff McBride in Spain

Later this month, Jeff will be visiting a different kind of magic festival: first, the Starwood Festival in Ohio, and then Illumination, in Ohio. If you’re amongst the fire circle festival crowd, you’ll already know about these — and if you’re not, but are interested, I’ll just suggest you Google them.

In between festivals, Jeff will be taking his full evening show to The Orleans in a rare Las Vegas booking that’s open to the general public. The booking is sponsored by the Hypnothoughts Live Conference, organized by our friend, Richard Clark. If you live in Vegas, or will be visiting in mid-July, this is your chance to catch Jeff’s full show on a major casino showroom stage. Not to be missed! Click here to buy tickets now. (

As part of the Hypnothoughts Conference, Jeff will also be lecturing, and offering a special one-day workshop on Magic & Mentalism for Hypnotists, co-taught by Richard Nongard. Learn more and get registered here:

OK… that’s it for now. Now, go and focus on whatever YOU need to do to help you lift your magic to the next level. I’m off to rehearse one of the pieces from my “The Wizard’s Way” talk myself. Jeff will be back for the mid-July Muse.

Till then, enjoy a fantastic and festive summer!

Magically yours,
Tobias Beckwith

The Million Dollar Question?

Monday, June 16th, 2014

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
– Pablo Picasso

Dear Friends:

One of the rather crass questions magicians are asked most often is:

“If you were a real magician, couldn’t you just pull money from the air?” or, “Can you make a million dollars appear for me?”

Actually money does not always “work like magic,” and solve all of life’s problems.  In fact, money can actually cause the problems! Have you read the stories of lottery winners that have had their lives totally ruined by getting “all the money they ever dreamed of?”

Joshua Levin is one of the most talented artists I know.  He is a PhD in Anthropology teaching here at The College of Southern Nevada. He is a master musician, painter, poet and a family man. Here is one of his recent paintings, exploring his relationship to the world of money. Here Joshua explores the difference between spiritual gold and that mundane matter that we kill and die for.

Take a few moments to look deeply into the symbolism of this painting.

Joshua’s art will astonish you!

It is my pleasure to introduce many of you to Joshua’s work… for more of his art go here:

Joshua has an amazing ability to “spark” other people’s creativity. He empowers them to find the art inside of them and to coax it out into the world. I love that about him! He is a modern master of art and expression.

If you desire, you can take the course Art In-Cross Cultural Perspective with Joshua online!

Is what you are doing for money, what you love to do for the rest of your life?

“Right livelihood” is the concept of doing what you love to do, in a way that does not harm others. Sometimes it takes courage and persistence to get the “right livelihood” part of the the financial equation right.  Read these amazing stories, they will inspire you to be patient and to follow your bliss.

It is not how much you have, but how little you need… that is the key to financial success!

When I see a Lamborghini I don’t think,”Wow! How much money does that person have?” I think, “Wow! how much money does he owe?”
Freedom from financial worry is what I’m after.

Instead of asking “How can I make more money from my art?” Try asking, “How can I make more art with my money?”

Caduceus Installation
Here is a photo of Joshua’s sculptural-painting Arum. This is an inspirational art piece I commissioned from him to adorn our movement theater wing of the Magic & Mystery School.

You can visit our museum and art gallery when you attend our classes. For a detailed look of Joshua’s art go here

One of the ways I’m working on “right livelihood” is by making house calls!

House calls? Yes! The Show Doctor is making house calls! Each week magicians from all over world tune into our online school. This month our shows are about Wisdom from Wizards.

Get your free trial here:

Are you living your dream?

Or… Have you ever had the desire to just “get away” from the “real world?” Ever consider leaving your present life and starting new again? Some people get stuck in the same old patterns, while others break out of the pack, spread their wings and FLY! Now you can start a new life… just step out onto the street and begin again!

Street Magic – Las Vegas!

Live the drea m- Perform the magic you love, and make a great living doing it! Become a street magician and see the world! We can show you how…

We even help our students by offering scholarships! What more can we do to help — drive to your home and pick you up?!

Wonderground Rocks Las Vegas

It has been 5 years since Chris Randall has appeared at the Wonderground. Chris is one of the original Wonderground Players… and now he comes home. Chris Randall returns with his full evening show Scandal — The Only Adult Magic Show in Las Vegas.

The 10:00 PM show features world class manipulation, edgy comedy, and sizzling hot illusions. Scandal features an amazing cast starring Melanie Kramer, Bizzarro and Award Winning Magician Mondre. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime show at this month’s Wonderground.

Also appearing: Gypsy music by Jon D’Ark

8PM Early Stage:
Your Host, the elegant Tim Wise
Scott Steelfyre – A Fantasy in Flames
Smoothini- The Ghetto Houdini! – Direct from America’s Got Talent!

9PM Diamond Parlor Room:
Your host- the charming Kurt Freitag
Joe Atmore – Master of Mentalism & Mystery

Art by Areeya and Suzanne, Tarot readings and Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, Video by Scott Steelfyre, Photography by Sheryl Garrett ,DJ David Rosario, The New World Rythmatism Dancers and more!

On Tour in Spain!

Yes, I’m packing again, this time for a tour of Spain. I’m taking BEYOND DECEPTION Volume 2, as reading material. Tobias did a fantastic job on this book. “BD2″ is packed with a lifetime of wisdom and magical inspiration. I suggest you read a sample and then get your copy here:

I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here:

So as they say on Star Trek, “Live long and prosper!”

Jeff McBride

The Challenge of Time

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Eugene BurgerI would like to begin by congratulating my friend, Michael Carbonaro, for his new show, “The Carbonaro Effect,” which airs on Thursday evenings at 10.00 pm (Pacific time) on TRU TV. Be sure to check it out!

I first met Michael when he attended a Mystery School in 1999. He was a bright and attentive student who was clearly present. This was the first time that Michael performed what has become one of his signature pieces, Shaving Dream. Even this early version, which didn’t have a name, was very impressive. Michael’s performance had great impact on the audience. Everyone was talking about it afterward. And Michael was still a teenager!

Michael and I stayed in contact over the years and our friendship grew. A few years ago, when Jeff decided to bring the Mystery School faculty and students to the Magic Castle in Hollywood to perform for a week, I opted to perform in the Peller Theater. To make things easy, I wanted someone to perform with me. Michael Carbonaro was my first choice. Together, we created a show, “Dark Stories,” which we have now performed several years at the Magic Castle and in other places as well (such as Erika Larsen’s quite fabulous “Beyond Brookledge” event last year).

This coming July, Michael and I will present an extended version of “Dark Stories” at the James Randi TAM (The Amazing Meeting) event in Las Vegas.

Dark Stories:  Eugene Burger and Michael Carbonaro
Photo credit: Roger Fojas

Need I say that Michael is a delight to work with? He is. He is creative and funny and still serious and open to ideas and also ready with many amazing ideas of his own. I love to work with him. And I was thrilled when he used my effect, Shotglass Surprise, on the pilot episode of “The Carbonaro Effect.” You can see Michael’s very clever and entertaining presentation at:

The Carbonaro Effect: Collapsible Whiskey Shot

It is exciting when a friend gets a television show of their own. One feels so happy for them. Having a show of our own is a dream that is shared by so many magicians. Do you have a dream of your own TV show? If you do, I think you might ask yourself one very important question: Are you really ready for your own TV show? If the offer came unexpectedly to you, would you be up for the challenge? Yes, it’s a tough question!

And this brings us to the subject of my essay. It is time. It is the ability to perform for the specific   time that has been allotted to us. Not to go over. Not to do more time than expected.

Over the years, I have been surprised on many, many occasions as I watched professional  magicians fail to meet the time restrictions given to them. Although they sometimes go under their time, most often they go well over the time they were allotted. If scheduled to perform for ten minutes, they might perform for fifteen or twenty. If asked to perform for thirty minutes, they might instead perform for forty-five. I see this at magic conventions and at local magic shows. I see it in many, many countries. At home, I see it at Magic Chicago, the monthly magic show soon in its tenth year. It appears that a large number of magicians, both amateur and professional, have very little sense of performance time. Evidently, it doesn’t seem too important to them. It probably isn’t as important as the magic tricks that dance in their thoughts.

But it is important!  It is important if you want to be — or be seen as — a professional magician. As I have explained many times, my own first international television appearance was on the Paul Daniels Show in England. I had two spots: the first was four-and-a-half minutes, the second was three-and-a-half minutes. This was a live television show. It was not a taped show. My job was to come in on time. If I went over, I would be taking time away from the star of the show. If I went under time, Paul would have to make up my time.

I think that I was successful for two reasons. First, there was a large clock with a second hand next to the camera so I could watch the movement of time. Second, I work with scripts for each of my magical pieces and so, when there were 30 seconds left, I could begin to speed up or slow down — and then finish precisely on the second. I approached it both as a challenge and a game. On the set, I received many compliments. And I was asked to return for Paul’s live show the next year. But the secret was having a real script — and also understanding how to deliver it.

And so when magicians perform for me — either in Chicago or in classes with Jeff in Las Vegas — I listen to what is being said. I want to help these magicians improve what they are saying.

Do you work with a real script?

Do you have the ability to bring your performances in on time?

Time is a great challenge. Yet, if you do get your own television show one day, these are the skills that you might need for your success. If you have them, I suspect that you will be very happy and thankful.

Mayfire Inspirations

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Greetings Magic-lovers,

I’m inspired to share some of our plans for May.

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Jeff & Abigail McBride

I love touring, meeting new friends and seeing new places… but now and then, I just want to get away! It is important to share time with my love, Abbi.  We go deep into the desert and join some of our friends to play music and dance under the moonlight and around the campfire.

“The desert has its holiness of silence, the crowd its holiness of conversation.”
Walter Elliot

Each year, Abbi and I take some time to retreat into the desert for our MayFire celebration. It is a music retreat , and we invite some of our friends to join us. We have been re-creating ourselves each year in the Valley of Fire State park. We love the beauty and vastness of the land, and each night we build a fire and make music with our friends. You can see a bit of what we do here:

Fire Circle

When we end our vacation each year we come back refreshed and renewed, full of ideas to share with our friends and families. This is where we get inspiration that often finds its way into our performances.

A few years ago my time in the desert inspired a new magic routine… The BEKOS effect! See Abbi perform it 1 minute into this video:

Best Ever Knots Off Silk

If you watch the following clip, you will see that the future of magic is in good hands!  You’ll see the young magician Deanna perform the BEKOS effect at 1 min into the clip:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily.”
–Zig Ziglar

Every Monday we host a magic class online. Our aim is to inspire your creativity…  you are invited! It’s like a global magic lecture:

Mystery School Monday

This month, we talk about how to structure a proper show. The faculty of our school will take turns each month talking about the best show formats and what we can learn from the masters on how to construct the perfect magic show!

You can become a member of our online school here:

The Secret Arts Journal

…has a new essay by Brian Watson on Cups and Balls, you may also want to read about Simple Gifts, and John Tudor’s Experiments in Magic Theater. This online zine is free to all of our friends! Be inspired and read more:



…continues to gather the Las Vegas stars of magic. We are the hub of the Las Vegas Magic community and it seems everyone shows up! Last month saw Murray, Jan Rouven, Juliana Chen, and Kevin James in the audience and onstage was Xavier Mortimer from Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson show: One. I even debuted my Magic Castle close-up show in the Diamond Parlor room!

This month Dan Sperry will be onstage with a new creation! I have part 2 of my Magic Castle act to show you!

As I sign off now, I’m packing for the camping trip and will be seeking new inspiration to share with you soon!

See you on tour or around the fire!


The Most Inspirational Pillow Fight Ever!

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

“No man is an island.”
— John Donne

Hello friends,

Bryce KuhlmanBryce here, with what is possibly the most important story I’ve ever told (at least to date).

Most people strive for a life and career that is stable and consistent.   Honestly, it freaks me out.

Every five to ten years I start getting anxious about my life path, especially in terms of business.  I can sense it coming on and, without fail, some event will drastically alter my direction.  I never know when or what that event will be.  Sometimes I try to force it (that never works, by the way).

The first one I can remember was showing up to the first Mystery School.  Without question, it changed my life forever.  It brought me together with some of the closest, most supportive friends I’ve ever known (Thank You Eugene, Jeff, Tobias and Abbi!).

Then there was a marriage to the best life partner I could ever imagine.  A move to Phoenix and a job developing satellite systems for Motorola was next.

A really big one took place at Firedance, thanks to The Wizard, Gary Stadler, and Paul Harris.  They’re the ones that convinced me that the corporate world wasn’t for me (unless I’m President / CEO).

There have been other, less spectacular shifts since then, but nothing major… until last weekend.

Before I tell you about it, let me explain the three key ingredients to all major shifts in my life.

First, it only happens when I push way beyond my comfort zone.  Forget getting outside the box.  I want to get to a place where I can’t even see the box anymore.

Second, it’s always about connecting with a community.

Finally, it always ends with finding a mentor.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
— Jim Rohn

Back to the story…

My new friend, Robert Merlin Davis, invited me to a joint-venture conference.  Robert is a personal branding expert, creative director and expert copywriter.  He’s also a magician and old friend of Jeff’s, which is how we met.

Let me be clear:  I have never been to an event like this.  The idea of “networking” usually creeps me out.  To add insult to injury, my business is in a state of transition, so I didn’t even have a solid answer to the mandatory networking question: “what do you do?”  And did I mention that the event was one week away?

If you’ve ever been to one of our Magic & Mystery School in-person events like a Master Class or Magic & Meaning, you know what it’s like to form deep, long-lasting, supportive friendships with people in a very short period of time.  Until now, that’s been the only place I’ve witnessed this sort of behavior… until now.

Honestly, I was expecting a lot of ego and “what can you do for me?” attitude.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Every one of the 100-or-so people at this conference were there to help each other grow, even if they were in the exact same field and might otherwise have seemed like competition.

I should also point out that about 1/3 of the people in attendance were presenters, speakers and panelists.  Oh, and did I mention that many of them are multi- (and multi-multi-) millionaires?

Observe any conversation and you would never have known who was a highly-successful “expert” and who was a first-timer just getting started (or re-started, in my case).

I went with no expectations.  I left with a new family and, most importantly, a new mentor who is ready, willing, able and committed to helping me take my business (and my life) to the next level.

I think only fools believe they can do it alone.  Look at the successful people around you.  Yes, I’m sure they worked hard.  But I’ll bet they also surrounded themselves by great mentors and community.

Who are your mentors?

Who is in your community?

Are you surrounding yourself with the people who can and, most importantly, really want to help you grow?

I know I am.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the subject of this email, here’s a photo of Robert (the one on the right) taking a break from a pillow fight at the conference.  It was part of an intensive small-group breakout session hosted by Steven Memel, a business and personal coach with a background in voice and acting.  You might have heard of some of his clients:  Drew Barrymore, Adam Levine and Lauren Bacall, just to name a few.

Robert Merlin Davis
I’ll leave you with an exercise from another small-group session, this one taught by author and expert sales trainer, Mitch Axelrod.

I challenge you to do this tonight:

Figure out about the single most important thing you could do to enhance your life, work or relationships.

Write it down.

Now ask yourself the following four questions:

  1. Are you willing to take the next step?
  2. Are you able to make a change?
  3. Are you ready, or are you just getting ready?
  4. Are you committed, or are you just interested?

Most poeple will easily anwer “yes” to the first two.  The third one, if you’re really honest with yourself, might not be as resoundingly affirmative as you might think.  Of course, it’s the last one that makes all the difference.

Are you committed to a better future for yourself and those around you?

If you decide you can say yes to all four, I invite you to drop me an email and tell me about it.

Wishing us all a brighter future,


People support what they help create!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”
– Jackie Robinson

One of the Burning Man Art Festival mottos is “No Spectators!” In a magic show I think this is a crucial concept to incorporate.

 “People support what they help create,” is one of the mottos I live by! 

This concept holds true in just about any organization, political movement, internet group, club, and yes, even in the theatre or at a magic show.   I feel that the more audience participation there is in a show, the more successful that show becomes.  If you look at current Las Vegas shows, the ones that have lasted have a lot of audience participation:  Penn & Teller, Mac King, Amazing Jonathan & David Copperfield.

“It’s better to be in love than to watch it!”
–Matt Dugan

Spectators vs. Participants

There is a huge difference between a spectator and a participant.  A spectator spectates, merely watching, witnessing without being directly involved.  A participant is co-creating the experience, and has a role to play in the production of the magic.

Jeff McBride and Apprentice

Experience and learn from some of my favorite participation routines at SCIENCE VS MAGIC.

Science vs Magic

I’ll be performing in the Close-up Room with Kevin James for the special Rudy Coby week at the Magic Castle, April 21-27.

Also appearing with me will be Marco Tempest, Chris Korn, Rafael, Kevin James, and Timo Mark.

It makes me crazy!

When I hear a magician say, “I have the spectator select a card,” I cringe inside.  I am aware that they are not conscious of the words they are using.  The more conscious we are of our words, the more conscious we can become as performers.  Spectators do not pick cards; they watch cards being picked.  Participants pick cards. I want everyone involved in the experience…not spectating. An example is my poker routine called:

Kings of Poker

This is one of my favorite close-up card routines.  I get the entire audience into the story and playing parts in the show, and it’s very easy to do. Have a look and you might like to try it as well.

Kings of Poker

You can ask me to perform this routine if you attend one of my shows. I have a few coming up  while on tour.

Asheville, NC

I will be performing with my friends at the Weekend of Wonder — perhaps we will meet there?

New York City, Salute to Magic, Lecture & Workshop

I rarely get to New York City and I’ll be performing and doing the lecture and workshop at FANTASMA magic shop in New York City, after our evening show Salute to Magic at the Queens  Theatre.


I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here:

Jaun Tamariz is one of the top Spanish magicians. He get the audience to join him in creating the magic. I encourage you to study great performers like Juan, and how they generate excitement, mystery and fun by using audience participation techniques.  Explore ways you can welcome your audience into your magic world, and participate in the magic.

Remember: “People support what they help create.” So let them help you create magic!  If you have ideas to share with me on ways that you engage your participants, email me and let me know. (just reply to this email!)

The Lance Burton Teen Magic Seminar is where we help the next generation of magicians learn expert skills.

This June, Eugene Burger and I will be joined by Larry Hass and Bryce Kuhlman at the combined IBM-SAM Convention. We will be working with Lance Burton hosting the youth magic seminar. These are the magicians of the future.

WONDERGROUND- The biggest magic party in Las Vegas!

Xavier Mortimer will be our special guest this month. Take a look at his amazing talent here.

Wonderground, April 2014

Early stage - 8pm
Your Host is the versatile Tim Wise
Jeff McBride
Tim Shegitz
Joe Krathwohl, The Birdman of Las Vegas
Tom Frank
Alien Warrior Comic

Close-Up – 9 pm
Your Host is the most elegant Christian Diamond
Jeff McBride
Greg Gleason
Michael Whitson
Tom Frank
plus! The Psychic Sideshow with Allan Scott

Late Stage - 10 pm
Jeff McBride
Katie Kenner and the Maraschino Dolls
Xavier Mortimer
Greg Gleason

With: NWR Dancers, LiveDJ, Art by Areeya, video by SteelFyre

At WONDERGROUND and all of my shows I encourage “PARTY-cipation!

Take a look at one of our shows, and learn from our examples of how you can move your audience from being objective witnesses into subjective participants.  Objective witnesses have less responsibility, and do not participate in the action.  A subjective participant is actively engaged in the magic experience.  They support the show by not only applauding at appropriate moments, but also by selecting cards and helping the magician with various tasks. I use this technique all the time and I would love to teach you how to use it in your work.

We often talk about this kind of technique each week on our Mystery School Monday Show. I invite you to join us and participate with us at our online Mystery school classes!

So come join us online or at one of our shows and be PART of the fun!

See you onstage,

April Magic

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”
— Nora Roberts

From Dr. Larry Hass, Associate Dean:

Larry Hass

April Magic

After this long, difficult winter, the glorious month of April is here. There is no fooling around on this April 1: spring is on its way—a time of rebirth and renewal.

In my family and Jewish tradition, it is a time for cleaning and cleansing. Not a chore, but a delight: throw open the windows, wipe up the dust, turn a new page!

With this fresh start in mind, I would like to mention one of my deepest commitments: to perform magic for people rather than “tricks.”

Have you recently thought about this difference? Or has it all become “just tricks” to you? Which pieces in your repertoire are more like magic? Which ones feel like empty, clever tricks?

One way to answer these questions is to look carefully at the reactions you are receiving. After you perform a particular piece, does your audience feel energy, delight, and wonder? (You can tell by the smiles and the palpable excitement.) Or do they say things such as “You fooled me,” or “You really had me with those cards until all the spelling and counting.”

During the spring, I renew my commitment to the pieces in my repertoire that create magic—energy, delight, and wonder—and to set aside the rest. Every garden needs pruning so gorgeous new things can grow. But even more important, people in the world today hunger and hope for magic in their lives, not stupid, stinking tricks. They have quite enough of those—thank you—from advertisers, marketers and salesmen of all kinds.

No, no: the people around us need magic. The world needs your magic. As a magician you have a great gift and a calling. Please go forth this spring with a renewed commitment to magic . . . and fewer tricks.

Important Announcements

1. We have just released the 2014 Premier Member Video.

This 45-minute video was filmed in the Hollywood Hills in January for our Premier Members of the Magic & Mystery School. It features Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Larry Hass, Bryce Kuhlman, and George Parker in a fun conversation about commercial close-up magic. Jeff, Bryce, and George each teach a great piece of commercial magic that has not appeared on video before.

The only way to receive access to this video is to become a Premier Member of the School (the $100 level). And please remember, $80 of your Premier Membership fee goes directly into the Scholarship Fund that provides need-based financial aid for magicians who need a “hand up” getting the magic education they need to be more successful in magic and in life.

If you are not already a member of the Magic & Mystery School, or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership for 2014, we ask that you please do so. Of course, there are excellent benefits at every membership level, but more importantly, your membership helps us provide the gift of magic education for people in need.

2. Magic and Medicine in the latest issue of MAGIC Magazine.

The April 2014 issue features a 6-page article about our dear friend Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz. Ricardo is not only a Guest Teacher of the School’s Magic and Medicine CME Seminar, he has also pioneered a Magic and Medicine curriculum for first and second year medical students at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

In this article you will learn all about Ricardo and his extraordinary program, and you will quickly understand why our recent Magic and Medicine CME Seminar earlier was completely sold out. You will also enjoy many photos of Ricardo, Eugene, and me taken at one of our Magic and Medicine teaching programs.

Please note: whether you purchase the iPad or print version of MAGIC Magazine, you will receive access to a video of Ricardo’s smash-hit P.E.P. talk on Magic and Medicine from last year’s Magic and Meaning Conference.

3. Important News about the 2014 Magic and Meaning Conference.

First, we are delighted to announce that Rob Zabrecky will be the Keynote Presenter for the Conference.  Rob Zabrecky is the two time winner of the Stage Magician of the Year award at the Magic Castle, and he is the primary medium at the Magic Castle’s famed Houdini Séance room. If you have seen Rob perform, then you know he is a great, distinctive talent. If you haven’t yet had the chance, this is a perfect opportunity for you to meet him, learn from him, and enjoy his work.

Rob Zabrecky
Photo credit: August Bradley

Second, the Conference is already over half sold out. If you plan to attend (October 15-18), I encourage you to register as soon as possible. To do so, please go here:

Third, the “Call for Presentations and Performances” has now been posted online, and proposals have been coming in. If you are attending the Conference and would like to propose a 20-minute presentation and/or a performance, please do so at your earliest convenience. The deadline for proposals is July 15, 2014. To learn how to make a proposal, please go to the Call for Presentations and Proposals page.

4. The Magic & Mystery School hosts the Lance Burton Youth Seminar at the IBM/SAM Combined Convention.

Continuing a long tradition, Jeff, Eugene, Bryce, and I will be hosting and teaching the Teen portion of the Lance Burton Youth Seminar at the IBM/SAM Combined Convention in St Louis. The Youth Seminar runs from June 29-30, 2014, and the Convention itself runs July 1-5.

If you are the parent of a teenager or a child, please consider putting this event on your family vacation calendar. There is no extra charge for the Seminar. Last year, Lance Burton spent the whole day with us doing hands on teaching with the teens. For information about how to register for the Lance Burton Youth Seminar, please go here:

5. We have just posted new classes and events for 2015.

A 3 Day Master Class is being held on March 18-20, 2015; Magic for Speakers and Presenters is March 22-24, 2015; and The Magic and Medicine CME Seminar will be held March 26-29, 2015. (In 2015, the Seminar will include an additional day of programming and will also include a spouses program led by Dr. Marjorie Hass.)

Also, the 2015 Magic and Meaning Conference has been posted. Because of Jeff’s touring schedule, we had to move it forward a couple of weeks. It will be held November 4-7, 2015.

To register for any of these events, please go here:

Final Words

We truly appreciate all of you who stay connected to the Magic & Mystery School. Thank you for supporting our efforts to be the kind of magic school we want to be: full of heart, committed to excellence, and generous to others who need a hand!

Larry Hass
Associate Dean

Reinventing Yourself

Monday, March 17th, 2014

“Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity.
When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”

– Jonah Lehrer

Greetings friends,

I have been talking to friends and students about the major changes, and life choices they made in their life. I’ m talking positive change.

Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself? Perhaps you’ve thought about going away to an exotic land? Or just starting life all over as a new person? From the stories I’ve gathered from successful people, they had some commonalities.

Things you must experience for yourself.

  1. You will be taking a journey to a far off place. A place with potential for ” new beginnings.”
  2. You will feel odd and out of your comfort zone much of the time.
  3. You will encounter people and teachers that will change your way of experiencing life.
  4. You will return with a renewed sense of purpose. All your friends and family will be better off for it!

The art of re-inventing yourself

I have had the opportunity for radical reinvention a few times in my life — and I look forward to more!

The first time I had this experience, I was going to Japan to perform and study. I was 16 years old and was hired as an opening act for the Fania All Stars; a Latin Salsa super group. I had the extraordinary opportunity to perform magic and to explore the exotic mysteries of the East. I fell in love with Asian culture. I encountered mask theater, Kabuki, and Japanese classical magic. I was forever transformed by this encounter. Everything about me was changed, including my fashion sense, aesthetic, and my approach to magic theater.


“So fake it till you make it.
Make it till you master it.
Act if it is so and watch it all come true!”
– Billy Bardo

Dream bigger dreams – Fake it till you make it!

I dreamed of being a famous, world-touring magician. In my early 20′s, I left New York City, and went to Montreal for a few years. No one knew the “old me,” so I could just pretend to be a “young famous magician.” It worked! I even fooled myself into believing it! When I came back to NYC I was a new person.

  • I had taken risks and survived to tell the tales!
  • I had new experiences to draw from.
  • I had new wild and wonderful stories to tell and blend into my new shows.
  • People I met actually believed in the “new me!” I did it — and you can too!

Now I get to help others all over the world master the art of creating their own future. Many of my students cross over from the “normal world” into the magical world… and it is my pleasure to help them dream bigger dreams! Yes you can live your dream life. And please know that there are folks like us here to encourage you and help you along your way!

If you have plans to reinvent yourself… Please consider me your own personal “dream coach!”

5 Steps to Reinvent Yourself

Melissa Kirk is an inspired writer. She says that change means reinvention. Each time a major shift happens in our lives — leaving a job or a relationship, moving, losing a loved one — we have to take control of who we will become or we risk never reaching our full potential. Melissa says that these are 5 steps she has identified to reinvent yourself:

1. Create a vision for your future.
Sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine the people, places, or situations that you need to leave behind.  Now imagine the future that you want, whether it’s simply a feeling, a group of people, or a situation such as a wonderful new job. Imagine how it will feel to be in that new place. Picture the sun coming up behind your future, the warm glow of the light on your face. Stand for a moment and silently voice your appreciation of everything that came before. Once you’ve thanked the past, turn toward the sun, and with compassion and gratitude, imagine yourself walking away from the past and into the future.

2. Write about your reinvention.
Imagine a scene from it or write about how you’d like it to play out. Where are you living? What do you do in the mornings, afternoon, evenings? Who are your friends? What do you spend your days doing?

Continue writing for as long as this exercise feels invigorating and exciting. Write scenes, dialogues, lists, plans. Make the future come alive. Write about how it will feel to be there. Keep your writing somewhere where you will look at it occasionally. Feel free to add to it.

3. Surround yourself with visual reminders of the life you’d like to create.
If it’s a new job in a particular field, put objects or images from that field someplace where you’ll see them every day. If it’s a home, find a picture of a house that you love and put it near your front door. It can be anything that reminds you of what you’re moving toward.

4. Now that you have a vision of your future, break it up into workable tasks.
What do you need to do — every day — to create that vision? Look for work? Meet new people? Search for a place to live in your chosen town? Make it specific. Make a list of everything you need to do and a schedule for when you’ll do it. Then do it and commit to keep doing it, one day at a time.

5. Every day, go back to that vision of you walking towards your future.
Every morning or evening, close your eyes, and see yourself walking into the rising sun, toward your dreams, and reconnect with why you’re moving toward this new possibility.

Reinvention is neither easy nor always smooth. Often we encounter resistance. We don’t want to let go, even of things that cause us pain or that are obviously already out of our grasp. We often struggle with limiting beliefs or stories about ourselves that hold us back from trying new things.

Each time you find yourself slipping into old habits — isolating yourself, making excuses not to look for work, procrastinating on a task that might help you advance in your career — don’t bother wondering why you’re doing it or beating yourself up.

Just ask yourself this: “What can I do in this moment to keep moving forward?”

Then, no matter what you feel in the moment — lonely, self-critical, tired, lazy, or disappointed — do something to maintain momentum, even if it’s one small thing. There’s an old adage that says that true courage isn’t about not feeling fear; it’s about feeling fear and acting anyway.

Choose courage instead of letting your fear choose your future for you.

For more writing from Melissa Kirk

For More ways to reinvent yourself:

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”
– Jessica Hirsche

News & Views

I still travel half the year. I love touring and I love coming home to Las Vegas. Abbi is the greatest wife, and she keeps the Mystery School and our home running in top form! April brings a few great adventures.

The McBride Magic Experience on Tour

Denver, Colorado April 4th & 5th
Mercury Theater: 7 pm show Friday April 4th.
All new magic lecture and Supersession workshop, Info: Chad Wonder:


McBride’s pick of the month – Art of Darkness

Marlin from the volcano island of Hawaii will enlighten audiences with his stage production of LUMA: Art in Darkness during a ten-city tour at performing art centers across the country beginning March 28th. Ticket information and more can be found at or to see a three minute video.

Rudy CobyFun fact:
Did you know that Rudy Coby and I were born in the same room?

Yes it is true! Both of us were born in Goshen, NY in the same tiny hospital room. We had different moms, but both of us daydreamed about magic enough to change our lives… This month we celebrate Rudy’s birthday in a BIG way! With a very special show.

Rudy and I will be at Science & Magic Week at The Magic Castle. Rudy Coby and I will be at The Magic Castle along with Marco Tempest, Chris Korn, Rafael, Kevin James, and Timo Mark.

April 21-27 2014

Rudy Coby also comes to Las Vegas at Jeff McBride’s WONDERGROUND on Thursday March 20th.

You are invited to the biggest Magic Party in Las Vegas

This month’s Wonderground will feature the premiere Las Vegas appearance of Elliott Hitchcock’s Top Secrets Magic Experience. There is only one in the world and we are proud to present it live at Wonderground.

Top Secrets Magic Experience

Wonderground, March 2014

Early Stage 8pm
Hosts Jeff McBride Tim Wise
Halls of Magic – Seen on AGT! Madcap Magic & Mayhem
Alien Warrior Comic- Out of this world comedy
Jon D’Ark- Classic Gypsy music with an edge
Cecile & Mighty- Outrageous feats of skill and daring

Diamond Parlor Magic Room 9pm
M.C. Christian Diamond
Elliot Hitchcock’s “Smoke & Mirrors Theater”
Featuring the magic of “V”

Late Stage 10pm
M.C. Jeff McBride
RUDY COBY! A living Legend of Comedy Magic
Bizzaro – For him “normal” is just a setting on the dryer
Les Contortionettes – Unique in the world, elegant, &  mysterious
Arian Black -  Scintillatingly Sensuous Sorcery

The World’s First Online Magic School offers you Magical Wisdom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When I am home, I am working on our new & Mystery & Mystery School Please stop by and say hello. Our classroom is open around the clock!

We have special new programming every week! Here is a frequently asked question…

Q: How can you travel lighter and get more impact on stage?
A: “The Commando Show & travel tips”

See you on the road, at a class or online!


The Way Ahead

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 
— Abraham Lincoln

Dear Friends:

Is your March coming in like a lion, or a lamb?  For myself, I’m happy to have the lamb at the beginning of the month, as I like looking forward to the challenges that the lion may present at the end.  But that’s me. How do you feel about it?

In today’s Museletter, we’re fortunate to have a piece by our friend and fellow faculty member (now on sabbatical), George Parker. Most of you reading this will know George, but for the few who may not:  He is a magician and true wizard who works with organizations throughout Europe, using his extensive experience and training, not only as a magician but as a teacher, trainer, and corporate consultant, to create positive change in their organizations. George is always seeking out new ways of thinking, creating and being himself. We’re all fortunate to have him share his wisdom with us here.  Enjoy!

Way Ahead

by George Parker

George ParkerIn the late nineties I read The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields. The one thing that stood out to me was how he was able to create miracles by setting things up hours, sometimes days, ahead. He would attend a dinner party at a friend’s house. When people would ask him at the end of the evening: “Gee Eddy, could you do something?”, he would do a card trick and finish by asking: “What’s your favorite card?” “The Seven of Hearts!” He would then riffle the deck of cards and say: “Turn around. Open that jewelry box behind you. You will find the Seven of Hearts, your favorite card, in there, proving it is indeed a treasure!”

I can’t go into how he pulled this off. The Museletter is not the place for that. But I can assure you that a lot of work went into this one. When I read about his work I was floored by how much time and effort went into preparing something without being a hundred percent sure that it was even going to happen!

I think this works similarly in our day to day lives. I’ve often experienced how the truth of the famous saying ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity’. In my case, my incurable curiosity drives my constant preparation.

I want to learn about every aspect of life. I want to explore every plane of existence. Even, and probably especially, when I resist that aspect or plane. We tend to avoid things we resist and fear. They make us feel nauseous and irritable. To me, those feelings are a sign that there’s something to discover that will help me prepare. I start moving towards my initial fears and resistance to see what’s really going on. Most of the time it’s not even ten percent of what I feared it to be. These explorations help me to prepare for the moment really nasty situations occur. When we’re unprepared, those types of situations will freak us out and we will make it worse. When we’re prepared we can turn them into memorable moments.

Even more so, exploring our fears and resistance will train us to see opportunities where others only see mundane, day-to-day, reality.

I’ll leave you with one anecdote that reminds me of this and never fails to make me smile. Most people don’t know Bob Driebeek, but he was a part-time magician and one of Fred Kaps’ best friends. In the late nineties he started to grow a beard. After a while everyone was used to it. Then, at the national convention, he appeared in the close up gala. At some point he took a handkerchief, lifted it up with his two hands before his face. When he dropped it, his beard was gone…Talk about preparation and being wayayayay ahead!

George Parker

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
— Confucius

What do you love?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”
— Yogi Berra

Greetings friends.

Read the following and you will never again have to wear this label!

Hello, my name is Awkward

Today, I will share a couple of the life lessons I’ve learned while traveling the world for the past 40 years.

This month I’m in Germany and the UK touring. As a traveling performer, I meet thousands of people a year. Often I am in rather awkward situations, where I am “in charge” of the conversation, and responsible for making small talk. If you have ever been in this situation, you know it can be hell!

“Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.”
— Robert C. Gallagher

Q. What do you say to people that you have never met to ‘break the ice?’
A. What do you love? Simply ask people about what they love! It works!

Here are a few icebreakers that I use when I am traveling.

  • What is exciting you these days?
  • Who do you look up to? Who inspires you?
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? (This is one I ask on cruise ships to successful retired people)
  • What do your parents do for a living?
  • What is your biggest regret? (live and learn!)
  • What is your most embarrassing moment?  (OY! this is a GREAT one and next time you see me in person, ask me for my ‘most embarrassing moment!’)
  • What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? (get ready to be SHOCKED!)
  • What are some of your short-term goals?
  • What are some of your long-term goals?
  • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

You can read a few more at of these “ice-breakers” here

Just remember a few of the questions above, and you will be well prepared the next time you are seated at a boring dinner party next to strangers! You can thank me later!

“The great gift of conversation lies less in displaying it ourselves than in drawing it out of others.”
— Jean de la Bruyere


As performers, we love it when audiences applaud… but what is it about the sound of applause that we love? Recently I watched this video and was surprised by the answers. You will be too!

“My advice to you concerning applause is this: Enjoy it, but never quite believe it.” 
— Samuel Lover

Do you ever feel funny when you’re sitting in the audience and you were the first to clap?

Do you have a fear of clapping?


Here is a very good solution for magicians who are getting there act stolen these days.


Serpent Silk


Bravo to the WONDERGROUND players! We made the FRONT page of The Las Vegas Review Journal!
Great photos and story! Hats off to you, my friends, for 5 great years of magic and community!


The Buster Balloon Show is an inflatable extravaganza of vaudevillian entertainment featuring the human cartoon character that is Buster Balloon. A wild and wacky mix of side-splitting comedy, mind boggling magic, and the most amazingly twisted balloon creations you have ever seen.  And did we mention The Giant 6 Foot Whoopee Cushion of Doom?

Buster Balloon


Buster Balloon, Luna Shimada, David Gabbay, Iam Creed, Jason Andrews, Tim Wise, Leo Diaz, Christian Diamond , Bizzaro, David Groves, Jungle Josh, Bijan the Magician, Polly Morfus, NWRDancers, Live art by Areeya Maria, Tarot by Morganne, body art by Suzanne Lugano, and more!

Looking for Inspiration?

Mystery School Monday:  We were the first in the world to offer online magic classes, Skype classes, and our famous “LOCKED ROOM” sessions. Learn more at:

You can become a member of our online school by registering here:

Have a fantastic February and I will see you online or on tour!

Your friend in the art of magic,

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