Eugene Burger’s Secret Project

Eugene Burger’s Secret Project
By Larry Hass, Ph.D. the Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

This November is a truly special time for our Magic & Mystery School community.

That’s because November 10th is the release date for Eugene Burger: From Beyond—the first of two books that Eugene planned in order to share his most carefully guarded and previously unpublished material.

Design Credit: Stina Henslee
Photo Credit: Michael Caplan

How this book came to be is a remarkable story, and I am delighted to share a brief version of it with you here.

In February 2010, Eugene called to ask if I would be willing to write and publish a book (it was only one book at that time) that would share and teach all of his unpublished routines. Without pausing for even a breath, I said “Absolutely!”

Eugene did, however, have two firm conditions. The first one was that the book would not appear until after he had passed away, because, “Larry, people are still paying me to perform this material!” (insert his booming laugh). I certainly agreed to that, believing and hoping it would be many years away.

Eugene’s second condition was that I couldn’t tell anyone about it, I mean no one—except for my wife Marjorie, who was also a dear friend of Eugene’s. Eugene said this strict silence around the project was so that he didn’t have to keep answering questions about it for the rest of his life, which I understood completely and also agreed to.

And so Eugene’s top-secret project was off and running. During that call, I told him I would go through all my notes and get back to him with a list of his unpublished materials. Indeed, as a scholar I had been keeping careful records of everything related to Eugene’s work from the beginning of our friendship in 1994. Eugene not only knew I was doing so, he actively encouraged it. As he said, that way he didn’t have to keep track of everything!

When I got back to Eugene a few weeks later, he was astonished to learn that he had over fifty unpublished items—routines, essays, interviews, scripts, public presentations, items that had not appeared before in one of his books or on one of his videos. Instantly Eugene knew there needed to be two books, and he gave me their exact titles: Eugene Burger: From Beyond and Eugene Burger: Final Secrets. Eugene named a price, we drew up a detailed agreement, I wrote the check, and now the work would begin!

In July of 2010, I flew to Chicago for three full days of learning and videoing all of Eugene’s unpublished secrets. I understood what I was being entrusted with, so I arrived ready to go: with lots of questions, plenty of notepaper, and multiple back-ups for all the video. During those unforgettable days, Eugene was wonderful. He was completely unambivalent about explaining these routines – a number of which were his most favorite pieces that he had guarded carefully from the beginning of his career. He expressed many times how important it was to him that there would be a complete record of all his magical creations.

Between then and his death in August of 2017, Eugene and I worked regularly on the books. We frequently discussed the organization and contents of the books, and he approved every chapter I sent to him for review. We had several additional video sessions as he created new routines. And, every month or so I would receive a package in the mail from him with artifacts or memorabilia from his career that he thought I might want for my files.

Indeed, Eugene was actively involved in this work of protecting his legacy, and he took great pleasure in the thought that magicians everywhere would learn his deepest secrets after he was gone—that these materials would arrive from beyond.

And so, after ten years of secret labor, Book One, Eugene Burger: From Beyond, will be released on November 10. (Book Two will be released in July of 2021.) It shares sixteen of Eugene’s unpublished parlor, stand-up, and spirit theater routines, including his legendary spirit slates. It also contains a long chapter that finally, for the first time, shares all of Eugene’s work, scripts, handling, and secrets for his signature effect, “Gypsy Thread.” In addition, Eugene Burger: From Beyond provides access to thirteen video performances of this material by Eugene and two audio performances. The book also includes rare photos, essays, scripts, interviews, and public presentations. It is a treasure trove of Eugene!

Although we don’t typically stress sales in our Museletters, Eugene was such an important person to our community that we don’t want anyone to miss out. You can purchase your copy of the book by going to www.TheoryandArtofMagic.com. It will be mailed to arrive in your hands on or around November 10th—its official release date.

By way of closing, let me say how honored I am to have been asked by Eugene to shepherd these materials into your hands. Eugene really wanted us to have these secrets – to know how he did it. A big part of it was Eugene’s deepest sensibilities as a teacher. But, it was also because in so many ways the world-wide community of magicians was Eugene’s family.

The book is here; the time has arrived. I am so excited for you to hold this book in your hands: Eugene Burger: From Beyond!

Photo Credit: Richard Faverty

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