Mentors and Masters

November 17th, 2013

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
— Plutarch


I hear lots of them… mostly from folks that are stuck in jobs they hate.

“I’m too old to begin a new career”

“What if I fail?”

“I don’t have the time or resources to do this!”

Many great artists had financial challenges or started late in life!


But, many great artists had a mentor! And a mentor is worth more than gold! A mentor reignites our  creativity and passion, and lights the way for us when we feel lost.

Who is Your Yoda?

This is a question I often ask our students at our classes. Who do you consider your coach, your inspiration?  Just like in STAR WARS… the hero needs a mentor; one to bring out that hidden treasure inside.

Sometimes it takes a very special teacher to “bring out the gold” in you.  Think back over your school years… who was your favorite teacher and why? Many of MY mentors, guides and teachers weren’t “school teachers,” they were people I admired.  I put energy into contacting them and meeting with them… and then a friendship began.

I’ve been with Tobias and Eugene over 20 years!

Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger


When I perform my “sorcerer’s apprentice” coin routine, I often have a strong impact on my onstage “apprentice,” and also on his family.  After the show, the parents frequently tell me about how shy their kid was, and that they never seen him perform like that!  My message is one of empowerment. The audience feels this and knows that it is more than a trick.  This the REAL MAGIC!

My performance and my teaching is all about “finding the treasures that are hidden inside of you!”  It takes a mentor to help you learn the process. then it is YOUR turn to mentor others!

Jeff McBride - Sorcerer's Apprentice

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

One of Abbi’s early music mentors was her piano teacher, Mr. Charles Rose.  When she started playing, at four years old, Mr. Rose had the right combination of talent, patience and creativity to get her involved and keep her motivated…. Now, Abbi’s music is a big part of what motivates many to become their highest visions.  She recently finished her third solo project, called The Family of Fire.  Take a listen, and let us know what you think:


Some people never find a mentor…why?..they do not look! But, there are steps to consider if you do want to find a mentor… Adam Toren is an entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of Adam says, “Although few entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have a keen mentor in the family, it is possible to find one or two. Here are eight tips to getting the right mentor – or group of mentors – for you:

  1. Determine your needs. Keeping in mind that your mentoring needs will shift as you start and build your business, take the time to determine exactly what kind of mentor you want now. Build a wish list for your mentor – laying out what skills and support you need to get to the next step.
  2. Take time to network. Networking isn’t just important for finding customers. It’s also vital for finding a mentor. Who do you want helping you? Someone who sits in an office and thinks connecting with the business community means reading a couple of magazines a month? No, you want someone who’s out there, knows the market and can point you in the right direction.
  3. Listen more, talk less. Given your youthful enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, it may be hard to stay silent. But to find a mentor, you need to listen – a lot. Pay attention and you‘ll be able to separate the smart potential mentors from those who just use all the right words.
  4. Be “mentorable.” If you come off as someone who knows everything – or thinks you do – many people will back away. If you want to learn, be willing to consider ideas that may not match your expectations or opinions. Above all, don’t fall victim to your own hype. Your business may or may not have serious problems, but another viewpoint will help you sort things out.
  5. Remain flexible. You may have mentors who stay with you over the long haul, but you will also benefit from people who provide just an afternoon of insightful ideas. If you are fortunate enough to get time with someone who is rarely available, absorb all you can and take notes. Your mentor may be skilled only in one specific area, but that’s okay. All help is good help.
  6. Don’t overlook nontraditional mentors. Some mentors may help you without their knowledge through books, seminars, speeches, videos on Ted, TV programs and the internet. My brother and I always looked to Richard Branson as one of our mentors. We don’t have to meet him in person to appreciate all he provides to entrepreneurs and others all over the world.
  7. Thank your mentors. When people help you, intentionally or unintentionally, let them know. Mentors are not in it for the money; they just want to help others grow. Think about what you can do to let them know how much you appreciate them and their help.
  8. Pay it forward. You may never be able to pay your mentors back, but you can recognize what they’ve done for you by becoming a mentor to others.

Read more from Adam here:

Abbi and I love to read the poems of Jalaluddin Rumi…his poetry inspires us. Though he died hundreds of years ago., his words still mentor millions!

Hidden gold
“You sit here for days saying,
This is strange business.
You’re the strange business.
You have the energy of the sun in you,
but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine.
You’re some weird kind of gold
that wants to stay melted in the furnace,
so you won’t have to become coins.”
— Rumi

I’ll be taking one of my favorite collections of Rumi’s poetry, called Open Secret when I leave for Bulgaria in a few days.  I’ll be in touch when I get home!

Keep your furnace blazing my friends!
Jeff and Abbi


If you want to be filled with the fire of  inspiration and creativity…we have new classes coming up



WONDERGROUND is coming up Thursday Nov. 21, we have the full line up here!

Three Shades of Gratitude

November 6th, 2013

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy – because we will always want to have something else or something more.”
—Brother David Steindl-Rast

Greetings friends,

Abbi here, in the House of Mystery, feeling particularly grateful today.  Jeff has recently returned home from China, where he was the first magician to receive a standing ovation from the Beijing Magic Convention in their entire history. I am grateful he is home, safe, healthy and well.

As we move toward our official one day of the year to remember gratitude, I was reflecting on the different kinds of gratitude I’ve been aware of recently.

Jeff & Abbi McBride
Jeff scares Abbi with one of his many faces

False Gratitude

This form of thankfulness stems from expectation; it’s insincere and inauthentic – (“oh, gee, thanks; you shouldn’t have…”). This false gratitude may arise within us when we feel like someone is expecting our expression of gratitude and will be offended (or worse) if they don’t receive it. I remember once, as a little girl, my father’s mother, Muriel, had sent me a small gift for my sixth birthday, which, for some reason, I didn’t properly acknowledge.  When I saw her, a couple of months later, she came up to me and said, “Abbi, I have a bone to pick with you. I sent you a gift, and you didn’t send me a thank-you note.” I felt terrible, and muttered, “thanks, Grandma.” Gratitude, when demanded, loses its sweetness. Feeling like one must be grateful is an excellent way to lose any real gratitude. For me, if I find myself doing something I don’t want to do, in hopes that someone will give me their gratitude in response, that’s the time for me to stop, breathe, and remember that if I can’t do something with a willing spirit and a glad heart, it’s probably better that I not do it at all.

“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot,for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.”
— Dr. Seuss

Reverse gratitude

This type of appreciation appears when we think about the things that didn’t happen, or that we don’t have, and are honestly thankful for them.  For instance, I’m very deeply grateful that I don’t have to spend eight hours a day under fluorescent lights, on my feet, in a job I hate. I’m grateful that I don’t have a house filled with empty beer cans and a blaring television.  You get the picture – there are lots of things to have reverse gratitude for, but this way of seeing things can easily lead into judgmental thinking, so use sparingly, with caution.

Abbi McBride
Giving thanks for the gifts we receive

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
—Albert Schweitzer

True gratitude

True gratitude arises when we are aware of the gifts in our lives and allow ourselves to experience a feeling of thankfulness, from the heart. There are so many gifts: the fact that we live on a planet perfectly positioned so that we receive just the right amount of sunlight to make all things grow, with an ideal atmosphere for breathing, and pure water to drink – to our health and well-being of body, mind and spirit, – to our relationships with family and friends. Once we open the door to gratitude, the list expands.

Jeff & Abbi McBride
So much gratitude

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
—Winston Churchill

Jeff and I are deeply grateful for each one of you reading this. Whether you have seen us perform in a show, attended a lecture, participated in our virtual magic school, or have studied with us here in Las Vegas, we are grateful to have you in our magical circle, and thankful that our paths have crossed. It’s been said that gratitude opens the door for grace to come in, and that what we focus on is what increases. As we move closer to the end of the year, let us remember to tune into what we can be grateful for, so that more gifts, more creativity, more blessings may flow to us and through us.

Lies, lies, all lies!

October 14th, 2013

“Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.”
— Oscar Wilde

Lies and Truth

How do magicians deal with lies, and a life of deception?

Deception is at the core of magic and magical performance. If the magic effect is not deceptive or “fooling,” there is no mystery.

I was raised to be an honest person. My parents told me it was not OK to lie. So how did I grow up to be a magician… an artist who tells truth in the form of lies?

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve… but I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
— Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

There is more to magic than just “tricking people.” Let’s look at the dynamics of lying and social deception.

In a recent article, writer Ulrich Boser said: “Researchers have been studying deception for decades, trying to figure out why we tell lies. It turns out that we spin facts and make up fictions for all sorts of reasons. We might want to gain a raise or a reward, for example, or to protect friends or a lover. Our capacity for deceit appears nearly endless, from embroidering stories to wearing fake eyelashes to asking, “How are you?” when we don’t actually care. We even lie to ourselves about how much food we eat and how often we visit the gym.” You can read the full article here:

Radical Honesty

I was researching lying on Wikipedia and found out about Dr. Brad Blanton. He says that lying is the primary source of modern human stress and that practitioners of his technique (called “radical honesty”) will become happier by being more honest, even about painful or taboo subjects. Blanton claims that radical honesty can help all human relationships since it “creates an intimacy not possible if you are hiding something for the sake of someone’s feelings.”

How could a magician be radically honest and still create deceptive magic? H’mmmm


“I can fool you because you’re a human. Usually when we’re fooled, the mind hasn’t made a mistake. It’s come to the wrong conclusion for the right reason.”
— Jerry Andrus

More Truth than Trick

Jerry Andrus was a wizard. In 1993, I had the pleasure of visiting him in his “Castle of Chaos” in Albany Oregon. He was also a very deep thinker and a very honest man.

Jerry avoided telling lies while performing his magic!

He was exacting as a script writer. Jerry never said his hands were empty if they contained a hidden object. In his scripts he told the truth. Although perhaps he did eliminate some sentences that might give too much information to his viewers!

“I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
— Al Pacino

Techno Magician Marco Tempest gives his thoughts on The Magic of Truth and Lies. Marco’s TED talk is well worth seeing again.

(If you listen closely you can hear Tobias Beckwith doing character voices as part of this story!)

A Few Questions I Ask Myself When Creating Magical Art

One of the techniques I have used over the years when creating illusions is to make the story that accompanies the magic contain life enhancing content, rather than just deception.

At our yearly Magic & Meaning Conference, we learn how performers can make their magic more appealing by exploring alternative presentation techniques, so that their magic makes a more potent form of theater than “just tricks!”

Here are the questions I like to ask:

  1. What is the “take away” from experiencing my magic?
  2. Will the audience be MOVED by my performance, or just feel tricked?
  3. What can I add to the story or presentation that will give my audience a more satisfying experience?

“One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths.”
— Al David


Here is an excellent talk on how YOU can spot a liar.

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
— Dorothy Allison


“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
— Abraham Lincoln

The truth is…  We enjoy your feedback on these Muse letters and like it when you share them with your friends and other newsgroups.

The truth is…  I am back home from our China shows and enjoying my time with Abbi here in Las Vegas.

Happy Valley, 2013

“The Shanghai china tour was a blast…Bill Cook, Jeff, Melanie Kramer and Jordan Wright strike an action hero pose!”

The truth is… You can visit us at one of our upcoming events here in Las Vegas or online at

Wonderground, October 2013

The truth is… WONDERGROUND will host the faculty of Mystery School this Thursday, October 27th.

As we wind this up, we are preparing for Magic & Meaning, The Wonderground, Witches’ & Wizards’ Ball…and Fall Fest, all during the coming week!

Thanks to those of you who have made Magic & Meaning and the upcoming class on Mentalism both “Sold Out.” Click any of the other events in the calendar on the right at the top of this Museletter to get your spots in our other classes before they are all sold out, too!

Best wishes.

Jeff McBride & all the folks at the McBride Magic & Mystery School


The Gift of Failure

October 1st, 2013

Dear Friends, Ladies & Gentlemen:

It is our pleasure this month to present a piece written just for you by our Dean, Eugene Burger:



Eugene BurgerFor the past several years, the task of writing an October Museletter has fallen upon me. I think this is partly because images of Halloween goblins are on the same wavelength as my continuing fascination with things spooky and mysterious. And so it has been with a certain delight that I have accepted the task of writing the October contribution. After all, I do love the Halloween season!

But this year my thoughts are moving in a different direction. I am not thinking so much about things mysterious. Instead, I have been reflecting on much more, shall we say, “practical” matters. These thoughts spring from my work as a teacher and also from my great interest in the teaching process itself.

A thought has been in my mind for some time now. It surfaces at some point almost every day and, when it does, I try to understand it once more. I find that my understanding changes and even grows at times. Here is the thought that has been echoing in my mind:

Sometimes the greatest gift of all is failure.

Among other things, I have been thinking about how much time is spent in the teacher-student relationship with the teacher helping the student deal with failure—and, more specifically, the fear of failure. The fear of failure can be crippling and even paralyzing, whereas failure itself can be an important way to learn and grow. It’s an important difference. Perhaps to see this, to see it clearly and deeply so that the very seeing is action, requires personal courage. For fear can be met only with courage.

Then, another voice in my head rises up and says, “Wait a minute, Eugene, nobody wants to fail! Including you! So, if failure is a gift, it is a pretty weird gift. In fact, if you don’t mind, it’s a gift that I would just as well refuse to accept! Thanks anyway!”

Yes, I hear that voice, which is also my voice. Yet when I look at this closely, I see that failure can be a gift—perhaps, the greatest gift of all. Here is what I mean: first, when I fail (in the performance of a magic effect, for example), I may be inspired to work harder, to go back and fix the problem, and to move on. Learning from failure might be called “learning by fire.” And it works.

Second, failure may bring me new insights, new ideas that had previously never entered my mind. Some of my most creative thoughts have been generated by having something go terribly wrong during a performance.

Third, failure can be the gift that tells us to stop, to give up on a particular performance piece, to remove it from our show and stop performing it. The end. It’s over. Period.

Over the years, there have been many times when I have worked on a piece of magic for a very long time (sometimes on and off for years) and then finally, after repeated failure, I just gave up.

Sometimes, I think the best thing to do is to give up, to stop and spend my limited time working on a piece of magic that is within my reach. As Alan Watts put it so well, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

So I wonder, isn’t failure the greatest gift of all?

Mad As Hell

September 16th, 2013

Mad As Hell

Mad as Hell!

Each time we face a new challenge, we have an opportunity to break old patterns. We can react to challenges in old ways (as seen above), or move beyond our old habits and limitations, and resolve conflict in new and more enlightened ways. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten from Max Maven is; “If you get mad…you lose.”

So before the next time you get “mad as hell,” read this short, but potent, Samurai parable.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”
– English proverb

Facing Challenges and having Nothing to Lose!

When I think of all the times I encounter “trouble” along the road, I remind myself to reframe each experience as a “challenge”, and that facing each of these challenges makes me wiser! Yes, that is right my friends… over the years I’ve stopped using the words “troubles” and “problems”, and I’ve replaced  both these words in my vocabulary with “challenges.”

Hint: try this as an exercise! Just stop using the words and they seem to go away! Now all I have are “challenges”…. and I love a good challenge!

Why not take a risk and face your next challenge in a new way? There is NOTHING to lose!

If you win, you will be happy;
if you lose, you will be wise.
– Zen wisdom

Hecklers, Critics and Bullies

Even the top pros face extreme challenges. Many of us encounter bullies, hecklers and haters. What to the pros do? Take a look at this film and find out. Maybe you’ll find it to be as interesting as I did.

This documentary is titled Heckler, and I would consider it essential viewing for anyone who stands on a stage. (Thank you, Ferdinando Buscema for finding this!)

Q: Where in the World?
A: Russia and China!

I am on tour all over the planet this season!  Russia is the next stop on my world tour.

Then our full illusion show Abracadazzle! will open in a huge theater in Shanghai.

Jeff McBride in China

I travel a lot! And it takes a great team to keep me on track. Thank you Tobias, Jordan and Abbi for helping with all “the challenges” of this immense tour!

Sometimes I feel like I just want to “just stay home,” but then I reread this poem. Whitman’s words gave me hope, strength and courage to keep going.

“Henceforth I ask not good fortune — I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. S
trong and content, I travel the open road.”
– “Song of the Open Road,” Walt Whitman

Every so often tears come to my eyes when I hear a poem read out loud…This poem is a gift for every one of us who travels. Listen to the full poem read out loud….it is so beautiful! Here is a link to a wonderful reading of this great poem, with inspired images.

You never know who will pop up at WONDERGROUND!

When I get off the road and come home, I love sharing good times with my magic friends. I throw a party each month so we can gather and share fun, music, magic and community. Look who showed up last month! Wow — what a show, and what a night to remember!

Wonderground - September, 2013


On September 19th you are invited to this month’s version of our community magic celebration!
Directions and all info at:

8 pm Early Stage: Master of Ceremonies, Tim Wise, with Daniel Giandoni, Bijan the Magician, Alien Warrior Comic

9pm Parlor Magic: Master of Ceremonies, Christian Diamond, with Daniel Giandoni, Nate Jester, David Gabbay, Adam Flowers

10pm Late Stage: Master of Ceremonies, Tim Wise, with Anthony Rais, Shocker, Marc Love, TanBA,

DJ Leo Diaz, Christian Diamond, The New World Rythmatism Dancers, Tim Wise, Body Painting by Suzanne, Video Wizard Scott Steelfyre, Live art by Areeya, Photography by Sheryl Garrett, Psychic sideshow with “Scott Brown and The Readers”, Plus Great Food and Hookah at THE OLIVE!.. and much, much more!

Mystery School Mondays – New Programming!
The Locked Room

The Magic & Mystery School Locked Room is our place to host custom online learning experiences in real time.

Beginning in September, 2013, our format is changing somewhat.  On the first Monday of each month, we will broadcast our usual hour long “Mystery School Monday” show, free to all at  Every other Monday of the month we will have a different host opening the show with a 15 minute discussion, promptly at 7:00pm, which is free and open to all, discussing the subjects to be covered that week.  Immediately following that 15 minute free session, we will be hosting weekly Locked Room sessions for Magic & Mystery School Members only. Because these sessions are closed, except to our Members, we will be free to go a bit deeper, discussing techniques and tricks in a way we would not be comfortable doing in sessions open to the public at large.

Become a Member to get access to this exclusive content, starting in September.

Everything Communicates

September 1st, 2013

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
— The Captain, a prison warden, in Cool Hand Luke

Dear Friends:

Our guest writer this week is Jordan Wright, a.k.a. “Mr. Right” – an amazing magical performance artist and film-maker.  Jordan has created most of the current pieces in our on-line video archive in the Virtual Magic School, as well as promotional videos for Jeff McBride and many other magicians.  Today he shares some insights about the choices every artist must make.  I give you Jordan Wright:

Everything Communicates

Mr. RightAs performers, one essential element to our success is how our audiences and clients perceive us. Are we someone they want to watch, and hopefully hire? Are we someone they find interesting enough to want to learn more about? The way that we present ourselves both on stage and off should be consistent with the image we want to convey. From the aesthetic elements in our show to the way we dress, speak, and interact with people, to our website, business cards, and our promotional videos and photos. The style we choose for each of these elements will communicate a certain image or feeling, giving people a sense of who we are.

Whether we are looking at props, music, costumes, or marketing materials, it is important to evaluate the positive or negative impact they have on our image. It is important that each piece be consistent with what we want to project. Consistency builds your brand. When your look and style is consistent, people will get a better understanding of you and, ultimately, remember you.

Epic Fail!

August 12th, 2013

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Dear Friends:

On the Internet, folks tag videos with the words “EPIC FAIL” like it is a bad thing. Take heart my friends.  If we fear failure… we will never be creative or innovative! Let’s explore this “Epic of Failure” together, and experience how the alchemy of persistence can turn the “lead of failure” to the “gold of success!”   )0+

Failure and Winning

Oh, how I love this “Failure to Success” illustration (above)!

It really is the “Epic Story of My Life,” and illustrates how I feel about my own creative process!  Life is not an “epic fail,” but a series of “smaller fails” that lead to success. Our first attempts are frequently dreadful. It often takes us many attempts to “get it right.”

My own process for creating a new performance piece often takes many years!

I used to beat myself up for not getting it right the first time, or thinking I was moving “too slowly.”  Now, I finally “get it!”  The fact is that good things take time to develop, and often, failing is a prerequisite to success.

Mr. Churchill said it years ago!

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston Churchill

Success in Life and Love

Love is magic! As of August 15th, Abbi and I will have been married for 12 years! But Abbi and I started co-facilitating life enriching events over 20 years ago. We love learning from experts, and sharing that knowledge with our students. Abbi and I invited our friend Marshall Sylver over to our Mystery School one day. Marshall shared his insights with our students on how he developed his impressive speaking and performing career, and balanced his amazing success with his family life. Marshall is well versed in magic, hypnotism, public speaking — and he is also a millionaire who teaches prosperity seminars. He offered one of his most potent formulas for success:

“Fail Forward Fast!”

Looks simple right? Just 3 words; “Fail forward fast.” But it took me a few years to really get this idea into practice. The essence of the idea is that we are going to make many mistakes…. let’s not fear them, let’s make them now, and make them more often than the “other guy” who fears failure!

Ms. Bankhead said it in her urbane way…

“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
― Tallulah Bankhead

Moving Beyond the Fear of Failure

One of the big breaks I had in my life was having my teacher, Eugene Burger, to guide my progress as a performing artist. I feel very blessed to be able to share time with Eugene here at the school. If you can’t visit Las Vegas this season you can watch and listen to Eugene each week on our web-tv shows on  We have programs running 24 hours a day, online for free! Our gift to you. So if you need a little magical inspiration from Eugene and our faculty… just tune in.


Jeff McBride & Eugene Burger
Jeff and his mentor Eugene Burger at a recent Master Class”- photo by Beckett Studios

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The “Fearless 13”

Soon, 13 magic enthusiasts from all over the world will arrive at the McBride House of Mystery for our summer Master Class. Their ages range from 18 to 65. A few are full time pros, but most are magic hobbyists. Many speak English as a second language. Though they have never met, these students have a few things in common.

  1. They have a BIG dream, and they dare to live their dream.
  2. They all have pushed past their fear of failure.
  3. By nurturing their passion, they will succeed in the world of magic, and in life!

Where Magic Happens

Where Magic Happens

For those of you that are sitting at home reading this, know that we will be here when you are ready to push past your limitations and take the next step on your magical path to success. Many years ago, I learned that helping students to realize their potential is my passion!  So “Fail Forward Fast,” and we will see you soon online or in Las Vegas.
Yours in the art of magic,
Jeff McBride

Wonderground News!

Here is the line up so far for August 15th, 2013. WONDERGROUND is the day after MAGIC Live!, and it will rock!

Wonderground - August 2013

Early Stage 8pm
Jeff McBride, Bill Cook, Jen Kramer, Michael Trixx, Mr. Right & Bizzaro

The Diamond Parlor room 9pm
Jeff McBride, Jordan Wright, Bizzaro, Special MAGIC Live! guests

Late Stage 10 pm
Rudy Coby, Xavier Mortimer, Michael Trixx, Mr. Right, Jeff McBride, Bizzaro

Plus DJ Leo Diaz, Christian Diamond, Kumuda Tribal Belly Dancers, Tim Wise, Body Painting by Suzanne, Video Wizard Scott Steelfyre, Live art by Areeya, Psychic sideshow with “Scott Brown and The Readers” and much, much more!

A special message from Dr. Larry Hass:

I am writing today to announce that we have just finished and posted the exclusive Premier Member Video for 2013.  Filmed in March 2013 in Las Vegas, this 50 minute video features the Faculty of the Magic & Mystery School discussing four routines performed and taught by Jeff McBride, Larry Hass, Eugene Burger, and George Parker.  Three of the four routines have never been published before, and this is the first video presentation for all of them.

If you are a Premier Member of the Magic & Mystery School (the $100 level), this is a benefit that we have created especially for you.  Simply go to and sign in to your Member page. You should see the “Premier Member Exclusive Video” as a separate box among your other benefits.

If you are not a Premier Member of the School, it is not too late to become one and receive access to this special video.  Please go to and sign up as a Premier Member.  Remember the lion’s share of your membership fee goes directly in our scholarship fund—every dollar of which goes out to students who need financial assistance getting the magic education they need to be more successful.

On behalf of Jeff and Eugene and the entire Faculty, we thank all of you for supporting our membership program at whatever level you are able.  You are making a real difference for talented magicians who need your help!

Larry Hass
Associate Dean, McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

The Future of Magic

August 1st, 2013

“They told me my services were no longer desired because they wanted to put in a youth program as an advance way of keeping the club going. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.”
— Casey Stengel

Dear Friends:

This month, our guest columnist is Bryce Kuhlman. We’ve known Bryce since he was about the age of those “kids” he writes about below. It seems to me, we weren’t much older ourselves back then. I guess we’ve been doing this for quite a while now! I’ve seen Bryce move from life as a student to earning his livelihood as a magician, on to being a rocket scientist working for Motorola, and then to building multiple businesses, mostly around his prodigious talents as a programmer. He’s one of our true “renaissance men,” who excels in multiple areas – all the time exhibiting a good nature and wisdom beyond his years. I think you’ll enjoy his insights below!

The Future of Magic

I’m at an age where I find myself frequently uttering the phrase “Kids these days…” To be honest, I’m looking forward to the day when I graduate to “You kids get off my lawn!” (though it might be “get off my website” for me). That’s probably not a good attitude to have when you get booked to help facilitate the Lance Burton Teen Seminar at the recent I.B.M. (International Brotherhood of Magicians) convention here in Phoenix.

Bryce KuhlmanMany of you reading this many not know much about the Teen Seminar. It all started many years ago at the Desert Magic Seminar. Joe Stevens, the convention coordinator, noticed that a lot of teens were attending the convention. So he asked Lance Burton if he’d like to host some sort of event for the teens. What started out as a simple pizza party eventually turned into a 3-day long mini-convention, just for teens. The program is now associated with the I.B.M. It is free to the teens as long as they are signed up for the convention and is hosted by Lance and members of the Magic & Mystery School faculty. This year we had 24 teens from across the US, Canada, England, Japan and Thailand.

I was concerned that I might not have anything to say to these teens. I was thinking to myself, “They just watch YouTube all day and have no interest in becoming performing magicians.”

I’m happy, and humbled, to report that I was the clueless one, not the teens.

These teens give me hope for the future of magic as a performing art (as opposed to just an intellectual exercise). Many of them are already performing on a regular basis, both in close-up venues and on stage. In fact, when I brought up YouTube, I consistently got negative comments about exposure and how it can be a huge waste of time.

Eli PortalaAs partial proof, the teens did quite well in the competitions. Eli Portala, a past Master Class student, won 1st place in the Youth Stage Competition and made it to the stage finals and got to perform for the entire convention on the Friday night Gold Medal show, along with five acts in the adult category. Eli comes from a family of magicians and has been performing since the age of three (read more about him in our Winner’s Circle). Satori Adler and Jason Knight won Sorcerer’s Safari Camp Scholarships funded by the I.B.M. Endowment and Development Foundation.

Most exciting to me, personally: Eugene and Larry presented Tamer Qafiti with a McBride Magic & Mystery School Faculty Award, which will cover his tuition to any of our events. Tamer spent the majority of the convention in our “sessioning” room asking questions and performing great magic for anyone and everyone who would watch. We’re looking forward to working with him at an upcoming 7-day Master Class.

The art of magic is in great hands!

“I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.”
— Henri Matisse

Magic & Mystery School Faculty

The Biggest Danger to Showbiz in Las Vegas

July 16th, 2013

“The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.”
—Oscar Wilde, playwright

The Biggest Danger to Showbiz in Las Vegas?

Our friend (and magic fan) Robin Leach recently wrote a story on the new trends in Las Vegas entertainment. “The hotels looked at mega-clubs as a golden egg, but those crowds shelling out steep admission prices and highly expensive bottle service, sometimes running upwards of $5,000, don’t have any money left over for shows or gaming.”

“It used to be tourists would book two or three shows on a visit here. Now we’re lucky if they see one.” The concern that Las Vegas shows might disappear and harm the image of this city being The Entertainment Capital of the World, and change it into The Nightclub Capital of the World has prompted action.

“We’ve got to get back to the intimacy of original, classic Las Vegas entertainment. The close-up factor. The superstar names. Where are today’s Rat Pack performers instead of unknown DJs playing other people’s music,” said one of the entertainment council advocates. “If we don’t change it soon, Las Vegas may never be the same again.

“Our town was filled with almost 200,000 electronic dance music fans last weekend, and only a handful of them went to see a Las Vegas show. There were too many empty seats in our theaters.”

Read full story:

The Secret Ingredient for a Successful Magic Show

If  you’ve been to Burning Man as many times as I have, then you know  the  secret. If you’ve been onstage in a hypnotism show then you know it, too!

The secret is participation! If you think folks want to come to Las Vegas just to sit in seats and watch the show… they can do that at home! Now, folks want to be in the show. Some shows in Vegas “get it.” I spoke with both Lance Burton and Mac King this week. They both said that the secret ingredient that keeps a show fresh is audience participation… it keeps you on your edge!   Blue Man Group has moments in the show that are full on participatory; our very own WONDERGROUND is also driven by “be the magic” philosophy. At our events, people are encouraged to be part of the show and the evening’s events. WONDERGROUND is as much a party as it is “show.”

Jeff & Abbi McBride at Wonderground

This week’s new WONDERGROUND video is here

“People will support that which they help to create.”
—Mary Kay Ash, American Businesswoman

People support what they help create, regardless of whether it is a political movement, a sports team, or even a live performance. When you get people involved and committed to helping  create an experience, they feel invited and part of the experience.   Participation is the key. It creates connection, community, and art.

Look at the “old words.”

Audience:   The root of the word audience comes from “audio,” which has to do with  listening.   The spectator spectates… and can remain detached from the action, but participants party!    They are part of the action; they have a role to play; they are  in  the show, not observing the show.

Jeff McBride

“I embrace emerging experience. I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.”
—William Stafford, English author, courtier and conspirator

Student Spotlight

John WaltonJohn Walton & the World’s Most Original Magic!

Master Class student John Walton won The Originality Award at the recent Society of American Magicians convention.   John presented his “Titanic Magic Square.” His routine fooled many of the most knowledgeable magicians in the world! This is the first time the award has been presented since 2001, 12 years ago. It has been awarded only a few times since 1902. Read more about the winners of magic here:

Jeff McBride on TV

This week I fly to Hollywood to film a few TV shows for MASTERS OF ILLUSION. I will be performing NEW magic on these shows and you will get to see a few of the magic effects that I am releasing to the magic fraternity! Your can also catch my shows 24 hours a day on  WWW.MCBRIDEMAGIC.TV.

See you on the air or on the road,

Staying Afloat in a Sea of Noise

July 1st, 2013

Dear friends:

We’re fortunate to have wisdom from our Associate Dean for you this month.  I know you’ll enjoy this, from Dr. Larry Hass:

Staying Afloat on the Sea of Noise

“What’s new is an interesting question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion.”
—Robert M. Pirsig

I invite you to remember one of your “get-away” vacations, perhaps spending three days at the beach or a long weekend in the mountains. Recall how you could dream and drift, resting your body and your brain. Remember the delicious food and the fresh clean air. Ahhh!

Next, remember how it felt to come back: emails to process, phone calls to make, “statuses” to update, blogs to check, fires to put out, content to produce. You have to get back up to speed, back on the wheel, back to the grind. Uggh.

I begin with this “memory experiment” to make three points. First, it really does feel better to be on vacation, to rest and reconnect, to taste your food, to be “unplugged.” Second, “life at speed” has become the new normal, which means that everyday life has a low-level, chronic “uggh” to it. Third, it is exceedingly easy for this to leak into our time with magic.

Here is the irony: most of us get involved in magic to have experiences like the get-away vacation, but much of the magic culture around us feels more like the daily grind. In magazines, online, posts, and tweets, we are drowning in magic news and trends, the relentless selling of endless products, and more “content” than we can possibly ingest. It is easy to become numb or superficial, lost in the sea of noise.

Dr. Larry HassIt is easy . . . but not necessary. In the spirit of helping you surf and sail over the waves, here are a few practices I use to keep the magic alive in my life and in my work as a magician.

1. Less is more. Look at the clutter. Look at all the unread books, the unused tricks, the un-viewed DVDs. Remember them the next time someone is getting their sales hooks in you. Give some of it away to young or developing magicians who need access to resources. (This is great for them, and it will feel good to you.) With what is left, honestly ask yourself, “Will I ever read or watch this (again)? If no, then sell what you can and throw away the rest.

2. Just say no . . . and yes. Turn off the TV, get up from the screen, unplug from the phone, turn off the “ping.” Screen life is mediated life. Further, addiction to checking devices for the latest email, tweet, or post, turns us into Homo Interruptus. Instead of that, just say “yes” to real face time rather than face-book time. Have lunch with a magic friend. Spend time with a wise, real teacher of magic. Pick up your props and practice rather than post. Having “big yeses” in our lives make it really easy to say “no.” Which reminds us that much screen time is a boredom default.

3. Cleave to quality. Part of what makes it “noise” is all the junk: low-quality tricks and books, poor writing, undeveloped content, superficial thinking. So here is one rule I follow: as soon as I get bored or put-off, I instantly stop reading or watching and move on to something good. Here is another one: I spend a large majority of my time and money on the work of proven, dependable, high-quality magic writers and creators. With both rules, the principle is simple: “Life is too short!”

4. Re-Read a Golden Book. All of us have “golden books,” ones that have a special place in our hearts. These are the books that inspired us in magic and have a strange power to instantly reconnect us with positive feelings and productive insights. (One of mine is Eugene’s The Experience of Magic.) Re-reading a golden book is always good for the soul.

I hope you enjoy these practices! I hope they help you make every day feel a bit more like that get-away vacation.

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