From the desk of Bryce Kuhlman:
Some of you may know that I’ve been Lance Burton’s webmaster for the past decade or so. While I don’t spend that much time around magicians, whenever I do show up at a convention people always ask me what he’s been up to.
My answer is always the same: Lance is retired.
While that’s technically true, he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. In case you haven’t heard, he’s been working on a movie. With an official release planned for later this year, Lance and I recently reconnected to start working on a new website for the movie.
So instead of me spouting more of my own philosophies, as I always seem to do when asked to write a Museletter, I figured it would be more interesting to let Lance take the stage and tell you what’s been going on:
Lance, you spent two decades as a real life Las Vegas headliner. Is this film an autobiography?
LANCE: No, absolutely not. Billy Topit is a fictional character, as are all the characters in the movie. The one thing Billy and I share in common is this, we both love magic, and we both love Las Vegas. I guess that is two things actually.
Is this your first time as a feature film Director?
Did you write the screenplay?
Yes, along with my writing partner Michael Goudeau. We also share Executive Producer credits, as well as both appearing on screen.
Can you tell us more about Michael Goudeau?
For 19 years Michael was the “Guest Star” in my live stage show doing a comedy juggling act. For many years he was the Head Writer and Executive Producer on Penn and Teller’s Showtime series. (He won an Emmy in that job.) He is also one of my best friends.
How did this film come to be?
When I was a kid I saw Bill Bixby in a TV series called “The Magician”. I loved that show. Through the years there have been many films and TV shows with magician characters, and some were quite good. I just felt that I could bring something to the table that was genuine. Something based in reality. I didn’t want to do the stereotypical mysterious magician character. That’s why Billy Topit is a struggling magician, even though he is very skilled.
So the character Billy Topit is not successful?
No, not as far as the world is concerned, or at least the world as defined by Las Vegas. He is stuck in that entry-level job of performing at children’s birthday parties. Which by the way, is where every magician starts. I started performing at birthday parties when I was 10 years old.
How do you think other Magicians will react to this film?
I hope they will be excited about it and love it. There are some things in the film that are just for them; inside jokes. Also there are other magicians who appear in the film in cameo roles; Criss Angel, Jeff McBride, Mac King, Fielding West, they all make appearances. Johnny Thompson and Rory Johnston are both well known magic friends of mine who have larger roles, and they are both terrific actors. I even talked my buddy Louie Anderson into making an appearance, and he is hilarious!
Who is your target audience?
In my stage show our audience was very diverse. Every night we had adults, children, grandparents, Americans, Asians, Europeans, etc. We had people from South America, Mexico, and loads of Japanese people. In the past few years I noticed lots of Chinese tourists, which we didn’t have 15 years ago. So what I am saying is, I think the target audience for this film is the same. It is a ‘family film’ that I hope will connect with people from all parts of the world.
What is the status of your live show?
I am retired.
No more live shows in your future?
I did 15,000 shows in my career. That’s enough!
We miss having you on stage for real every night!
Well, that makes one of us!
There you have it… right from the Master Magician, himself!
If you’d like to learn more about the movie, go to the website: http://www.billytopit.com
And be sure to sign up for his mailing list (at the bottom of the home page). People on the list will be among the first to know of new updates, photos, special appearances and movie trailers.
“Awards represent achievement, and to an extent, they show more about who you are as a person than the personal items you picked out and purchased, because they show desire, ambition, goals, and accomplishment.”
The Stevens Magic family recently sent out the following press release:
Jeff McBride-The World Ambassador of Magic–There is no better fitting title for Jeff McBride. A man that proves that success is about finding something you love to do and making it your passion. Sure, it’s hard work, but when it satisfies the soul, it enriches you greatly. In fact that “enrichment” is so powerful that it also radiates outward, propelling its positive energy and synergy benefiting thousands of other people.
Jeff McBride travels the world spreading joy, education, fellowship and entertainment; he is without question, one of the most in-demand artists of our century; yet, he remains humble, with his feet firmly planted on the ground, whether it’s at home in Las Vegas, or at a show or convention in Thailand. Jeff McBride has the gift of creative vision. Jeff embraced early the concept of incorporating other arts, and blending them all together years before the rise of Le Cirque du Soleil.
His supporters and fans are, without question, the most loyal and devoted we have ever seen – as they should be…. Because Jeff is always approachable, his aura is always strong and positive. In simple truth, there is no one in the art that has ever filled the capacity he has – ever. And I don’t think you can find a magician on the planet that would dispute this fact.
In the end, it’s another award for Jeff, a man who deserves every good thing in his life, and much more… But more important than the physicality of the award, is the testimony of others about Jeff. As is so eloquently stated in “IF” by Rudyard Kipling; “If you can walk with Kings and not lose the common touch,”
Hear the full poem here:
Jeff McBride is a man comfortable and humble among all people. A man who, while reading this (after the first paragraph), would already be thinking to himself, it’s not just me, it’s very much the people around me, Abigail, Eugene Burger, Tobias, Larry, and Bryce and many others. No question that is true too – but the fact that Jeff would be the first to state it makes him all the more deserving of this recognition.
Special FISM Award nomination for Theory & Philosophy
This award gives tribute to a person who has approached magic from a viewpoint that is analytical, academic, perhaps even spiritual.
Prior recipients: 2006, Tommy Wonder (Netherlands); 2009, Juan Tamariz (Spain); 2012, Eugene Burger (USA)
Roberto Giobbi (Switzerland)
Federico Ludueña (Argentina)
Jeff McBride (USA)
Gabi Pareras (Spain)
Markus Zink (Germany)
Jeff said, “I am honored to have been nominated for a special FISM AWARD! I’m in great company!” Jeff continued, “I really think that quality that makes one a master of time and space is to take advantage of every moment and live it fully.”
“Procrastination is a persuasive THIEF; It slowly takes from you what ambition would have protected.…Your future.”
WONDERGROUND May 21, 2015 – One Night Only! Never to be Repeated!
You are invited to the biggest magic party in Las Vegas!
7:30PM – Strolling Magic with Will
8:00PM – COMEDY MAGIC STAGE SHOW
Your Host — Tim Wise
Professor Pheylx – A clever
Tommy Ten- Mental act- direct
Jeff McBride- Always a new mystery
9:00PM – DIAMOND PARLOR THEATER
Your host — Christian Diamond
Professor Pheylx- Where
Personality, Style & Mystery Meet
Jeff McBride- The Magic Castle
Lion Fludd- Magic star on the rise!
10:00PM – STAGE EXTRAVAGANZA!
MC & Host — Jeff McBride
Luna Shimada- A Magical Legacy
Ryan Dubya Stock- Master of the
Circe- Direct from TV shows in Paris!
PLUS: Bar Magic with Zack Pattee and Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, and Randilyn
The Kumuda Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!
“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
— often attributed to Groucho Marx; but the true originator is Anthony G. Oettinger
See you at the show, and again here on June 1!
Jeff McBride and the staff of
The McBride Magic and Mystery School
“Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature”.
Tobias, here, while Jeff is away in Italy & Spain.
May Day! May Day!
Oh… it’s not THAT kind of May Day. No emergency here… just time to celebrate spring and new beginnings. The time when foliage returns, gardens burst into bloom, and love fills the air. Can you feel it? I can, and it leads me to think about the connections between magic and nature.
One of our tasks as magicians, and artists of all kinds, actually, is to celebrate the magic that surrounds us. The “wheel of life.” What can any of us perform that is more magical than a flower developing from bud to blossom? Or a newly hatched robin, or baby deer? How magical is it when all the brown, dead foliage suddenly blasts into lush green?
“The Louvre is a good book to consult, but it must only be an intermediary. The real and immense study that must be taken up is the manifold picture of nature.”
As practitioners of the magical arts, I think it’s important that we allow ourselves, and our work, to be truly inspired by nature. But how many of us actually can do that? Jeff McBride is fond of the phrase, “You can’t give a gift you don’t have,” which I take to mean that it’s difficult to give someone else a magical experience if you’ve never had one yourself. But how many of us can claim to have really had a magical experience? Is it a magical experience when you find yourself fooled by a card trick? Maybe. Sometimes. But if all art is an imitation of nature (as Aristotle would indicate), then what part of nature is that card trick imitating? I wonder.
I think we all want to experience something we think of as real magic (whether we profess to believe that there is such a thing or not). Some of us, like the young Jeff McBride, actually go on quests to see if we can find it. Like most hero’s journeys, though, I think we actually get to find real magic only once we’ve returned home. Want a “real” magical experience? Watch a baby being born, or go out at nightfall and watch the moonflowers unfurl their blossoms. Go into the woods, or down to a lake and see the wild things with their young. A mother duck with a string of ducklings paddling in formation behind her, or a baby bird learning to fly for the first time.–what could be more magical than that?
My magical gift to you, then, is the suggestion that you put down your cards and coins, close the books and turn off the videos, and go to get yourself a dose of real magic. Right now, when the springtime has it bursting out of every nook and cranny. Let it inspire you. First just go and soak it all up. Then let it sink in. Sleep on it without even thinking about tricks. Let your deep subconscious do its work. Consider what it feels like to experience that kind of magic. Imagine what it would feel like to create that kind of experience for someone else. Imagine their faces when they do experience it; their exclamations of joy or wonder. Imagine what you will feel like when you get to experience them having that experience, right before your eyes!
And then, one day soon, as you return to your cards and silks, your ropes and rings… you may just find yourself with a revelation. You may just find a new way of performing something you’ve long known how to perform, but in a new way. A way that allows you to share that experience—the one you got to have out in the forest, or by the lake. That experience of real magic, but expressed through your own performance. That’s my idea of what it really means to be a magician. I hope you may experience it soon, if you haven’t already done so. Your life and art will be richer for the experience.
As I write this, Jeff McBride is wrapping up his trip to Italy and Spain, where he has done several shows and lectures, and getting ready to return home just in time to re-pack his bags and head off to The Magic Castle. Audiences there can see Jeff in the close-up theater between May 4-10. I hear the lines have already begun to form.
This is Spain with Angel Vicente
As for upcoming classes: we only have one coming up this spring, and it’s our 3-day Master Class, from June 12-14. Last time I looked, we still had 3 slots left for that class. If you’re thinking of competing at any of this summer’s conventions, this may be your best possible investment in order to increase your chances to win. Jeff’s coaching, both in the context of master classes and in his one-on-one Show Doctor consultations, has helped many, many winners over the years. So… if you want one of those slots, go to www.magicalwisdom.com right now and sign yourself up.
Our “Monday Night Mystery School” subject for May will be “Real World Card Magic,” something I expect many of you will find to be of special interest. The show on Monday, May 4 features the whole faculty, and is free to everyone. Tune in at mcbridemagic.tv that night at 7pm PST to catch it live.
That’s all for this note. Jeff will be writing our next Museletter in just a couple of weeks. I hope this one has given you some interesting material to consider.
Most people think Harry Potter and Hogwarts are just a fantasy… but for us, Wizards and Schools are VERY real! For over 25 years, we have been hosting exceptional educational events where you, our students, are the stars of the show. Now the rest of the world is catching on!
“Our time requires humans willing to embrace the wisdom only available through experience and reflection. We need those willing to take on radical levels of personal responsibility as the shepherds of change. Those who insist on true, first hand understanding through their own thought processes, who can see the systems within systems that make the world work, and have the courage to truly question everything. These are the true wizards. This book is designed to set readers on the path that can make each of them such a person.”
— Tobias Beckwith, The Wizard’s Way
In his new book, The Wizard’s Way Tobias examines the stories of wizards not only from legend–Merlyn, Gandalf, The Wizard of Oz, etc.–but also many true wizards from history, including da Vinci, Einstein, Gandhi and more recent examples including Eve Ensler, Jeff McBride and Steve Jobs. He concludes that these unusually effective human change agents share certain common traits. Traits that are not taught in our schools, but can be learned by anyone willing to seek the necessary experiences and embrace the essential principles.
“Mystery School is The REAL Hogwarts”
– CNN news
Can you learn to be a real wizard?
Yes! There are now magic schools around the world:
I have been touring in China for many years, and teaching magic to serious students of the art. Magic has taken me around the world and I am fortunate to be able to share my teachings with others, regardless of nationality! My video Series Trilogy of Trilogies, is the best selling magic series of all time, thanks to its music-driven style and international approach to teaching magic.
“Magic is an international language that transcends cultural, political & language barriers.”
— Jeff McBride
A VERY funny take on magic schools here: USA-Chinese magic in the news:
The Gift of Magic – This month of Mystery School Monday
On our Mystery School Monday show, the faculty explores the topic of “GIFT MAGIC.” Gift magic is a style of magic where you leave the participant with a small gift that is a symbol for the magical moment you created together. There are many kinds of gift magic; see them live each Monday on www.mcbridemagic.tv, or in our archive 24/7 after they have aired.
Scholarship Program- Give or take?
The Magic & Mystery School is passionately committed to improving the art of magic by helping magicians become increasingly excellent performers. To expand our ability to do that, the Faculty has created the Magic & Mystery School Scholarship Program.
The Program has two parts to it. The first part is a Scholarship Fund, made possible through generous contributions and gifts from the members of our extended community.
The second part is the School’s commitment to use every one of these dollars to offer scholarships to deserving students to attend one of our Las Vegas-based magic educational experiences. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of need; they are designed to help talented students close the financial gap to help achieve their magic education goal.
Please note: these scholarships offer partial tuition relief. If a person is awarded a scholarship, they will need to cover the remainder of their tuition and travel expenses. We need your help to generate as many of these scholarships as possible. If you are able, please click on the Gift icon below. The other icon takes you to the scholarship application form.
We would like to thank all of you who have donated to our Mystery School Scholarship Program. This program gives the gift of magic to those who need a hand up to get the magic education they desire. If you would like help with your magical education OR you would like to donate to our school, you can get more info here:http://www.magicalwisdom.com/scholarships
IMMERSIVE THEATER –The ultimate audience participation!
One of my favorite forms of theater is immersive theater, the kind where you are “IN ” the story, or in the play. You have a part. At our early Mystery School events, we explored immersive theater in exotic magical environments like Castles, Ashrams and a Zendo. (Yes, really!)
One of our friends that attended the 2nd year of Mystery School was Erika Larsen. Now she is president of the Magic Castle and also hosts the Beyond Brooklege events. Read on to learn about the extraordinary event that is coming up.
Beyond Brookledge is a fully-immersive, weekend-long theatrical experience that takes place annually at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, California. This year, Beyond Brookledge takes place May 29-31. The event is extremely intimate (only a few dozen tickets are sold), and provides an opportunity for fans of magic and vaudeville to lose themselves in a wonderland where the lines between audience and performers, and between reality and fantasy disappear. The all-inclusive ticket price grants you all-access privileges to ‘round-the-clock entertainment, scheduled meals and treats, a hotel room for two nights, and some intriguing gifts. The hotel itself is a masterpiece of astonishing architecture, and event attendees will have access to some of its most mysterious and closed-to-the-public areas. Spend a mind-altering weekend with Amazing Jonathan, Billy the Mime, Bonnie Morgan, Kristian Hoffman, Mac King, Michael Davis, Scot Nery and some incredible surprise guests. There will also be an amazing display and demonstration of original automata by contemporary master Thomas Kuntz (including several pieces never before seen outside of Kuntz’s studio).
Friends of Jeff McBride can receive a 20% discount on tickets by entering the Promo Code MYSTERY in the Online Registration form at http://www.beyondbrookledge.com/tickets.html.
Detailed information about the event can be found at http://www.beyondbrookledge.com/q—a.html.
ABOVE: THE MAGUS- BY THOMAS KUNTZ. He is one of my favorite artists in the world. If I could, I would have a room devoted to his amazing inventions here at The Mystery School!
April Fools Prank of the Month:
Looks like a magic trick and then… wait for it!
You are invited to the biggest magic party in Las Vegas!
8PM – Bill Cook – MC-
David Gabbay as Bijan
9PM – Christian Diamond
10PM – Tim Wise MC-
Bill Cook – manip act.
PLUS: Bar Magic with Zack Pattee and Scott Steelfyre, the New World Rhythmatism Dancers, Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!