News, News & More News

Dear Friends:

This is a special mid-month Museletter. I’m composing it in Jeff’s absence, while he is starring in the 808 Convention in Tai Pei. We have two big news items for you:

Before the really big stuff, though, I wanted to let you know that all of our next set of classes still have spots available. All are already well-subscribed, but there are spots still available in Medicine & Magic, the 3-day Master Class, Real World Close-up and the two Street Magic Classes with Mario Morris. These latter two usually sell out—and I expect they will this year as well, but if you’re interested in attending any of the above, go register now!

Our First Big News:

We have just secured Mac King as our special guest for this year’s Magic & Meaning Conference. Mac has been a long-time friend and supporter of our work at the Magic & Mystery School, and we’re excited he has agreed to join us this year. Here’s a bit about Mac—you’ll know some of this, and be surprised by some:

Mac King

Acclaimed by MAGIC Magazine as the premiere comedy magician in the world today, Mac has been named “Magician of the Year” by the Magic Castle in Hollywood, broken a Guinness World Record, appeared on seven TV specials for NBC-TV, been voted the sixth best show in all of Las Vegas, rocked the audience on The Late Show with David Letterman, tore it up on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us (where Penn and Teller called Mac, “The greatest comedy magician at least alive today, and maybe who ever lived”), and his book from Random House just entered it’s 12th printing.

He’s been named “Entertainer of the Year” by Las Vegas Weekly, and “Best Magician,” “Best Bargain Show,” and “Favorite Male Las Vegan” by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

He is currently starring in the long-running The Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas where, over the last 19 years, he has performed nearly 10,000 shows to more than two million fans.

His astounding sleight of hand and irresistible humor has been seen both live and on television in China, Spain, Japan, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, England, Argentina, Holland, Cuba, Mexico, Finland, Canada, Chile, and Portugal.

According to his wife and daughter, he is a fine husband, a great dad, and all-around swell fellow.
That’s it for our first big news story. If you want the chance to hang out and learn more from Mac, and you haven’t yet signed up for Magic & Meaning, now’s the time!
Our Second Big News:
It is our profound pleasure to announce the four recipients of the 2019 EUGENE BURGER LEGACY AWARDS from the McBride Magic & Mystery School: BEN BLAU, GABRIELLA LESTER, DARYL ROGERS, and TOM VERNER.

Congratulations to Ben, Gabriella, Tom, and Daryl!

Created in collaboration with Eugene’s estate, these awards recognize artists who an anonymous committee recommended as exemplifying Eugene’s highest values and qualities as a magician. Winners of the award will forever carry Eugene’s name forward, and they will also receive a merit-based full tuition scholarship to any class at the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas.

I invite you to study their magic biographies to become acquainted with these extremely talented, wonderful magicians. We believe that Eugene would have been proud. 

Donations to the Eugene Burger Legacy Fund can be made by going to

Let’s meet the recipients:

Ben Blau

Ben Blau is a magician residing in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA. He is the author of the bestselling 2016 book Asymptotes — Sound Thinking on Mentalism with Playing Cards, is the creator of the modern classic ESP match-up routine “Unfazed” (performed by such luminaries as Eugene Burger and Bill Malone), as well as the mind-boggling “HOTOAC”, “Polygraph” and more. He has recently completed his second hardcover book entitled Truth Fables – The Mental Mysteries of Ben Blau.

Ben’s specialty is devising routines that not only mystify his audiences, but due to his appreciation for what Max Maven sometimes refers to as “The Aesthetics of Method”, creates material that often feels real for both the audience and performer.

As a student of Eugene’s, Ben gained the confidence and ability to connect his magical inventiveness to a more expressive mode, which allows him to metaphorically express his occasionally-esoteric worldview, via his distinctive magic creations and performances. 

Ben is also a prominent college educator, professional musician, and practicing audio engineer in the Southeastern Michigan area, and frequently performs his routines for students, professional colleagues, corporate executives and even complete strangers. His writing has been quietly and positively influencing the international mentalism community for decades, and often compares the subjective experience of “creating” a magic effect to that of the archaeologist; namely, the subjective feeling of “discovering” something that was already there. Like the archaeologist, Ben carefully brushes away the dust to uncover something beautiful that was there all along, and just waiting to be performed. 

Daryl Rogers

Daryl became interested in magic when he was twelve years old. In 2004 he decided he wanted to become a full-time professional magician, and began studying, practicing, and performing. In order to take his magic to the next level, he attended a Master Class at the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas. While there he received personal instruction form the school faculty, including two of the most influential magicians of our time, Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger.

Daryl’s next step was to enter a magic video competition, in which he took second place. He then went on to develop a competition act. The first time he performed it, at the 2018 Houdini Club of Wisconsin Convention, he won both First Place and People’s Choice awards in the stage competition.

After many years assisting with the Mystery School Monday weekly broadcast, Daryl was named an Instructor at the Magic & Mystery School. As an active member of his local I.B.M. Ring, he has been involved in fund-raising programs, and has appeared on stage with other performers in ensemble cast shows. He has been interviewed on local radio and appeared on live television to promote various events. Daryl performs his own classical magic shows for many types of clients in Northeast Wisconsin, and is regularly seen performing strolling magic at Green Bay area restaurants.

Gabriella Lester

Gabriella is a 15-year old magician from Vancouver, BC. As a very young girl, she remembers bringing a deck of cards to school, and getting teachers and friends to pick a card and shuffle the deck, so she could go through the deck one by one until the card was found.

Gabriella’s first eye-opening experience with magic was in London. While still in elementary school, she went with her family to that great city for a few weeks. One day, she came across a street performer. Gabriella was completely star-struck. She watched the performer’s full show, and she saw the magician put someone’s phone inside a balloon. Immediately after, she turned to her mum exclaiming, “That’s impossible! Give him money!”

A few years later Gabriella saw Shawn Farquhar’s stage show. She fell in love with the fact that she simply couldn’t fathom “how he did it.” After that, her passion just grew. Within a few weeks, she was carrying a deck of cards with her everywhere she went. At the age of 10, she started performing in every possible venue whenever she got the chance.

In January 2017, Gabriella got the opportunity to fly to Las Vegas to attend the McBride Magic & Mystery School—one of the greatest experiences of her life. In the following months, she began working toward her future career in magic.

Gabriella spends every day learning and growing as a magician. She is grateful for every opportunity she has received and is certain she will continue to follow this path for the rest of her life.

Tom Verner

Tom has worn a number of hats in the past forty-five years: Clinical Psychologist specializing in dreams and Jungian Psychology, A Professor of Psychology and Humanities, and a Magician.

Almost twenty years ago those three paths came together when he was inspired to found Magicians Without Borders, an organization whose mission is “to use the art of magic to entertain, educate and empower forgotten people, especially children, around the world.” Magicians Without Borders have traveled to 37 countries, and performed for over one million refugee and orphan children.

They are teaching magic to five groups of very poor children in different parts of the world. Magic helps them develop confidence, discipline, focus and self-esteem. Learning, practicing and performing magic also awakens dreams that the impossible is possible. They begin to imagine doing things with their lives they never thought possible: finishing High School, going to college, nursing school, and culinary school. Magicians Without Borders even has a Scholarship Fund to help make those dreams come true.

Tom would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering for Magicians Without Borders:

Finally, our monthly

Wonderground News

March 21, 2019

 8pm –  Comedy & Variety show
     Your Host – Jeff McBride
     Captain S. Rokk –  Rocks your world!
     Byron Grey – Master of Mental Power
     Dave Johnson –  Various Hilarious Hocus Pocus
     Kevin Hall – The MadMan of Magic
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

 9pm –  Close up and Strolling magic
     Your Host – Will Bradshaw
     Byron Grey – Intimate Mentalism
     Capt S. Rokk –  Street Magic Pirate!
     Dave Johnson – At the Card Table
     Kevin Hall – Comedy Close up
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

10pm – Stage show extravaganza!
     Jeff McBride – New Magic Creations
     Mystery Guest!
     Dave Johnson – Animated Magical Antics
     Kevin Hall – Grand Illusion & Confusion
     Tetro – Master of Flow Magic

Plus many more Special Guest  acts to be announced!!!

Music by Nino Miani, Photography by Sheryl Garrett. Bar Magic by Scott Steelfyre & Maggie, Corey Rubino, Belly Dancers, Psychic Sideshow with Morganne – and many more surprises and special celebrity guests.

That’s it for this Muse. We’ll see you again on April 1 with an article from our friend CJ “Cyril the Sorcerer” May. I can’t wait to see what he has for us!

Until then, we wish you all a magical couple of weeks!
Best wishes from all of us at The Magic & Mystery School.

Tobias Beckwith

PS: Have you checked out Jeff’s updated website at yet?

Making Your Magic Optimal

Making Your Magic Optimal
By Larry Hass, the Dean

Over the past year, I have been exploring an idea that I’m now ready to share. Here it is: I believe that every piece of magic has its optimal venue.
What I mean by this is that every routine we do has one best performing context—the setting that’s optimal for my success at astonishing people when I perform it there. Some of the factors involved in assessing “best” are such things as audience size, audience position, visibility, angles, plays up or down, needing to stand or sit, and size of the props, among other things.

To help you consider this, let’s look at one example: Brother John Hamman’s “Final Twist” (The Secrets of Brother John Hamman, pages 41-44). This is Brother John’s popular Twisting the Aces type routine wherein the blue-backed Ace, Two, Three, and Four of Spades magically turn upside down one at a time, then are shown as the Ace, Two, Three, and Four of Hearts, only to be revealed as all having red backs!

“Final Twist” creates a strong visual and magical experience, but if we examine this carefully, it seems pretty clear that it’s best performing venue—its optimal one—is walk-around. That’s because with walk-around I can naturally and quickly put those gaffed cards away as I move on to the next routine or the next group.

This is not to say I can’t perform “Final Twist”—or other gaffed card tricks—while sitting after dinner at a table, but in my view that’s less optimal— “sub-optimal” we would correctly say. Because after I put those gaffed cards away, the people around me have every opportunity in the world to ask me to look at those cards. While I could, of course, switch in ungaffed cards, that doesn’t make “Final Twist” better while seated at a table, or even equally as good. In fact, it’s less good, because now I have to manage more traffic in my pockets, and we are starting to play the dreary game of “bust the magician.”

No, if I am being really honest with myself, my gaffed card packet effects are better in a walk-around setting. Sure, they can be “managed” in a seated setting or a formal close-up show, but those aren’t optimal venues for such routines. And of course there are many more venues where “Final Twist” would be “pessimal” (to use the correct Latin term). That is to say, just plain bad, such as in a platform or stage show, where no one could see the cards.

So again, here’s the big idea: every piece of magic has an optimal venue, a number of sub-optimal ones, and many bad ones.

Now, if you will entertain my Theory of Optimal Venue, I think you might discover an exciting and powerful tool for creating better magic performances and shows – ones with more astonishment, fewer compromises, and less audience suspicion or dissatisfaction. That is, ones that more consistently have stronger impact from beginning to end. Here’s how:

Only ever perform your magic routines in their optimal venue.

Imagine this with me. Imagine you go through every routine in your working repertoire and determine its optimal venue and its sub-optimal ones. Now picture yourself only ever performing your routines in their sweetest spot: the situation and context where you have the best chance for success, for allaying their suspicions, for not exposing moves or gaffs, for the most people to actually see the props and the payoff. Wouldn’t actually doing these two things make every single performance better?

But I understand: you might want to quibble that there’s more than one optimal venue for a given piece. No problem—the basic point and exercise doesn’t change. Although, please beware of self-deception or laziness in this regard; with my own repertoire, one venue always rose to the top.

I also understand that sometimes we find ourselves forced to perform something in a sub-optimal venue. That’s not a crime, and sometimes “we gotta.” Like you, I have been there, done that. But that didn’t make the show optimal. On the contrary, by definition, the show had sub-optimal elements in it—which means it wasn’t the very best show we might have done.

For my part, this idea inspires and empowers me. For now I have a new, razor-sharp tool for assessing my repertoire and building better magic shows: to only ever perform my pieces in their optimal venue rather than shoe-horning them in, where they will be less than optimal. This tool also has the power to clarify which of your working venues are laden with sub-optimal routines, and this can liberate and inspire you to find and create better ones!

If you join me in this, aren’t we then engaged in making our magic performances optimal? Who wouldn’t want that for their magic?

Note: Larry has a new bi-monthly newsletter that aims to inspire your magic. Please sign up at

Dare to Live the Life You’ve Always Wanted!

Dear Friends:

Ever since I was a little boy I have loved going on magical adventures. My very first adventures were in the woods behind my house. I would build secret little forts made out of branches and leaves. When I look back, I see these as my first attempts at creating spaces for magic to happen. I remember transforming my bedroom into a “room of magic,” where I would invite my parents and their friends into my magic room to perform my little shows….  Now, it seems I’m still evolving my magic, and still keeping my roots.  You can see how my magic installations have grown over the years, and perhaps it’s time for you to join me on a magical adventure.

When was the last time you had a “REAL” magical adventure! Email me and tell me about it!

Our school is hosting lots of life-enriching magical adventures these days. Take a look at this recent corporate event we hosted called–


A totally immersive theatrical magical learning experience! Click the video below.

* Enrich your life with a life-changing magical adventure!
* See the most amazing Las Vegas magic show LIVE!
* Experience the greatest magic training experience in the world…

Let us help you plan your magical Las Vegas vacation!

Please drop us an email when you plan to come to Las Vegas. Most weeks of the year, we have small group classes, or we can arrange a private class and tour of the Magic & Mystery School.

If you can’t travel to Las Vegas, you can join one of our online classes right here!

Over 400 hours of great magic training videos!

If you go into the archives you will be able to share an evening of wisdom with many of the teachers we have had on our team over the years.

McBride World Tour News

When I’m not teaching here in Vegas, I tour all over the planet with my shows and Master Classes. Here is just a bit of what is coming up soon:

Taiwan March 9, 10, 2019
808 Magic Convention

April 24, 25, 26, 2019

PCAM/PIMC 2019 Magic Convention
April 24-26, 2019
SMX Convention Center, Taguig City, Philippines

This will be the first International Magic Convention in the Philippines, produced and organized by Cecile and Mighty International. It is an ambitious three-day magic convention featuring many International Featured Stars, including Jeff McBride, Cecile & Mighty, Dale Salwak, Master Fukai, Albert Tam–and more.

Mystery School Student of the Month:
Jeff Christensen

Jeff Christensen has been an educator, speaker and performance artist for the past 20 years. Jeff performed thousands of shows at schools, libraries, festivals, trade shows, corporate events and musical theater to help promote imaginative thinking.

Jeff and his family have created the charity fund Celebrate the Child. Over the past ten years, they have produced their annual A Magical Evening show and have raised $100,000 for different local and international children’s charities. Some of the highlights include: building a school in Kenya, funding a fresh water project in Ecuador–and last year they raised enough money to restore a health center in rural India.  You can support the amazing magical work that Jeff and his family are doing by going to their charity website at:

Recently, Jeff and his family had the opportunity to share their magical work for over 20,000 people at Rogers Arena for WE Day Family.


February 21, 2019
3 Great Shows – A Fantastical Evening of Fun & Magic
One night only – never to be repeated!

 8:00 PM  –  Comedy, Magic & Variety Show
     Jeff McBride & Abigail – Poetic Mysteries
     Scott Steelfyre – Cutting Edge Magic
     Niels Duinker – Master of Anti-gravity
     RJ Cantu – Light, Magic and Power!

 9:00 PM   –  Close-Up, Bar, And Strolling Magic
     Will Bradshaw – Your Host and MC
     Brian Apollo – Mind Melting Close-Up Magic
     Jeff McBride – Houdini-OUT-Done!
     RJ Cantu – Light, Up Close!
     Scott Steelfyre – At the WONDERBAR

10:00 PM   –   Stage Extravaganza
     Jeff McBride – World Premiere of ”A Night at the 
     Direct from Kazakhstan – Dynamic Illusionist Kristos
     Will Bradshaw – Dream Date – a Valentine’s Magical
     ????Special Mystery Guest?????
     Ariann Black – Magic from the Heart
     Niels Duinker – by far the best Juggler on earth!
     RJ Cantu – Laser Magic

All the Above Plus: 
Photography by Sheryl Garrett. Bar Magic by Brian Apollo, Scott Steelfyre & Maggie, Corey Rubino, New World Rythmatism Belly Dancers, Psychic Sideshow with Thayer DeMay & Richard K.– and many more surprises and special celebrity guests.

For updates and info go to

We will roll out the red carpet for you when you come to Las Vegas!
Be inspired,


Passion vs. Comfort

Dear Friends:

Tobias here. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about comfort. I was injured in a car crash a couple of months ago. Not badly, but enough so I had difficulty walking more than a few steps at a time for several weeks. I’ve been spending far more time “taking it easy” than I normally do, and more time dealing with pain than is usual for me. Of, course “dealing with pain,” is nearly synonymous with “trying to get comfortable,” and that got me thinking about what I know to be my own biggest enemy: my comfort zone. I expect that might be true for you, too.

But what does that actually mean? Have you heard the fable of how to boil a frog? The premise is that if you drop a frog into boiling water, it will jump out as soon as it touches the water. But if you put the frog in a pot of water that is at a very comfortable temperature for it, then slowly raise the temperature to boiling, you’ll cook that frog alive!

The challenge, then, is not to be that comfy frog. This sounds easy, but life and culture will conspire against you. Inertia is real, and we all find it more comfortable to sit tight with our current situation than to take the actions that will actually improve our lives. At the extreme, this is a reason why people stay in abusive relationships. It’s why they get fat and can’t lose the weight they’ve put on, even though they say they want to. It’s the reason people stay in jobs way below their capability level.

Better to live with the bad that we know, than to take a chance on what we don’t—even though that “unknown” will almost certainly be better than what we have now. We’re all a bit afraid of the unknown.

What does this mean when it comes to performing magic? For one thing, it means that if you are truly dedicated to improving your magic, you have to make that a priority. That means actually setting aside time without other distractions each day to work on it. If you don’t have a set time, and don’t stick to that time, you’ll find yourself putting it off. “Urgent” situations will “require” you to react to them, and those reactions will suck up all of your time. That’s just the human way.

Unfortunately, we get comfortable dealing with those urgent things, even as we complain about them—that e-mail, or social media post, or something your friend wants you to do with them—and as a result, we find we’re just too busy to do that thing—rehearsing or creating new magic, for example—that we know is really most important.

I’ve certainly found this to be true for all of the books I’ve written. I might have an idea, and even an outline for the book, and I work on bits of it “as time allows,”— sometimes for a year or more — but the book is never going to get done. until I decide I’m going to set aside at least an hour or two every morning to work on the book, and that I’ll do that work before I doanything else. Not allowed during that time are things like e-mail, phone calls or interruptions of any kind…maybe a cup of coffee, but nothing that gets me anywhere near the “reactive” side of my life and business. Those things are my “comfort zone of avoidance.” They are my way of feeling I’m being productive, without having to actually engage with the things that are most important to me in terms of achieving my life purpose.

Oddly, none of those avoidance activities come even close to being as much fun as getting fully engaged with the important projects that move me and my business forward. However, because I’ve done them all many times, they’re all “comfortable.” No risk involved.

And that’s deadly.

It’s up to each one of us really. Do you want a comfortable life, doing all the things you’ve always done, and never really moving forward? Or do you choose a life of adventure and accomplishment? The former is okay, if that’s really who you are. Most people are like that, and it seems to work for them.

However, if you have the kind of vision and passion that makes you want to change to world, that makes you want to leave the kind of mark on the world that only you could leave—well then, it’s time you made your comfort zone your enemy, too.

That’s one of the reasons we created the Magic & Mystery School. We love it when students come and challenge us—when they bring us perspectives on performance we might never have encountered before. We love challenging our students to take their art to the next level. Everyone who comes through the door presents a unique challenge, and we live for that! When we find ourselves doing only what we’ve done before, only the things we’re comfortable with—that feels like failure, even if we’re making good money doing it. That’s part of the reason we’re always trying out new classes.

Some sell out almost immediately (like the “Breakthrough Magic” session we’re doing in August with Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin, which sold out in just 48 hours)—others take a bit longer, and some never get the interest we thought they would. But every offering stretches us. Each new offering is a new adventure and each brings new challenges and learning. Each one moves us towards our goal of re-imagining and lifting the level of what it means to be a magician.

Whether or not you ever come to one of our classes in Las Vegas, or join us for our online offerings, I hope these Museletters (especially this one!) have challenged you a bit and help with your own growth. Even if you’re one of those ensconced firmly within your own comfort zone—I hope you’re enjoying reading of the adventures of those of us who have chosen the less comfortable path.

On the other hand, if you are ready to step out of your zone of comfort and ready for a personal challenge, please do check out our current offerings. There are some interesting events coming up, from Jeff’s Winter Training in February to Medicine & Magic (you don’t have to be a Doctor!), the 3-Day Master Class (we supply the masters—you don’t have to be one) and Real-World Close-up in March. Each one is guaranteed to push you out of your personal comfort zone. You’ll make new friends, encounter new ideas, and, most of all, find yourself challenged in interesting ways. We’ll also be posting some new classes and events for the coming months.

Whatever your decisions about getting out of your comfort zone for the coming month—I wish you many happy adventures. Remember, the real magic is there, just outside your comfort zone. The sooner you can break through, the sooner you get to experience it!

Best wishes.

Tobias Beckwith

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