Friends and Family

Dear Friends:

This month, we get to hear from our Dean, Eugene Burger.

It is December, a month of holidays and time spent with friends and families. And it is also a time when we are asked — or wish — to perform some magic for them. I have definite thoughts about these shows. They are not always easy; in fact sometimes they can be very difficult! My essay is drawn from a new book I am presently completing, which I hope will be published in 2017. The current title of the book is, Teaching Magic: Personal Reflections for Students and Teachers.

One of the grim facts of life that students of magic — especially amateur students — must recognize, is that friends and family are usually the most difficult audiences on the planet! There are exceptions, of course. If your friends and family are exceptions to this “rule,” be grateful, because you are truly blessed. For most of us, the reverse is true: while strangers can be easy audiences, friends and family can be the most difficult.

Why is this true? One reason is that friends and family feel they can interrupt us during our performances. Another reason is that sometimes they don’t want us to be the center of attention because they want to be the center of everyone’s attention.

Is there anything that can be done about this? Honestly, I am not sure that there is. At the same time, I have had some success by approaching the problem directly in the following way. After I perform my first effect (as Jeff McBride would say, “Magic First, then talk”) I say…

“You know, we can watch a performance of theatrical magic in one of two ways. The first way is with an analytical frame of mind, trying to figure out how the magic is accomplished. This is the way many people watch a magic show. Another way to experience magic is to watch it through the eyes of a child, a child who appreciates the experience of wonder. If I were given the choice, I would hope that tonight you would experience my magic in the second way, as a child appreciating the wonder in the world. Later, of course, on your way home, you might want to get analytical and try to figure it all out. Then you can be my guest. But for now, let’s relax and enjoy the magic!”

Feel free to use or adapt this little introductory speech for your own performances. Does it always work? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does work, I find that I am having a more enjoyable time performing for my friends and family.


Creating Your Own Masterpiece

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”

 John Ruskin

Hello my friends,

Today I have a few serious questions for you…  then, the fun begins!

  • When you die, will you leave some art of yours behind for others?
  • Will YOU ever create a masterpiece in your lifetime?
  • Who is teaching you how to make your life an artwork?

I have many inspired, talented teachers who encourage me along my path. Two of my teachers are named Joshua; you will learn about them both today.

One of them is Joshua Millburn. He is a writer.

Mr. Millburn says,

Do you wish you could create something meaningful? Do you wish you had the time to work on that thing you’ve always wanted to produce—that novel, that piece of art, that passion project?

Step 1. Look at yourself in the mirror. It’s time for you to be honest with yourself. Either you’re accomplishing what you want to accomplish or you’re not. There is no in-between. If it’s the latter, then you must admit to yourself that you are the only person preventing you from pursuing your passion project. Denial is heartless; so the first step is looking in the mirror and admitting that you haven’t even scratched the surface on creating something meaningful.

Step 2. Kill your distractions. Make a list of everything getting in your way. “Surfing the net” too much? Get rid of the Internet at home. Are certain people draining all your time? Get rid of your unhealthy relationships. Are material possessions getting in the way? Get rid of your crap.

Step 3. Make time every day. None of us were born equal. We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different socioeconomic situations. Suffice it to say, we were not all born on a level playing field. Time is the one exception. The only thing we all have in common is time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. So, get up at 3:30 a.m. if you have to. Find 30 minutes before you leave for work. Work through your lunch break. Find an hour after work. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find the time. You have the same amount of time as everyone else who has ever created a masterpiece.

Now you can read the rest of Mr. Millburn’s  16-step guide here:

My wife Abigail is a work of art!

“This is Abigail Spinner McBride Those of you who know her will recognize that she’s been conservatively rendered, without any embellishments or exaggeration. The fantastic light and mythic extravagance of a truly accurate portrait would fail in the arms of disbelief.”  —  Joshua

Joshua Levin is a fantastic artist. He inspires me with his ability to transform paint into magic! Joshua is holding a contest tribute to Abigail, who is also known as “Abbi Spinner.” You can win one of these posters by hearing what Joshua has to say,

”FREE art print to the best “Spinn” on my new drawing of Spinner (digital pencil)!  I’ll send a free print of this image to whomever writes the most captivating poetic or mythopoetic description of the Spinner. If you want to participate, just “follow” my artist’s page at, and post your description there. I’ll choose a winner on November 24th (Thanks Giving). “Spinner” was hand drawn on an iPad pro. Prints are available on 240gsm natural white archival paper with archival ink at:…/joshualev…/works/23683209-spinner

Visit Joshua Levin here:

“To be creative means to be in love with life.”

– Osho

What does it take to create your masterpiece?

I feel that in order to win the title of “master,” you must earn it from your peers. Your peers or teachers are the ones who can proclaim that one of your works is “a Masterpiece.” In my lifetime, I’ve been fortunate to have created a few magical works that my peers call masterpieces. Let me teach you what I know about creating your own masterpiece.

World Tour

December – Touring in the Carribbean

January – The Magic Castle in Hollywood

Schedule & Available dates here:

Spring Training Series (nearly sold out aready!)

New Class: Magic & Theater

I have toured the world with my own theatrical blend on magic, theater, dance, mime and mask, and I am often asked who inspires my work as an artist. I am inspired by magicians who have a deep knowledge of theater and the performing arts. These people work wonders on stage.

The name Gaston comes to mind.  Here is a photo of Gaston.


Gaston is his name.

Gaston is a miracle worker!

Gaston is a F.I.S.M. award winner.

Gaston is one of the most talented actor-magicians in the world.

Gaston is the theatrical director for many of the world’s top performers.

Gaston travels the world teaching theater arts to magicians and other performers.

Gaston can teach you many excellent techniques that will help you get to the next level.

Gaston lives in Germany.

Gaston speaks perfect English… oh, and perfect German too.

Gaston is coming to Las Vegas!

Gaston & I will be teaching a 3-day Master Class workshop in July here at the Magic & Mystery School!

Wonderground News –

We create NEW art for you every month! Come join in the celebration!

Thanks to our amazing art and theater community, every month our shows get better and better! YOU will enjoy a 3-hour immersive magical encounter with many of the top variety acts in the world, performing inches from your face!

NOVEMBER 17, 2016


Astonishing  close up /strolling magic with Will Bradshaw and Tim Wise


With your Master of Ceremonies-Tim Wise

Joe Atmore – Modern Mind Reader

Krystal Lawrence – Delightfully Twisted

The Shocker – The Loudest Magician on Earth!

Will Bradshaw – Theatrical Magic

Zamora the Torture King – His Pain = Your Pleasure


Will Bradshaw – Conjuring Dreams

The Shocker – Extreme close up magic!

Miguel Ramirez – And Now…For a touch of Elegance!


Jeff McBride is your MC

Sonny Fontana – The NEW Invisible Man

The Shocker – As seen on TV!

Rene Delgadillo – Salsa magic

Zamora the Torture King – World record breaker!

Jason Bird – Direct from “Masters of Illusion!”

AMAZING JONATHAN – a historic appearance at WONDERGROUND!

PLUS: Bar Magic with Zack Pattee, Scott Steelfyre, and Iam Creed. The New World Rhythmatism Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Psychic Sideshow with Mulee Pete and Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and Suzanne–and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

Photography by Sheryl Garrett.

May your life become your magical masterpiece!

Jeff McBride


Magic & Speaking

Dear Friends:

Here we are, entering what I always think of as the dark part of the year. Halloween has come and gone, and the days grow ever shorter. Although the winter holidays seek to brighten our spirits, this can be a daunting time. I generally have found it to be a time that is creatively productive, but challenging.

For our Magic & Mystery School, November will be filled with classes, most of which are already overflowing. We’ve had a good year, and the school seems to be thriving. And yet… this is a time of reflection and introspection—where do we go from here? Are we really doing as well as it feels we are? Does that mean we’re in danger of stagnation? I wonder.

Tobias with Book

For the purposes of this Museletter, I thought you might enjoy a section from my last book, The Wizard’s Way to Powerful Presentations. As Jeff, Stephen Shapiro and I prepare to teach “Magic for Speakers & Presenters,” this weekend, I’ve found myself reflecting on just what speakers and magicians have in common, and so this segment on how we design experiences to achieve a particular purpose, came to mind.  Oh… and we DO have a single space left in the class. If you’re interested, go to now and grab it!

(from The Wizard’s Way to Powerful Presentations)

Create Experiences

Basic data and bare-bones logic all by themselves make for boring presentations. Tell stories in order to draw your audience in and to bypass their logical, linear objections. Stories provide vicarious experience, and, as all true wizards know, experience is what changes people. Actual interactive experiences can be even more powerful than vicarious ones, so the best speakers find ways to include those, too.

Once Upon a Time

Using the Power of Stories

Some people theorize that we can only think clearly about experiences once we have distilled them into words. Others tell us that we only make sense of events once we turn those words into stories. Stories are the way that our minds make sense of the world. Stories evoke our emotions, and they tend to be what we remember.

Create Mild Trance

A little-known effect of listening to a story is that the experience puts us into a light trance. You’ve experienced this type of trance if you’ve found yourself deeply involved in a great book or a show on television and failed to hear your family members talking with you. If you’re like me, you might have to be called to dinner several times before you even hear the call. You are so buried in the world of the story that you’re no longer really conscious of your everyday world. That is trance, and you’ll find that your audiences are often in a mild trance state.

One of the things we know about trance is that under its influence, we become suggestible. When we are in a trance state, we accept and do things without the interference of our rational mind. Though it is true that a hypnotist can’t make you do something you really don’t want to do, you have to not want to do that thing at a fairly deep level in order to resist the hypnotist’s command. As a true wizard power presenter, then, it’s important that you realize you have the ability to issue commands, and have your audience just accept them, to a degree you might not be used to experiencing in everyday life. If your cause is just and important, this is a power you’re completely justified in using.

Engage emotions

The best presentations are designed to change those who experience them. People are changed and people make decisions through emotion. Ninety-nine percent of decisions are purely emotional, with the rational mind only kicking in to justify the decision after it has been made. Stories stir the emotions. Audiences identify with the protagonist of a story, and if something great happens to that person, they feel great. If something terrible happens, then they’ll feel terrible—or outraged, or whatever else your telling of the story is designed to make them feel. Your presentation, (and we’ll come back to this) can use imagery, rhythm, vocal dynamics, and other elements to enhance that emotion.

So, if you want your presentation to be remembered, use stories to make your points. If you want your logic to be accepted, wrap it in a story!


Creating Interactive Experiences

Even better than a story we hear is one that we actually participate in. These are interactions. When a speaker involves audience members directly in their presentation, making them characters in the story they are creating for them, they find themselves much more deeply attached to and emotional about that story, than one they have only heard, rather than participated in. The story becomes more immediate. Instead of something that happened to someone else sometime in the past, it is happening to me, right now. It’s hard not to be engaged in that!

Another thing that happens when people have experiences together is they begin to feel more like a group. Rather than an audience made up of lots of individuals, you begin to create a kind of tribal mind. Great speakers at political rallies and in large religious groups make use of this group feeling to great advantage. You can use it, too.

One way to generate direct interaction is just to ask for it.  “Whenever I ask ‘Can we do it,’ I need you to shout ‘Yes we can!’” Another is to ask people to stand in the audience or come to the stage, and take a role. “If you could just stand here and hold this, and whenever I say X, you’ll do Y. Got it?”  When you do enlist the aid of an audience member, it’s important for you to realize you have made them a special representative of all the others in the audience, and that it’s important that you treat them well. Treat them badly, and you’ll lose the audience. Yet another way to get involvement is just to ask for a response to a question. “Give me a show of hands. How many of you took a bus to get here? How many drove their own cars?” Any of these actions will get and keep your audience involved.

Attention Creates Experience

As a stage director, one of my most important jobs is to let the audience know where they need to look. When I work with magicians, controlling the audience’s attention is even more important. It’s the same with your presentations.

Audiences can pay attention to exactly one thing at a time. If you give them multiple possible attention points, you will confuse and lose them. For example, if you present your audience members with a slide or other visual that is so complex that it will take them more than a few seconds to read or understand it, then continue speaking before they have completely absorbed the information on the slide, their attention will not be on what you are saying. Great presenters make sure they control where their audience’s attention will be at all times throughout the presentation. First on the speaker, then on a visual, and then back on the speaker. While it’s okay to narrate a slide, you need to be aware that when you are doing that, the audience’s attention will be fully on the slide.

You can design your graphics so that they are only visible at full intensity during the time you want attention to be on the graphic and will then fade or blur out. You can learn to take the stage back from your slide by moving, raising your voice, asking a question that demands an answer, or any one of a hundred other ways. The time to think about all this is when you are still designing the experience.

If you want to become a real wizard power presenter, the way to get there is by trying out as many of these different techniques, in front of as many different audiences as possible. Some will work, some will fail. Different techniques work for different people, and they work differently for different audiences. But you won’t know which ones work for you till you’ve tried them.

That’s it for this edition. Jeff will be back with news in just a couple of weeks.

Best wishes.


Tobias Beckwith


Are You Serious?

Greetings friends and family!

I hope we are good enough friends that I can ask you some serious questions. We might learn something about each other.

Are you “teachable?”

I am not a know-it-all. I feel it is important to “remain teachable.”

I learn from my students all the time. Charles Stonewick is a fine magician and a friend. He recently turned me on to a big idea that I feel is very important for all of us to consider.  Are you daring enough to take a risk and give more of yourself to your friends, family and audiences?

WARNING!  There will be a Quiz

Now, you can find out what kind of communicator you are by taking the short quiz below from the book Breaking The Chain of Low Self-Esteem, by Marilyn Sorenson, PhD.

What level communicator are you?

According to behavioral psychologists there are 5 levels of communication.

Level 1: Surface Level. “Nice weather today,” or “How’s it goin’ eh?

Level 2: Information Level. “Had a flat tire yesterday,” or “Sold the cat for medical experiments” etc.

Level 3: Thinking Level. Sharing opinions and ideas, “Hillary is a naughty lady,” or “Trump is a hot mess,” etc.

Level 4: Feeling Level–Self-revelatory. “I am a terrible procrastinator,” or “I am afraid of clowns,” or “I like monkeys,” etc.

Level 5: Intimacy Level. This is where we share our most painful and embarrassing moments, our deepest desires, our heaviest concerns and rewarding victories. We do this without fear of reprisal or judgment.

Stonewick continues:

“Think of the greatest magical performers you know: Penn & Teller, Eugene Burger, Jeff McBride, Lawrence Hass, David Copperfield, Rene Levand, Wayne Dobson, the list goes on and on. Do you see how they present their performances at Level 5? These people make it a point to be vulnerable and to share intimacy with their audiences- not pretend intimacy, but the real deal. Anything less would be as empty as a politician’s promise.”

Do you have to be serious?

This does not mean we have to be so serious. On the contrary, our funniest stories are usually about our greatest embarrassments or about our scariest fears becoming real.

A delicate balance is required though. Just pouring ourselves into the laps of the audience for its own sake would be clumsy, hack-like and gratuitous. That being said, it seems a good policy to treat the audience like an intimate friend and confidante. As we gently invite them into our house (Juan Tamariz) we are making ourselves vulnerable and offering love and trust. If they accept our offer, they receive our magic as a wonderful gift, and feel as though they have spent time with a close friend, maybe even an artist.

You can find Stonewick on FaceBook

Are you vulnerable?

Marjorie Hass gave a PEP-Talk online to our Mystery School about “MAGIC & VULNERABILITY.” Marjorie’s talk is inspired and will open a world of emotion and magic for you! Find it here:

‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.’

– Tony Robbins

This is true not only in our business life, but in our everyday communications with friends and family. I am always learning, growing and developing new skills.

Want to make the BIG LEAP? Take the quiz below


A: Magicians & Illusionists

B: Professional Keynote Speakers

If your answer is “A” …you are mistaken. Here’s the real answer.

Thousands of businesses worldwide engage professional motivational and keynote speakers for their events, meetings and conferences every day! Why? What do those corporations want? More than your clever tricks… they want content–meaningful content that can be applied to their business practices. 
They want TED-talks–meaningful, content-rich talks, that are informative, educational & fun!

Magic with a Message!

The magician who can frame and market his or her shows as “Magic with a Message,” can get more work in these markets than any other variety act. 
But remember, what corporations want is high quality content!
How can you learn the secrets of becoming a successful speaker with magic? 

Join us with special guest Stephen Shapiro, past president of the NATIONAL SPEAKERS ASSOCIATION. Stephen is currently on the Board of Directors and is in the Speaker’s Hall of Fame. Learn more here:

Jeff McBride goes to Hollywood!

ITS’ MAGIC is celebrating it’s 60th year with a huge show! The best names in magic will be on this show! LOOK:

Saturday, October 29, 206 at 8pm – Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles


WONDERGROUND “The center of the Las Vegas magic community”

Look at the FANTASTIC line up this month!

8pm  Comedy & Magic Show -Tim Wise is your MC

Kenton & Jeff McBride – A Dynamic Duo

Joe Krathwhol – The Birdman of Las Vegas

Michael Mirth – Illusions of Imagination

Jeff Taveggia – The New Juggling Star!

Stan Sieler – The Mind Hacker

Kyle and Mistie Knight – A NewWorld of Wonders


9pm Parlor and Strolling Magic – Christian Diamond is your MC

Master Payne – A true Original!

Kenton – Magick Beyond Imagination

Mysto the Magi – Clever like a Fox

Michael Mirth & His Cabinet of 1000 Wonders


10pm – Jeff McBride is your MC

Xavier Mortimer – the New Magic Star of Vegas

Jeff Taveggia – World Class Juggler

Sia Synn – Romance with a lance

Arian Black – Sensual Sorcery

Xavier Mortimer – Tour de force

Amazing Johnathan – Wrong on Every Level

Kyle and Mistie Knight –  New Magic Wonders

Did you know?

Mystery School Monday is the LONGEST continuously running magic program in history?  Yes, it is true 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over 5 years now! WWW.MCBRIDEMAGIC.TV …and now you can watch on any device!

Just get the PHOTON app here:

Join us every Monday for the fun!

Jeff sharing magic at a recent magic class

See you in Hollywood or on TV! Or, better yet, join us at the school for a fun and educational magic class!

Yours in better magic,


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