I would like to begin by congratulating my friend, Michael Carbonaro, for his new show, “The Carbonaro Effect,” which airs on Thursday evenings at 10.00 pm (Pacific time) on TRU TV. Be sure to check it out!
I first met Michael when he attended a Mystery School in 1999. He was a bright and attentive student who was clearly present. This was the first time that Michael performed what has become one of his signature pieces, Shaving Dream. Even this early version, which didn’t have a name, was very impressive. Michael’s performance had great impact on the audience. Everyone was talking about it afterward. And Michael was still a teenager!
Michael and I stayed in contact over the years and our friendship grew. A few years ago, when Jeff decided to bring the Mystery School faculty and students to the Magic Castle in Hollywood to perform for a week, I opted to perform in the Peller Theater. To make things easy, I wanted someone to perform with me. Michael Carbonaro was my first choice. Together, we created a show, “Dark Stories,” which we have now performed several years at the Magic Castle and in other places as well (such as Erika Larsen’s quite fabulous “Beyond Brookledge” event last year).
This coming July, Michael and I will present an extended version of “Dark Stories” at the James Randi TAM (The Amazing Meeting) event in Las Vegas.
Photo credit: Roger Fojas
Need I say that Michael is a delight to work with? He is. He is creative and funny and still serious and open to ideas and also ready with many amazing ideas of his own. I love to work with him. And I was thrilled when he used my effect, Shotglass Surprise, on the pilot episode of “The Carbonaro Effect.” You can see Michael’s very clever and entertaining presentation at:
It is exciting when a friend gets a television show of their own. One feels so happy for them. Having a show of our own is a dream that is shared by so many magicians. Do you have a dream of your own TV show? If you do, I think you might ask yourself one very important question: Are you really ready for your own TV show? If the offer came unexpectedly to you, would you be up for the challenge? Yes, it’s a tough question!
And this brings us to the subject of my essay. It is time. It is the ability to perform for the specific time that has been allotted to us. Not to go over. Not to do more time than expected.
Over the years, I have been surprised on many, many occasions as I watched professional magicians fail to meet the time restrictions given to them. Although they sometimes go under their time, most often they go well over the time they were allotted. If scheduled to perform for ten minutes, they might perform for fifteen or twenty. If asked to perform for thirty minutes, they might instead perform for forty-five. I see this at magic conventions and at local magic shows. I see it in many, many countries. At home, I see it at Magic Chicago, the monthly magic show soon in its tenth year. It appears that a large number of magicians, both amateur and professional, have very little sense of performance time. Evidently, it doesn’t seem too important to them. It probably isn’t as important as the magic tricks that dance in their thoughts.
But it is important! It is important if you want to be — or be seen as — a professional magician. As I have explained many times, my own first international television appearance was on the Paul Daniels Show in England. I had two spots: the first was four-and-a-half minutes, the second was three-and-a-half minutes. This was a live television show. It was not a taped show. My job was to come in on time. If I went over, I would be taking time away from the star of the show. If I went under time, Paul would have to make up my time.
I think that I was successful for two reasons. First, there was a large clock with a second hand next to the camera so I could watch the movement of time. Second, I work with scripts for each of my magical pieces and so, when there were 30 seconds left, I could begin to speed up or slow down — and then finish precisely on the second. I approached it both as a challenge and a game. On the set, I received many compliments. And I was asked to return for Paul’s live show the next year. But the secret was having a real script — and also understanding how to deliver it.
And so when magicians perform for me — either in Chicago or in classes with Jeff in Las Vegas — I listen to what is being said. I want to help these magicians improve what they are saying.
Do you work with a real script?
Do you have the ability to bring your performances in on time?
Time is a great challenge. Yet, if you do get your own television show one day, these are the skills that you might need for your success. If you have them, I suspect that you will be very happy and thankful.
I’m inspired to share some of our plans for May.
“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I love touring, meeting new friends and seeing new places… but now and then, I just want to get away! It is important to share time with my love, Abbi. We go deep into the desert and join some of our friends to play music and dance under the moonlight and around the campfire.
“The desert has its holiness of silence, the crowd its holiness of conversation.”
– Walter Elliot
Each year, Abbi and I take some time to retreat into the desert for our MayFire celebration. It is a music retreat , and we invite some of our friends to join us. We have been re-creating ourselves each year in the Valley of Fire State park. We love the beauty and vastness of the land, and each night we build a fire and make music with our friends. You can see a bit of what we do here:
When we end our vacation each year we come back refreshed and renewed, full of ideas to share with our friends and families. This is where we get inspiration that often finds its way into our performances.
A few years ago my time in the desert inspired a new magic routine… The BEKOS effect! See Abbi perform it 1 minute into this video:
If you watch the following clip, you will see that the future of magic is in good hands! You’ll see the young magician Deanna perform the BEKOS effect at 1 min into the clip:
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”
Every Monday we host a magic class online. Our aim is to inspire your creativity… you are invited! It’s like a global magic lecture:
Mystery School Monday
This month, we talk about how to structure a proper show. The faculty of our school will take turns each month talking about the best show formats and what we can learn from the masters on how to construct the perfect magic show!
You can become a member of our online school here:
The Secret Arts Journal
…has a new essay by Brian Watson on Cups and Balls, you may also want to read about Simple Gifts, and John Tudor’s Experiments in Magic Theater. This online zine is free to all of our friends! Be inspired and read more: http://www.secretartjournal.com
…continues to gather the Las Vegas stars of magic. We are the hub of the Las Vegas Magic community and it seems everyone shows up! Last month saw Murray, Jan Rouven, Juliana Chen, and Kevin James in the audience and onstage was Xavier Mortimer from Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson show: One. I even debuted my Magic Castle close-up show in the Diamond Parlor room!
This month Dan Sperry will be onstage with a new creation! I have part 2 of my Magic Castle act to show you!
As I sign off now, I’m packing for the camping trip and will be seeking new inspiration to share with you soon!
See you on tour or around the fire!
“No man is an island.”
— John Donne
Bryce here, with what is possibly the most important story I’ve ever told (at least to date).
Most people strive for a life and career that is stable and consistent. Honestly, it freaks me out.
Every five to ten years I start getting anxious about my life path, especially in terms of business. I can sense it coming on and, without fail, some event will drastically alter my direction. I never know when or what that event will be. Sometimes I try to force it (that never works, by the way).
The first one I can remember was showing up to the first Mystery School. Without question, it changed my life forever. It brought me together with some of the closest, most supportive friends I’ve ever known (Thank You Eugene, Jeff, Tobias and Abbi!).
Then there was a marriage to the best life partner I could ever imagine. A move to Phoenix and a job developing satellite systems for Motorola was next.
A really big one took place at Firedance, thanks to The Wizard, Gary Stadler, and Paul Harris. They’re the ones that convinced me that the corporate world wasn’t for me (unless I’m President / CEO).
There have been other, less spectacular shifts since then, but nothing major… until last weekend.
Before I tell you about it, let me explain the three key ingredients to all major shifts in my life.
First, it only happens when I push way beyond my comfort zone. Forget getting outside the box. I want to get to a place where I can’t even see the box anymore.
Second, it’s always about connecting with a community.
Finally, it always ends with finding a mentor.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
— Jim Rohn
Back to the story…
My new friend, Robert Merlin Davis, invited me to a joint-venture conference. Robert is a personal branding expert, creative director and expert copywriter. He’s also a magician and old friend of Jeff’s, which is how we met.
Let me be clear: I have never been to an event like this. The idea of “networking” usually creeps me out. To add insult to injury, my business is in a state of transition, so I didn’t even have a solid answer to the mandatory networking question: “what do you do?” And did I mention that the event was one week away?
If you’ve ever been to one of our Magic & Mystery School in-person events like a Master Class or Magic & Meaning, you know what it’s like to form deep, long-lasting, supportive friendships with people in a very short period of time. Until now, that’s been the only place I’ve witnessed this sort of behavior… until now.
Honestly, I was expecting a lot of ego and “what can you do for me?” attitude. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every one of the 100-or-so people at this conference were there to help each other grow, even if they were in the exact same field and might otherwise have seemed like competition.
I should also point out that about 1/3 of the people in attendance were presenters, speakers and panelists. Oh, and did I mention that many of them are multi- (and multi-multi-) millionaires?
Observe any conversation and you would never have known who was a highly-successful “expert” and who was a first-timer just getting started (or re-started, in my case).
I went with no expectations. I left with a new family and, most importantly, a new mentor who is ready, willing, able and committed to helping me take my business (and my life) to the next level.
I think only fools believe they can do it alone. Look at the successful people around you. Yes, I’m sure they worked hard. But I’ll bet they also surrounded themselves by great mentors and community.
Who are your mentors?
Who is in your community?
Are you surrounding yourself with the people who can and, most importantly, really want to help you grow?
I know I am.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the subject of this email, here’s a photo of Robert (the one on the right) taking a break from a pillow fight at the conference. It was part of an intensive small-group breakout session hosted by Steven Memel, a business and personal coach with a background in voice and acting. You might have heard of some of his clients: Drew Barrymore, Adam Levine and Lauren Bacall, just to name a few.
I’ll leave you with an exercise from another small-group session, this one taught by author and expert sales trainer, Mitch Axelrod.
I challenge you to do this tonight:
Figure out about the single most important thing you could do to enhance your life, work or relationships.
Write it down.
Now ask yourself the following four questions:
Most poeple will easily anwer “yes” to the first two. The third one, if you’re really honest with yourself, might not be as resoundingly affirmative as you might think. Of course, it’s the last one that makes all the difference.
Are you committed to a better future for yourself and those around you?
If you decide you can say yes to all four, I invite you to drop me an email and tell me about it.
Wishing us all a brighter future,
“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”
— Jackie Robinson
One of the Burning Man Art Festival mottos is “No Spectators!” In a magic show I think this is a crucial concept to incorporate.
“People support what they help create,” is one of the mottos I live by!
This concept holds true in just about any organization, political movement, internet group, club, and yes, even in the theatre or at a magic show. I feel that the more audience participation there is in a show, the more successful that show becomes. If you look at current Las Vegas shows, the ones that have lasted have a lot of audience participation: Penn & Teller, Mac King, Amazing Jonathan & David Copperfield.
“It’s better to be in love than to watch it!”
There is a huge difference between a spectator and a participant. A spectator spectates, merely watching, witnessing without being directly involved. A participant is co-creating the experience, and has a role to play in the production of the magic.
Experience and learn from some of my favorite participation routines at SCIENCE VS MAGIC.
I’ll be performing in the Close-up Room with Kevin James for the special Rudy Coby week at the Magic Castle, April 21-27.
Also appearing with me will be Marco Tempest, Chris Korn, Rafael, Kevin James, and Timo Mark.
When I hear a magician say, “I have the spectator select a card,” I cringe inside. I am aware that they are not conscious of the words they are using. The more conscious we are of our words, the more conscious we can become as performers. Spectators do not pick cards; they watch cards being picked. Participants pick cards. I want everyone involved in the experience…not spectating. An example is my poker routine called:
This is one of my favorite close-up card routines. I get the entire audience into the story and playing parts in the show, and it’s very easy to do. Have a look and you might like to try it as well.
You can ask me to perform this routine if you attend one of my shows. I have a few coming up while on tour.
I will be performing with my friends at the Weekend of Wonder — perhaps we will meet there?
I rarely get to New York City and I’ll be performing and doing the lecture and workshop at FANTASMA magic shop in New York City, after our evening show Salute to Magic at the Queens Theatre.
I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here:
Jaun Tamariz is one of the top Spanish magicians. He get the audience to join him in creating the magic. I encourage you to study great performers like Juan, and how they generate excitement, mystery and fun by using audience participation techniques. Explore ways you can welcome your audience into your magic world, and participate in the magic.
Remember: “People support what they help create.” So let them help you create magic! If you have ideas to share with me on ways that you engage your participants, email me and let me know. (just reply to this email!)
The Lance Burton Teen Magic Seminar is where we help the next generation of magicians learn expert skills.
This June, Eugene Burger and I will be joined by Larry Hass and Bryce Kuhlman at the combined IBM-SAM Convention. We will be working with Lance Burton hosting the youth magic seminar. These are the magicians of the future.
Xavier Mortimer will be our special guest this month. Take a look at his amazing talent here.
Early stage – 8pm
Your Host is the versatile Tim Wise
Joe Krathwohl, The Birdman of Las Vegas
Alien Warrior Comic
Close-Up – 9 pm
Your Host is the most elegant Christian Diamond
plus! The Psychic Sideshow with Allan Scott
Late Stage – 10 pm
Katie Kenner and the Maraschino Dolls
With: NWR Dancers, LiveDJ, Art by Areeya, video by SteelFyre
At WONDERGROUND and all of my shows I encourage “PARTY-cipation!
Take a look at one of our shows, and learn from our examples of how you can move your audience from being objective witnesses into subjective participants. Objective witnesses have less responsibility, and do not participate in the action. A subjective participant is actively engaged in the magic experience. They support the show by not only applauding at appropriate moments, but also by selecting cards and helping the magician with various tasks. I use this technique all the time and I would love to teach you how to use it in your work.
We often talk about this kind of technique each week on our Mystery School Monday Show. I invite you to join us and participate with us at our online Mystery school classes!
So come join us online or at one of our shows and be PART of the fun!
See you onstage,