Method and Effect

The magic of drama is infinitely more powerful than the magic of trickery. It is as available to the conjurer as it is to the actor. The only difference is that actors take it for granted, whereas few conjurers are even aware that it exists.                                       —HENNING NELMS, Magic and Showmanship


Dear Friends:

Happy New Year to all of you, from all of us at the Magic & Mystery School! You’re in for a treat: Today’s article is by our Dean, Eugene Burger. As always, Eugene poses an interesting question for all of us. Here it is:


by Eugene Burger


This past year I received an email from Derrik A. who lives in Canada. Derrik works professionally, performing magic in a restaurant and at parties. Noting all of the exposure of magical secrets on the Internet, including the Hindu Thread which I perform, he asks: “Have you ever found yourself needing to retire any routines from your repertoire due to public exposure? I ask this because my experience is that typically once a month I am faced with a situation where an audience member will blurt out, ‘I know how he does that. I saw it online…’ during my performance.”

Interestingly, Derrik adds: “I should note that the people who behave this way are not young. The age of these people ranges from their teens to their 60’s and they seem to enjoy the opportunity of making this statement.”

My answer is no, I have never thought of retiring any effect, including the Thread trick, because it has been exposed in so many places online. As Jeff McBride often points out, the people who enjoy his performances the most are very often the ones who know exactly how the magic is methodologically accomplished. Personally, I feel that every great piece of magic has an integrity of its own and an appeal that reaches beyond knowing secrets and methods.

But there is something rather depressing here, isn’t there? As we move into the 21st century it seems that more and more emphasis is being placed on magic methods and secrets, and less emphasis is being given to magical effects. Of course, the balance between these two poles, method and effect, is constantly changing. My point, is that we are now living in a period where the balance seems to be moving steadily toward the pole of method.

Needless to say, we see this to a great extent in the many different television magic shows that are directed at little more than how the trick is done. These programs do set the cultural mindset of countless numbers of viewers. People begin to think that the really important thing about magic is how the magic is done — the method.

While the responsibility for all this may certainly exist outside me, what about my own personal responsibility for this situation? Do I have the courage to recognize that?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Very often in the performance of our magic, we spend a lot of time getting things examined and proving that everything is fair. While this can certainly add to the dramatic power of a performance, it can also put audience members in completely analytic states of mind, where their chief concern is method, how the trick is accomplished, rather than simply enjoying the effect. Too much “proving” ends up suggesting that what makes magic interesting really is the method — and, once the method is known, magic has no further interest or value.

I wonder what I can do to make this situation better.

Cherished Gifts

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” 
Neil Gaiman
Dear Friends:

Our guest author this week is our friend and advisor, Bryce Kuhlman. Enjoy!


Cherished Gifts

In preparation for our impending move to Chicago, Jenny and I spent the last several months finding new homes for many of the items we’ve collected over the past 20 years together.

As part of the process, it’s become obvious what sorts of things are important to us.

We’re now using this new understanding to guide friends and family who want to give us gifts for the holidays.

We’ve narrowed it down to three main criteria. Maybe they’ll be useful to you as you make your lists… both for others and for yourself!

Cherished Gifts


We have a lot of handcrafted items. For instance, my father is an expert wood craftsman. He makes everything from delicate tree ornaments to large contraptions with more gears than a wristwatch.

In addition, there are things that were chosen specifically for us. While they were purchased, instead of made, the amount of thought that went into the choice makes these items very personal. We have the other members of the Magic School faculty to thank for many such gifts.


Books – Movies – Art – Music

For me, this is often bleeding-edge techno gadgets… things that I can play with on the weekends to create even more interesting things.


To us, these are the best! Not only can they live a lifetime in your memory, but they take up no space and weigh nothing.

This could be something as simple as a shared dinner or a hike. It could be for fun, for relaxing… or for learning a new skill (or honing an existing one).

I’m sure you can read between the lines… the best gifts of all (at least for us) are those that combine all three!

Happy hunting…


From Abigail:

It was so lovely to see so many friends at our Yule Be Amazed holiday party.  Thank you for coming out to share in the joy of the season with us!  Some of you were asking about the mulled cider we were serving, so here is the information for you.

You start with a big pot and fill it up with a gallon of organic apple cider.

(Whole foods has them on sale now for about $7).

You add a fine mesh bag

(like this one, for $5)

with 1/2 cup of organic mulling spices.  I get mine here:

(You can get a pound of it for less than $20, which is enough for four gallons worth).

Turn the heat on medium and bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer at least 20 minutes.  While it’s doing that, stir it occasionally, thinking of things that make you happy, and moments you’re especially grateful for.  Put your best wishes for the holidays and beyond into the cider….

Have a bottle of rum nearby so folks who want to can spike theirs, and enjoy!

May the warmth of our magical fellowship burn brightly through the Winter holidays and beyond into the year to come.

Happy Everything!

From Jeff:


” The Center of the Las Vegas Magic Community” 

Thursday December 17th, 2015 – One Night Only! Never to be Repeated!


You are invited to the biggest magic party in Las Vegas!

All Info at


Comedy Magic & Variety on stage!

Will Bradshaw – Your Master of Ceremonies

William Draven – Sideshow Magic

Steelfyre – The Keeper of Enigmas

Steve Owens – The Magic of Shadow & Light

Tim Wise – Magic Beyond Reality


In the Diamond Parlor Room

Host  MC:  Christian Diamond

Michael Mirth – A Modern Mystic

William Draven – Offbeat Mysteries

Steve Owens – Close up originals

Chris Randall – the Las Vegas Kid!

10 PM  

Stage Extravaganza!

Your host – MC Tim Wise

Steve Owens – Award Winning Magic

Will Bradshaw – Magic in the Air

Chris Randall – Something Unusual!

Allen Abbott – Flights of Fancy

Skilldini – Masterful Manipulation

PLUS: Bar Magic with Zack Pattee and Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, and Randilyn

The NWR-Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and Suzanne and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

Holiday Greetings from the High Seas!


Homecoming 2015

Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven

From Lawrence Hass, Associate Dean

Homecoming 2015 

Larry and Doll

In the fall, most every school has a Homecoming weekend: alums come back, games are played, significant events are held, old friends get together, and parties abound. The Magic & Mystery School is no exception to this great, grand tradition. Our Homecoming weekend is called the Magic and Meaning Conference, and it was held at the Sunset Station Casino in Las Vegas on October 21-24, 2015.

Indeed, the Magic and Meaning Conference isn’t just an “event” or a “conference.” It is a time and place when people from all over the world come to connect with the Mystery School’s special community and reconnect with friends from other School events and classes. It is a time and place to be with people—magicians and non-magicians alike—who love magic and care about connecting the art with larger things that matter in human life.

At the heart of the Conference are 20-minute presentations from attendees on fascinating topics related to magic. Patterned on the famous TED Talks, these are our ever-popular P-E-P Talks (Performance-Entertainment-Philosophy). This year, the Conference featured 17 PEP Talks, plus interviews with Eugene Burger, Stan Allen, and Bob Neale. In addition, our special Guest of Honor was the legendary Max Maven, who delivered a 60-minute Keynote Presentation, and who was the subject of an illuminating, playful interview with Eugene Burger and myself.

Beyond the presentations and interviews, the Conference featured very strong ensemble shows hosted by Jordan Wright, Bill Cook, and Abigail McBride. It also included special magic teaching units from Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, and myself. Evening events included an opening night party at Jeff’s and Abigail’s House of Mystery and a grand closing party at the house of Simone Marron (the School’s Social Coordinator), with many Las Vegas magic luminaries in attendance. On Friday night, conference participants were invited to the Las Vegas Witch’s and Wizard’s Ball—a harvest season costume party and magic show event at the Olive restaurant. Before the Ball, our community came together for a Broken Wand Ceremony in memory of two departed friends, Larry Heil and Andy Paik.

By clicking HERE you can see the full schedule of our 2015 Homecoming Weekend.

One last thing to mention is that this year’s Conference inaugurated a new Magic & Mystery School award. Titled the “Eugenie Award,” it recognizes great service and friendship to the School, and its first two recipients were Max Maven and (I blush) myself. I was completely and entirely surprised! The team kept it from me, and that is pretty hard to do!

Larry's Eugenie

The awards themselves—shaped like gnomes with an uncanny resemblance to Eugene Burger—are hollow, and over the course of the Conference, attendees wrote notes of appreciation for the recipients and placed them inside. I am deeply honored to receive this award and by all the warm expressions of appreciation. Thank you!

The whole team is already at work on Homecoming weekend for 2016! Since next year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Magic & Mystery School, our theme will be “Honoring Eugene Burger,” who was the guest of honor at the very first Mystery School, and our special Keynote Speaker will be Bob Fitch, the extraordinary magic director and teacher.

The 2016 Magic and Meaning Conference will be held October 19-22, 2016, in Las Vegas (at a location yet to be announced). Registration has already opened for the event, and we are extending the deadline to receive a discount off the registration cost. If you sign up by December 15, you will save $30.00 off the regular registration rate of $425.00. (Please register at

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at our most recent Homecoming celebration! Our deep thanks to all our friends and alums who made the pilgrimage back home . . . and some of them for the very first time! We hope that you will consider joining us next year at our Silver Anniversary celebration, which promises to be “off the hook”!

Best wishes,

Larry Hass

McBride’s World Tour News-Muse

Jeff McBride Kabuki

McBride’s World Tour News-Muse!

All is well in Las Vegas. I’m home from the China leg of my world tour and getting ready for some corporate gigs here in town. There are more magic shows opening here in Vegas soon.  David Copperfield is inventing new “top-secret illusions” that will be added to his new show. AGT star and Mystery School student, Mat Franco is packing them in at the LINQ, Piff the Magic Dragon just opened his new show, and there are more show openings to come! Over at Mystery School we are scheduling our next season of classes and a major tour.

25 Anniversary 

25 years of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

The World tour begins in January at The Magic Castle, then on to the UK for a tour.

(contact us if you want us to travel to YOUR country!)

Take a look at this GREAT article written by our friend Jay fortune:…/Mystery_School_MSM65.pdf

Have You Seen This Masked Man?

Jesk Mask Face Off

The magic of “THE MASK” transformed my life! When I began my career, I was just a typical magician…until I found the power and mystery of “THE MASK!”

THE MASK made me different.

THE MASK helped me stand out.

THE MASK opened up a new world of dramatic possibilities!

I’ve studied and trained with masters of mask theater all over the world. I have invented many original mask-magic effects and character pieces.

Now I will share a lifetime of experience with you.

Wall of Masks

Mask, Mime & Magic

with Jeff McBride & Enrico Pezzoli

We only host this workshop once every few years….so this will be the last time we offer it for a while. Enrico is one of the Italian masters of the mask and he will share his wisdom with us. I will share many never-revealed-before techniques, and mask magic secrets.

2 day workshop with ” The Master of Masks” 

Who is this class for?

*Magicians who want to add mime, movement and mask work to their performances.

*Masked performers, mimes and movement artists who want to add magic skills to their performances.

*Anyone who is an enthusiast of magic, mime and mask work, who wants to explore and deepen their understanding of these magical art forms.

A VERY SPECIAL 2 day workshop:

In this workshop we will explore the basic elements of working with masks onstage. We begin with basic techniques and move toward classical Commedia Dell’Arte masks and characters that date back to the XIV Century, as well as some traditional elements that performing masks have in common between different cultures, (from Antique Greece till modern days, passing through China, India, and Indonesia)…we will explore them all!


Your tuition includes:

  • A white neutral mask that you will work with over the 2 days and may keep after the workshop.
  • A Certificate of Participation in this class.
  • A Mystery School Workbook

Instructors: Enrico Pezzoli & Jeff McBride

Wonderground New

WONDERGROUND Thursday Nov 19, 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 Bradshaw

8:00pm – COMEDY STAGE MAGIC SHOW- Host – Tim Wise

Luis Vega – Magic of he Mind

William Carter – A Magical Guitar song

Vinny Grosso –  Presenting something you and he have never seen

Barry Rice – Magic with a giant balloon & the yoga card trick.

9:00pm – DIAMOND PARLOR SHOW – Host – Christian Diamond

Luis Vega – Unusual secrets!

Paul Draper – Master of Mentalism

Shocker – from P&T’s FOOL US!

10:00pm – THE STAGE EXTRAVAGANZA – Host – Jeff McBride

Jeff McBride – Mask Manipulation

RJ Owens – A very funny Comedy Mentalist

Anastasia – Our favorite Femme Fatal

Niels Duinker – The MOST Awesome Juggler

Xavier Mortimer – Shadows and Light

Plus a very special Tawney Bubbles – Balloon fashion show

PLUS: Bar Magic with Zack Pattee and Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, and Randilyn

The NWR-Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

Remember friends…

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” — often attributed to Groucho Marx; but the true originator is Anthony G. Oettinger

Yours in better magic,

Jeff McBride

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