“Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
– Virginia Woolf
Abigail here, checking in from the House of Mystery in Las Vegas. Jeff’s new show, MAGIC AT THE EDGE is up and running, and everyone is having a lot of fun with WONDERGROUND on the weekends, too! During the week, Jeff still has time to work with individual students in private sessions.
Recently, one of his students was sharing how he really hates to show his wife any magic, because he feels like she’s his worst critic; she’s not enthusiastic about watching his newest effect, and is always telling him what he’s doing wrong.
Hearing him made me start thinking… As a woman in love with a magician, I am in a unique position. I’m the one, primarily, who he has the opportunity to “practice on.” So, I think one of the things a magician would benefit by remembering is to always approach with care. There’s a big difference between, “Hey, c’mere, I want to try this on you,” and “My darling, when you have a moment, I have something I’d really love to do for you.” Once I’ve had the chance to see a new effect, I need to remember that this is an expression of my beloved’s creativity, and it will do me good to respond with care as well, after all, this is the man I love, right?
Of course, I’m going to want to give honest feedback. I mean, to allow him to continue performing an effect while flashing or fumbling would be akin to sending a five year old to school with his pants on backwards. I don’t want the “other kids” to laugh, right?
I want to be sure to start with positive feedback first, so my magician doesn’t feel shot down. I’ll tell him what I liked, even if it’s just the idea behind the effect, and then I’ll tell him, clearly and kindly, what isn’t working. Often, I’ll offer my ideas on how the problem could be solved, whether it’s by shifting his finger position, changing his body posture, clarifying his script, or videotaping a move so he can see what I see. It’s all coming from a place of wanting to see him succeed, because I care… because I love him.
Part of what makes my feedback valuable is that I’m genuinely interested in magic. It’s one of the creative activities that Jeff and I share. We have other interests we share as well, like music, ballroom dancing, and fire circles. But when it comes to magic, I have nearly twenty years of experience both onstage and behind the scenes, as well as at the Magic and Mystery School. So I know what to look for, and I know the lingo….
Maybe your wife or partner doesn’t have the same extensive experience. Maybe she doesn’t know a flash from a pass, when it comes to prestidigitation. But, if she loves you, she still wants you to succeed, and she still wants to help you to grow in your creativity, just as you would want for her, right? So, remember, maybe she’s not your worst critic, but your best friend in disguise. Approach her with care; ask her nicely for her help, and you may find a wonderful ally in your magical world.
Yours in the mystery…
A few notes from Bryce:
I just got back from our first Magic & Martial Arts conference. It was a blast! Jeff and I decided that it was very much like the first year of Mystery School… a collection of very cool people with no agenda other than to explore together.
I think my favorite part of the weekend were the various demos. We watched some amazing footage of Aaron Crow freaking out audience members with martial mentalism. To even the score a bit, co-host Tom Meseroll sliced a watermelon balanced precariously on Aaron’s stomach. Other demos included some amazing Georgia Magnet work by Sensei Strange, Iron Shirt Chi Kung from Zamora and some scary chain whip moves from yours truly. I can’t wait to see the video…
While there were only nine attendees at this event (plus Jeff and myself), they will form the core group for next year’s conference. The talents present, both martial and magical, were astonishing. I was honored to have spent the week with such inspirational people.
Magic & Meaning is coming up in a few weeks. I’m really sad that I won’t be able to go, but Jen and I will be hosting some of the Shao-lin instructors here in Phoenix for our annual Elder Master visit. This year Jeff and Eugene are trying something new: they’re turning the conference into the “TED Talks” of magic. I hear Larry Hass has quite a lineup of presenters.
Finally, I want to apologize for the amount of “press” we’ve been sending you. If you’re like me, your filters are set pretty high for this type of stuff. But Jeff is really excited about the show and Wonderground and, apparently, so are the audiences and press.
Yours in better magic,