Insure Against “Loss of Mystery”

Our Museletter contributor this month is long-time Magic & Mystery School member Byron Gray. Byron addresses a subject at the very heart of magical performances – mystery – and shares how we can reclaim this powerful concept and bring it into the lives of those we entertain.

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon 

For this month’s Museletter I’m going to tie some loose threads together from my previous Museletter entry, and my recent appearance on Mystery School Monday. And then, I have a question and an idea for you.
After appearing with Franklin Williams on episode 675 of Mystery School Monday, I received a question about my fictitious insurance company “Newling & Grey” that insures against “loss of mystery.” What’s that all about?
In 2006, U.K. artist John Newling created the “Preston Market Mystery Project.” Newling set up a stall in an outdoor market in Preston, Lancashire. In three days, he  collected 280 mysteries from curious market-goers. Their personal mysteries touched upon strange coincidences, paranormal encounters, lost items etc. In exchange for their mystery, they received a jar of coins, and a certificate insuring the recipient against  “loss of mystery.” 

A sample of some of the mysteries collected

This was only one phase of a three-phase project, and the details leading up to this project in itself would make for a great read and inspiration. But “why?” In the book The Preston Market Mystery Project, Newling states: 
“In each (mystery), the human instinct to give reasons and to try to rationalize the event is evident. It is a primary instance of survival to be able to detect causality…in a society that has profoundly moved towards the audit of our activities. The market place seems a fine context to sell insurance against loss of mystery.” (Newling)  
Please keep in mind that this was published in 2008 before the social media boom and “the big blue machine” that is Facebook and Meta! “The audit of our activities.” Eek! 
Fast forward almost a decade. I was practicing giving answers for a classic Q&A act, and I was just not happy with my feelings about it. (I’m also in Wyoming, and trying to sell this act to local markets was not panning out.) When I heard about this project, the idea of being a trustee of my audience’s mysteries appealed to me, and so I thought that revealing mysteries as a Q&A act would be a compromise.  
Being the ethical person I am, I felt I needed to get Mr. Newling’s blessing to elaborate on his initial premise. Much to my surprise, he gave me an emphatic “Yes” (and a few other arrangements to make sure he wasn’t forgotten.) And so, “Newling & Grey” was born! 
To date, a handful have “collected on their policies” in their time of need. Their personal mystery is a reminder that in the darkest of times, a light can be found in the form of something inexplicable that happened to them.

The 281st Mystery

The Preston Market Mystery Project was one of the books mentioned in my previous Museletter entry regarding favorite books, albeit very vaguely, so now you have the  complete story! So, with all that preamble, I’d like to touch upon two ideas concerning “mystery.” 

1. Ask yourself “What does ‘mystery’ mean to me?”

Sometimes asking Google and ChatGPT this question might leave you cold. Great! When that happens, you must dare to look inwards and find the answer yourself. We’re all magicians and it should come as no surprise that we are in the “mystery  business.” We are the ambassadors of mystery. We’re supposed to be that most welcome wrench in the cogs of the mundane machine. Asking yourself this question can help inform your role and your approach to magic.

2. Become a Trustee of Mystery!

You certainly don’t need to go to the lengths that I have to be a “trustee of  mystery.” A fun exercise for creating new presentations (and in turn giving your viewer a slice of mystery) is writing down all the wonderful mysteries that have happened to  you. Now, ask yourself if you can replicate that mystery live through a similar magical effect.  

Three of these mysteries are in my show and I consider them to be “forever pieces.” It’s in these performances that I hope my audiences will be consciously aware of  wonder and mystery in their lives (instead of looking down at their phones all the time). As you can see, mystery means a LOT to me!  

Until next time, may your lives stay filled with mystery. 

– Byron Grey 

Newling, John. The Preston Market Mystery Project, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, 2008, p. 15.

Ready for a Trailblazing Adventure in Magic?

“In order to give your audience a magical experience, you must first have a magical experience, for you cannot give a gift you do not possess” – Jeff McBride, The Magic & Mystery School

Ask Yourself These Three Questions
1. How can I make my life more meaningful and magical?
2. How can I take my life and my magic to the next level?
3. Where do I go to learn the real secrets of magic from the masters?
I remember listening to Eugene Burger at one of our Master Classes. He lowered his voice and whispered to me, “The real secrets of magic are not in books or DVDs. The real secrets are handed down from the master to the student…in whispers.” 

Sunrise at Stonehenge – Master teacher Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride sharing a magical adventure. When will you have your next magical adventure?

Eugene and I toured the world many times, and we so loved sharing our magic with students. Every time we traveled, we opened ourselves to meeting new friends, having new experiences, and expanding our magical knowledge. Now, we continue that tradition of creating magical experiences, and you are invited.

Choose Your Own Adventure

We have created many new magical experiences with you in mind. Take a look at the following experiences! How many of the four will you choose?

1. The 7-Day Master Class – a journey that will change your magic forever.
2. Secrets of Award Winning Magic – an online Zoom class.
3. Is there really a Solo Show Boot Camp training week for magic?
4. The all-new McBride Festival of Magic experience!

Find out the details of your next magical adventure here:

Live In-Person – Classes at the Magic & Mystery School
When you attend our classes you will learn the real secrets of Masters Magicians, see great shows, enjoy lectures, and receive hands-on training, all while experiencing the greatest magic city in the world – Las Vegas!

Is There Such a Thing as a Magic Spa?

Many of our students say that a day visiting the Magic & Mystery School is like attending a “Magic Spa.”  We create a safe space for magical exploration, and do our best to nurture your personal magic and inspire you with our magical training sessions.

“Through the art of magic, we become alchemists of perception, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.” – Alan Moore

Fire Magic 2024! Learn the Secrets of the Fire Shaman

Now you can join us for two amazing days of fire, magic, and special effects, where you will learn the secrets of the shamans and fire sorcerers! Learn how to mix the special powders and potions, and how to manipulate fire in your performances.

Join us May 4–5 in Las Vegas for an incredible two-day training in the art and practice of fire magic. You will learn new skills, exciting techniques, and unique performance dynamics that you can apply to your own magic in a variety of ways. Gain the wisdom of powders and potions, sparkles and flashes, candles and combustibles, and much more. This event will feature significant hands-on experience with these techniques, and proper fire safety will be fully covered as well.
Lead instructor Fire Arts expert Kevin Axtell, and special guest teacher Master Magician Jeff McBride, invite you to join them on an exciting journey into the world of modern pyromancy. Elevate and ignite your magic to new heights at Fire Magic 2024!    
Regular Ticket Link (currently $450)
The Mystery School Discount code link ($350)
Become a Member of Our Online School
Become a member at and join us on Zoom every Monday night for a live magic class.

Tune into the live webcast each Monday night on, and enjoy the special guests, celebrity interviews, prize giveaways, product reviews, and magic wisdom from the world’s leading magicians.
See you online or in person as we host your next magical adventures here in Las Vegas!
Jeff and Abigail McBride

Manifesting Dreams – Mystery School Star Student Rachel Ling Gordon on FOOL US!

News Flash! Jeff McBride’s Star Student Rachel Ling Gordon on Fool Us!

Rachel Ling Gordon – the youngest magician ever to appear on Penn & Teller: Fool Us!

Rachel Ling Gordon has achieved remarkable feats, including a lead role on a Broadway National Tour, and an upcoming historic appearance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us Season 10. Tune in to the CW Network at 8:00 pm ET on February 2 to witness Rachel’s enchanting performance, making her the youngest magician in the show’s ten-season history.
Healing Magic 
At the age of eleven Rachel has already achieved what some can only dream of – overcoming childhood anxiety and transforming her life through unwavering dedication to her craft. From being mute as a child to touring the country on the Broadway National Tour of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” playing the lead role of Cindy Lou Who, Rachel has proven that magic can truly happen in the face of adversity. A true inspiration, Rachel serves as an Ambassador for the Selective Mutism Association and SMart Center, sharing her transformative journey from silence to a stage filled with music and magic.

Jeff McBride passing on the secrets of magic to the next generation

Magic Mentoring on Zoom
Jeff and Rachel have been meeting every month on Zoom for magic lessons. Now you can see the results, and her mesmerizing performance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, celebrating her incredible journey from selective mutism to enchanting audiences worldwide. For more details on Rachel’s inspiring story visit Selective Mutism Association and SMart Center at Explore Rachel’s world at and follow her on Instagram @rachelingordon.
Renowned magician and illusionist David Copperfield expressed his excitement to watch Rachel shine. “Rachel Ling Gordon is a rising star who inspires us all with her magic and extraordinary talents,” Copperfield praised. Las Vegas headliner and holder of several World Guinness Records, Jeff McBride echoed the sentiment, stating, “Only one magician has ever performed in Las Vegas at the age of eleven years old, and her name is Rachel Ling Gordon. She is an exceptional talent.”
Meet Jay Fortune
Our Museletter contributor this month is Jay Fortune. Jay is a successful magician, artist and author. In this article, Jay shares his secret four-step process for manifesting dreams into reality.

What cooking broccoli teaches us about dreaming. In this post, I talk about why we should let our dreams simmer before we begin scheming and acting – allowing our subconscious to tweak, tease, and play with the dream.

Manifesting Dreams
Friends, forgive me, but I need to start with a bit of trumpet blowing. There is a reason, I assure you. When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a professional magician. However, no one around me had a clue how to do that or, indeed, if it were even possible. Could someone make a living from simply doing magic tricks? All I knew was that there were people doing it (Jeff, of course, being one, as I first watched him on TV when I was about eight or nine. Little did I know we’d go on to become good friends, and tour and perform together many times.) I innocently thought if they can do it, so can I. 
Skip forward three decades, the latter two of which I spent as a professional magician making a good living. (Just a bit more trumpet blowing, and I’ll get to the reason for doing so. Please bear with me.) Next, I dreamed of becoming a pro artist. Again, another apparently “impossible” hobby to turn into a living. Within twelve months, I had my work in over sixty high-end galleries. and a growing number of collectors worldwide. 
Last bit of trumpeting. (I promise.) I wanted to add another string to my bow and dreamed of becoming a pro writer. A year later I had a publisher, my first paperback out in bookshops, and my first screenplay commission (oh, and a ton of rejection letters). That’s three hobbies that I turned into a well-paid living. OK, that’s the trumpet blowing done. Now to the point of all this. (thanks for sticking with me.)
In that time, many friends and colleagues reached out to me asking how I’d made the jump from hobby to profession. It got me thinking about the process I use. After toying with various ways to bring that knowledge to a wider audience, I created “The Dream-Maker’s Manifesto.” 

The Dream-Maker’s Manifesto
The Dream-Makers Manifesto is my long-form blog on Substack, and is free to join. (See the note at the bottom of this for a special offer for our community.) In the blog, I distill the process I have created over the last twenty years on turning a dream into an income stream. In each post, I share the knowledge and formula on how I get paid doing what I love, whether it’s in magic, art, or writing. 
Here’s my basic four-step process which you can use to manifest your own dreams, from a single project through to a full-blown business, whether creating a magic trick for the market, or to becoming a full-time performer. 
Dream It, Scheme It, Do It, Prove It
First, we have to Dream It. Seems obvious, right? Sure, but creating the space, the mindset, and the habit of constant dream creation requires discipline, courage, and focus. 
Next, we have to Scheme It. The dream has got our creative energy fired up, but do the numbers stack up? Scheming what you have in mind is the next vital step to prevent wasted time, energy, and cash. (Trust me, these lessons are hard-won and I speak from experience.) 
After the scheming, we have to Do It. Action beyond thinking and plotting is the next step to making our dreams a reality. But the action should be focused and dedicated. 
Then the final step. We must Prove It. Yes, we need to get that first client, customer, friend, or foe to part with cash, and pay us for what we have dreamed up. 

Why my New Year’s Resolution was to do absolutely nothing! Just one blog example of how I create the creative mindset required to best manifest dreams.

The Dream-Maker’s Manifesto Blog
In The Dream-Maker’s Manifesto blog, I tease out many examples from my own journey, and other strategies within each of these four main steps that you can use to manifest your dreams. I discuss how I cultivate a creative mindset, how I balance creative work with wellbeing, (and again, I speak from hard-won experience, having had a breakdown in my mid-30s when I didn’t take care of myself and was endlessly pursuing the dream.) And, how I lead a life full of creativity turning dreams into a livelihood. 
The blog was begun in September 2023, and is gradually building in content and subscribers. I’d love for creatives in our community to join me in the ride. If you wish to find out more, you can subscribe for FREE at, and if you choose to support my writing and sign up for a year, I’ll gift you the following year completely free – all to help make your dreams become a reality. (Unless, as I say in my introduction to the blog, you have plans for World Domination as an Evil Genius, in which case, you’re on your own.) 
Sure, my way isn’t the only way, but I have proven the concept time and again for making a creative idea turn into an income. Either way, remember to make your dreams a reality, first Dream It (and cultivate a life where you can create good dreams and ideas consistently.) Scheme It (make sure you plan as much as you can before spending the first cent in investing in your future or building anything.) Do It (put those plans into action and start making the dream a reality.) And, finally, Prove It (get that first paying customer.)
Sweet Dreams! 
Jay Fortune

Yes, We Did!

From the Dean, Dr. Larry Hass
At the heart of our mission at the Magic & Mystery School is our Scholarship Program that provides need-based financial aid to magicians who need a “hand-up” getting their magic education with us. The program was founded in 2012 and, since then, has provided over $115,000.00 in financial aid to over 280 magicians with demonstrated need.
Over the years, the School has received many direct donations to the Scholarship Fund, but the primary avenue for the fund’s growth is by people signing up to become MEMBERS of the Online Magic & Mystery School. Indeed, a substantial portion of every membership fee goes directly into the fund.
Recently, we decided to create a report of our activities and services delivered in 2023. This is being sent to our current members, but we also felt readers of the Museletter might appreciate seeing what we have been up to this past year! So, here is Abigail’s…

Abigail’s 2023 Annual Report
We have been reviewing some of our accomplishments and dreams that we manifested in 2023, here at the Magic & Mystery School, and wanted to take a moment to share some of them with you.  We are so grateful for your ongoing support, and all the ways you help us to “improve the art of magic, one magician at a time.”
Did you know? In 2023:
We offered 26 classes, both online and live in Las Vegas, Chicago and Maryland, which more than 600 students attended.  
We awarded 46 students just under $14,000.00 of need based financial aid to attend these classes.
Jeff had 120 students come through the Mentorship program, many of whom went on to win magic competitions, Got Talent shows, and be seen on Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
We successfully opened and ran the Eugene Burger Séance Show experience to sold out capacities, thanks to an anonymous kind donation from one of our students.
It is only because of your generous support and interest that we are able to continue our mission, and there are many ways you can help us!  
One is to become a member of our Online School, or raise the level of your membership if you’re already in! All the information on that is here:
You can also make a donation to the Scholarship Fund, which provides need-based financial aid to magicians who need a hand up to get their magical education:
Or you can make a donation to the School’s General Fund, by sending through PayPal to with the word “General” in the comment box, or by check to McBride Magic, Inc., 3132 Shadowridge Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89120.
On behalf of the Faculty and Staff of the Magic & Mystery Schoolthank you for making a real difference for real people!  If you have any questions or thoughts, please connect with me. We appreciate you!

A Thank You from Larry

Let me also extend my appreciation for your participation in our classes and events, and for your generous support of the Scholarship Program. Magicians frequently ask if they are MEMBERS of the Online School, or how they can sign up to receive its benefits and support the Scholarship Fund. Here’s how!

1. To see if you are already a MEMBER, go to the MEMBERSHIP page and sign in at:  If you are unable to sign in, it means you are not a member or that your annual membership has lapsed.

2. To become a MEMBER (or re-activate your membership), please go to that page and read about all the benefits that come with each level: Supporting, Premier, or Gold Circle, and please join!

Again, thank you for being a part of our worldwide community of magicians who seek to deepen our knowledge and craft of magic at the same time we elevate the art as a whole!

All the best for the new year and beyond,

Larry Hass, Abigail, and Jeff McBride
And all your friends at McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

The Unanswered Question

Our Museletter contributor this month is Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz, faculty member of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School, owner of the Rhapsody Theater in downtown Chicago, and our own Physician Magician. Ricardo leads us into a new year with a personal story of his empowering experience with an inspirational figure.

The Unanswered Question
“A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers.” – Leonard Bernstein
With this quote from Leonard Bernstein, the new movie Maestro begins to tell the story of the enigmatic, and somewhat turbulent relationship between the brilliant musician and his equally talented wife Felicia. More on the quote later. 
I was privileged to know Leonard Bernstein. We met while I was a medical student in New York, in 1987. For several years, I enjoyed backstage conversations with Maestro Bernstein every time he performed in New York. Going to see him backstage afforded me some of the most special moments of my life in New York City. Whether it was Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, or an occasional outdoor concert in the summer, visiting Lenny backstage was always cathartic. When I was speaking with him, it was as if no one else existed. He was genuinely interested in my life as a medical student and in what I was thinking and experiencing at that time.

One day, after a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, the “Resurrection” Symphony, I was feeling devastated. I was a third-year medical student doing my internal medicine rotation, and that day I had lost my first patient; he was a talented twenty-seven-year-old American Ballet Theater dancer. That was New York in the 1980s.
Backstage, Lenny was sitting in a beanbag chair, wearing a silk robe, cigarette in one hand and silver tumbler with a scotch on the rocks in the other. He saw me a bit dejected and asked what was wrong.
“I just lost my first patient, a ballet dancer,” I said. 
“AIDS?” he asked.
I nodded.
He put his cigarette in his mouth, and held my hand as he took a long and pensive puff. Then, speaking with the cigarette to the side, he said, “Mierda.”
Then, he handed me the silver tumbler, “Double R (that’s what he called me), you need this more than I do.” I took the tumbler in both hands and drank, as if I was imbibing a religious drink handed to me by the high priest of the order. 
La vida sigue,” he said in perfect Spanish, life goes on. Turning serious he continued, “Honor his memory with your profession.” Months later I was doing research in Cryptosporidiosis, an infection commonly seen in AIDS patients of that era. 

Leonard Bernstein was as inspirational a person as anyone I’ve met, including Eugene Burger. First and foremost, he was brilliant. His understanding of music was informed by his profound knowledge of history, philosophy, science, and the human condition. And then there was his empathy. He truly was everyone’s friend. His capacity to love transcended beyond the understanding of most. 
As I reflect into the New Year, and being reminded of Bernstein through this new movie, I now see his lessons not just in the realm of medicine, but also in our land of theatrical magic. For one, Bernstein never belittled his audience; instead, he glorified them. From his children’s concerts to the Omnibus TV series, Bernstein always assumed that his audience was smart, engaged, and capable of discovering a deeper layer of meaning in his art. He was at ease discussing Prokofiev and Rachmaninov with eight-year-old youths, enriching their ability to better experience even the most complex music without “dumbing it down.” 
Also, Bernstein was ever the teacher and colleague. He taught in a way that seemed more of a collaboration of thought than a lecture. This is not to say that he wasn’t steadfast with his ideas, which he was, but he allowed room for learning through discovery rather than dogma; a profound way to educate. We would do well to approach our audiences and collaborators with the same passion, empathy, and respect that Lenny offered the people who crossed paths with him. These are simple and effective lessons. 

“A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers,” Bernstein said. He understood that all good art is a respectful, passionate, empathetic conversation. And the big insight for me was that I was in as much of a conversation with him during the performance as I was backstage afterwards. 
Looking back at the wonderful year of performances I enjoyed at the Rhapsody Theater in 2023, I have come to understand that I am indeed in a conversation with my audience throughout the evening. And that I do want to instill deep thought and reflection as we move forward in the show. I’m not afraid to challenge my audience intellectually, as they are my cherished equals. Elegant, thoughtful language and complex ideas are understood by everyone, regardless of age. What varies is their lived experience, and how they respond to the conversation in their own terms.

 And isn’t that what a conversation should be? A plethora of responses to an honest question? As Bernstein notes, the true meaning of our art is born of the tension it creates. Tension, even unresolved tension, is important to our own magical art. It awakens our senses.
As I explored Brahms, Prokofiev, and Mahler in my youth, Lenny empowered me. He helped shape the questions I needed to ask. Questions, some of them unanswered to this day, that spilled over into my everyday life. Existential catharsis, I might call it.
These days I hope that audiences visiting my theater walk out with questions, ideas, and empowerment. It is existential catharsis for our times.  Happy New Year to each and every one of you. May you shine bright on stage and may your audience glow in the reflection of your love for them. 

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