Finding Your Authentic Voice

Dear Friends,
Our guest contributor this month is Chris Herren. Jeff McBride describes Chris best when he says “Chris Herren as Faust weaves the ancient art of magic and pantomime into a rich tapestry of illusion and enchantment.”

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How did I come up with my character Faust?” Usually, the people looking to find an answer to this question are those seeking to find their own authentic voice in magic. Rather than call Faust a character or persona, I identify with Faust as an intimate expression of who I am. 
Finding your voice
Generally speaking, I believe that finding your authentic voice can be one of the most difficult things to discover. I say this because it requires us to do something that we are normally taught not to do in magic – and that is to be completely honest. Magic is an art form that requires us to keep our techniques secret, so it’s understandable that our initial instinct may discourage us from exploring a voice that exposes who we are. 
For myself, the character development of Faust was inspired from various hardships in my life. I knew that drawing on such inspirations would place me in a rather vulnerable situation. It would expose some parts of me that I felt were very private, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share this side of me, particularly on stage. My approach to developing Faust was to create something real for the audience – to contrast the stage illusions that I was performing, with authentic, true emotional expressions of who I was, and who I wanted to be. 

I recall Eugene Burger’s 1992 audio recordings Growing in the Art of Magic. The one statement that Eugene said that will always resonate with me was, “What do you want your magic to be?” It is a question I had explored when developing Faust. His question led to many questions about the direction I wanted to go, but it soon led to the most important one, “What did I want to say?” 
I believe that these two questions were vital in finding my authentic voice, so I share these very questions to those who are seeking the same thing. What do you want to say in magic? And, what do you want it to be? In Eugene’s audio recordings, he described his sponge ball routine as one of his most requested pieces of magic. However, when asking himself the very question of “What he wanted his magic to be,” Eugene found that the sponge balls did not fit his personal vision. So he ended up taking out the sponge balls from his repertoire, even though that piece of magic was very successful. 

This reflection of Eugene led me to believe that finding your authentic voice begins with the question, “What do you want your magic to be?” It’s obvious to me that Eugene knew exactly what that was for himself. He knew what fitted in that world, and excluded what didn’t. Likewise, I wanted my magic to be an honest reflection of who I was. I wanted people to be moved by emotion and story – particularly, my story. 
I believe everyone has an authentic voice to share. Whatever that may be, I believe it comes from honestly looking at who you are and what you want. Begin there, and ask the very question that Eugene has left us all with, “What do you want your magic to be?” Perhaps in asking this question, you too will find an authentic voice that has yet to be discovered.

Chris Herren as Faust, MMC
iPhone: (650) 392-4570
Facebook: Chris Herren As Faust
Promo Video:

The Life-Changing Power of First Impressions

First impressions are so powerful!
First impressions can change a person’s life. Each one of the following experiences was shocking – but each shock led to a realization, and to a life-changing transformation.
The first mask
When my father put on the werewolf mask, he scared the heck out of me. I was shocked to see my normal dad change into a super-scary monster, right before my eyes. I will always remember that moment—it made a lifelong impact on me. That was that day I knew that a mask had the power to transform a person’s life, and it changed mine…forever.
Lesson #1: Masks have the power to transform our audiences and ourselves.

The first mime I ever saw was Marcel Marceau, and I could not believe what I was seeing. Here was a man on stage with absolutely nothing—no props, no scenery, no music, and no sound—just the absolute mastery of his body and face. Marcel Marceau is regarded as one of the greatest pantomime performers of all time. He is the most famous mime the world has ever known. His amazing performance filled the entire stage and theater, and moved the audience to tears. At the finale, the audience leapt to its feet for a 10-minute standing ovation. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. 
Lesson #2: You do not need a stage full of props to make powerful theater. 

The first street magician I ever watched was Jeff Sheridan. He was a mysterious stranger in black, plucking cards from the air—from his empty hands. The crowd was magnetized by his movements and expressions. He did not speak. There was no music, just pure theater, and the powerful presence of a true master of his art. Jeff Sheridan is known as the “Father of Modern Street Magic,” and as one of the great card manipulators of all time. I had the good fortune to study magic with him for many years, and he is still one of my most influential teachers.
Lesson #3: Performing in complete silence adds power and mystery to our magic.

The lasting impressions made by these first experiences with a mask, a mime, and a silent magician helped to define my style in my early years as a performing artist. It was the combination of three powerful theatrical forces that led me to develop my own style in the world.

MASK + MIME + MAGIC = A Formula for International Success.

What is the impression you want to make with your performance? Do you want to learn new ideas, skills, and techniques to enhance your magic? Do you want to learn how to work with silence or music? Musical and magical performances can transport people beyond words to a place of incomprehensible beauty and wonder. One of the great advantages to working silently, or to a musical soundtrack is that you stand out from the crowd, and you have international appeal. Magic is a language that transcends all cultural and language barriers. I can teach you what I have found valuable, so that you, too, can experience this powerful kind of magic.

Now, for the first time ever, I am holding an online class to teach you the secrets of my magic, and how to use the skills of mime and mask to create your own unique style of magical performance. As always, all classes are recorded, and are available to registered students for a full year after the class ends. So, even if you can’t be there when the class is happening, you can still have access to all the material. Click here to open the door to a new way of performing magic:
If finances are the only thing in the way of you joining us for the amazing online experience, you should know that financial aid is available. Click here to find out more:

Magic Quiz time!
What do Penn & Teller, David Blaine, Harry Anderson and Amazing Jonathan all have in common? They all began their careers with street magic. In fact, many of the world’s most famous magicians began as street performers, and the skills they learned helped them in their careers. Now, it’s your turn to learn the secrets of the masters.

Join us for a three-day journey into the heart and art of street magic.

Who is this class for?

  • Magicians interested in learning how to perform more powerful magic.
  • Anyone interested in the performance, business, art, and history of street magic.
  • Performers who want to learn how to capture attention, and control an audience.
  • Performers who want to make more money with their magic, or travel the world with their show.
  • Magicians who want to learn the techniques to work the streets, and how to apply them to other venues.    

These classes will teach you to:

  • Learn new street-tested magic routines that will delight your audiences.
  • Gain confidence and learn how to control your audience.
  • Develop your character and showmanship skills.
  • Polish your presentations.
  • Have fun, and make money at the same time.

Go here for all info:

Newsflash: Women in Magic.

Las Vegas headliner Jen Kramer will be our guest online for Mystery School Monday at 7:00 pm Pacific time on May 2. This is an “Open House” and a free class, so just go to Remember, Monday is a school night!

When you visit Las Vegas.

Abigail and I are opening our Mystery School to visiting magic students who would like a private class and tour. To arrange your exclusive experience, please contact Abigail at 702-450-0021, or send her an email at

See you online, or here at Mystery School in Las Vegas!


We Are Leaving!

Jeff & Abigail run off to the mountains to get some inspiration…then bring it back for you

We are leaving!

We are running away from Las Vegas!, but just for a few days!

As I write this, Abigail and I are on top of a mountain snuggled in our cozy log cabin next to the fireplace. We look out onto the snow-capped peaks of the spring mountains. Bluejays, deer, and the occasional pack of wild horses pass by our window. We come up here a few times a year to get away, to rest, recharge, and get re-inspired. We also catch up with our letter writing and answering questions about our school. One of the frequently asked questions is…

How can I develop a better character?

The answer is simply to learn more about theater arts, and how to use movement and mime on stage. When I started to add theater arts to my magic show, my show stood out. It was very different from “a guy just doing magic tricks!” The addition of pantomime, mask-work, and movement theater got people’s attention in a powerful way, and my bookings increased dramatically! I also could travel the world and could perform for people in any country. Now, I am gathering some of my good friends for a one-time only online experience, and you are invited.

Magic is an international language that transcends all language and cultural barriers.

Announcing a one-time only online magic training experience – Mime, Mask and Magic! Join Jeff McBride, Avner the Eccentric, and pantomime artist Chris Herren in an exploration of the powerful art of silent storytelling, and learn how to expand your markets beyond cultural and language boundaries. Note: all classes will be recorded so you can watch at any time!

For more info on how to join us, CLICK HERE

Mentorship can help make your dream come true
Over the years, we have helped many magicians transform their aspirations into reality. Listen to mentorship student Chris Herren share the story of his dream to work at the world famous Magic Castle. Here is his dream come true!

Make your dream become a reality! Watch this and learn how!

How do the secrets of magic get handed down?
Have you ever wondered how the secrets of magic get handed down from generation to generation? Lance Burton knows how, and has been doing it for years – and for free! We are excited to announce that the Lance Burton Teen Seminar will be taking place in-person and live, two days before and during the 2022 I.B.M. Convention.

Lance, Jeff and Mystery School faculty and friends will be teaching at the Lance Burton Teen Seminar at the I.B.M. convention this summer, and they would love for you to join them!

The seminar is free to all I.B.M. Youth Members between the ages of 13 and 19. Attendance is limited and spaces are filling up fast, so apply now because we are already almost sold out. For more information and to sign up, click here. Download the application form, complete it, and email it back to us at – ASAP!

The seminar dates are July 11-13, 2022, with extra hours during the convention. Learn from some of the greatest magic teachers in the world including Lance Burton, Jeff McBride, Larry Hass, and several surprise guests. Additionally, the first forty I.B.M. Members under the age of 18 to register for the convention can register for free! Don’t delay, as only a small amount of free registrations remain. Register for the convention by clicking here.

We are so excited to be able to offer you this incredible opportunity this summer, and hope to hear from you soon.

By the time you read this, we will be back from the mountains and helping folks like you learn wonderful magic. Mystery School is back, and open for your private class online, or if you are visiting Las Vegas, please email Abigail to set up a time for your special private class –, or call her at 702-450-0021.

New Year! New Show?

Dear Friends,
Our guest contributor this month is Napoleon Ryan. Napoleon is an actor, magician and children’s entertainer based in Los Angeles.

It’s March, 2022! Wherever you are, spring has sprung or fall has fallen! 
After two years performing virtual magic, our live in-person shows are released from hibernation. Due to the hiatus, those shows can feel new to a repeat audience (and to us), even if we are performing the same repertoire from before the pandemic. But, if we constantly perform the same shows to the same people in the same area, or the same market, sooner or later we will be forced to look for new audiences. If we customize and revamp our shows, or design new shows, we can (potentially) play the same audiences forever! 
As the world gradually reopens, we have an opportunity to devise something fresh for the times. Since I tend to see the same audiences again, creating new shows is also a necessity. So, how do we develop a new show? And how can we do it quickly, and with minimal pain? What strategies can help?
Getting our first show together and testing it in front of an audience until it gets to a worthy standard can feel like a difficult ‘trial and error’ process  – and not a short one. In a discussion with Kozmo on the DVD Kiddin’ Around, Chris Capehart commented that many magicians have an excellent primary show, but fewer have an excellent second or third show ready to perform at a moment’s notice. However, with one honed show already in our repertoire, it is possible to replicate its best qualities, and leverage its structure to quickly create another similarly successful, but different show.
Some time ago, Jay Leslie from the House of Enchantment wrote a fascinating online blog post about structuring his performances. He needed to rapidly replicate and devise new shows each year for repeat clients and repeat audiences. The new show would be completely different in terms of theme and individual effects and routines, but the formula or structure underpinning the show would remain the same, improving the efficiency of the show creation process. If we don’t have our own formula already, we can create one, and replicate the show we currently perform. One action that has helped me immensely with this process is writing show reports.

I’ll admit that I don’t always know exactly what I am going to perform before I do a show. A lot of my magic can be a spontaneous and semi-improvised response to the performance environment, and the energy of the audience. I definitely make a plan, but I may depart from it entirely depending on what happens. For example, one of my recent shows started with a cry of “Stop that goat!” Then I had to help a trainer lasso the escaping animal before it fled up the street never to be seen again. (The llama, pony and ten rabbits were more compliant).
After the show I will write a report. The show report can be a fully detailed account of an individual show, or just a simple record of the running order of what routines were performed. Once several show reports or running order lists have been compiled, patterns emerge and the lists quickly become a valuable data resource for what effects work well with particular audiences, as well as a template for future shows for that kind of audience. 
For repeat clients, I can refer back to the lists, and know within a couple of minutes what routines I have already performed. The information helps me devise a new program for the repeat audience from my current repertoire, and even suggests the character of new routines to pursue. Incidentally, when I am away from home, I tend to keep my show reports in a Notes App on my iPhone, so that I can quickly find one by searching for a keyword, name, or event date. That way I can double check something, if I need to, before I start a show.
The great thing about a show report, and especially the running order, is that it becomes a concise bullet point skeleton of our show script. Freed from wading through the entire script, we quickly get an overview of the shape of the show. Analyzing the nature of the routines on the running order, their position in the performance, and their relationship to each other, and the overall theatrical experience becomes a lot easier. The structure of a show that might have evolved organically in performance over many years is clear. 
With this information, when devising new shows, we start to see what items to switch out or substitute on the set list, if we have to customize a script for a particular audience. We notice if we need to add or replace a running gag that helps maintain or hinder the momentum of the show between individual routines. If we are striving to create a particular dramatic effect or magical experience, we begin to recognize opportunities to layer important narrative elements or other information earlier into the show before the big revelation.

If you have never made a show report before, all you need to do is write down a list of what you currently perform in your act. Then, describe and analyze each routine. What does it consist of in terms of effects and props? What is its nature (dramatic or comedic, a demonstration of skill, an evocative storytelling piece, an audience participation routine?) What function does it serve within your overall show (an opportunity to build rapport with the audience, a palate cleanse, a climax of energy?) Once we understand our current shows, we can replicate their structures, but add new repertoires that might be suitable for other acts. 
Making further lists can be very useful. An inventory of our magic props, and especially our gimmicks, noting what they do, is a springboard to working, on and devising new repertoire. Composing lists of effects and routines, and plots and presentations that are similar, and comparing them, can inspire us to turn away and look in more varied directions. I might avoid apparatus that looks or feels from an audience’s perspective too similar to another prop or routine already in my repertoire. 
For example, the ABC Blocks, Cube a Libre and the Strat-O-Sphere might seem too superficially similar to each other for a repeat audience, though the method, routine or presentation of a routine with those props could be markedly different. The same might apply to the Peripatetic Walnuts and the Cups & Balls. However, I am very happy to use a similar method from a routine in one show as the method for a routine with a completely different prop in another show.
Knowing what repertoire to work on next to create new shows all starts with being deeply aware of what we already perform, and what we have performed in the past, and that requires keeping thorough and accessible show records.

Kick Ass with Confidence

Transforming Fear into Power
I was so scared riding the bus to school! Mike and Pat were the bullies on the Rock Hill school bus, and they picked on all the little kids. They had failed a few grades, and they were much bigger than us. I was always afraid of getting my ass kicked.
When summer came, my folks sent me away to basketball camp, but I didn’t spend any time on the court. I went directly to the martial arts class. I studied Judo for a year, then Aikido and also Karate. I will always remember my first martial arts teacher, and the confidence he helped me to build.

“Judo Jeff” in his 1st class, learning that martial arts is much more than kicking ass!
Kutcher’s Sports Academy, near Monticello, New York, 1968

Meeting the Master
My first martial arts teacher was not anything like the movie The Karate Kid. He was no Mr. Miyagi. My “sensei” was from Essex, England, and had a thick British accent. His name was Steve Peck, and he taught me the discipline of martial arts – and that training the mind and body was more than just learning how to kick ass.

“Don’t mess with Jeff!”  After my first lessons I never got into a schoolyard fight again.

After the first day of class something changed. I had new confidence. When I returned from summer camp, none of the kids in my neighborhood or in the schoolyard ever picked on me again. I had something inside of me now that people could feel that said, “Don’t mess with Jeff!”
After I took my first lesson in martial arts, I never got into a schoolyard fight again. All I needed was a bit of confidence to push past my self imposed limitations. Having a proper teacher gave me a little push and the confidence I needed, and now it is a pleasure to pass on the power of confidence to others…you!
Confidence is the Fire that Burns in Your Soul
Here is a video of magical fire juggler and flow artist, Kevin Axtell, who has been my student for a few years. Kevin loves magic. He started taking online classes with me, and just a few weeks ago he came in for a three-day private training. Listen to why he is so lit up.

The Best Way to Learn and Grow in the Art of Magic
Personal training is the way to go, and now it is easier than ever. Let us know when you are visiting Las Vegas, and we can arrange a private lesson. If you’re not planning a trip, no problem! We can meet in our convenient online classroom –
Just call Abigail to set up your private online or live class with Jeff at (702) 450-0021, or email Abigail at

One Last Thought
This might be your breakthrough year – but you have to take the first steps. In closing, one last important thought by master Bruce Lee.
Keep inspired,

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