Artistic Insights on Eugene Burger

From the Dean, Larry Hass:

This month’s Museletter is a beautiful offering from the School’s dear friend, Michael Caplan. As you will read, Michael had a profound friendship with Eugene, and was his photographer, videographer, and partner in several important projects. So many essential images of Eugene, so much of what we know about him, came to us because of Michael’s creative talents. Enjoy learning about their extraordinary collaboration!

From Michael Caplan:

I took my first photograph of Eugene in Chicago in 1978. He was performing Hauntings, his tribute to 19th Century Spiritualism, and his first performance of magic as an adult. I was in college and Eugene was twenty years older than me, but from the start, I knew I had met an artistic and spiritual mentor. As Eugene’s career as a magician and teacher of magic grew, I was able to be a witness to his path toward becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed close-up magicians and philosophers of the history and performance of magic. 

Over the years, I collaborated with Eugene to create the photos that appeared on the covers and on the pages of most of his books. I also had the privilege of photographing many of Eugene’s performances, and capturing his personal time with a remarkable group of magicians, from the late Tony Andruzzi to Max Maven.

As I transitioned to film and video production, Eugene became a natural subject for my work, and we produced three remarkable teaching videos, Eugene Goes Bizarre, Real Secrets of Close-up Magic, and Gourmet Close-up Magic.

My artistic path in film and video was inspired by Eugene’s work in magic. His focus on creativity above technique, storytelling, and engaging the audience, all guided me in the work I directed and produced. Also, as a teacher of film, I was sparked by Eugene’s clarity and the shape of his lessons.

My initial work in the 1990s was focused on producing multiple award-winning feature films, but in the early 2000s, I shifted my focus to documentaries. 

My first documentary was about my father’s experience and escape from Nazi Germany. My second work, A Magical Vision, not surprisingly, was about Eugene and his community of non-traditional magicians. I spent five years traveling around the country, shooting the final Mystery School retreat in 2003, and the first Theory and Art of Magic events at Muhlenberg College. A Magical Vision has won multiple awards and was screened around the world, from Chicago to India. 

Since then, I have produced several other films, all of which have been seen around the world, and I have taught film production for the last 21 years at Columbia College Chicago. I am also pleased to say that I shot some of Eugene’s last performances, which were with Larry Hass at Austin College in 2016. 

I am presenting a video of Eugene from 1988, drawn from the very first footage I shot of him. We were at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, which is a grand cemetery, and was one of Eugene’s favorite places to go. Some of Chicago’s most famous luminaries are buried there, and our being there inspired Eugene to recite a poem from Chicago’s premiere poet, Carl Sandburg. It is a very Zen poem about death and acceptance. It seems very appropriate for a tribute to Eugene. 

I probably would not have become a professional filmmaker and college professor, if I had not known Eugene. I was not a magician, and I never wanted to learn how Eugene did his tricks—though I couldn’t avoid learning some of them. But, Eugene’s teachings and his approach to magic was not just about magic performance—it was about the magic of storytelling, the magic of creativity, and the magic of community. Most importantly, it was about self-knowledge,  learning about who you are, what matters to you, and what you want to share with the world. If you can learn about yourself, then you can be an artist and a teacher.

One of my favorite Yiddish words is mensch. It literally means a person—a human being. But what it really means is to be a person with integrity, morality and love, and that is what I learned from watching Eugene perform over forty years. It was to be a mensch.

For more information:

A Magical Vision: The World of Eugene Burger is available from:

Stop Wasting Your Time – Get Your Act Together!

OK…you have lots of magic tricks, but not a real world-class show. What is your next step?

This could be the most important class you take in 2021.
This coming Saturday and Sunday is the time to get your act together. Now you can take the magic that you already own, and perform and learn professional techniques you can use to transform your individual effects into a fully formed magic experience! 

Get Your Act Together!
The 7 Stages of Show Flow!
An all-new Class with Jeff McBride

For the first time ever online, you can learn the real professional secrets to effective show building. 
Jeff McBride has been building shows for all types of venues from close-up to the largest theaters in the world. He’s worked with top professionals to design their shows, and to transform their business.
For all levels and experience. All classes will be recorded so you can watch on demand!

Whether your passion is close-up, parlor, or stage, the seven steps are essential ingredients to creating and building an effective show. You already have a repertoire of tricks, but now you can learn Jeff’s “real magic formula” that is tried, true, and tested among professionals in close-up venues, and on stages around the world.
Real Secrets – Real Teachings! The information in this class is not available on any DVD, video, or book!
In this unique class, jeff will share his 50 years of performing experience with you.

  • Learn how to grab the attention of the room. 
  • Learn how to tell your personal story in a powerful way.
  • Learn the real secrets of audience interaction and getting full participation.
  • Learn how to transition in between effects. This is where most performers fail.
  • Learn professional secrets on how to get the audience on their feet!
  • Learn new magic effects and routines to add to your repertoire.
  • Experience two wonderful days filled with wisdom, fellowship, and good cheer.

Register Now!

Student of the Month – Willie Yee
Meet the Master of Vulcan Magic!

Willie Yee, M.D. came to magic late in life, at the age of 72, several years after he had retired from a career as a psychiatrist. He was involved in a Star Trek fan film project where he met Terry Morgan, a student of Walter Gibson. Terry took him under his wing, and soon declared that Dr. Yee was the fastest learning student he ever had. Dr. Yee decided to combine his passion for magic with his love of Star Trek and science fiction, and developed the character of S’kai, Vulcan’s Greatest Magician.
From the beginning however, his major motivation was to learn magic that he could use in his work as a Red Cross volunteer. He thought that magic would be a way to introduce himself to disaster survivors. “I soon found that magic was not an introduction to mental health interventions, but in fact was the intervention. Giving shelter residents a magical memory, not only lifts them out of a miserable situation, but generates a memory that can compete with the trauma of a disaster,” says Dr. Yee. He has since developed a program to teach Red Cross shelter volunteers magic so they can interact and perform with shelter residents. 
After several years of working with Terry Morgan, Terry said that it was time to move to the next level, and encouraged him to take a Master Class at the McBride Magic and Mystery School. “It was a life-changing experience. It changed not only how I did magic, but also the place that magic had in my life.” 
In 2020, he was able to adapt his shows to internet performance with the help of courses and another Master Class at the Mystery School. As a result, he was able to do more performances that year than he could have, had he only been doing in-person shows.  Dr Yee wishes you all to live long and prosper.
For more info on Willie’s magic:  
Honoring the Passing of Masters

Siegfried and Jeff set the night on fire at WONDERGROUND
(Photo Credit: Tim Wise)

Our magic community lost two great friends this month.
Siegfried was a frequent guest teacher here at Mystery School.
I had the honor of being Siegfried’s close-up magic teacher, and visited him often in his palatial home with partner Roy. The magic duo changed the face of magic with their epic style and show with wild animals. He was a great supporter of our magic school and shared his wisdom with many of our students. He will be greatly missed. His magic was truly inspiring!

David Roth is a legend in the world of magic. I had the pleasure of sharing many magical days with him at Tannen’s magic shop back in the 70’s & 80’s. David was quick to share his wisdom teachings with all the aspiring magicians who gathered around him.  I so loved his magical coin creations. David’s life and legacy will live on with his many contributions to our magic community …Bon voyage dear friend.
One more thought…

May the new year bring you good health and opportunities to explore new worlds of magic. 
Yours in the art of mystery 

Magic Words

Dear Friends:

Our guest columnist this month is team member Daryl Rogers. He is an Instructor at the Magic & Mystery School, acts as Assistant Media Manager for the school’s online classes and broadcasts, and is Producer of the Magic & Mystery School’s ‘Wisdom Wednesday’ programs.

Magic Words
by Daryl Rogers

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore

Words Create Reality

As magicians, we use words to create a reality for our audience. We carefully craft and edit our scripts to say exactly what we want to say, in the manner we wish to say it, with no extraneous verbiage. The words we use may tell something about ourselves, relate a story, describe our actions, or may be used in other ways to entertain, as we present a magic routine. These words, if organized and presented correctly, weave a spell for our audience, and create an entertaining and engaging memory of experiencing magic.

The words we use to communicate with others, not only relay our perception of our reality to them, but also recreate a reality for ourselves. For example, vocalizing a state of emotion tends to bring that emotion into being. If someone asks you how you are feeling, and you say “great!” that can influence the way that you actually feel. Words have the power to create realities, not only in magic shows, but in our lives as well.

THE Magic Word

When speaking of magic words, the first one that comes to mind for most people is “abracadabra.” The exact origin of the word is unknown. It makes its first appearance in print in the second century in the work Liber Medicinalis by Serenus Sammonicus. Sammonicus describes the word as meaning “let the thing be destroyed.” Those suffering medical afflictions would use it as a charm, and the ever-decreasing text would likewise cause the condition to disappear as well. 

Several popular folklore explanations are associated with the word – phrases in Hebrew that mean “I will create as I speak,” or in Aramaic, “I create like the word.” These meanings, though perhaps less historically accurate, are more in keeping with the meaning of the word as used by modern conjurors, if, in fact, the modern conjurer uses any “magic word” at all. We see an ever-declining use of traditional magic presentations in favor of modern, post-modern, and “organic” performances that deliberately avoid most, if not all, pretensions to classic magic style.

Magic needs a causality, and that is the essence of what the magic word invokes. What is your causality? The waving of a Sharpie? The muttering of a double entendre? A witty bon mot? You need to ask yourself if those choices are any more effective to your audience than the traditional, known, and acknowledged “true” magic word of abracadabra. If you take some time to explain the meaning of the word to your audience, perhaps that will help create a memory of your magic, long after the show is over.

Create YOUR Reality

For the past several years, I have been following Dean Larry Hass’s suggestion to complete a New Year’s assignment. It is similar to a list of New Year’s resolutions, but it is more than that. Let me share my version of it with you, so you can benefit from its potential.

You begin with a review of how well you did last year, and list all the significant accomplishments you have achieved. Next, set three personal and three business goals for the new year. Keep in mind that choosing specific words while mapping out your goals is of utmost importance. Print the list and put it where you can see it. Study your list daily, and if you like, read it out loud. Focus your attention on the words you have chosen, and take action steps to help bring your goals into reality.

As you begin the year, it is a good time to bring awareness to your vocabulary, and to the words that you use. If words can create reality, then what words will you use for your audience to create the reality you want them to see? What words will you use to create the kind of year you want to have? Words truly are magical. Revel in their power. Choose them and use them wisely. Let them help you create the future you wish for yourself and your audience.


Keep Your Magic Alive

So many magicians learn new effects, play with them for a few days, then put them in a drawer to collect dust and die!
There is another way! Bring your magic to life! I can teach you my “Real Magic Formula” that is tried, true, and tested among professionals in close up venues, and on stages all around the world.
This could be your most important class of the year! 

7 Secrets to creating a successful show
7 Essential Building Blocks 
+ 7 Great Routines

IMAGINE: YOU COULD take the magic that you already own and perform, and learn the techniques on how to transform your individual effects into a Full Magic Experience.

  • Learn how to grab the attention of the room.
  • Learn to tell your personal story in a powerful way.
  • Learn the real secrets of audience interaction and getting FULL participation.
  • Learn how to transition in between effects. This is where most performers fail.
  • Learn professional secrets on how to get the audience on their feet.
  • Learn new magic effects and routines to add to your repertoire.
  • Experience two wonderful classes filled with wisdom, fellowship, and good cheer.

This class is for all those who love magic and want to make a REAL show out of what they already know!
Register now:

MEETING THE MASTER …and the master is YOU!
This great clip shows EXACTLY how I work with new students.
It is a joy to share my techniques and experience with them, and to see them become their own master… WATCH!

Watch from 1:15 – 2:28
“The goal of the teacher is to help create students 
that transcend the teacher”
– Eugene Burger

Mystery School Student of the Month: BRADEN DANIELS
I love what I do!  Each day, I work on Zoom with my students. This month I’d like you to meet one of the progressive magicians I have had the pleasure of training. His name is Braden Daniels and I hope his words will inspire you.

Braden says, “Back in March, Jeff and the amazing faculty at the Magic & Mystery School opened up their doors to welcome in magicians from all over the world, as they began to offer an array of new classes for us online. I seized the opportunity to grow and develop.
The seed for change was planted in April with Tobias Beckwith’s Spring Training: Shifting Gears for Your Career, which started me thinking deeply about where I really wanted to take my magic career. I highly encourage all students to take Tobias’s classes and engage with the materials provided. 
That seed for change was watered and transformed again in August ,when the Magic & Mystery School held another unprecedented class: Creating Magic in Business with Tobias Beckwith and David Morey, which included both magicians and business leaders from around the world. David and Tobias instilled in us, among many other valuable lessons, the importance of frameworks and clarity of message. I walked away with actionable strategies to begin re-shaping my brand and its offerings to be more aligned with who I am, and what I love to do. 
Now, I am combining my 20 years of business experience in developing teams with my passion for magic, by ‘edu-tain-ing’ and mentoring organizational leaders and entrepreneurs. I help leaders harness the power of their inner magician through my one-to-one mentorship programs, and my online training workshop Lead Like a Magicianfor any new to mid-career level leaders, who want to stay competitive in the ever-changing landscape of business. 2020 has been an amazing year for me and the leaders I serve, because of the Magic & Mystery School!
Get more info on Braden here:

Like Braden, we all need people to help and encourage us as we grow in the art of magic. Now, you have a rare opportunity to work with me as your Mentor and coach. I will help you meet your goals, break out of your comfort zone, and deepen your understanding and appreciation of our magical art. My Mentorship and coaching services will inspire and empower your magic. 
Remember that you already possess all you need! Now it is time to train, learn, reflect, and organize what you already have.
Just email and she can set us up with a time to meet on Zoom!
Or go here for more info:
Our new virtual magic experience is now taking reservations.

To get updates, please email Abigail to get on the waiting list:

This is a new year for major new changes. All of us here at the Magic & Mystery School are ready to help you along your path to mastery.
Yours in the great Mystery.
Jeff McBride

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