Enough is Enough

Enough Is Enough
At the McBride Magic & Mystery School, Black Lives Matter.

We are horrified at the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. These are far from isolated cases: we remember Botham Jean in Dallas, Stephon Clark in Sacramento, Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. We remember Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. We remember Michael Brown in Ferguson, and so many other Black Americans who have been killed at the hands of law enforcement.

We know the deep inequities toward Black Americans that run rampant through the criminal justice system. We know the long history of racism in America from slavery, through “reconstruction” and its lynchings, through Jim Crow laws, practices, and terror, through the brutality and bigotry endured during the march for Civil Rights, up to today’s stunningly common patterns of inequality before the law, along with violence and death at the hands of those sworn to protect it.

We recognize and condemn the systemic racism that has existed in America since its very beginning. We stand with those Americans, and people all around the world, who are raising their voices, protesting the injustices, and demanding real change.

In our own small world, we recognize that the subculture of magic in America is predominantly White and male, and we will double our efforts to create not merely diverse, but actively inclusive environments, where underrepresented magicians can perform, learn, speak, teach, and flourish.

As our Dean, Dr. Larry Hass, recently said, “We must hold ourselves accountable for the ways, large and small, that we have contributed to this culture of injustice. And we need to suspend our opinionizing, listen with an open heart, and actively learn about the history of these systemic inequities, so we can act in ways that might serve to heal our broken world.”

Jeff McBride
Abigail McBride
Tobias Beckwith
Larry Hass, Ph.D.

Magical Experience Design & Collateral Magic

Dear Friends:

Our guest columnist this month is Cyril “C.J.” May, aka Cyril the Sorcerer. You’ll learn just a bit more about him a bit further down the page. But for now…enjoy his story!

Magical Experience Design & Collateral Magic
One of the greatest magical experiences I have had in recent years took place in my car. It happened both by accident, and by design. The magic show was of such scope, it encompassed an entire town.

Many summers ago, my family and I passed through a small New Hampshire town on our way to my wife’s family home in Maine. The sight of strangely dressed villagers caught us off guard. We were nowhere near Halloween on the calendar, and yet witches and wizards walked the streets. As I took in ever more “wizarding folk,” I began to have a Rod Serling moment….where were we?

The moment quickly shifted to a JK Rowling moment:  could we have fallen through a veil into a wizarding community like the Hogsmeade Village depicted in Harry Potter?  A van passed us driven by a wizard. The witch in the passenger seat was tending to the young witches and wizard in the back. The hair on the back of my neck was now full rise. This was all so very eerie and yet delightful at the same time. We had been transported to some place or time truly magical. The rest of the world was gone. 

This magic show finished in part, when we learned from the scores of witches and wizards in the restaurant, that they were dressed for the screening of a Harry Potter film at the local library. The film was being shown in celebration of the release of one of the final Harry Potter books. It all made sense now.  But the experience had been one of true magic.

And so I was determined to recreate this magic for myself and for as many as I could by the creation of Waterbury Harry Potter Day. In 2019, the Waterbury library and I expanded upon the small scale Harry Potter activities we had offered in previous celebrations of the fictional boy wizard’s birthday on July 31st. To create a true “magical experience” we spilled out onto the streets. Local restaurants and other establishments joined in by adding wizarding food to their daily menus.  Starbucks added four Hogwarts-themed potions plus Butter Beer. The used bookstore would crank out Dragon’s Blood Cupcakes and the Barnes & Noble would host shows, trivia and other Harry Potter specials. The bank purchased Harry Potter coins and the local congresswoman’s office would hold wizard school classes. The players were geared up…but would there be an audience?

By 9:00 am, witches & wizards were pouring into the downtown copy shop that had offered to serve as provider of the event maps. They had to run another batch because the maps were gone by noon. Witches & wizards coursed through the streets, visiting venues, showing off costumes, enjoying the transformation of a “Muggle” downtown into a “Wizarding” city.  The magic was happening.

Collateral Magic
While happy that those who came to downtown Waterbury for the event were enjoying themselves, I must admit that I was most interested in creating “Collateral Magic.”  One obvious stream of Collateral Magic was that flowing into the venues.  Starbucks went through more butter beer ingredients than ever before. The costume shop sold out of all its witch hats by noon…and made its monthly income quota because of it. The other flow of Collateral Magic went to the pedestrians who may have felt some of the Rod Serling/JK Rowling moment that I had experienced so many years ago. What is happening?  Where am I? Why is Grand Street awash with witches and wizards? Without even attending, they were part of the show.

Some magicians are probably asking “were there any actual ‘magic shows’ during Waterbury Harry Potter Day?” Yes! Slipping back into my role as Refuse/Recycling Coordinator for the City, and “Wizard of Waterbury,” I performed an enviromagic show at the library to a crowd draped in capes, and sporting many a pointy hat. Members of the local SAM Assembly also joined in, providing a fitting finale to the day with their show at the Barnes & Noble. The day was an ensemble show on a municipal scale.

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

We are hoping to take future attendees and sidewalk passersby further down the rabbit hole of magic experience design. A great starting point for research has been the book AMAZE, by friend of the Mystery School  Ferdinando Buscema. This book on “magical experience design” offers a great look into how magicians and non-magicians alike can create magical experiences. The book is now available here: www.TheoryandArtofMagic.com. For now, however, we are looking for our next in-person WHPD to include…

  • Fire-breathing and magic by Daniel Greenwolf
  • Street theater performances by local youth
  • A time-flexible Question Quest scavenger hunt that better accommodates individual family schedules
  • Buses to bring far-flung and under-resourced youth groups to downtown

Eugene Burger once famously said “we need bigger dreams.”  I encourage us all to think beyond our typical magic frames of move, effect, routine or even show. Think bigger. What magical experience can you create? What bigger dream would you like to bring to an audience that flows beyond the limiting walls of stage and theater? 

Cyril John “CJ” May wears both a recycling hat and a wizard’s hat in his roles as Recycling Coordinator and “Municipal Magician” for the City of Waterbury, CT. For more about his work for professionals and other adults visit www.betterworldmagic.com. For his independent work for all-age audiences as Cyril the Sorcerer visit www.cyrilthesorcerer.com. He also has a smattering of environmental videos at www.facebook.com/waterburyrecycling/videos. Reach Cyril at cyril.may@aya.yale.edu.

The Amazing Magic Pivot” – Learn How to Perform It Now

The Wisdom of the Virtual Pivot

There is a lot of confusion in today’s world. We need to keep positive, and we need to put good information into our bodies to stay healthy! Stay away from junk food and bad information!

The Wisdom Council and Senior Faculty at Mystery School are here to help filter out the bad information and share only the best information that we have collected, based on our 30+ years of experience serving our magic community.

What is “The pivot” and are you ready to do it?

You hear many people talking about “pivoting into virtual magic shows.”

What is pivot? 

The best definition I’ve heard is from Eric Ries.

He said, “A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision.”

Now watch Eric Ries talk about redeeming your failures by “pivoting.”  I know this video will encourage and inspire you!

“A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision.”

Let Us Help You Pivot to Your New Virtual Magic Show.

Our leadership team at Mystery School has created nearly 500 hours of online & Zoom shows. For 9 years we have produced Mystery School Monday, each and every Monday. We are committed to helping our magic community by sharing our experience and wisdom with you.

I read a recent post from Sage Hub that made a lot of sense to me.

Their statistics show, (and I believe it) that virtual events are now outperforming live events!

If you had asked me eight weeks ago if a virtual event could generate the type of purpose driven pay days that we see with live events, my answer would have been a resounding NOOOOO!

But here I sit, eight weeks later, corrected.

Virtual events are in fact outperforming their live event counterparts in almost every way. 

✅ Had better attendance (there are NO live events for months to come.)
✅ Had a better experience.
✅ Had more impact, and
✅ Generated more profit than they ever could have thought possible.

And here’s the good news – that profit didn’t require a massive pivot. 

Thank you Sage Hub. We are grateful for your research.

What Does This Mean for Magicians?

Go to this link and look and learn:



Now you can be part of the ONLY show still running in Las Vegas!

Free Show!

Visit the Vegas Wonderground page on Facebook for the link to the show.

It will be posted a few days before, or go to our website www.vegaswonderground.com

Our next show is this Thursday, May 21, 2020, at 7pm Pacific time.

This month’s Wonderground Stars

Jeff McBride – Your Magical Master of Ceremonies, with something new up his sleeve!
Tetro – “Magic in Flow-Motion,” as seen on TV’s hit show Masters of Illusion
Tim Wise – The Host of ABRA.TV, Tim will present delightful deceptions of digital dexterity
Kent Axel – Virtual Mind reader and Reality Disrupter
The Birdman of Las Vegas – Joe Krathwohl shows off the biggest wild birds you have ever seen!
Will Bradshaw – “From Street Magic to the Stage Illusion!”
Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz – Presents “Rare Gems of Illusion” Live from his Virtual theater in Chicago

For more information go to www.vegaswonderground.com.

See you online in our classroom, or we’ll see you online at WONDERGROUND!

Stay healthy and be inspired,


Special Museletter – New Directions

Dear friends,

Back in early March, when we first realized it was not going to be feasible for Jeff and Larry to travel to the U.K. for their Masterclass, theater show, lecture at The Magic Circle and Shaman & Showman Seminar, our first response was one of disappointment—as it was for many of our prospective students! However, the crisis had to be met, and we found ourselves extremely fortunate that so many of you have been enthusiastic about the efforts we’ve made to compensate for not being able to “be there in person” over the past couple of months.

Our first steps were to ask the students at the Masterclass and Shaman & Showman conference if they would consider working with us to make those events happen—but online. We were pleasantly surprised to find that most of them were! The result was a mad rush on our part to figure out the best way to make those events as rich and rewarding as the ones we had originally planned. We made bonus “Master Key” items that we had originally intended to sell, to be a free part of the package.

Because no one was traveling, we were able to add myself and Ricardo Rosenkranz to the events. Larry, who does most of the itinerary planning for most of our classes, shifted things around to make sure we could still offer everything we had planned, but in a slightly different format, better suited to the online (in our case, the Zoom platform) format. Everyone on our end worked hard to upgrade the quality of our own “studios,” where we would present from. It was a lot of work…but it has proved to be worth it many times over. The events in the U.K. were an overwhelming success, with many happy participants.

As teachers, we were, first, ecstatic that we managed to pull it all off—and then excited that we would be able to present a full curriculum online in addition to our “live in-person” classes in Las Vegas once our current situation lets up.

There are some huge advantages to being able to offer our classes online. Perhaps the largest is expense. Because no one has to travel for the classes, even if we kept pricing at our usual levels, classes would still cost students about 1/3rd of what they would otherwise. That’s not the only saving, though. Because students don’t have to travel, we no longer have to do the classes all in one piece…2, 3 or 7 days in a clump.

Instead, we’re able to offer classes that take only a couple of hours each week over the course of several weeks…and these we can offer at a much lower price-point—which means they can be available and affordable to many more students. The ability to reach a larger audience allows us to “get the word out” to a much wider market and have a positive effect on the careers of many, many more magicians!

So…what does this mean for you, our loyal readers? If you’re a magician, it means there are more ways for us to interact with, and influence one another. If you’ve attended our classes, you’re probably already aware that we learn as much from you as you do from us. The more of you we get to share our work with, the better we get at what we do! If you’re an enthusiast, but not a performer, you can now attend our Monday event Mystery School Monday gathering at no cost to you. It’s a great place to meet and share community with many of the top magicians and thinkers in our business, available each week at 7pm PDT on Zoom. (Just click this link between 6:45 and 9:00 pm (Pacific) any Monday evening, and you will find us there, discussing topics important to all of us in the world of magic.
Monday @ 7pm PST


If you want to study with us, we now offer classes in many different areas. Here’ just a sampling of what’s coming up soon:

Focus on ZOOM Magic Online
Best Practices, Best Tricks & Marketing for Online Performance featuring the full faculty and special guests.
Three Wednesdays, May 20, 27 and June 3, 5:00 – 7:00 pm Pacific time.

The Tarot Card Magic Experience
Inside information on doing readings AND doing magic with the Tarot with Jeff McBride and special guests.
Two Saturdays, May 23 & 30th, Noon – 3 pm Pacific time.

Jeff McBride’s Summer School
The Essential Secrets for Powerful Performance with Jeff McBride.
Three Tuesdays, June 2, 9, and 16, 5:00-7:00 pm Pacific time.

Secrets to Success Through Systems Building for Creative Performers
More business building with Tobias Beckwith.
Three Wednesdays, June 17, 24 & July 1, 5:00-7:00 pm Pacific time.

Master Class – Online!
with the full faculty.
Friday-Sunday, June 26-28 – all day.

Cruise Ship Boot Camp!
A crash course to prepare you for working cruises, with Jeff McBride & Greg Gleason.
Saturday & Sunday, July 25 & 26, Noon-3 :00 pm Pacific time.

These are just thumbnail descriptions…learn more and register for these new courses now at:


Before I go, I want to take a moment to thank all of you. If you’re reading this, you are a part of our community, and we appreciate your support more than you can imagine. We all support one another, especially in these difficult times. It is my sincere hope that you, like us, are finding creative ways to use this crisis to make your future better.

Please do take care of yourselves. Stay safe, stay healthy…and keep making magic!


Tobias Beckwith
Management & Faculty for
McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

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