Real Magic Stories

Jeff McBride here in Las Vegas. Recently, I was asked about my opinion on “flashy, Las Vegas magic,” versus more philosophical storytelling magic.
Visual Magic vs. Storytelling Magic
Are you more of a Storyteller or a Visual magician? I feel that the key to connecting with your audience might be cultivating the ability to perform both styles of magic at the right time.

Our guest writer this week is Eric Henning, who just received his certificate as “Ambassador of Magic” from the Magic & Mystery School for his continuing contributions to our Mystery School Monday classes and for the amazing work he’s been doing with the team at Washington Magic.
Sometimes the Magic is Real 
It happened on December 6, 2008. For ten years running, I did a holiday party for military families near Washington, DC. The party is in a secure military facility, which is inside another secure facility. It takes longer to get inside than to do the show! Once you’re inside, you are in a fairy land of Christmas trees, lights, garlands and cotton “snow.” Hundreds of children play games, color, eat popcorn and watch Christmas movies. 
Around 10:00 am, Santa arrives outside on a huge fire engine and holds court in the lobby. This is, by far, the most efficient Santa line I’ve ever seen. Every child gets plenty of time with the Big Guy, yet somehow the line keeps moving. At the end, the Lilliputian petitioner has a bag of goodies and a picture with Santa.
During all this, I am doing close-up magic, “pulling” lights from the Christmas trees, making coins appear, and generally making fun. Around noon, the 400 or so people line up and get lunch while I set up for my platform show. My holiday shows always have some new material, more if it’s a repeat client.

That year, I planned to end with the piece of classical magic “Snowstorm in China.” It had not snowed yet that year, so I ended my show by promising to add the one thing that was missing from that holiday season. The magic got a great response, especially from the kids, who rushed the stage to collect bits of the “magic snow” to take home. 
As I was leaving the base gate, I had a wonderful view of the US Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial. Then I saw something else. It was starting to snow! This wasn’t a Hallmark Channel “gazebo snow.” This was a thunder cell dropping a massive load of snow all at once. I could hardly believe my eyes! I thought of those kids going home from the party, seeing the snow, and their parents trying to explain for the hundredth time that it wasn’t really magic – except it was. 

Then I remembered something that has had me chuckling ever since. Earlier that day, as I was entering the base gate, a huge Marine guard, bristling with armaments, greeted me. As he searched my car, he made conversation. 
     – “So what do you do in your magic show?” he asked.
     – “I make it snow,” I replied.
     – “No, really.”
     – “Really.”
Now all I could picture was that Marine looking up and seeing the snow! Sometimes things just come together, and they seem to happen more often when I’m open to seeing them. I live for moments like that.
Happy Holidays!
Eric Henning, “The Wizard of Washington,” has been doing magic professionally in the nation’s capital for more than 50 years. He’s appeared at the National Theatre, three Presidential Inaugurals, and the White House, where he performed for the Obama family.  

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