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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » My journeys: in search of the keys (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

Profile of Michael_MacDonald
I first fell in love with all things magical as a young child. When ever David Copperfield would do a tv special you could rest assured I would be glued to the set pencil in hand waiting to discover what mysteries would be laid out for my young eyes to feast on. Davids stage presence let no doubt he was a master of the arcane arts. When he did the flying routine I learned that there was more to performing magic then the act of tricking someone. He touched me with that one act and in so doing changed my life forever. I tried for many years to find that magic that made me feel like I did that night. It was a long time before I found what I was looking for. My early performance style was close up cards and coins doing strolling magic in local restaurants. I was making what I thought was great money at the time and had the prestige of being a working magician. It was a couple years later that I contacted my first agent. C.A. Ellis. She was a formidable looking woman well over 400 lbs, iron gray hair and a very stern look on her face. As I was sitting there in front of her desk spewing forth my resume as a professional magician her stoic expression left me feeling a bit less cocky then I had felt as I walked in her door. The interview was not what I had expected when I decided to get an agent. Now come the most embarrassing moment of my performing career. Enter Lilly Bells ….Lilly walked into the office past me dressed as a clown with a warm smile and a glint in her eye. I did not pay her much mind as I was still trying to impress Mrs Ellis with my coin rolls card manipulations, witty ( in my mind ) humor, and my ability to improvise my presentation to fit the person watching me. I was about to start a “winged silver” presentation when I noticed C.A. Get a glint in her eye and a rather wolfish smile on her face. It was then that I hear the noise behind me. Following C.A's gaze to a closet set further back in the room I noticed for the first time that the office doubled as a dressing room for the entertainers that worked for her.
Standing in all her unclad glory was Lilly Bell. The coins I was holding shot straight up almost hitting the ceiling in their passage. That was the first and only time I did a perfect muscle pass, and A I did it with 6 walking liberties at the same time.
My face must have been the deep scarlet of ripe tomatoes when C.A. Turned to me and said “ well young man, weren’t you going to show me what you can do? Or will you let a little distraction derail you to the point of not being able to perform?” I sucked it up and went on from there. It wasn't until weeks later that I learned from Lilly that it was all staged to see how I would react and recover under pressure.

I learned a lot in those days. I never knew what I was going to be doing from week to week. And C.A. Took great joy in trying to confound and confuse me each and every week. One week I was a clown performing 7-9 parties in a week end the next I was a fortune teller reading tarot cards for corporate holiday parties.
I performed for IBM, Jiffy Corp, BMW and lots of other big companies as a relatively unknown magician. My skill at improv and close up grew dramatically over the years I spent with C.A. The thrill of magic wore off. My enchantment was destroyed more with each new trick I learned. Magic was nothing more then a job for me now.

Enter Eugene Burger! The moment I saw him perform I knew that what I called magic was a fraud. That moment I knew I was nothing more then a very cleaver juggler going about my performance with robotic precision but lacking any depth or feeling that My spectators could latch on to.
The quest begins


at the time I did not know about Bizarre magic, but I knew

that there was more to magic then what I had. My mind raced back to the flying routine. Forward to the mystery that I witnessed from Eugene, and it hit me. They did not show me tricks. They performed miracles. Real magic at last! I tore apart every routine I saw that gave me the feeling of vertigo. The common ground that each of these routines had was a story. They made you believe that what your were seeing was not a clever trick, or illusion but real.I started buying books by the dozens devouring every word. Feasting on the brilliance of those that made this journey before me. I found what I was looking for in the older books. The new books were all about the trick. The newest and greatest way of doing this or that slight or routine. The first book I got my hands on that made me realize that I do not have to reinvent the wheel was “Dunningers Complete Encyclopedia Of Magic” in this one book I saw that magic is only magic if everyone believes in it. If you tell them that its a trick before you even start then its not magic to them but a challenge to be figured out. If you tell them its a trick after you show them miracles then they feel lied to and cheated. So I asked my self “ why should I give a disclaimer if the audience really doesn't want one? “ they are paying me to give them magic, to create a sense of wonderment and mystery. I had the keys, now it was time to find the door and walk through.

Theodore Annemann
that was the first name I saw when I discovered mentalism.
“Practical Mental Magic” showed me that you do not need huge props. Extravagant boxes, tubes, or any props at all to create magic in the mind of the watchers. Armed with nothing more then paper and a pencil he could read minds, Predict futures, and create miracles of the mind. I soon discovered “thirteen steps to mentalism” now I had found the second key to the second door. I bought every book I could find on mentalism. Practiced billet switches, center tears and every other method I could get my hands on.

Now when I performed the watcher did not say “ wow your fast” or “ I wouldn't want to play cards with you!” in my studies of mental mysteries and the methods used, I started reading books on history of magic. Looking to the past for the answers I needed to create real magic. “Discovery of witchcraft” and any other book I could find that had ties to my chosen field. As I grew and learned more I found that my hunger for knowledge was insatiable. The more I learned the more I wanted. On one of my trips to the local magic shop I found a treasure that brought me to where I am now. This book changed everything. Its wasnt about tricks. It wasn't some cleaver way of peeking. It was pure theater. “Capricornia Tales by Christian Chelman” WOW was all I could say. Looking through the pages and seeing not magic props but antiques, hidden treasure, items with history and meaning! And the last door was opened. I now had a direction to travel. A road that would lead me to the final destination. I discovered Charles Cameron, Tony Shiels, Docc Hilford, Kenton Knepper, and yes at last I found what made Eugene Burger so different.




Welcome to the night!

When I see someone just getting in to Bizarre I watch as they go through the stages that we all do upon discovering our new home. They start out with effects that shock the sitters. Wounded, saw, needle through the arm, or any other dark scary shock magic trick. They think this is what it means to be Bizarre.
Bizarre is so much more then just the dark drapes and the sinister props. Its creating a mood. Its building on a theme. Its drawing the sitters in to the story as it unfolds. Its creating a world where anything is possible. Where everything is real. Its taking the sitters vision of reality and smashing is like nothing more then a piece of glass under your heal. Is all bizarre spooky or dark? Nope! Its people like Peter Marucci that show us that comedy and silliness can be Bizarre magic. Its people like Jeff McBride that show us that Bizarre can be fanciful and light as long as it has meaning. That is the final key for me. Giving meaning to your magic. Making it real not only for you but for those that take the time to join you on your journey. Its taking the time to actually include your sitters and nit just use them as a convenient dumpster to toss out your newest rubbish you bought at the magic store. They are the reason your here! If you do not respect them enough to include them then why bother? If you treat them as less then brilliant you will be seen as nothing more then a common trickster who is so full of him self that they want to catch in the act. Exposing your tricks and in turn exposing you as a fraud. To be honest your are a fraud if you think that your performance is more important then those that you are performing for.

one could ask what books I would suggest that will teach someone how to be a Bizarre magician. I would answer "look back at the books published before you were born. look for books on the toppic you will be using in your show. if you are performing a routine on witchcraft them study some of the old texts so that you can get a feel for what your suposed to be talking about. if your going to perform a shaman ritual then please go look at what was really done and give your self some semblance of credibility. if your going to show the sitters ghosts in a séance setting then go look at what was done in real séances. look at what the fakes did. look at what the spiritualists do. read " have séance will travel" make your character believable. take the time to set the stage with as much realism as you can get. research the story of what your performing and stay as close to the facts as you can get.

remember that magic is not the main focus but the presentation is where your main focus is.

just some thoughts don't mind me.
Brother Dæmonicus
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A lovely read, Michael; truly enjoyed that, and thank you for sharing.


Dæmonicus
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<BR>www.daemonic-dreams.co.uk
Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

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Was thinking of writing a book but do not really thin I have anything that anyone would want to read lol. but I have lots of fond memories of magic and performance.
Julie
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Inner circle
3331 Posts

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Wonderfully well said!

I would read your book.

Julie
Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

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Lol thank you Julie. perhaps if I can find enough to fill a book that will help a beginner find the path without beating his head to the wall as much as I did. I have noticed that a lot of books in our art are geared to people with a bit more skill.
IAIN
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Eternal Order
england
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Writing a book is always for yourself, one way or the other...(as well as for others)...but unless you love what you write (and can wrestle with not being fully satisfied with it but can accept that you did your best), then writing is always worthwhile...and you often learn something about yourself during the process too...

write your own book, print it for friends, or send them as gifts...see how it feels...every page is a step..(fortunately not always, otherwise Corinda's would be mighty slim)...
Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

Profile of Michael_MacDonald
Lol perhaps you are right. I just read so many wonderful books that its hard to think I have something to contribute. I will definitely need a proof reader and a better spell checker. I'm noticing all the typos and cringing.
Leslie Melville
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I enjoyed reading about your 'journey' and suspect that you have an interesting tale to tell.

But unless you are a computer 'techie', artist (for illustrations) and expert in design & layout(!) you will also need assistance from others! I will soon be sending the finished manuscript for 'Magictales Two' to the publisher and I can tell you that the creating and writing of the routines is the easy bit!

I have been lucky to find an excellent illustrator, copy typist and expert in layout - and although MY work finished two months ago (apart from giving approval or otherwise to the additional elements earlier mentioned), there is still about two weeks of 'fine tuning' to be done before it's ready!

So good luck!

Leslie
Stories....?....That's telling!
Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

Profile of Michael_MacDonald
Leslie

the journey is what makes it worth the effort my friend. stepping out of our safe zone and venturing into uncharted lands leads to adventures to remember for a life time. I agree that more goes into the book then just the words on the page and admit I have little experience in these fields, so you bet I will need more help. lol I think writing books is more a labor of love then actually setting out to make money from them.
TH1
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Zombies beware! I have your heads on
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Enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.
Beware of evil spirits...and depleted batteries! Smile
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OnTiltSoon
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Barcelona
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Nice read Michael. Thanks!
- Joaquín Gasa Thomas
Leslie Melville
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Quote:
On 2012-09-20 18:37, Michael_MacDonald wrote:
Leslie

the journey is what makes it worth the effort my friend....... lol I think writing books is more a labor of love then actually setting out to make money from them.


You are absolutely right about that! Again I wish you the best of luck and will look forward to reading your book when its published!

Leslie
Stories....?....That's telling!
The Curator
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V.I.P.
Beware Vampire, I have
3783 Posts

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I'm very happy to read that my first book changes your vision of magic.
Michael_MacDonald
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1964 - 2016
Washington
2034 Posts

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The Curator,

the things you do with antiques is magic all on its own. the fact your have taken very old principles and twisted them to form a new picture is brilliant. I am sure many have been inspired by your work.
aligator
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Inner circle
Canada
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Good read. Writing a book or even an essay is inspirational. Go for it.
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