Happy Anniversary Rudie!
Almost one year ago, on March 30th, a young lady moved into my apartment who would become my partner. She's been with me every day and definitely had a positive impact on my life.
Happy Anniversary Rudie!
I met Rudie at the beginning of March when I was getting ready for our month performing at the El Capitan and the Disney Soda Fountain. Rudie and her brother were taking turns being the bunny produced in the "Mysteries of Magic" show, both going by the name Thumper, since we were doing the twin trick of pretending they were the same bunny. They both stayed at the theater until the end of the show, when I was told they be needing a new home. I spoke with my roommate and we decided to give them a home for at least a month.
Things started off pretty well but after a few weeks Rudie and her brother started fighting. We separated them and sent the brother to live with someone else. Rudie stayed but still didn't have her own name yet. She originally was named "Sneakers" by my roommate, since she would sneak around and since she liked to chew on the rubber on our shoes. My roommate decided that she didn't like the name and I picked "Rudie" and we started working on our act.
These days Rudie is a part of the show, even appearing on The Magic Castle Palace of Mystery stage! We continue to work and live together and I am looking forward to another year with her!
While I love performing for people all over the Los Angeles area, I also teach magic to kids as a part of an after-school program. At the end of each quarter, the students take the tricks they've learned and put on a show for their friends and family. This week is the time for those performances.
Every 8 weeks or so I "produce" eight or nine shows made up of up to 14 students, most of who are five or six years old. Each of my students picks their favorite trick from the session and performs it. It takes a lot of energy to organize and get the kids focused, but man is it worth it.
I have to admit, it's maybe my favorite part of the year. Each of those kids gets the chance to stand up in front of their friends and families and be special. One of my new favorite sayings is "The only thing better than a child seeing magic is a child making magic." I love seeing their faces light up once the trick has performed and that applause starts. It's amazing every time.
So even though it's a ton of work and can be a bit like herding cats, it's worth every second to see all those new magicians.
Along with performing magic at all sorts of events across Los Angeles, I also teach magic as a part of a non-profit after-school program. It can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, especially seeing some of the more shy students stand up and successfully perform in front of their fellow students, parents and complete strangers and the sense of accomplishment that that brings them.
But last week I had a pretty scary hour of teaching.
The class started off on a bad step when I learned that I wouldn't be getting a room to teach in and would need to hold my class on the lunch benches. I settled in and started teaching when one of the 5 year-old girls came running up to me crying. She said that she had placed her hand in a substance that she thought was peanut butter and that she was allergic. She was freaking out, waiting for the reaction on her hand to start.
I took her hand and didn't really see anything, so I smelled it. I didn't smell anything like peanut butter, but I didn't want to take a risk. I gathered the entire class and we went to the closest bathroom so she could wash her hand. After she came out I checked again and nothing had happened, but I asked her to let me know if anything changed.
She was fine for the rest of the day, but I can tell you it's very alarming having a 5 year-old run up to you screaming and crying. Which would have been enough, but I still had more scares coming my way.
After getting the class back on track and working on the trick of the day, I was finally starting to calm down when I got my second scare.
I was checking on the students progress when I heard a scream from behind me. I turned around and saw a women standing in the doorway of the auditorium. She screamed "HELP, HELP!" and was looking around frantically. I confess, I hesitated a moment. I am not supposed to leave my students unattended, but this woman was freaking out, so I started running to the doorway. When the woman saw me start toward her, she ran back inside.
I made it to the auditorium getting myself prepared to see something awful. I pictured a fallen kid with their head split open. Instead, I found nothing. I looked around and found the woman and she started apologizing to me. She explained that she was watching her son and one of his friends in the auditorium when her son had gone through a door and closed it. When she went to open the door she found i was locked and she feared that he had locked himself in a closet. I learned later that this woman had had a similar thing happen to her daughter before and was paranoid of it happening again. She didn't realize that she was in an auditorium and that the door her son had gone through was just the door to get backstage. When she freaked out, her son came out on the stage and asked what was wrong.
She apologized over and over again and was definitely embarrassed. I went back to the doorway to find my class had followed me to the doorway and had to collect them all over again and try to get them to settle down and get back to learning.
Eventually things got back to normal and the class ended. I dealt with two emergencies that turned out not to be emergencies, but I'd like to think in each case I made the right decision and came away a little proud of my ability to react to an emotionally charged situation.
But all things considered, I'd be happy if I didn't have to go through it again.
As a magician, there are a lot of comments and questions I hear over and over again, and one of the most frequent happens whenever a movie or television show about magic comes out. People will ask if I've seen it and what I, as a magician, thought of it. So I thought I might put up some of my thoughts on the many shows about magic, whether fictitious or factual, that I have seen. This week: "Don't Trust Andrew Mayne"
I've been working on a few blog posts over the past week, but I kept coming back to this one. Every time I watch this show, I feel the need to express exactly what I feel about it, and that is: I hate this show.
For those who have never heard of it, the premise is that Andrew Mayne is a magician who goes around playing tricks on people. Usually, each show has a larger story where someone has contacted Andrew to play a prank on a friend or family member who does something that annoys them. Examples have been a husband who goes hunting and fishing too much, or a daughter who has turned 24 and hasn't moved out yet. Andrew shows up, talks to the person who contacted him and gets them to have the victim meet Andrew somewhere. He then pulls some prank having to do thematically with the offense (the husband's fishing gear and guns vanished, the daughter's stuff appeared in a moving van). While working on this major prank, Andrew takes time to pull minor pranks on people who are just passing by. Like the time he asked people if he could look inside their grocery bags, only to make all of the groceries disappear and reappear inside someone else's locked car. Or the time he took pictures of people's car in a parking lot, only to have the cars vanish while the person is looking at the picture. This is usually followed by Andrew running off, leaving the person to deal with whatever situation he left them in.
As I mentioned in this post, the idea of performing such amazing things and just leaving smacks of insincerity. In fact, it's getting funny how often I find myself comparing Andrew to Criss Angel. Reading people's comments on the show from different websites shows that no one believes any of what they are seeing, and I think that's my major problem. This pattern of creating magic that can only exist on a television set ruins how effective magic can be. It continues to make magic a joke, and that hurts other people who are out trying to make a living that way. And it hurts Andrew, since he does occasionally do some amazing stuff that can happen in the real world, but once you've opened the "Everyone's an actor and in on it" door, nothing you do will get the credit it deserves.
The other thing that bothers me about this show is that Andrew is such a jerk. He loves putting "people" in awkward situations and then walking off. He also loves creepily hitting on women and making penis jokes. When I talked about "Now You See Me", I mentioned how I disliked the attitude that a magician needs to "be the smartest person in the room". Andrew seems to have taken this idea and run with it. It really gets on my nerves and continues to be harmful to other magicians, since there is that idea that magicians can be smug jerks.
A few final points:
Like I said at the beginning, this show has been on my mind for a while. Every time I watch another episode I get as angry as the first time I watched. I know that some will say that talking about it only brings attention to it, but I just had to vent, and that's what a blog is for, right?
Let me know in the comments if you've seen the show and, if so, what you thought of it.
As a magician, there are a lot of comments and questions I hear over and over again, and one of the most frequent happens whenever a movie about magic comes out. People will ask if I've seen it and what I, as a magician, thought of it. So I thought I might put up some of my thoughts on the many movies about magic, whether fictitious or factual, that I have seen. This week: "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay".
The movie is a documentary about magician Ricky Jay. It covers his beginnings and his mentors leading up to his success and his stage shows. There is a lot of focus on the magicians Ricky learned from and includes some footage of their performances.
This movie is amazing. I was fortunate enough to see a screening at The Nuart Theater in West L.A. that Ricky did a Q&A for. Even before he took the stage, I was in love with this movie. Hearing his stories about Cardini, Max Malini, Charlie Miller and Dai Vernon, I was in absolute magic nerd heaven. Hearing about Vernon loved to play his students against each other, I wanted more than ever to get a time machine and head to meet this amazing performer. Even with all the amazing mentors I've been lucky enough to have in my life, I was insanely jealous of the fact that Ricky Jay spent the time he did with what are some of the absolute best magicians in history.
Hearing Ricky talk about his mentors is a lot of fun, but watching Ricky practice and perform is amazing. He openly talks about how when he was young he didn't want to be a magician and how if someone upsets him (which, judging by some other parts of the movie, is pretty easy to do) he just has to put a deck of cards in his hands and he gets lost in shuffling and manipulating those 52 pieces of cardboard. In the movie theater I instantly connected with this idea.
I have to say again that I love this movie, though I admit it may just because I can be such a magic nerd. The movie is available through Netflix streaming, so I recommend watching it and please let me know in the comment section what you thought!
In 1548, Reginald Scot wrote a book with the purpose of being able to tell actual witches from charlatans. That book was titled "Discoverie of Witchcraft" and with a section explaining how certain effects were accomplished, it became the first magic book ever published (when the church found out about the book they burned every copy they could find). Eventually magic books would become widespread, but before that magic techniques were only passed verbally from mentor to student, and while I own plenty of great books and videos, I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors.
As mentioned before, my current phase of being a magician started when my friends purchased lessons at the Magic Castle, so my first real mentor was Mr. David Thorson, a fantastic instructor who made sure I was ready to pass my Castle audition. I spent 16 weeks learning with Mr. Thorson perfecting my technique.
During the beginning of my magic career, I spent a lot of time down on the Third Street Promenade busking. I wanted to learn how to be more successful at it, so I headed out to Las Vegas and attended The Magic and Mystery School run by magician Jeff McBride. I had a few of his tapes on card manipulation and was excited to spend time with him. It was a fantastic time and he was very generous with his time and information. I walked away from the class with a lot to go home and work on.
After spending a few more years working on my own, I answered a request on the Magic Castle Facebook page for some help moving some props. By responding to that post, I met the people who have mentored the most: The Wilsons. Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell have taken me under their wing and I am so lucky for every second I get to spend with them. The hours I've spent with Mark in his office working on our current effects have been absolutely amazing. At the same time, the care that Nani shows me every time I as visit is wonderful.
The other Wilson who has been a great mentor to me is Greg Wilson. I have worked quite a few gigs with Greg and he has helped me quite a bit with advice on how to work with corporate clients and even just regular house parties. I am grateful for his mentor-ship and his friendship.
Though the great thing, as I always tell my students, is that there is always something new to learn. I look forward to all the new mentors I will have in my life and the ability to be a mentor to future magicians!
Toward the end of December I kept hearing people I know say how much they wanted 2013 to hurry up and be over. I, on the other hand, think I would have been okay if 2013 kept going. This past year was one of the best in my life full of so many great experiences and adventures!
The year started off pretty well when I managed to book myself at The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip! I still remember sitting back stage and thinking of all the amazing people who had been on that stage and how it awesome it was that I was there! That was followed by the news that I would be spending a month being a part of the magic show that would proceed every showing of "Oz, The Great and Powerful" at The El Capitan. It was a fantastic experience and I met a lot of amazing people and saw so many smiles and laughs that I even stayed on an extra two weeks.
The end of March saw my return to the Palace of Mystery at The Magic Castle assisting my mentor Mark Wilson. While I didn't get the stage time I did the year before, it was great being to share time with one of the 20th century's 10 greatest magicians.
The month of May saw me start to get really busy on a more consistent basis, starting with my joining up with a burlesque group, The Hollywood Jane Revue. I have performed at five of their events and have been happy to be a part of every one of those amazing shows. That first show happened at the same time I was getting ready to run a week long magic camp. I was already teaching five days a week, so the camp wasn't a huge change. I wound up doing six weeks teaching kids how to perform stage illusions and running the end of camp show. It was great watching the kids perform, especially with the big illusions!
October saw me return to a haunted attraction with Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare, performing for people passing from the performance stage to the mazes, and vice versa. I definitely relied on my street performance experience, drawing crowds to watch a magic show they knew nothing about and managing to win them over time and time again.
Both my street magic experience along with the experience at Great American Nightmare came in handy when I added to all the standard holiday party performances by performing at The Queen Mary's winter event, Chill. Performing for over 400 people was a lot of fun and really made me happy with my chosen profession.
However, even with all the amazing shows and events that I was a part of, 2013 will be a year I look back fondly on for one major reason:
2013 was the year I became a professional magician.
2013 was the year my magic became enough that I was able to get rid of all my side jobs and dedicate my life to my craft. My focus is now about finding and learning great new magic effects.
So regardless of what may have been stated on my Twitter or Facebook page, 2013 was The Year of Marshall.
I can't wait to see what 2014 brings!
At the beginning of 2013, I set a few professional goals. The only major one I had left was to submit and pass my audition to become a scheduled performer in the Close-up room at The Magic Castle.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it. I could go into all sorts of excuses about December being one of my busiest months, both personally and professionally, but the fact remains that I didn't make it, and that means on thing:
2014 will be the year I perform magic in the close-up room at The Magic Castle!
A mentor of mine said that "A goal is a dream with a deadline", and while the last deadline may have passed, the dream remains. So I will continue to work on my close-up routine. In fact, since I have a new year to play with, I am thinking about starting from scratch. I definitely have some great new effects I think will wow the Castle crowds.
So you can expect more updates and in the not too distant future, an account of my experience entertaining the guests of the Magic Castle's close-up room.
In my life I have had three different phases of magic. I got the magic bug when I was five, the same as most kids do, and just like most kids I eventually moved on. I picked it back up in my early twenties after seeing a magician perform an amazing effect that I just had to know how it was done (I still perform the effect to this day and is probably my absolute favorite). After an especially bad rejection, I put my props away. They stayed there for almost a decade until I received lessons at the Magic Castle for my birthday, and I've been at it ever sense.
During that second phase, I would often make journeys to Hollywood Magic to get new stuff to perform. It was at that store that I bought what I consider to be one of my best purchases ever: My table.
I was actually on my lunch break when I drove over the hill to Hollywood Magic (which has since closed). I was looking around when I saw a bunch tables up on a shelf. I figured that since I was doing a lot of close-up magic, I would probably need a table. I bought it, threw it in the back of my station wagon and headed back to work.
That was thirteen years ago. Since then, that table has gone with me on practically every gig I've ever been on. It has been with me every time I busk down at the Third Street Promenade, even on the horrific first trip, when I was chased off the street by the other vendors who informed me that you needed a permit. It went with me to Las Vegas when I attended a school for busking. It sat in the hot Vegas sun, waiting with me for our turn to perform at the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival.
But, as I have mentioned in the past, the best moment I have shared with my table was seeing it on the Palace of Mystery stage at the Magic Castle. I can still remember the feeling of seeing it up there and knowing that it meant I was performing there.
I haven't just used it for magic performances, either. When I needed an extra surface, my little table was there. When I was hosting a game show, the table guested as a stand for a buzzer. When some of my friends needed a stand for a cauldron, my table stepped in.
Sure, there have been a few times where I regretted having it. It's metal and therefore kind of heavy to carry around. It doesn't fold down and can take up a lot of space in my truck. It's also showing it's age and use a bit with some of the edge cracking and breaking off, but I love that it has wheels (I roll it around during my shows quite a bit) and the vinyl surface has put up with a lot and not shown any signs of giving up.
So my table continues to be an important part of all my shows. Here's to another decade of performances with it!
I have been reviewing recent and not-so-recent movies about magic. As with most trends, magic has started appearing in other mediums as well, including television. As a result, some magicians have come back with specials and even their own new series. One of those was Criss Angel's new show, "BeLIEve".
I remember watching the early episodes of "Mindfreak" and enjoying parts of it, but I also remember having some issues with the show exposing a few tricks and the way they the accomplished a few of their effects. As a result, I wasn't really in a hurry to see this new show.
I had missed the first few airings of the show and didn't even really hear anything about them. That was until I went out and spent some time with one of my mentors, Mark Wilson. The episode had just aired where they brought someone "back to life" and my mentor described the final scene to me. After listening to the description, I decided to give the show a try.
Man, am I sorry I did.
Right off the bat, the very first illusion on the show involved Criss walking up to some random people with some random junk laying around. The people picked out some pieces and Criss constructed a large spike. He then picked a girl at random from the crowd and balanced her on the spike, right before spinning her and causing the spike to pass right through her. The crowd screamed and Criss got back into his car and drove off.
Seriously? Seriously?!? How are we supposed to take this serious? I'm supposed to beLIEve that he just impaled someone and drove off? And that was the very first thing!!!
Each episode has a major stunt that Criss tells his staff they performing. He sits on a throne and ignores their oh-so-beLIEvable cries that what he wants is not possible/too dangerous. They revisit it during the course of the show and the last segment is the performance. Again, all the people who are not Criss do is stand around, say that it can't be done and look worried during the performance.
I watched two episodes before I came across the infamous "bringing someone back from the dead" episode. They spent the episode trying to find a dead body they could use. Then, when it came time, they had someone examine the body and say the person was deceased. They had a random person lay down on another table and say she had to temporarily give up her life so this corpse could live again. After the girl exclaimed that she couldn't move any more, the corpses chest rose and fell. Then Criss talked about how precious life was and left.
And that was all I could stand. I took the show of my DVR schedule and I haven't seen anything else.
The magic is terrible and continues Criss' reputation that he can't do magic on T.V. that can be replicated in person. Even the stuff he "exposes" is stuff that only works on T.V. (big shock) and pretty much everyone knows how it's done as soon as they see it.
The other aspect of the show is the "reality" portion, and this show falls into the all the tropes from other reality shows with the fake "reality" and all the troubles they experience on the route to their ultimate goal.
I can't beLIEve that they expect us to take this seriously. Maybe the reason the "lie" is capitalized is that they don't expect us to. I hope so, because otherwise everyone on that show is incredibly stupid and possibly insane.
Scott Marshall is a magician in Los Angeles. Performing for private functions and out on the street, he loves bringing people together for a good time.