Why Magic?

I performed my second bizarre magic show this weekend.  Once again, it was a great evening, and once again I learned from the experience and have made adjustments to improve the next show.  It was very well attended, much more than I expected.  Indeed, the function room was almost full.  My heartfelt thanks to all who came to support the evening.

But …  Why am I doing this?  I know that there are people wondering why, after all these years, I have started performing magic?

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It’s actually an interest I have had for a long time.  I have always been fascinated with myth and magic and have a library full of books on these subjects.  I have been buying props and routines for stage magic for approximately eight years, delighting in discovering how the effects work, and learning just how much of the impact of magic is due to the creation of a powerful atmosphere, achieved by drawing the audience in with an evocative story.

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller.  I love to craft stories and characters and write novels about them, drawing readers into the world I have created.  But bizarre magic performance offers me a new and more immediate opportunity:  the ability to tell stories expressively to an audience and gauge their reaction in real time.  It is a very satisfying and immersive kind of storytelling.  The kind of supernatural themes that run throughout bizarre magic performance suits my style also:  tales of spirits, hauntings, curses and murders.

That’s all very well, so why not just tell stories?  Why bother with the magic?  This is simply answered.  Doesn’t a film benefit from special effects?  The ‘trick’ is the punchline to the story, the clincher that makes the audience go wow, or sends a chill down their spine, or simply say, “How the hell did he do that?”  Tricks occasionally fail, of course, and for various reasons, not all of them preventable.  Sometimes I may become so engrossed in my tale that I forget to set up the trick properly; sometimes an audience volunteer may simply forget the thing they had to remember in order for the result to manifest.  Each show so far has had one or two routines that haven’t gone completely to plan.  But that’s okay, so long as the remaining 80 – 90% do work out.  And even the ones that don’t have their ‘special effect’ work quite as it should are still appreciated for their most important element:  a damn good story.  I will, of course, keep aiming for a completely flawless show, but I won’t lose any sleep when things go wrong.

There’s another element to consider too.  The ‘trick’ isn’t the real magic of the performance.  The true magic is the stimulation of the audience members’ imaginations through the stories told, and the awakening of their sense of wonder.  This is real magic:  for them to leave thinking the world is a little bit stranger and more wonderful than it was when they came in.

An Evening of Wonders

On the evening of Saturday 3rd September 2016, the staff of Shoprite supermarket, Ramsey, Isle of Man, met for their summer staff party in the Buffs Club.  I also attended; I used to work with them before transferring to another location.  I hope everyone who attended had a great, entertaining night.  For me, it was particularly special, as I was the entertainment.

This was my first show as a semi-professional magician / mystery entertainer.  And it was a real baptism of fire.  Anyone who stands up to perform in front of others will testify that it is considerably more difficult when those people are well known to you than when they are complete strangers.  It’s very difficult to slip into your stage persona when they know you as someone completely different.

The evening went very well.  Not perfectly, but very well.  I’d been afraid there might be a failure or two, but there were no outright flops and most things worked perfectly.

My presentation is a story telling routine enhanced by props and effects, rather than a stream of banal ‘tricks’, and these stories tend to revolve around matters macabre and sinister.

For the first half of the show, I had gathered together a few of my simpler routines, all themed around witches and occultists of the past and the fates they had met.  The tales started in the Fourteenth Century, moving gradually forward to more modern times, as the shade of Aleister Crowley was called upon to deliver us a message from the spirit world.

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All items packed, ready to depart for the venue…

All of these early stories and effects went smoothly and without a hitch, eliciting a pleasing number of exclamations.  The routine I was most uncertain about, a mild waking trance induction to make someone ‘see’ a spirit on cue, worked perfectly well, in spite of the ever increasing alcohol that was flowing.  I did have a ‘get out’ story in place in case this less predictable routine failed, but it wasn’t necessary.

In the second half, I moved on to talk about curses, presenting a couple of yarns around those themes.  It was here that my inexperience showed.  For these kinds of routines to work, I need to choose the ‘volunteer’ very carefully, someone who will really respond and ‘go with the flow’ of the story, getting into it.  By now, the drink was freely flowing, so the choice was even more critical.  This led to a couple of routines not failing, but falling a little flatter than I would have hoped.  They worked and the reaction was one of “Ah, okay then” instead of awe.  This is my own fault, I should have chosen more critically instead of according to my pre-selected plan.  A lesson to learn for those occasions when the alcohol is strongly in evidence:  choose the ‘assistant’ who is transfixed by the show, not the ‘good sport’ or ‘the one from the table that hasn’t had a turn yet’.

Not that this minor lull in momentum was disastrous, people were still interested and watching, and I’d saved my favourites for last.  I love haunted books, and I used an old diary in a demonstration of psychic ability, telling a reader the images that went through her mind as she read randomly chosen entries in the diary.

The closing effect was my favourite among those I currently have in my arsenal, as two volunteers placed playing cards between random pages in a cursed copy of Dennis Wheatley’s The Satanist.  As the lights were turned out and a black candle was lit, the cards eerily rose up from between the pages of the book, displaying Infernal scorch marks upon their surfaces.

It was a good night, and I was heartened that everyone seemed to really enjoy it.  It certainly gave me the taste to do more, and soon.  I’ll be hosting another show in November, though I’ll be available too if anyone wishes to book me before then.

The next show will be quite different, of course.  Less than half of my routines were used in this first show, and I’ll be mixing them about from one show to the next, depending upon which themes I want to play with.  There are a couple of favourites that will appear regularly, but many effects will come and go, swapping in and out of the setlist as the stories I wish to tell dictate.  There are also no less than three further new routines on their way to me at the moment.

What’s more, as any real magician should, my own creative juices have been stimulated and I am starting to develop my own stories, props and effects based upon the Norse and Celtic lore of the Isle of Man.  I’m currently gathering together the props to create a runic necromancy effect I’ve devised.  Watch out for ‘DRAUGR’ at a future date!

Anyone wishing to book for a function or private event, please contact via email at manxbull@yahoo.com or message me on Facebook.

 

Would You Trust This Man With Your Soul?

Another of the recent major changes and innovations I’ve been working upon is that after years of being an armchair collector of weird artifacts and bizarre tales, I have decided to take the plunge and merge my storytelling skills, my collection of weird oddities and my knowledge of the occult into an unholy union.  I will henceforth be offering my services as an entertainer, albeit a very sinister and macabre one.

I will be hosting evenings in which I will spellbind attendees with tales from the dark corners of history, eerie and frightening accounts accompanied by dramatic magical demonstrations.

If you have a taste for the macabre and love a ghoulish story, permit me to enthrall you with feats of magic, with psychic phenomena, with demonstrations of the paranormal, communications from spirits, Tarot and Rune readings.  We all love to be frightened, and I offer an evening of entertainment with enough shivers to delight the most jaded soul.  And who knows?  Perhaps I may even open a window to reveal a nightside world of wonder and mystery whose existence you had not previously suspected?

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Needless to say, the macabre nature of my shows means that they are most definitely not suitable for young children.  This is not kiddies’ party style magic, with bunnies in hats and lots of silk scarves!

I plan to begin hosting shows from November 2016, initially on a monthly basis.  Details will follow nearer the time.  The first show will be by invitation only, for family and friends who have been supportive of my writing.  Thereafter, tickets will be on sale.  I hope you’ll come along, though your knees be knocking and your teeth chattering.  You have nothing to lose but your soul, though I do promise to take good care of that … I want you to survive to come back for more and bring your friends, after all!

In addition to the shows and special themed evenings I plan to host myself, I will be available for private functions at a rate of £50 for one hour, or £80 for two.

So come along, you know you want to … Be a Devil!