I had a hat and a waistcoat.
I put them on, picked up my instrument, and went to work.
It was raw craft, at first. I had a little skill with words and so I used them to hide the flubs.
Raw craft … and then
I missed my mother. I was unhappy that she never saw me perform one effect, never saw what my hands were destined to do. I said so while shuffling cards. I made up a trick that i thought would make her laugh, could she but see.
… and they laughed. And they gasped. And they wriggled a bit in delight.
The laugh exploded and crystallized into art. Laughter through tears.
A marine. (hard and sober)
A goth chick.
A homeless man.
A homeless woman.
A college student.
A superstar athlete.
And several anonymous souls
… have told me that I saved their lives with my words and my art.
Tonight I made a woman weep with my stories.
I reminded her of her son
Who died …
Laughter through tears.
“He would have loved this … thank you for being who you are.”
tonight I drove home.
And I put my instrument down (for now, not for keeps)
I took off my hat and i hung up my waistcoat
and I wrote this to you.
This … is who I am.
I’m an entertainer. I’m a showman.
Yes, I wear the magician label, but magic is the vehicle my hands found. Or … perhaps it found me.
I’m of an age when my heroes and mentors and friends are falling. I give my grief a season, but I will not let it stop me. Johnny would insist that I work, demand that the show is the important thing, point out how much I’ve given to be where I am.
So i will grieve, and I will mourn. Ashes and sackcloth. But then I will polish my shoes, hold my head up, put on my armor and make art.
With all of my heart behind it.
He came into the Cellar theater in the Castle with a group of 3 others, two couples. He was a movie stereotype: the Russian gangster. In his sixties, Shiny grey sharkskin suit, grizzled face, angry expression. Turned out he was, in fact, Russian. His wife wore a stylish bleach blonde wig.
It was just the five of us and I offered them a show. Pieter was super aggressive from the beginning: grabbing cards, insisting on the terms of the show. “Put the cards in my hand and let me pick. Now I get to put it back and shuffle. LOOK AWAY – YOU DON’T GET TO WATCH!” His wife chided him and he sneered at her, all ugly attitude. He slammed the cards down in front of me and demanded I tell him which card he chose. What would you do?
I looked at him intently. (The thousand yard stare I talk abut in my lecture) He laughed to his wife about “All magic is fake and these hustlers are just trying to make me look foolish, but this idiot just got beaten!” (Insert thick Russian accent)
“Five of Hearts”
His face fell and he looked stricken, then angry again. “YOU CHEAT! How do you know this?”
“Because it’s under the Pringle’s can.” (It was)
Then I fooled him again. And again. AND I made friends with him. Jokes at my own expense. Magic that happened in his hand. Stories that riveted his attention. Building his self-esteem until he stopped being a challenger, and became part of the story. I showed him love. I gifted him joy. He roared with amazement when the signed card appeared … and I guessed his wife’s secret word, which happened to be her pet name for him. (медведь гризли)
On a whim, I made him a boot and I told him the story of the nekkid elves. He smiled and nodded and said something to his group. I let them go.
Pieter stood up and hugged me. Then he looked at me with tears on his face and said: “My mama told me this story. I will put this boot by her picture at home.
You are the only magic I believe.”
Now tell me again why I should be doing anything else.
I find that most inquiries rarely ask this of magicians, because apparently we are generic.
But my show is about .. many things. What things, you ask? Well … here’s an example.
When John Lennon was told in August of 1977 that Elvis was dead, he reportedly said: ‘Elvis died when he went in the army.’ Lennon looked at Elvis and thought, ‘Man. What happened? They invented the word ‘cool’ for you. You scared the shit out of all those sons of bitches. Then you turned into one of them. Fucking beach movies. Fucking TV specials with fucking Frank Sinatra.’
Lennon made his bones: worked and made art and got successful. He earned the right to ask Elvis face to face at Graceland in 1964: ‘Why don’t you do rock ‘n’ roll anymore?’ (Which came out a good deal more polite than it was intended.) Elvis hemmed and looked around and came up with a lame answer: ‘Well, if I found a rock ‘n’ roll song I liked, I’d record it in a minute.’ Lennon told him, ‘When you do, we’ll buy your records again.’
I don’t think Elvis ever recovered.
But! Lennon knew he screwed up as well. The minute they fluffed up his hair and told him to be a cute little Beatle and keep smiling and don’t wear a toilet seat around your neck on stage and be nice to the press … actually that wasn’t when he blew it. When he said ‘yes’ to all that bullshit. That’s when he blew it.
There isn’t enough money in the fucking world.
Everything about my branding and look and style has meaning to me. Every trick or story that i include or excise from the act. Every bit of my heart that I paste on my sleeve daily.
That’s part of what my show is about.