Well Said: George Goebel

Magic has her own secret ways. The other day, I was browsing through my files when I came across a 1985 issue of Magic Manuscript featuring illusionist George Goebel (1932-2021), who had just passed away a few days earlier at the age of 88. Incidentally, this issue was signed on the front page to a fellow German collector by Goebel, stating “May your life be filled with the Wonders of Magic.”

Inside the issue you will find ten pages dedicated to Goebel, including a portrait and an interview. The latter closes with five basic things he has learned during his magical career. They are all valid, but I like the very last one best:

It’s not in the crates that you carry a magic show, it’s in the spirit of the people that you are working with.

Well said, Mr. Goebel!



Well Said: Eric Jones on Racism

Eric Jones has a short, but pointed essay on racism outside and inside of magic in the latest issue of Genii magazine (July 2020). Let me quote:

We have to be able to see the racism in the history of magic for what it is. If we cannot understand the complexity of how we can and should evolve from our past, plagued by bigotry and systematic racism, we will certainly fail at building a future free from it. (…)

Let’s not ignore, encode, or erase the stains in our past or use our skills of deception to deceive ourselves about the flaws in our family and even our heroes. Let’s talk about things head on, straight up, and share our stories, learn about each other, listen to each other, and make room for mistakes. Sometimes we have to unlearn what we know to make space for growth and change. This is one of those times.

Well said, Mr. Jones!

For some blatant older examples of racial stereotypes in magic catalogues, see my posts here and here!


Well said: Robert-Houdin on “False Bottom” Conjuring vs. Art

Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, “The Father of Modern Magic,” 1868:

It is easy enough, no doubt, to play the conjuror without possessing either dexterity or mental ability. It is only necessary to lay in a stock of apparatus of that kind which of itself works the trick. This is what may be called the “false bottom” school of conjuring. Cleverness at this sort of work is of the same order as that of the musician who produces a tune by turning the handle of a barrel-organ. Such performers will never merit the title of skilled artists, and can never hope to obtain any real success.

Well said!

So beware of the “false bottom” or “push button” school of (pseudo) conjuring!


The Horst Vegas Magic Chalk Talk (5): Magicians vs. Mentalists

Horst Vegas, self-proclaimed Senior Boy Wonder of Magic and an unfailing Lota Bowl of Wizzdom, shares another of his Golden Showbiz Rules & Observations:

In the golden days, magicians looking like magicians travelled with tons of props and light patter, accompanied by a scantily dressed, gorgeous blonde as their assistant.

Today, mentalists looking like used car salesmen travel with a light suitcase and heavy patter, accompanied by a technician loaded with tons of electronic props as their master.

The magic times, they are a-changin’…


Well Said: Harry Lorayne on “Jazz Magic”

As we all know, Harry Lorayne is his very own force.

Here’s a good observation from his Magic Book:

The heart of jazz is improvisation—”blow it as you feel it.” The same is true of close-up magic. That’s why I didn’t spend much time telling you which effect should follow which. This is called “routining.” All it really is, is common sense.

Well said, at least about informal close-up shows, I’d say.

Here’s an interesting comment by my magic friend Paco Nagata:

“Wise words from a wise magician quoted by another wise magician and blogger!

I would like to participate here a bit sharing some thoughts about it by an extract from page 31 from my amateur book:

Improvisation (known as “Jazz Magic”) is a too personal thing to advise anything about it, but I’ll tell you something very interesting that I discovered along my personal experience: you don’t need to improvise voluntarily; you’ll end up doing it without realizing it! Experience will tell you when you are ready to improvise. You will know it when you discover that you are improvising without even noticing it. I’m telling you that because it happened to me and some amateur friends of mine. The art of improvisation will come to you automatically, and if it hasn’t arrived it’s because you’re not ready for it yet or you just do not need it. Improvising does not mean being a “better” magician, but just a magician who works in a different way. Improvisation is not a step that must be climbed, but simply another resource. Don’t be obsessed about it (nor anything).

Thank you, Paco!

You can get Paco’s fine e-book The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician for free here. Read more about it here.


Well Said: Simon Aronson on Methods


In his latest newsletter (Jan-Feb 2020), Michael Close has just reissued a wonderful interview from 2012 with the late great Simon Aronson and his wife and partner, Ginny. It runs over 19 (!) pages and thus covers a lot of ground—their becoming, their two-person mindreading act, mem deck work, and much more, plus a fine card revelation. I really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended!

Here are just a few excerpts of Aronson’s thinking which I find worthwhile pondering over for any creator and performer of magic:

On deceptive magic:

I make the assumption that my spectators are thinking people and that they know a lot. Not necessarily that they know a lot about magic, but that they are observant and rational. I don’t have absolutist principles about the way I try to create things, but certainly one guideline that I’ve always used is that whatever the method is, it ought to be counterintuitive. Whatever first thought people might normally have about a possible method, then the actual method ought not follow that same direction.

On combining methods:

I love to combine methods. Sometimes, by accident, people will fall onto the method. But if you have several things going on – a little bit of sleight of hand, a little bit of mathematics, a little bit of a stack, a bit of subtlety, some misdirection – then even if they get one part of it, it’s not enough to discover the whole method.

On complex methods and effects:

I don’t mind complex methods as long as they don’t result in complex effects. It’s like the duck that looks so serene gliding across the water; but under the surface he’s paddling like crazy. My feeling is that magic should be that way.

On fooling scientists:

I think that scientists and engineers have a particular weak spot. They are used to starting their experiments with observable data and work from there. The one thing they are not equipped to do, it’s not in their methodology, is to assume that the data itself has a mind and is trying to fool them.

If you haven’t already, you may want to consider subscribing to Michael’s free newsletter.


Well Said: Roberto Giobbi on “Getting Better”


In his latest “Secret Newsletter”, Roberto states:

I think it is one of the big frauds of our time to believe that one could get better at something by buying things. In my opinion one gets better by doing something differently.

Well said!

By the way, you may want to subscribe to his newsletter here.


Gut gesagt: Teller


Hier einige sehr anregende Zitate von Teller, der kleineren – und eigentlich stillen – Hälfte des berühmten Zauberduos Penn&Teller – exzerpiert aus dem Interview, das Harry Keaton mit ihm geführt hat (siehe magie 1/2020). Lesenswert!

Eine Erklärung eines Zaubertricks besteht aus hässlichen, komplizierten Abläufen. Wir machen das Gleiche wie andere Künstler auch: Wir zeigen das Schöne und verbergen das Hässliche.


Einer meiner Lieblingssätze ist, dass Magie nicht wirklich eine komfortable Kunstform ist. Du sitzt nicht im Publikum und lässt dich von Magie umspülen wie von sanfter Musik. Bei der Zauberei sitzt du immer auf der Stuhlkante: Was geht da gerade vor sich?


Zauberei ist kein Selbstläufer im Fernsehen. Magie ist die ultimative Live-Erfahrung. Du willst es mit eigenen Augen sehen.


Von den Zauberern, die in Fool Us auftreten, sind etwa 75 Prozent richtig gut. Und die anderen 25 Prozent kann man gut aussehen lassen.


The Horst Vegas Magic Chalk Talk (7): Tricks in Magazines

Horst Vegas, self-proclaimed Senior Boy Wonder of Magic and an unfailing Lota Bowl of Wizzdom, shares another of his tinny-tiny Golden Showbiz Rules & Recommendations:

Most trick descriptions in magic magazines make three kinds of people happy: the authors, for seeing their name in print; the editors, for having filled at least two dreaded pages without much ado; and most readers, for thinking „I could have come up with something better (if only I would)!”