I thought I would write this time and impart some “inside information” about the world of Magic. Besides using this knowledge at parties to make yourself sound more educated(!), it’s also very helpful if you are hiring a magical artist.
Magic actually has specific categories that are defined by various factors. Some magicians specialize in one field, others work across the board. So let’s break it down:
- CLOSE-UP ARTIST: A close-up artist is a performer who does tricks right under your nose… literally inches away. Sometimes seated at a table or sometimes standing, the magic is only done for a handful of people as the props can be on the small side. Playing cards, coins, sponge balls, borrowed jewelry, a pencil… almost any object can be used to create a miracle. But don’t be fooled by the size. Some of the most mind-blowing magic in the world has been performed by close-up artists. Some examples of these extremely talented wizards would be Max Malini, Slydini, Dai Vernon and Albert Goshman. Today you can amazed by Johnny Ace Palmer, Ricky Jay, Michael Ammar and countless other pros.
Mark performing close-up at the W.C Fields Bar, The Magic Castle – Hollywood
- CABARET and PARLOUR MAGIC: This category is a little trickier to define, but basically it is a mid-size magic show performed for a medium-size audience, like in an intimate nightclub or someone’s living room. The magic props are big enough for the whole group to see clearly, but there’s no tigers or motorcycles! A lot of trade shows I do are this type of performance.
Mark performing his custom-designed magic for a client at a trade show.
The Magic Castle actually has a theatre called the Parlour of Prestidigitation to showcase exactly this type of conjuring. There is a special intimacy to it, like someone is showing some treasured secrets to just you and your group of friends. Excellent examples of cabaret magic are the performances of Cardini, T. Nelson Downs, Richard Ross and Norm Nielsen. And who can forget the hilarious comedy magic of Carl Ballantine, a true innovator and great performer.
An authentic Renaissance magic show Mark designed for the Parlour Of Prestidigitation.
- STAGE MAGIC: This is what you see in Las Vegas or other big showrooms around the country, or a lot of the time on television. The performer uses big-scale illusions, and usually a lot of theatrical support like special lighting and music. I truly enjoy performing stage magic, because I feel it touches on the powerful wonder and amazement one can feel where they see a huge magic trick right before their eyes, and there is the feeling of: “No way that could happen! I can’t believe it!” It’s truly satisfying to create and rehearse a stage illusion, and then feel it all come together in front of an audience.
Mark performing one of his favorite illusions: a girl appears out of nowhere in ¼ second!
Classic stage performers include Houdini, Blackstone (Senior and Junior), Mark Wilson and Doug Henning, among many others. And today people are being amazed by David Copperfield, Hans Klok, Cyril Takayama, Franz Harary, and many more too numerous to mention.
German Illusionist Hans Klok
Please Google any of the above-mentioned names to read more history and watch videos of these incredible performers. You’ll probably end up saying – if someone asks you your favorite magic category – “Hmmm… I like all of them!”