I was a magician from age 8 to 18. I had a good run. I developed it into a little business almost right away, performing at birthday parties, club gatherings and schools as a kid. I miss it. There was something very thrilling about learning new magic tricks and then integrating them into the act.
The culmination of my magic career at 18 was a making a feature length Super 8 film about a rock star magician that later was narrated by the then Nicolas Coppola.
But that was a long time ago and since then magic has fallen somewhat out of favor. The evolution of technology is its own kind of magic, replacing some of the wonder. Plus, just about any trick or illusion “secret” can be found online in an instant through search engines.
So what is the role of magic in today’s world? Children of a certain age still love it, Harry Potter has helped with that, but there just isn’t the same kind of market for it that there used to be. Most grownups, unless they have kids themselves, are not as willing to suspend their disbelief.
So is magic dead? Maybe. we have so many options for entertainment these days and magic is not at the top of the list unless you are in Vegas or other such places.
I had planned to continue on as a magician making it my career, but then ended up in a Hollywood movie studio at 18 as a film apprentice. This changed everything. I haven’t picked up my wand much since then except to perform for my eight year old daughter’s classes and things like that.
Has magic reached the state it has because we are too cynical to believe anymore? Again, kids enjoy it but why can’t we grownups too? Most films that feature magicians these days portray them as buffoons and a joke. The elegant era of Houdini, Thurston and others is clearly long gone.
One of my saddest moments in regards to magic in the last decade or so was while I was helping do research for a show at at a major arts institution about magic. I had tracked down a magician in New York who I had idolized as a kid in California. I straight out asked him if the thrill was gone and he admitted that it was.
But even after all this time I’m still holding onto a sliver of belief. I bought a magic book the other day and for a fleeting instant it was almost like old times.