Magic on the (Coronation) Street

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Close-up Magician | 0 comments

Twenty three years ago (while still a teenager), one of my first professional jobs was working at the Granada Studios Tour in Manchester. It was a great experience and I performed magic for visitors on the Sherlock Holmes Baker Street set for a year. Just a few yards away was the set of Coronation Street, which I walked along almost daily and, since I had grown up watching this iconic soap opera, it was quite surreal. Last weekend, I was back at ITV on the new Coronation Street set performing at an open day for ITV staff. It was great to be back and, although the new set was a few miles away from the original and only a year old, it looked practically identical. Of course, the names of a few shops have changed, but it’s practically the same – a great piece of work from the ITV set department. Walking behind part of the set reveals a facade – scaffolding supporting a two-dimensional wall, which from the front appears to be a full row of houses. It occurred to me that set designers do a similar job to that of a magician. One could say we both deceive the public for a living – as, in a slightly different way, do actors. But it’s all done for entertainment and if my magic can bring half as much enjoyment to my clients as Coronation Street does to households up and down the land, then its all been worthwhile....

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The Resurgence of Magic

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Close-up Magician | 0 comments

In the 90’s it appeared (at least to me) that magic was almost looked down upon; much of the public thought it cheesey and merely for children. Even though many magicians were evolving and doing their best to escape the rabbit & hat stereotypes, to the public magic was something performed at children’s parties by elderly gentlemen wearing velvet jackets and oversized bow ties. More recently magic has been the subject of novels, prime-time tv programmes and many Hollywood movies (more of this in a later post). It is now generally accepted as a popular entertainment that can be sophisticated and engaging, suitable for almost any event! David Blaine, Penn & Teller, Derren Brown and of course Dynamo can take a lot of credit for causing this resurgence, by presenting magic in a modern, different and in some cases, exciting manner, bringing magic out of the dark ages and firmly into the 21st century. These days, it seems like the public can’t get enough! You can follow Iain on Google+ and...

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Customising Magic

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Close-up Magician | 2 comments

When I first started out in magic, the people I used to perform for were my fellow magicians. The kind of magic that appeals to them is very different to the effects that normal people seem to enjoy. Magicians are intrigued by complicated sleight of hand and clever methods, while to an audience of laypeople, it is (quite rightly) the effect that counts. One thing that I’ve become increasingly aware of the past few years is that even with the general public, not all audiences are the same. People such as scientists, mathematicians and engineers have by necessity a very different way of thinking – they have been trained to analyse everything that comes before them and they seem unable not to treat magic in the same manner. They want to dissect it and find the solution. Performing for this kind of people who think very much “outside the box” can be an extremely challenging, yet rewarding experience. Of course the effects I perform for them are quite different to the ones I would show most people: the trick has to appeal to them and their analytical way of thinking – and of course be utterly unfathomable, even when they never take their eyes off my hands. Sometimes they don’t even blink! It’s my job to find the right effects for the right audience and over the years this has proved a very useful skill. It’s something that I’m now able to do instinctively and fortunately most of the time I get it right. You can follow Iain on Google+ and...

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Fun to be Fooled

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Close-up Magician | 0 comments

Since the last blog post I’ve attended two wonderful magic conferences – in Blackpool and South Tyneside. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the best magicians in the world perform and teach some of their own effects, as well as catch up with friends I only get to see at these conventions. One of the featured performers at Tyneside was the brilliant Spanish card magician Dani DaOrtiz (pictured) – a student of the legendary Juan Tamariz. Dani, like his mentor, has an incredible knack of fooling his fellow magicians and some of the things I saw him do I simply can’t explain. Having studied magic for over 25 years, this doesn’t happen very often these days – but when it does, it reminds me of why I became a magician in the first place: to be able to create a sense of amazement and wonder. There are many people who don’t like not being able to explain something and they find magic extremely frustrating. But to me, when I see an effect that I can’t reconstruct, it’s a pleasant, almost child-like experience. A couple of weeks later, while filming a new DVD with Big Blind Media, I met Ryan Schlutz, from Orlando, Florida. He’s a very clever card magician whose work I really enjoy. Shortly after I arrived, he proceeded to fool me with several of his own magic creations. Like a couple of weeks earlier with DaOrtiz, I was astounded. Ryan is a very nice guy and kindly shared the routines with me later that evening. Not only is it nice to experience astonishment, as a working magician, it’s actually quite important to be reminded what it feels like to be a non-magician and remember why I started doing magic to begin with! You can follow Iain on Google+ and...

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You’re like Dynamo!

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Close-up Magician | 0 comments

If I had a fiver for every time someone has mentioned the popular TV magician to me in the past couple of years, I’d be very wealthy indeed – perhaps almost as much as the Bradford-born star himself. Unlike the general public, many magicians seem to treat him with derision at best and I’m not entirely sure why. While I may not be completely comfortable with some of the series content, I think he has done much good for magicians – not only by bringing magic to the masses, but also showing that it’s not all sawing women in half and pulling rabbits out of hats. Some magi have suggested that he’s just a David Blaine wannabe, but Dynamo is (to me) eminently more watchable. If I view a magic show I want to see, well magic – not some utterly pointless feats of endurance. And who can forget Blaine’s incredible (for all the wrong reasons) interview with Eamonn Holmes on GMTV? If you’ve not seen it, it’s well worth a look on YouTube! I personally think his success is much deserved – he has worked hard at his craft and has created a style that clearly resonates with his audience. I think all UK magicians owe Dynamo a tremendous debt of gratitude. Now, where’s my baseball cap?   You can follow Iain on Google+ and...

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Not Just a Job

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Close-up Magician | 0 comments

In just under a couple of weeks’ time I’ll be attending the world’s largest magic convention for the 26th consecutive year. It’s something I always really look forward to. I get to watch lectures by some of the leading exponents of this fabulous art, view the latest tricks, books and DVD’s that have been released and see some fantastic magicians perform their acts in the biggest theatre in Europe. Some of my professional magician friends attend too and it’s great to catch up with them – but there are lots of them who don’t go. Some are jaded, others can’t spare the time, but I have to go, I really do! This is my job too, but it’s also an obsession which has never waned for over a quarter of a century and I strongly suspect it never will. Only 10 more ‘sleeps’ to go!   You can follow Iain on Google+ and...

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