Forgot your password? Reset It

Magic Newsletter, December 10, 2023

Dear Friends in Magic,
As this arrives in your email, the holiday season is in full swing: parties, bookings, shopping for gifts, and planning visits with family and friends. But I hope you can pause for…
Last month, my keynote presentation for the Mystery School’s Magic and Meaning Conference focused on Jim Steinmeyer.
Jim is widely recognized in magic as a masterful illusion designer, magic creator, historian, and author. But he is less well-known as a leading philosopher of the art—a claim I supported in my talk by looking closely at his 2008 book, The Secret No One Tells You.
It’s a catchy title, isn't it? Don’t you want to know "the secret no one tells you," but which every successful magician knows? I won’t keep you waiting; here's Jim's answer: “Don’t Perform Junk!
Wow. Let it sink in. Yes, of course that’s true. The best, most successful magicians don't perform junk. They know how to sift through the mountains of magic to sort the treasure from the trash.
Jim goes on to explain why this foundational secret of magic is rarely taught to us and why it's so easy to forget. And he offers three criteria to help us become much better sorters in our search for treasure.
In my talk I discussed all these points, but here I want to focus on Steinmeyer's third criterion: “A great trick is one that’s intrinsically appealing, interesting, or intriguing.”
What a fascinating idea! Don’t you think it's true? I do. If a routine and its props aren’t immediately appealing or intriguing, audience members are likely to tune out or turn off. 
If Jim is right about this, then it seems pretty urgent to explore which tricks and props meet, or can be made to meet, this high standard. In The Secret No One Tells You, Steinmeyer is less interested in telling us his answers than in inviting us to come up with our own. In that spirit, I offer a few questions for your reflection:
1. Which of your pieces do you think are immediately hooky or sticky? Why?
2. Do you perform any routines that seem less engaging? What causes them to be that way? Can they be fixed?
3. As you survey potential tricks, would the prop, presentation, or premise be intrinsically appealing for YOUR audiences?
Believe you me: I'll be thinking deeply on these questions during the holiday season—with many thanks to Jim Steinmeyer.
In October, I was interviewed for an excellent new digital magic magazine, Amateurs. Ezequiel Reis, a participant in some of our School programs, is deeply involved in this project, along with a creative team of talented magicians.
Each issue includes magic routines, along with thoughtful articles and reviews—and a major story or interview. Personally, I read each issue cover-to-cover.
My interview ran in issue 4. Ezequiel's questions invited me to share some of my deep views about such things as expressing ourselves when we perform, being truthful on stage, the enchanting power of words, and my approach to magic teaching, among others.
If you enjoy my work, I think you’ll find the interview to be interesting. I have been granted permission to share a PDF of it, which you can access here. Also, you might consider subscribing to Amateurs through the magazine’s Patreon page.
I have just finished a terrific little book by Morgan Housel titled, Same as Ever. Housel comes from the world of finance but here he has a larger scope and purpose: to dig below the instability of our crazy times to uncover some deep truths that can guide our lives.
Wouldn’t it be good to have some of those? I think so, if for no other reason than to get a break from the breathless, depressing sense of crisis it is sometimes tempting to feel.   
Make no mistake: some of Housel’s truths are a little bracing, like "things often do hang by a thread," and "bad things happening is the norm, not the exception." But he also shows that a long view of these things demonstrates our incredible human resilience and ability to innovate solutions.
Here are a few insights you might find especially intriguing:

—The ability to tell compelling stories is far more powerful and transformational than stating facts.

—The world moves by human forces and capacities that cannot be measured or rationalized. Housel says these are "immeasurably important."

—The common workplace or personal goals of perfection, maximum growth, fast money, and peak efficiency are self-destructive. In life and in business, we must learn how and when to say “Enough.”
What a great read! I found Same as Ever to be a thrilling antidote to the fear-based, click-bait media that’s everywhere these days. Enjoy a good, deep breath of fresh air!
Our big news at Theory and Art of Magic Press is, of course, our Halloween release of Eugene Burger: The Workshop Transcripts. As with the other Eugene books, I have been receiving very positive emails (thank you!), and the first review is in from Genii magazine. Nathan Coe Marsh says there, “This is an outstanding supplement to Eugene Burger: Final Secrets… This is the closest we get to learning this [Equivoque] material directly from Eugene… I highly recommend it.”
Many of you have already purchased The Workshop Transcripts. If you haven’t yet and this calls to you, I recommend doing so. As of today, only about 100 copies are left, and the book will not be reprinted. Each copy is signed and numbered by me and is only available from us at
I hope you have a peaceful, restful, and magical holiday season! Thank you for being part of my extended community. As always, stay in touch. I hope to see you in person at a magic lecture or convention event in the coming year!
Best Wishes,
Larry Hass
Real-World Magician
Dean of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School
Publisher, Theory and Art of Magic Press