Well, it’s that time again.  Time for the bi-annual Arkansas Anime Festival.  I’ve been doing magic shows there for the couple of years and I love it.  The audiences there are freaking amazing.  The most non-judgy, welcoming, and open minded crowd of young adults ever.  In the past, I’ve just done my show, with a few special pieces thrown in, but now, I realize that that was a mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, it went over well, I’m just saying I’ve really missed some opportunities.

What opportunities you ask?

Well, while discussing last fall’s shows with my wife, I was struck with epiphany.  This is not like other venues.  These are not like other audiences.  They’re so much more open to different and non-normal things.  This show, I reasoned, was the perfect place (maybe the only place) to do some of the tricks that I love the most but can’t do in a normal show because they are… well… a little weird.

Isn’t all magic weird, Mr. Putsapenupyournose?

First off, there’s no need for name-calling, and second off, yes, it is.  But, these tricks I’m talking about are especially weird.  I’m going to be reading minds, conjuring spirits, bringing together chance and destiny, telling stories about the Norse gods, and recounting the story of the birth and death and rebirth of the universe. If regular magic tricks are a picture book, these tricks are poetry.

Not your normal kid’s birthday party.

I’m a little nervous because I’ve never done some of this stuff for a live audience before and I’m not sure how some of it will play with the crowd.  But, I chose pieces that I love deeply, pieces that I’ve always wanted to do.  I hope that passion shows and will help the audience care a little about them too.

So if you’re there, come see it.  It’s a chance to see tricks that you’ll NEVER see on a TV magic show, and probably never see in a real life one either.

And if you’re not there, hopefully there will be some video of the whole thing I an post here next week.

Wish me luck!

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It’s been a while since I posted last.  But that is kind of good news because I’ve been so busy.  Working my day job then doing magic shows has become quite time consuming and very rewarding (the magic show part anyway).  I’ve got my weekly gig at the restaurant and I have shows booked every weekend for the next month.  It’s really exciting.  So, finally, magic is becoming a job for me.

A strange thing happens when your hobby becomes your job.  When you go from doing a thing just because you love it, to doing a thing just because it’s Tuesday at 5:30.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have a passion for magic, and even though it really feels more like work now than a relaxing pastime, it’s the greatest job I could hope for and I love every minute of it.  I am extremely lucky to be able to get paid for the thing I love to do most in the world.  Nevertheless, it is a job now.  It’s work.  There is a void in my life where my magic hobby used to be.  I believe that everyone needs a hobby of some kind.  Something that you can do just because you love it.  A thing you do mainly for yourself in the quite times, to relax between the stuff you have to do.

That brings me to a week and a half ago.  I was going through some old stuff in my office and I came across some old notebooks from college.  Flipping through revealed not only class notes, but also a lot of little doodles and drawings in the margins.  I’ve always liked to draw and even had a comic strip in my college paper for a few years, but I had put this activity on hold to focus on magic.  So now, here I was, needing a new hobby, and this stuff pops up and reminds me that I’ve had another hobby all along.

So, just for fun, I’ve started a separate blog where I’m going to put my little drawings.  In honor of those margin drawings that started it all, I’ve called it Eric’s Margins.  It’s just a little fun little thing to do when I need a break from my amazingly awesome and unbelievable job of magician (I still can’t believe I’m doing this for a job!).

I’m planning on posting more here in the upcoming weeks as I get more used to my new schedule.  I’ll be talking about my shows, practice, rehearsal, and even stage fright.  Also my wife and I are planning on moving in the next few months so when we do, there will be a whole new city to spread my magic to!  I also really want to do more videos, so that’s on the list too.  So many things!  I’m excited about all of it.  Thank you all for following along!

Being Real While Being Fake

November 3, 2011

I‘ve been doing magic for a long time.  Almost twenty years now.  For the majority of that time, I have always performed as myself, that is, I never really had a “character.”  This is the way I prefer it.  My artistic goal for my performance is to genuinely express myself to my audience and share a real connection with them.  It always seemed to me that that goal would be hindered by some sort of facade of costuming and different than normal speech that would be needed to create a different character.

Now, as some of you my know, last weekend, I performed in our city’s Renaissance fair.  There was no way I was getting out of doing a character for that.  I have so much respect for people who can really create a persona on stage and totally get lost in it.  It is very difficult for me.  I’m not a great actor by any means (See examples here and here) and maybe I never will be, but I did learn something important: even when you’re playing a part, you can still be real.  “But, Eric,” you say, “how can that be?”  Well, I’ll tell you if you promise to stop using your brain keyboard to type questions on my blog. “Ok.  Sorry.”  Thanks.

You see, even though I had a made-up persona on, it wasn’t really a block for my real personality like I imagined it would be.  Because I was able to create the character myself, it was, in a way, just a different part of me that I was bringing forward.  I was still open to connection with the audience and able to have real interaction with them.  I could still be myself while being someone else.

My favorite performers (in any media) are the ones who after I see them, I feel like I know them better.  There’s a kind of real courage evident in going in front of people as yourself and figuratively (maybe literally, I haven’t seen your act)  exposing yourself  to them for their judgement.  And when they judge you, they are really judging YOU.  It’s amazing, it’s vulnerable, it’s beautiful.  Now, don’t get my wrong, people who perform in character need to be brave too.  If you can’t sell it, if it doesn’t FEEL real, they’ll tear you apart.  While it might be easy to blame the character if things go wrong, you have to take with that the fact that when things go well, the character gets the credit, not you.  I don’t think I’ll ever do a lot of character work (I don’t think my ego would allow the credit to go to someone else, even if it is still technically  me) but, I will do the fair again next year, so I’ve got some time to work on it.

Still Becoming a Magician

September 28, 2011

I don’t usually like to toot my own horn, so:

Warning:  The following blog entry contains several examples of mild to moderate self horn tooting.  Those with weak constitutions beware.

Exactly one year ago yesterday, I began this blog.

But that’s not all I began.  I began my journey to become a magician and to finally live my dream.  In one short year, I’ve gone from having done nothing to having done a renaissance fair, 2 anime conventions, a few birthday parties, some festivals, and I’ve even gotten a recurring gig at a local restaurant.  No one could possibly be more impressed with this than me.

And it is at this point, one year in, that I am struck with how accidentally brilliant the title of this blog is.  Let me explain.  At the start, I figured I would document my path toward becoming a professional, working, magician; I was becoming a magician, and at some point in the future, I reasoned,  I would BE a magician.  End of blog.  However, even now that I feel pretty comfortable calling myself a magician, I am constantly seeing ways to become better and grow as an artist and entertainer.  So I’m at a strange point in my journey now.  I can look back and see I’ve come a long way and I can look forward and see I still have a long way to go.  Thankfully, I don’t have to go alone.  The support from my wife, family, and friends has been remarkable and not only could I not have come this far without it, but, the way ahead wouldn’t look so bright without it either.  So thanks to all of you.

Now I begin the next steps.

Speaking of which, I took one last night.  I’ll set the scene:  a busy restaurant full of families, kids everywhere, and me, strolling from table to table entertaining one group after another.  I’ve worked there for a few months now, and have been really excited about putting all the theory about that type of performing to practice.  Since I’m only at each table for about 5 minutes, I only need 5 or 6 different tricks for any given night that I just do over and over again for each new audience.  There is no better way to get good at a magic trick than being able to perform it 20-30 times in a row for different, real audiences.  It’s been tremendous for both my skill and confidence.  So here’s what happened:  I’m at a table doing my stuff when all of a sudden there is sort of a shift in my brain.  I noticed that I wasn’t thinking about doing the trick.  It was more like I was in my head watching myself do the trick.  I could even hear myself talking.  That’s when I realized that I was on auto-pilot.  I had done the routine and performed the script so many times that I didn’t even have to think about it anymore and my body would just take over.  I knew it so well it was like a reflex.  I’ve heard of other performers doing this.  I thought all of this to myself while the trick was still going on without missing a beat.

I knew that I was at a crossroad (not the blues kind… well, could be, I guess).  I could use the power for laziness and just space out and wait to regain awareness in the car after the show, or, I could use the power for the growth of my abilities.  Luckily, I chose the second one.  My big (and when I say big, I mean BIG) goal as a performer is to express myself through my craft.  When I get done with a show I want people to feel like they got to know me; I want to be genuine and real on stage not some generic rabbit-puller.  So, seeing the opportunity, I reengaged myself with the performance.  I saw that when I knew I didn’t have to worry about the mechanics of the trick (my hands know what they’re doing), I was able to actually be present and communicate more openly and respond to the audience more genuinely. In short, I was able to let more of myself come through.  In shorter, I got real.

This is a huge step forward for me.  In the past, my anxiety about performing lead me to use the script as a crutch.  If I didn’t have everything I was going to say planned out beforehand, I would just get too nervous to do it.  And if something unexpected happened, or something got me off track… forget about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous, probably always will, and I’ll probably always need a script of some kind but, I think I’m  slowly gaining the ability through experience to go off script, interact with the audience, then return to the script when I need to.  I’ve always been in awe of performers who can do that well, and frustrated that there’s no method in a book that tells you how.  Turns out, you can’t learn everything from books.  Some things you can’t learn until you learn them and you don’t know how it happened.

So now it seems that the “magician” in “Becoming a Magician” is not just the name of a job.  The magician is an image of myself as the performer, artist, entertainer, and person that I want to be and that I am working everyday to become.  So stick with me.  My journey is far from over.

Quick Update

September 28, 2011

Hey, everybody, it’s been a while.  I just wanted to put some things up here quickly, but fear not, a longer post will be forthcoming  later today.  First off, don’t worry, there will be a new Magic Time video soon.  I got thrown off my usual schedule last week due to stupid sickness.  And by that I don’t mean that I had something called “Stupid Sickness” (I don’t think that’s a real thing) I just mean that the sickness I that I had was stupid (seriously. Look it up,  Bacteria and viruses aren’t exactly Mensa material).

Anywho…

I’ve got some stuff I want to write about today so look for that later and I’ll also be working on a new video.  October is a fun month for me with my wedding anniversary, birthday, Halloween, and I’m even doing a magic show at the renaissance fair again, so I should have some good stuff to share with you through my video films.

Ok, that’s it for now.  Check back later today, there will be more.

Magic Time! 21

September 7, 2011

It’s 2:30 am.  You can’t sleep.  Restlessly, you flip through the channels hoping to land on a flickering image that will either renew your hope for the future of humanity or bore you into unconsciousness.  At this point you don’t care which.  Eventually, you come across channel 31.  There it is.  You definitely found one of those two things.

The Magic Zone

August 24, 2011

Let me get one announcement in here before we start.  Don’t forget, the Frisco Festival is this Saturday (Aug. 27)!  My show will start at 2:00, but there will be great performers there all day!  Stop by and say hi.

Now, the video.  I hope I didn’t go too crazy with my new video editing software…

 

Magic Time 19

August 12, 2011

Hi, everyone.  I’m a little late with this post because it’s been a crazy week at my “day job.”  But, I’m not here to talk about that, lets talk about Magic Time!

In other news, my weekly gig at Golden Corral in Rogers is continuing to go well.  I’m handing out lots of business cards and meeting a lot of new folks who enjoy magic.  It’s all I could have hoped for.  In the next few days, I’m going to try to ramp up my efforts to secure another restaurant gig, hopefully here in Fayetteville.  Wish me luck!

Also I’m trying to get ready for the BIG show on August 27 at the Frisco Festival.  It’s going to be a huge, all day event.  You don’t want to miss it.  I’ve got some special stuff I’m working on just for that show.  It should be awesome.

Well, I guess that’s it.  Thanks for reading and continuing to support me.  You guys rock.

Hello, friends.  I come to you today with several announcements.  First and foremost is that I have moved Magic Time from YouTube to Vimeo.  The reason is not long or complicated so I’ll explain it after this week’s episode.  I have other announcements too, but those are covered briefly in the video and if you want more details, then read on, brave souls.

Whew!  I kinda got carried away at the end there with the announcements and what not.  But that’s just because I’m so excited about it all!  So for all those still with me, here’s some more details.  First off, YouTube really mad me mad yesterday.  I spent a total of six hours trying to upload episode 18!  The upload reached 100% 3 times and then crashed leaving me to start over.  It’s been giving me problems for weeks now but this is the first time I’ve been completely unable to get it to upload.  So I said, “enough, YouTube!  You stick to your videos of cats playing the keyboard (hilarious by the way) and I’ll take my little show elsewhere.”  I had played around with Vimeo a few months ago and really liked it.  I could personalize my page way better than on YouTube and the videos uploaded faster and were better quality.  So, there you go.  Easy decision.  Click here to see the new channel!  I’ll be uploading past episodes gradually over time so eventually, they will all be there.

Second, yes, Magic Time is going from a weekly video to an every other weekly video.  I think I made the case pretty well in the video: I just want them to be as good as my vision of them and that just takes more time.  Especially now that I’m getting busier and busier, which is awesome!

Lastly, the “contest.”  Ok, it’s not really much of a contest, but I’m still really excited about it.  All I ask is that you spread the word about me and my magic.  How hard could that be?  Help me get a gig, and you can be on the internet!  It’s that easy.  I’ve been wanting to do episodes with guests for a while now, because so much of my magic needs someone there to interact with.  I just thought this would be a fun way to do it that could help my business grow at the same time.  Win win.

Well, thanks for sticking with me this long if you’re still reading.  You’re way better than all those other people who just stopped half way through.  Seriously, though, thank you all for the continued support and helping me make my dream come true.

Magic Time! #17

July 22, 2011

An old fashioned episode with just me talking to the camera.  I wanted to share this piece I’ve been working on for a while now.  It’s a personal story about my path along the road to becoming a magician.  Enjoy.

 

Egad!  This is my 50th post!  Thanks everyone for reading and watching.