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Theory, Articles & Reviews

Theory is too often neglected. As the saying goes "The most practical thing is a good theory," you should be well grounded in magic's theory. We offer a wide variety of titles from the classics Our Magic, The Art of Magic and Fitzkee's trilogy, to modern articles by some of the most respected and outspoken teachers like Jamy Ian Swiss and Michael Close. You might also want to browse our Marketing category which offers a lot of advice on how to present yourself in a professional manner.

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S. W. Erdnase
The Expert at the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase

Originally entitled Artifice Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table, is probably the most cited and referenced book about card gambling moves - a classic in the history of magic literature. A must read for any card magician or aspiring gambling expert and an indespensable reference book. While the authorship of this book is hotly debated we are convinced it was Edward Gallaway. (For a detailed work on the search for Erdnase see Hurt McDermott's Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase.)

[A copy of this book is also included in Michael McDougall's Card Mastery. This ebook is also available in a German translation.

Paul Fleming wrote:

The information contained in this book is the very basis of modern card conjuring. When first...

★★★★★ $5
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Chuck Romano
The Art of Deception by Chuck Romano

In 1997 The Art of Deception - The Affinity between Conjuring and Art was published. The 407-page, hardbound book was a limited edition of 500 signed and numbered copies. It was well-received and quickly went out of print. The book has never been reprinted, and probably never will be, because the cost would be too great. The Art of Deception originally sold for $110. Now you can have a copy of this fascinating book for a fraction of the original price. An errata page and addendum are also included in this ebook.

The book contains hundreds of illustrations, with many of them in full color....

★★★★★ $29.90
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Harry Houdini
Mysterious Mr. Yu by Harry Houdini

Mysterious Mr. Yu or Haldane of the Secret Service is a story (film script) to one of Houdini's own movie creations. It features Houdini as Haldane, a secret service agent who fights an evil ring of counterfeiters, interwoven with a love story.

1st edition, 1921, Harry Houdini; 6 pages.

$2
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Nevil Maskelyne & David Devant
Our Magic by Nevil Maskelyne & David Devant

Two things are noteworthy. One, it is a must read book for magic theory interested. Two, it has a 20 page biographical index of card tricks. This includes sleights as well. Anybody doing research on card moves or routines should have this index. It makes searching a lot easier. And this index might point you to interesting books you have not heard about or which are not in your possession.

Paul Fleming wrote:

For almost half a century, "England's Home of Mystery" in London was the "capital" of the magic world; and for a considerable portion of that period the active operation of this little theater of...

★★★★★ $12
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Arthur Buckley
Principles and Deceptions by Arthur Buckley

Another great book from Arthur Buckley. He discusses some theoretical aspects of magic and then goes into detailed instructions of moves and routines with coins, cards, and billiard balls. I can highly recommend this book.

1st edition, 1948, Arthur Buckley; original 222 pages; PDF 185 pages.

  • CHAPTER ONE
    1. Photograph of the Author
    2. Dedication
    3. Introduction by Theo Bamberg (Okito)
    4. Foreword by the Author
    5. The Principles of Magic
    6. Manipulation
    7. Substitution
    8. Duplication
    9. Camouflage
    10. Imitation
    11. False Partition
    12. Concealed Mechanism
    13. Falsification
    14. Arrangement
    15. Preparation
    16. Misdirection
    17. Concealment ...
★★★★★ $7
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Jarle Leirpoll
Pocket Power by Jarle Leirpoll

Jarle Leirpoll is one of Norway's leading Stand-Up and Close-Up performers. He received the Norwegian magician of the year award in 1998. You will find effective and deceptive ways to switch, ditch and steal - using only the normal pockets and occasionally a Topit. Several original routines and lots of techniques and ideas are explained in detail, including more than one hundred illustrations. On top of that four video clips are embedded in the ebook which show 5 effects. The chapter about Choreographic Misdirection has been significantly increased over the paper version of this book from 1995. ...

★★★★★ $13
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Harry Leat
Magical Cartoons & Interpolations by Harry Leat

Harry Leat presents a great selection of cartoons with a magical theme, many of which reveal a universal truth. They will make you think, just as they will make you laugh. Harry also continues his stories from Forty Years in & around Magic.

1st edition, 1927, Harry Leat, London; 95 pages.

  1. Truth
  2. Your Mirror
  3. Introduction
  4. A Good Opening
  5. The First "Palm"
  6. "See the Thread"
  7. Not for Magicians
  8. The Flying Candle
  9. Apparatus and Books
  10. Chemical Magic
  11. New Apparatus
  12. A Great Future
  13. Fakirism
  14. Dreams and Reality
  15. Telepathy
  16. Refined Magic
  17. "Uncle"
  18. Mr. Charles Conyers
  19. Mr. Wilfrid Jonson
  20. The Modern Conjurer
  21. The Good Old Days
  22. Circumstances...
★★★★★ $3
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Jamy Ian Swiss
Jamy Ian Swiss Book Reviews by Jamy Ian Swiss

Unless you have been hiding in the basement for the last decade, you know Jamy Ian Swiss has been writing insightful, well written, educational, funny, and opinionated book reviews for Genii magazine. Swiss, soon to begin his ninth year of book criticism, began reviewing books for Genii in June of 1994.

Now you can own the complete collection of book reviews, from 1994 through 2001, in one convenient ebook. In addition to 217 reviews, you’ll receive "A Millennium of Magic Literature," a special, comprehensive feature Swiss wrote for the January 2001 millennium issue of Genii, as well as an introduction...

★★★★★ $27.50
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Werner C. (Dorny) Dornfeld/Dornfield
Trix and Chatter by Werner C. (Dorny) Dornfeld/Dornfield

Dorny was a much liked and regarded magician of his time. One of the highlights of this book is the "Who's Who and Why" section which will tell you a lot about the colleagues of Dorny. There is also a good patter section and a number of tricks ranging from cards, coins, mentalism, most of them contributed by other magicians like Hugard, Blackstone, Jordan, Brema, Hilliar, ...

1st edition, 1921, W. Dornfeld, published by Arthur P. Felsman; 286 pages.

  1. Overture
  2. Act One - "Chatter"
  3. Intermission - "The Ne-Kro-Mancer Man"
  4. Act Two - "Who's Who - and Why"
  5. Intermission - "War Magic"
  6. Act Three - "Trix"
  7. Finale
...
$9
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Max Holden
Programmes of Famous Magicians by Max Holden

This ebook gives a very nice glimpse into the past. It describes the routines and effects of the programmes of famous magicians. You will find descriptions of programmes by Dai Vernon, Al Baker, Annemann, Cardini, Blackstone, Dante, Davenport, Hugard, Keating, and many more. Check the table of contents link further down for the complete list.

1st edition, 1937, Max Holden, New York City; 49 pages.

  1. Percy Abbott
  2. AMAC
  3. Annemann
  4. Al Baker
  5. Roy Benson
  6. Walter Baker & Co
  7. McDonald Birch & Co
  8. John Blackledge
  9. John Booth
  10. Harry Blackstone
  11. The Late Herbert Brooks
  12. Milbourne Christopher
  13. The Great Carmo
  14. Keith Clark
  15. Cardini
  16. Cortini
  17. Chris Charlton
  18. Judson Cole
  19. Henry Clive ...
★★★★ $6
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Daniel Skahen
Magic by Theory by Daniel Skahen

As the title suggests, this is a pure work about theory, but not old and dusty thoughts, instead a fresh and new look by Daniel Tyler. Certainly you will find topics which are as old as magic, such as 'the merit of gimmicks' and 'misdirection', but you will also find a chapter dealing with 'where to shop', which is up-to-date and includes places on the internet. This chapter alone can save you a multiple of the price of this ebook. Or what about 'getting the girl' or 'how to admire Blaine, but be yourself' - all topics that Daniel discusses. You might be shocked to hear that Daniel is just eighteen...

★★★★★ $7.50
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Daniel Skahen
The Public Approach by Daniel Skahen

This ebook addresses in a fairly comprehensive and very thoughtful way, how should one approach a stranger with magic. I have not seen any other work which addresses this issue in such detail and with such practical advice. If you are looking to do some 'street magic', this is an ebook you should not ignore.

1st edition, 2005; 140 pages.

  • Why the Public Approach?
  • Reversing the Perspective
  • Fundamental Human Nature
  • People are Bored
  • Personal Confidence
  • The Freedom of Indifference
  • Reframing Limiting Beliefs
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Practice Makes Perfect
  • Testing the Waters
  • It's Nothin' Personal ...
★★★★★ $10
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Jim Kleefeld
The Contract Book by Jim Kleefeld

Unless you are exclusively performing for friends and family, you should have a contract for each engagement. Of course, the best is to have a lawyer in your home state write up a contract specifically tailored to your needs and circumstances. But before you contact your lawyer you should sit down and read this ebook to learn more about contracts. The better prepared you are and the clearer you can present your needs to your lawyer the less time it will take and the less money it will cost. Your lawyer will also respect you more if you have a better understanding and know what you want and why...

$20
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Jim Kleefeld
The Volunteer Book by Jim Kleefeld

Most magicians involve a part of their audience in some of their effects, be it the trivial act of picking a card, or a more involved on stage helper or assistant. We can call all of these people volunteers, because they volunteer to participate in one form or another. Jim Kleefeld has written the first detailed and thorough work on volunteers, how to pick them, treat them and plan accordingly. Since he is trained in theater and psychology, he is very qualified to understand the perspective of volunteers, how they feel, how they would like to be treated and how they might react.

You can find...

$20
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Michael Close
Michael Close In Review by Michael Close

Read and search all the reviews from Magic Magazine from 1995-2005. It contains almost 1400 pages of text, over 1500 books, videotapes, DVDs and tricks from the last 10 years.

Find out if that product on eBay is worth purchasing. Search for products from your favorite creators. Search on the term "highly recommended" to find out what should be in your magic library. You can search on products you already own to find the hidden gems.

This ebook is particularly useful in combination with Jamy Ian Swiss Book Reviews. It allows you to get a second opinion on many books both reviewers covered.

2nd edition 2005; 1379 pages....

★★★★★ $19.95
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Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin & Professor Hoffmann
The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic by Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin & Professor Hoffmann

The original title is Les Secrets de la Prestidigitation et de la Magie. It was the collection of lessons and information Robert-Houdin intended to teach his sons to make them expert magicians. However, his sons did have other interests, mechanics and military, which led him to publish his recordings as book. Prof. Hoffmann has translated this masterpiece into English.

  • Editor's Preface
  • Author's Preface
  • Introduction
  • Home of Robert-Houdin
  • Conjuring and Its Professors
  • Art of Conjuring
  • Coin Conjuring
  • General Principles
  • Coin Tricks
  • Card Conjuring
  • Sundry Expedients
  • Cups and Balls
  • Various Tricks ...
★★★★★ $9
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Jim Sisti
Professional Restaurant Magic by Jim Sisti

This is a comprehensive guide to developing a restaurant magic repertoire, finding a suitable venue, strategies to help you keep your job and other practical information for the working professional.

Jim Sisti is a long time, experienced and professional restaurant magician. He was also the editor of The Magic Menu, a magic journal solely dedicated to bar and restaurant magic. You won't find any effects in this ebook, but you will find heaps of practical advice to build a career with restaurant magic. And most of the information, advice and suggestions you will receive apply in good part to other venues...

★★★★★ $19
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Dariel Fitzkee
Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee

Dariel Fitzkee authored one of the best trilogies on magic theory. This volume, book one in the trilogy, primarily deals with theoretical aspects of a magic performance. This book has been cited numerous times and is one of the standard works every serious magician should read. Fitzkee has a very analytical mind and describes his thoughts clearly. As with any theory not everyone will agree with every detail and every suggestion. Regardless of if you fully subscribe to Fitzkee's thinking or not, there is plenty to learn from his writings.

Paul Fleming wrote:

Several years ago, Dariel Fitzkee wrote a...

★★★★ $9
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Dariel Fitzkee
Magic by Misdirection by Dariel Fitzkee

This volume, book three in the trilogy, is all about the psychology in magic. Mechanics alone, a sleight or move, are not sufficient to produce a strong magic effect. Dexterity by itself is more like juggling. Only if misdirection, the psychological aspect of deception, is added into the mix, will one be able to create a truly magic experience.

There aren't many good works on misdirection. This is one of the must read ebooks, a classic in the theory of magic. A shorter but modern discussion of misdirection can be read in Pocket Power by Jarle Leirpoll.

Paul Fleming wrote:

Several years ago, in our examination (Review No....

★★★★★ $9
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Dariel Fitzkee
The Trick Brain by Dariel Fitzkee

This is book two from Fitzkee's trilogy and is unlike any other book ever written on magic. It was the first book (and to my knowledge the only book) to attack magic methods from a scientific standpoint. Fitzkee develops here a classification of effects, from appearances to vanishes, and then describes a system to invent or develop new trick plots. This is an invention system. I would say it is one way to invent new trick plots. But even if you are not of the scientific sort, the classification and discussion of magic effects and methods is a tremendous resource to expand your horizon and think...

★★★★★ $9
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Leo Behnke
The Conservation of Magic by Leo Behnke

Do you know the correct temperature for your library? What should the humidity be? Can you save rotting leather? What's the best method of storing playing cards? How do you recover computer disks that have been drowned? Just one reading of The Conservation of Magic will save you years of research and study in order to care for your artifacts so future collectors will find them in the best possible condition. Each chapter gives you the basics of understanding your magic collectibles, and then, step-by-step, how to care for them. You will learn how to look at your treasures like a professional,...

★★★★★ $25
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Paul Fleming
Paul Fleming Book Reviews Vol. 1-3 by Paul Fleming

Paul Fleming wrote what some consider the best book reviews in magic ever. This is the collection of all three volumes, in total 167 book reviews. Many reviewers then and now chose to write largely very positive reviews, more like an ad rather than a critical review. Paul Fleming on the contrary wrote his true opinion and slammed a book if he thought it was garbage. That makes the reviews so valuable, because you get an honest and informed opinion.

The only danger in reading these reviews is that you will find many more books you will want to read.

1st edition 1942; PDF 273 pages.

★★★★★ $15
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Barton Whaley
Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic by Barton Whaley

This is a new edition of the famous and unique magic dictionary by Bart Whaley. Bart has continued to correct entries in this dictionary until the present. We have converted everything to PDF and added bookmarks for each entry in the dictionary as well as inserted thousands of hyperlinked cross-references to make browsing and using this dictionary as convenient as possible.

There is simply no other such encyclopedia. Some have tried but nobody has achieved what Bart Whaley has. The depth and breadth is mind boggling. Almost 4000 terms are described. This is the absolute must have magic desk...

★★★★ $50
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Bob Cassidy
Staging It by Bob Cassidy

There is no argument about the dilemma faced by many newcomers to mentalism. Are mental effects best presented as natural phenomena of the mind, or as examples of rare paranormal or supernatural abilities?

Most of today's mentalists use the "mental skill" as opposed to the "psychic gift" approach, but only rarely are they particularly consistent about it. Even Joseph Dunninger, the pre-eminent mentalist of the twentieth century, sometimes made conflicting claims. While he stated that his thought reading skills were "scientific" and not those of a fortune-teller or psychic, his promotional materials often...

★★★★★ $25
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Mark Leveridge
A Simple Guide to Creativity by Mark Leveridge

A thoroughly understandable explanation about how to create new magic and the techniques for improving the magic that you already do. De-mystify the creative process and open up your mind to simple yet effective ways to improve your magic.

Over the years there have been a number of books which have sought to create some sort of ‘system’ to explain and to formalize the process of magical creation. The problem is that in seeking to explain and elucidate the process so much jargon and complex theorizing takes place that the average reader is left with little that is understandable to work...

$10
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John Bannon & Mark Leveridge
Creativity - The Secrets of Invention by John Bannon & Mark Leveridge

At the 5th British Close Up Magic Symposium, John Bannon and Mark Leveridge held an open discussion for nearly an hour on creativity in close up magic. The techniques revealed in the course of this discussion will enable you to set about creating and refining your magic, as it provides you with a clear framework and approach. The combination of interview and questions from the Symposium audience makes for a lively and often humorous session which not only provides you with many concrete suggestions to work on, but which also entertains. Some registrants considered this to be the highlight of...

★★★★ $15
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Barry Mitchell
Stage Up-ers by Barry Mitchell

This subject and the information covered is vital to every performer. That is if you want to improve. If you think you're already the best in the world then stop reading this now. But if you want to know more about how to stand on any stage with more presence, personality, and professionalism then don't miss this recording. This could be the best you spend this year to improve your professionalism and show. But more than that it will prove that you really want to improve your talent and not just sit on the sideline.

  1. Introduction
  2. Open Up
  3. Open strong or die fast
  4. Climbing the show mountain ...
★★★★★ $20
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L. C. Collier
What is a Stage and How Do I Use It? by L. C. Collier

This publication is intended to give you a general working knowledge of the parts of a stage and how to use them. It covers stage construction, stage terminology, lighting and cue sheets. This will give you a nutshell version of subjects that would normally take three book volumes to cover.

A general working knowledge will help you present your act in the best possible way. Most of the legitimate theaters require union workers to run the theater. They appreciate it when you know what you want, what their facility has to offer and how to ask for it.

1st edition 2003; 17 pages.

★★★★ $5
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D. Angelo Ferri
The Master of Misdirection by D. Angelo Ferri

I believe that Dennis Barlotta will soon be known as the foremost teacher of Slydini's system of misdirection. There have been others before that have tried to explain and teach Slydini routines, but nobody could capture the essence of what made Slydini the master of misdirection the way Barlotta has been able to.

Dennis has studied eight years under Slydini and has spent a lifetime mastering the Slydini method. Dennis told me: "While many magicians admire Slydini, they don't understand what made him unique or how his approach can be employed by them." This is the ebook that will help you...

★★★★★ $25.99
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Terry Seabrooke
A Masterclass in Comedy Vol. 1 by Terry Seabrooke

Terry Seabrooke is a genius at comedy. He has only to walk out in front of an audience and they begin to laugh. In these recordings Terry explains how you take a standard prop and turn it into a comedy item.

Who would have thought of cutting a piece of wallpaper by getting a lady assistant to lie on it while he saws through her and the sheet of paper? Only Terry Seabrooke. Here in this master class he teaches you how to develop your own comedy magic routines and explains the essence of building comedy situations that will make your audience laugh. If you are thinking of creating your comedy...

★★★ $9
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Terry Seabrooke
A Masterclass in Comedy Vol. 2 by Terry Seabrooke

This is volume two of Terry Seabrook's comedy masterclass. How do you take any object and turn it into a comedy item?

Terry is one of the funniest magicians. He has entertained lay audiences and magicians and they all fall under his spell. It is all here. It looks so easy but it requires careful planning and a lot of hard work and the inside info that you will find here.

And even if you are not planning to put together a comedy magic show, it is extremely helpful to understand how comedy works. How do get somebody to laugh and laugh at the right moment? It puts you, the performer, in charge...

★★★★★ $9
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Kyle Peron
Encore: Creativity in the Art of Magic by Kyle Peron

Robert Houdin once said, "A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician". If this is true, then what character are you playing on stage and how are you playing it? To be an entertainer one must learn to be and think creatively. This 21 page lecture note ebook is about learning how to be creative, think creatively and how to apply direct exercises and techniques to allow your own creativity to grow with the magic that you perform.

Every single person possesses the ability to be creative. These notes teach you techniques and exercises that you can use to unlock the doors to your own...

★★★★★ $15
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Roberto Giobbi
Ask Roberto Giobbi by Roberto Giobbi

This is a totally unique book. 52 reader supplied questions. 52 opinionated, informed, expert answers by Roberto Giobbi. Roberto spent often several days to thoroughly answer each of the 52 questions. It is no wonder that this ebook has more than 330 regular sized pages. It is a publication unlike any other, where the readers gave the direction which the author followed.

Download a free extract.

The 52 questions asked and answered:

  1. Injog Overhand Shuffle
  2. Presentation Ideas
  3. How to Study
  4. Staystack
  5. Fear of starting to perform
  6. Three Card Monte
  7. Memorized version of Out of Sight Out...
★★★★★ $22
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John Mulholland & George N. Gordon
The Magical Mind by John Mulholland & George N. Gordon

If you are looking for answers about what we see, but not necessarily observe, you can do no better than to read this ebook, The Magical Mind, brought to you by two masters of perception.

With a new introduction by Ben Robinson, the expert on John Mulholland. From the introduction:

Mulholland had battled the use of propaganda during WWII, the Korean War and the Cold War. He knew that the work of those who sought to "brainwash" masses used the same tactics magician's use for entertainment – to lead the mind on ingeniously, step by step, until self-logic is defeated. Gordon had taught thousands of...
★★★★★ $15
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Bill Nagler MD
The Psychology of Magic by Bill Nagler MD

Dr. Bill Nagler is a psychologist and he provides a psychologist's in depth view of the world of magic. The information is radical and instructive.Why do top magicians rarely earn the sums of money that top stars in other entertainment fields earn? Why do some people hate magic so much? What is basically wrong with most people's approach to magic?

Find out for yourself and be prepared to be startled and perhaps end up changed in your attitude to magic. Bill includes his full close up act which helped him to pay his way through medical school. You'll see that he is not just a theorist! ...

★★★★ $14
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Richard L. Tenace
Stage Craft for Magicians by Richard L. Tenace

The average magician focuses on tricks, moves and method. The really good ones know that acting is an even more important aspect of a magic performance, regardless of if you are standing on a stage or close-up next to a cocktail table.

Richard Tenace is one of those performers who urges all magicians to take acting classes, to develop a character or persona, to script your effects, to treat our audience with respect, to go beyond fooling somebody to achieving astonishment and entertainment.

Tenace describes these methods and practices on a very accessible and practical level. This is not...

★★★★★ $25
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Richard L. Tenace
Acting for Magicians by Richard L. Tenace

A practical workbook for the serious performer.

One of the main reasons magicians neglect the "acting" part of magic is because magic is such a demanding discipline to learn. A performing magician wears many hats. The magician has to learn sleights, misdirection and technical prowess of the hands. The magician is the choreographer, writer, sound person, booker and promoter of his show. Learning how to develop a character often takes a back seat because "there's no time to do everything!" But taking the time to learn how to develop a real character, or stage persona, is the most important...

★★★★★ $12
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Jeff Hobson
Hobservations on Comedy Clubs by Jeff Hobson

The title might be a bit misleading as most of the advice is applicable to any magician who wants to add comedy to their performance.

If you are serious about mixing magic and comedy you need to read this. It will either make you reconsider your choice or give you a head start and pointers in the right direction.

"If you see one magician this decade, Hobson is it." - Herald Sun Melbourne, Australia

"Hobson closed the show with excellent magic and gales of laughter ... his acting and comedic timing are superb!" - Linking Ring Magazine

"... the audience gave him top applause at finish."...

$14
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Gene Anderson
How to be a Part-Time Pro by Gene Anderson

Gene Anderson shares his international experience and opinion on things ranging from the difference between semi-pro and part-time pro, timing, entertaining. Excellent information on how to improve and get the most out of your act.

This tape contains a first class routine embodying a couple of tricks that blend beautifully into a linked routine...not only practical but devised for maximum impact. The full performing routine for Gene's world famous torn and restored newspaper effect is given. The secret is not revealed as the manuscript can be purchased from most magical dealers but the actual...

$12
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