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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The May 2009 entrée: Jeff McBride » » Mask Routine Origins? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Levent
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Hi Jeff:

My all time favorite Jeff McBride routine is the opening mask segment.

I remember the first time I saw it was in the end of 1981. We were walking around the NYC theater district at 2 o'clock in the morning and you told me that you had a routine you wanted me to see. So we went back to your apartment and you sat me down in at your kitchen table. You then walked two steps down into your slightly sunken living room and quickly put the props and costume together. Once it was all set you had your back to me and with your extended right hand you hit the combo cassette/record player and opening music began, you turned around and then blew me a way with the stunning mask routine.

Quite frankly it was actually a bit scary to see the masks and mime movement performed close up and in a domestic setting. That moment has always stuck with me as a real magical moment in my life.

In order to respect your artistic privacy, I won't mention the music tracks that you used for your act back then. But it has always interested me that the old music for the mask, cards and intro tune for the rings all came from albums that were released in 1979. From this bit of information, I get the feeling that the period between 1980 - 1982 (where you were working regularly at Club Ibis/Cafe Versailles) was a period of enormous artistic growth and the time where is all came together for you.

Is my sense of this period in your career accurate?

How and when did you create your wonderful opening mask routine?

Best regards,
Levent (still spooked from watching the mask routine from 6 feet away!)
http://www.LeventMagic.com
Jeff McBride
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Greetings Levent,

You have an amazing memory and recall for details my friend! If anyone ever does a bio on me they should consult you for sure. You have the right info! The music, the masks the mime, and the magic all came together during that late 70's early 80's time.

It was the result of a number of influences. One of the few objects I still have from my childhood is a paper mache mask. It is a Mexican carnival mask of a devil. I have always loved mask play and shapeshifting. I loved getting FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine, and seeing all the Hollywood special effects and masks and make up. so this passion for masks starts when I'm 7 years old. After that I find magic books, and start working on my show.

THE GOAL
In the 70's many of my friends and I were influenced by the big names in magic. Many of the most famous magi did "theme acts". Richard Ross had clocks and watches, Mr. Electric did the light bulbs, Ger Copper had the candelabras, Di Sato had the Mephisto act, Pierre Brahma won FISM with the jewelry act, Norm Nielsen did the music-magic act, and the list goes.

THE ALLIES
I was looking to find "my thing" I had experimented with a few other theme acts over the years. I was booked to perform at a Larry Weeks one day convention. It was there I met Vito Lupo. His act was very progressive. He was mixing mime with his show. He was doing his classic “Pierrot act.” It was a light and sweet character and totally charming. Wow! I wanted to add that mime stuff to my show too. I was careful not to copy Vito's style. I went in the other direction. I went dark and mysterious...sort of the polar opposite of Vito's style. During this time I started work on "the money act". We will get back to that....

THE QUEST
I like to experiment with many different art forms. It has always been my passion to combine my magic with other skill sets. It started when I learned martial arts at 8 years old. I also took drum lessons for many years. I developed a good sense for rhythm and movement. I utilized the movements that I learned in those judo and karate classes in my shows. All through high school I experiment with different styles. I am a fan of David Bowie and Alice Cooper, so I experiment with make-up and costuming and rock music. I perform hundreds of rock and roll magic shows in my local area. One day in 1976 I get a call... a friend of my fathers is a record producer gives me the opportunity to go to Japan as the opening act for THE FANIA ALL STARS.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fania_All_Stars

Just imagine! I am 16 years old and on a tour bus driving across Japan, with a bunch of famous Latino musicians as their opening act! While on the of tour Japan I see Kabuki theater. WOW! I want to learn that too! I return from this mind expanding tour and graduate school. I return form the tour and do more shows. I finish out school and move to Manhattan to seek my fame and fortune. While in NYC I studied at THE AMERICAN MIME THEATER,with Paul Curtis, and other mime teachers. I was involved in the performance art scene downtown, and was taking jazz and ballet classes. I was working at Flosso's Magic shop during the day and doing shows at night, and fitting classes and practice in between all of this. Lou Lancaster gave me a job at the Ibis nightclub. That became my laboratory for the next few years. I get back to work on "the money act".

THE MENTORS
I had help from Lou Lancaster and Mike Bornstein; both of these men performed with dollar bills and coins. I also befriended Jeff Sheridan. He became a major influence on my magical thinking and style. I sought out lots of professional guidance and got it! Bobby Baxter, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Irv Tannen, Tony Spina, Harry Lorayne, and many other NY pros gave me their attention and ideas to help build the act. I thought I had found it!! I would be know all over the world as the “Jeff McBride and his fabulous Money Act”!
I was wrong. But the training gave me a solid foundation in the skills I needer later in life. The “money act” was a good card, bills and coins, manipulation act, but it was not sensational. I knew I needed more training and more skills to create the show that would set the world on fire! Back to work.....more study, more research and classes...lots and lots of classes.

THE FIRST MASK
My initial mask act developed during the time I was working at Club Ibis. I was doing 13 shows a week as part of the cabaret show. I had lots of opportunity to experiment. One of these experiments was just placing a mask on the front of my magic table as decor. THAT was the fist step; just getting the mask onto the stage. Now what? The next night I tried walking on with the mask on my face, then taking it off and setting on the table. Then I added a second and third mask and experimented every week doing more variations. Some of the stuff stuck; the floating mask, color changing masks, productions and transformations. Other material found its way to my storage were it sits silently as a reminder of just how many hundreds of prototypes we make to get one finished piece of magic.

ARTISTIC ALCHEMY
During this time in NYC ,I was exploring the downtown art community and the edgy world of experimental theater. A group of eclectic artists called Le Clique Fantasy Players hired me to do my interactive performance art and magic at some disco shows in Manhattan. Le Clique as an alchemical fusion of visionaries and misfits.It was a blend of neo- vaudevillians, circus artists, fire eaters, mimes, strippers, jugglers, impressionists and me; the magician! It was there in the early 80's disco days that I met with dancer/ choreographer Alice Farley, who at that time was creating a name in the avant garde and modern dance worlds.
http://www.alicefarleydancetheater.com/

Alice’s vision made a deep impression on me, and we collaborated on a number of shows for many years. Alice and her dance company helped encouraged me to take risks and to expand into new territories, break rules, and create a new kind of magic…. that was just the genesis of "The Mask Act".

The masks have always seemed to be a metaphor for personal transformation. Over the years the show has changed many times. I have created many different versions. I shed versions of my mask act like a snake sheds its skin. Each new version is like a new skin, and a spiritual renewal on my quest to find myself. As the sign, carved over the doorway into the Greek Mystery temples said …"KNOW THYSELF".

THE GIFT
It is my intention to inspire other magi on the path to have the courage to strip away the old and open up to the new. My mask performances are my way of empowering others to take risks and to find out who they really are. Magicians spend many hours, if not years, of our lives in front of the mirror. Perhaps the greatest mystery we will ever behold is our own face in the mirror. Each year the masks are a bit different. Maybe they are an outer reflection of my inner transformation as I evolve and refine my life and my lifestyle as a magician.

THE RETURN
My mask performances continue to evolve outwardly, as I do inwardly. Now I am working on an entire new series of performance pieces. Some of them will be in my show this season. I hope you can see them. The new pieces reflect where I am on my quest at this time. I hope our paths meet soon my friend.

Thank you for your question Levent. Writing this short history of the mask mystery, brought back many great memories.

Yours in the art of transformation,

JEff
Let's keep in touch! I would love to send you my free, inspirational MUSE-LETTER. SIgn up here:
<BR>http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/
<BR>
<BR>Creator of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHcwrL6lZU]The McBride Magic and Mystery
Jeff McBride
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P.S. Levent,

I should also mention that my room mate at the time was Gregg Webb. Gregg's artistic input was crucial to the development of the "mask act." He Is an excellent artist. He painted my very first "magic masks."
I still have them! Gregg was also one of the illustrators for the Tannen's Topics and catalogue. In the 1980's, Harry Lorayne hired Gregg to do illustrations for the APOCALYPSE as well.

Gregg often illustrates magic books like LIFE ,DEATH AND OTHER CARD TRICKS by Bob Neale.

I am still in touch with Gregg. He is writing magic routines all the time. Here is one of our articles and one of his illustrations for you my friends!
http://www.secretartjournal.com/archives/204

Yours in the history of the mask and magic mystery,

JEff
Let's keep in touch! I would love to send you my free, inspirational MUSE-LETTER. SIgn up here:
<BR>http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/
<BR>
<BR>Creator of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHcwrL6lZU]The McBride Magic and Mystery
LeeAlex2002
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This is an absolutely fascinating read.

Thank you for sharing so deeply the history of what has become your trademark.

This would make great material for a book!
Yours Magically,
Lee Alex

http://www.magic2wear.com
Levent
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Hi Jeff:

I had no idea that you were friends with Gregg Webb. I have never met Gregg, but my pal Charles Reynolds speaks of him often. I did purchase some of Gregg's e-books a while back and I like them very much. Even printed them out and put the hard copies in my library.

Best regards,
Levent
http://www.LeventMagic.com
Jeff McBride
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Jeff McBride
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I really love Gregg Webbs' art and his ideas. He has many great magic stories too.

Get to know him one day Levent!

Yourold friend,

JEff
Let's keep in touch! I would love to send you my free, inspirational MUSE-LETTER. SIgn up here:
<BR>http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/
<BR>
<BR>Creator of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHcwrL6lZU]The McBride Magic and Mystery
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