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Sacramento, CA
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Profile of jcrambo
Not really sure where to start, but here goes...
My interest in magic began at a very young age when one of my uncles would produce pennies seemingly from nowhere upon command, I was too young to fully grasp the reality of what had happened and to me it really was magic. I understood that there must have been some way to perform those feats myself, but I didn't know where to start or which god to pray to in order to be granted those powers.

I eventually found a few kid's magic books at the public library and my passion for learning was ignited. Instead of asking for action figures and matchbox cars I was begging my parents to buy me Marshall Brodien trick decks, Tenyo products, and anything else that was able to make me feel like I could fool the world with about 5 minutes of practice. I thought I knew it all and that no one was the wiser. As I matured my interest in performing waned, but I still held on to these gimmicks as one does a coin collection or other rare souvenirs from days past, but also grew to understand that I pretty much knew nothing at all and everyone was in on it (they were nice about it, though).

Regardless, I continued to appreciate the art and science of magic, watching as many of the TV performances as I could and I always had my personal explanation for "how it was done." Of course I was probably 90% wrong. I experienced Copperfield, Burton, Mullica, Malone, McBride, Maven, Pendragon, and many others for the first time (often not even remembering their names, but the illusions instead). Outwardly, I was content with being fooled, but internally I always kept wondering and coming up with solutions that fit.

This innate need to know drove me in a different direction however. I've heard "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and for me that was computers. I became obsessed with computers, playing video games, programming, and cutting my teeth along with everyone else in the early years of the internet. Of course, I once again knew everything... until I realized I knew nothing. A common theme in my life, sad, but inspiring.

I was driven to learn more and more, and I just knew technical college was in the cards for me. Many others though were not so certain of their futures, and in an effort to encourage us fine young students at the time that continuing our education was a good idea, multiple college recruiters were invited to speak with us. Their goal was to convince us to want to go, as I already did, I didn't see much need for them. No need at all, until one recruiter turned out to be a magician playing the role of a recruiter. Don't get me wrong, he was there to recruit and inspire, but it was more of a performance than a lecture for me.

He was engaging, asking trivia questions at first (tossing out swag for correct answers about presidents, chemistry, etc..), moving on to brass tax, and then opening for questions. Being polite, I asked for a business card to keep track of my options, not only did he give me the business card, but he did it by using a single card production technique. I was floored! This move I had seen only on TV before was right in my face and in an instant made me aware of his talent and my still lit passion for magic. I had to know how it was done. Fortunately, this man was in the business of education after all.

With my new understanding in place, I practiced the single card production every chance I had. I also turned to the internet to learn more about the move and I discovered additional sleights/moves. It lead to my discovery of the Jeff McBride Art of Card Manipulation series. I purchased them with my summer job money and watched the VHS tapes again and again, learning more moves, names of the originators like Cardini, Le Paul, Tenkai, etc... I practiced and practiced, really getting good at a few of them.

I started performing again for friends and family. Cards were appearing, disappearing, being fanned, cut, spun, and I was a kid again, knowing everything. This time though, I was really fooling them. Even my inspiring uncle was baffled, also admitting that my skills had far surpassed his own.

None of that however meant I could randomly produce pennies on command, or that I could do the things most magicians could do. I recognized that I was boxed in; I still needed more skills. I must have been a magic shop's perfect customer, willing to pay through to nose to learn it all. Unfortunately for both of us, I didn't have enough money to do so. Plus, I had no real support network for magic, just the instructions that came with the gimmick or an over-the-top book from the library. I had no friends who where into magic, plus, I was now in college trying to build my technical skills. Sadly, my interest in magic became a passing hobby. I kept my tapes, decks, props, scripts, and wand, but shelved my passion for magic and left a little of my childhood behind.

During the next 10 years or so, I completed college, became gainfully employed, got married, and moved from the mid-west to California. Occasionally, I opened my box of magic items for old time's sake or I'd do some basic card manipulation moves with a borrowed deck, but nothing more than a few minutes here and there. Recently, though, I've been drawn back to magic. I'm not sure if it is the numerous videos on YouTube, or the recent Hollywood films with magical themes, or something else all together. This time however, things are different.

Instead of looking for a new trick or the future of magic, I've been drawn to the history of magic. In this year alone, I'm happy (and embarrassed that it took so long) to say that I've discovered Dai Vernon, Erdnase, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, Doug Henning, Ed Marlo, Scarne, and other greats. I've also rediscovered my great performers by name, rather than illusion. I've acquired real classics such as Revelations, Stars of Magic, and Revolutionary Card Technique. I will admit I'm not finished with them all, but then again we're always still learning something, right?

I'm sorry that it took so much to explain my history with magic, but I feel that it is relevant, as I have a hard time classifying myself as a Close-up/Stage/Street/Mentalism performer, and a much easier time explaining who I am as a fan/student/customer/dabbler of all forms of the great magical arts.

My time and interest for magic is often limited, but my appreciation is life-long. I've lurked through the forums on many occasions, and I can say that I'm already humbled by the talent that is present here. Many contributors are the creators of products I own, or the authors of books I've read and seeing their comments has been informative and supportive. I understand that we all share a passion for magic and I hope that I can offer even a small percentage of that for the next child covered in dust to come along.

Thank you.
Mary Mowder
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Inner circle
Sacramento / Elk Grove, CA
3649 Posts

Profile of Mary Mowder
Welcome jcrambo,

I see you are from Sacramento so I probably know you. If not, it is nice to meet you.

If you would like contact information on any of the local Magic Clubs (we have 5 in reasonable driving distance) let me know. I'm not a member of all of them but I could put you in touch.

I'm assuming you already know about Steve Johnson's "Grand Illusions" Magic Shop but if not Google it.

Word to the wise, many here just skip a wall of print.

-Mary Mowder
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Sacramento, CA
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Profile of jcrambo

Thanks for the reply and nice to meet you too.
I do not believe that we've met, at least knowingly.

I work relatively close to "Grand Illusions". I haven't been there, yet, but I certainly have an interest in checking it out. I usually just stick with online shops for convenience, but maybe that will change. I was surprised to find that both Murphy's and Penguin magic have distribution centers close by as well in Rancho Cordova. Tons of "undiscovered magic" I suppose.

I would really appreciate any information you have about those 5 clubs you mentioned. I keep getting the feeling that this whole area is rich with resources, but I really haven't been able to get my foot in the "trap-door".

I figured my intro was a bit heavy, but it does stand out Smile.
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