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Czimmerman
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Markesan, Wisconsin
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One of my close friends in high school was a magician. I was his test audience for many years. I read a lot and own almost every book I have ever read (+15,000 books). When I find a subject that interests me I gather books on that subject. Sometimes I come across an interesting book at a yard sale or second hand store that gets me on a subject.. I found a two book set of stage illusion designs at a second hand store and that put me back into magic. Magic led me to Simon Lovell, Simon's book on Con Artistry led me to Tood Robbins and sideshow acts..

Magic/illusion/mentalism/con Artistry is something that I have studied on and off since high school. It is only know that I am starting to really appreciate the performers/designers, the concepts, etc...

For me there are two parts to Magic.. The Art of Magic and the Science of Magic. I don't like people enough to be a performer. Performing is the Art of Magic. I do love to study the how and why of magic. That is the Science of Magic. I like the choreography... the script writing, the prop design, etc.. Hopefully someday I will write (or make) something for a magician that will make him (or her) famous.
WagsterMagic
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Myrtle Beach, SC
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Worlds Greatest Magic 1-5 did it for me. Peter Marvey, Topas, Jeff McBride, Greg Frewin, and Jason Byrne stand out in my mind. Then a magic kit for Christmas led to where I am now.
The Wagsters: World Class Magic & Illusion
www.wagstermagic.com
RogerTheShrubber
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I started with coin tricks and am not really sure why other than my love of coins (I've been collecting for decades) and the effect of changing one coin into another. I discovered very early that you can absolutely blow people away when you change their Jefferson nickel into a Liberty Head nickel.

But I do mostly card tricks now, and what got me started on that was seeing my very first card trick as a child, "Calling the Cards." I had no idea how it was done, it was driving me insane, so the next time my mom went to a bookstore I tagged along and found a copy of Scarne on Card Tricks. I bought it solely on the hope that the secret to the trick would be in it. Luck was with me, because it was THE VERY FIRST TRICK IN THE BOOK (of over 150 tricks).

When I read the secret, I felt like a complete idiot for not having figured it out. It was a long, long time before I started to do card tricks for others, because at this point I was obsessed with just figuring out the ones I saw and not feeling like an idiot again. Nowadays I like doing them for others, especially kids and their parents (I'm a father of four, so I get a lot of chances to do that), but still to this day I wonder how many decent tricks I've passed on because the secrets seem so easy that I'm actually afraid to try them. After all, there's got to be at least one person in every audience who treats such tricks as puzzles like I used to.
olaf911
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Nice thread. Smile

At the age of about 10 I absolutely loved to watch magicians. One day I got a magic set as a reward for reaching a personal goal. I honestly practiced the tricks, but found they sucked. My dad was not very enthusiastic about my wish to attend meetings of the local magic circle, and at the age of 10 I was not able to do so alone. I felt to be left alone, so there was that.

At the age of about 46 I saw the movie "Next", starring Nicolas Cage. When he transformed a stone into a lizard, there was a "klick" in my brain. I turned to my wife and told her, that from now on I would become a magician - honestly. Knowing me she did not flinch or say a word. So from that moment on magic ate most of my spare time for a lot of years now. Magic came late to me in life, but it hit hard.
Father Photius
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El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
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How many times have I repeated this story on here? I was very young, lived in Dallas, TX. We had three channels, but none came on before 4pm. I watched a test pattern until Howdy Doody came on. Then one day, as Howdy Doody went to commercial, I switched the channel to see what else was on. There was this incredibly beautiful lady. It was love at first sight. Some young guy was doing some sort of tricks and she seemed impressed with him, so I decided that I needed to learn to do tricks so I could impress this gorgeous woman and take her away from the other guy. Was a show called "Time for Magic", came on 15 minutes a couple of days a week. Speed ahead a bit. When my mother took me to the downtown Dallas Tiches Department store, we came off of an escalator and there she was, the incredibly beautiful woman, and she was selling magic kits. I tried every stunt I knew to try to get my mother to buy one, but my mother just tried to pull me away. So I turned to the only person I could, Santa Claus, and told him I had to have one of those magic sets. Low and behold, come Christmas morning, there it was, under the tree. I was too young to be in school yet. I could't read. I spent the first day trying to find the hidden trap doors in the cup and balls set in the kit. My dad finally read the directions to me and from that moment on, I was a great magician! I took that magic kit everywhere, especially the cups and balls, and practiced my magic and amazed all around me. I knew that when I again saw that beautiful lady, my magic would impress her and she'd leave that other bum.
Speed ahead a bit more, and my parents went on a vacation to visit the couple who had served as the best man and matron of honor at their wedding. Being so young, I actually thought that where ever you were in the world, that you could turn on the TV at a certain time and certain channel and see the same show everywhere. Well there was nothing but static where Time for Magic was supposed to be. What a bummer of a trip. But, it wasn't a total loss. One afternoon while I was busy playing with my magic set, my dad scooped me up to go visit an "old uncle" of his (actually the man was my paternal grandfather's first cousin). We arrived and I met "Uncle Harry". A weird looking sort of old man, a funny mustache and a shock of white hair that looked like he had stuck his finger in a light socket, though he did strike a strong resemblance to my Dad's older brother.
My dad and Uncle Harry talked over family , which interested me absolutely zero. So I sat on the floor and having brought my trusty cups and balls set, I proceeded to practice. After a bit, Uncle Harry saw what I was doing and asked about it. I told him I was a magician and this was one of my great feats of magic. Now at that age I presumed there were only two magicians in the world, the bum that the beautiful lady worked with , and myself. So when Uncle Harry asked to see my trick, I proudly did my performance (probably the worst he had ever seen in his lifetime). Uncle Harry seemed very impressed and applauded me. Then he left the room and came back with this little bird cage and had me put my hands on it and then, WHAM!, it vanished right out of my hands! It was at that moment that I realized that Uncle Harry had the makings of a magician too, so I proceeded to tell him how he needed to get one of the magic kits like I had and learn magic from it's creator.
My dad swore he would have given a million dollars for a photo of Uncle Harry's face at that point. Seems that a four year old fledgling magician (my last name is Bouton), Had just told Harry Bouton Blackstone, Sr. that he needed to learn magic from Mark Wilson.
Uncle Harry recovered from the shock and realizing my young age patted me on the head, and encouraged me to keep practicing. Well I did keep practicing with some assistance of books and a bit of instruction over the years from Uncle Harry, plus a little guidance from Mark Wilson. And don't presume the years have changed my motive, I'm still gong to get Nani to leave Mark and run off to Tahiti with me. In fact, I have one of Mark and Nani's sub trunks sitting in my living room in anticipation of packing it for Tahiti just any time now.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
TheMagicHacker
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I've always loved watching magicians, and when I was very young I got my first magic kit. I was with my parents visiting my aunt and uncle in Las Vegas, and I got a little (very cheap) kit from some shop (I don't remember the shop or where it was, though I think it was inside a casino). I used that kit until it fell apart, performing over and over for my family. Eventually, I grew disinterested and the kit found its way to the back of my closet. Fast forward twelve years or so, and I was spending three weeks in Europe with some classmates on a trip organized by my high school German club. I distinctly remember spending a few days in a hostel in Switzerland right next to a lake between some mountains. Earlier that trip, I and purchased a deck of playing cards as a souvenir from the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In this hostel in Munich, I made friends with some Canadians staying a few rooms down from myself, and I broke out the cards to play some Crazy Eights. After a few games, one of them showed me a few simple tricks that were pretty amusing. This attracted the attention of an older English gentleman who came over and showed us all a few tricks he'd learned over the years. I decided then that I wanted to learn some tricks to show my classmates I was with on the trip, so I spent a few hours using youtube to learn some pretty simple yet effective tricks, and performed a few for my friends the next day at dinner. Looking back, my performance was probably mediocre at best, but I was having a lot of fun learning these secret slights and moves. When I got back home, I headed straight to the library and started reading up on magic, and I've loved it ever since.
Francesco_Menegazzo
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Venezia, Italy
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What a nice thread, and what an amazing story Father Photius, wow!

I've always been fascinating in magic and magicians, and I had a few magic set as a child, but I never took it one step further.
It was until two years ago, when one of my best friends started studying magic, and I became his favorite audience, not only for the confidence between the two of us but also because, remembering something from the magic kits I had as a child, I could provide some kind of critical feedback.
One year later, he was showing me some new card tricks, and at the end of the session, he gave to me a deck of Bicycle (here in Italy Bicycles are really not that usual so I was stunned by the quality and the back design) and his copy of the Royal Road.
From that moment on I was absolutely bitten by the bug of magic and for the last year I've been absolutely obsessed over it, spending almost all my free time studying it.
I feel very lucky because my friend is some kind of a mentor to me and at the start he really helped me not doing a lot of errors and advising me about books, techniques etc.
ATL
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Amazing stories.

I have 2 since I started 2 times. First time I got interested into magic I think I was about 7 or something like that. I think circus came into town and we went to watch it and me talking with my parents magic came as topic at some point and they asked if I'd like to go to see magician sometime. I said yes so we did next week or something. Now I was one of those kids.. I yelled what I thought he did and tried to expose him. Now he pulled classical sucker thing on me by showing his hand empty when I yelled something like "you're hiding it in your left hand". And that was the moment that I got interested to magic first time, because somehow I got huge kicks from being fooled there. And in a good way. I loved the fact that he completely played me. However as kid you attention span is short and I did a lot of sports at time. So after few months learning through the tricks in very very ****ty magic set I gave up on it.

Now second time I started magic was about a year ago. I was fresh from army and moved to Australia for studies. I also injured myself to point where competitive sports will never be option for me anymore. So I started to kind of look new hobbies. As watching stuff in youtube I ran into few magic acts in AGT etc and Piff through 9gag I think. Now don't get me wrong. Piff's act for example, I loved it! But that didn't really spark me at all. It entertained me in every which way, but also was in no way something I'd relate as to perform anything even remotely like that myself ever.

What really stuck out to me was after seeing fool us from Piff I started watching other Fool Us performers and Shin Lim. Where Piff's act for me was "That's funny as hell, but I would never want to do anything like that myself.", Shin's act was "That's cool, amazing and I want to be able to do things like that(especially the pre show video stuff.". Also for me that was like "Holy ****, it's possible to do magic to music and make it really entertaining in serious way.". From that point I just started strolling around youtube and finding things I loved like Matthieu Bich in Fool Us, Yu Hojin's card manipulation and many more.

Also even though everyone here likes to bash on youtube tutorials. I have to say that if pretty much that same evening I wouldn't been able to go to youtube and search and learn sleights I probably wouldn't keep going. Like without 52 Kards channel I might have never continued, not because I didn't like magic, but because I didn't know if I liked it. When the spark was ignited, I think it was very good that I was able to instantly go and try it myself and learn something. Even if that something was just Charlie Cut, Shapeshifter color change or... back palming(starting with the easy ones.. but hey it looks pretty okay now after 10 months same goes for flicker which was also one of first I tried. Now it's occasionally good looking, but still total mystery if it's day of good looking flicker or flicker that looks about same as 9 months ago.).
DeadDave
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Atlanta, GA
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As long I can remember I was always somewhat interested. I fooled around (badly) with the usual stuff you pick up as a kid. But two things happened that really upped my interest: My grandfather took me to see a professional magician at Busch Gardens in the early 1980's (I don't remember who the performer was) and I learned how entertaining well-performed magic could be, and in the mid-1980's I met and became friends with a reformed professional confidence trickster and learned how predictable human psychology was and how deceptive mere words could be. This was also about the time that Harry Anderson's show appeared on Showtime.

After hearing how badly my friend was beaten by Texas Rangers in the mid-'60's (utilizing a Houston phone directory and a Louisville Slugger) when he was arrested for defrauding little old ladies (by a bank fraud scheme that involved him impersonating a federal agent), I figured that the course that Harry had found himself on was the wiser choice. Although I must mention I cannot thank my former con-man friend enough for the knowledge I gained and the money I've saved myself and others as a result of what I learned from him. Quite directly, too. At that time I worked as a Sheriff's deputy. So the knowledge came in handy surprisingly frequently.

A few years later, with some meanderings along the way, I moved to my current city where I worked for years as a private investigator. The same skills came in handy again! It seemed unfortunate at the same, but there was no "real" magic shop in town. So I started performing mentalism since I could get everything I needed from Office Depot. I still refer to it as the magic store. Since boldness and confidence are often more important than manual skill in mentalism, it's a perfect fit for me. (Not there's no need for manual skill in mentalism! Far from it!)

These days, I perform only occasionally. But I find the practice endlessly fascinating!

I must mention a strange coincidence; I hadn't thought about my con-man friend in about ten years and decided to look him up. After all, I had the resources! I found that he had died a year to the day before. Weird, huh? Smile
malaki
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I had, as a kid, seen magicians on TV and on stage at my elementary school. I had viewed a book at library, I don't remember which one, but I do remember the vast disappointment I felt, being sure that I was the victim of a con. Magic could not possibly be that easy.

A few years later, I remember performing a short show for my parents. I had produced a number of cotton handkerchiefs from a brimmed Budweiser hat that I had previously shown empty. This actually got a great response - until I also produced the Budweiser hat that I had used as a false cap inside the hat with the brim. I learned an important lesson in magic that day.

In high school, my sophomore year, I met a new guy in my class that had just performed magic at our school talent show. He had come into my art class and was showing some close up. As he sat and chatted with some friends, I talked him into allowing me to see the three ropes that he had just demonstrated. I fooled around with it and in a matter of minutes had figured out the configuration of the Professor's Nightmare. I discretely showed him my solution, and he agreed that I got it right. It took two weeks, but I finally talked him into taking me on as an apprentice, telling me to get a copy of The Amateur Magician's Handbook, by Henry Hay. The first effect that he taught me was manipulating thimbles, to see if my interest was committed enough to pursue magic. Two years later I did my first public show at the 3rd annual Medieval Fair in Norman, OK. Seeing the goings on at the fair got me started in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).

I have now been performing for 41 years.
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