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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The September 2014 entrée: Jason England » » What keeps you going » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jade Ferrer
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Hello Jason,

I'm a great fan and would love it if you happen to drop by here in the Philippines. I know we can learn a lot from a great man! Smile

Here are some of my questions:

What got you into magic and what keeps you going?

Any material, preferably books and theories, that you can recommend for card magicians or for the magician in general?

Thanks and regards! Smile
JasonEngland
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Jade,

I got interested in magic purely by accident. I had always liked watching magic on television and one day noticed that a magic shop had opened in my hometown (Knoxville, Tennessee). It was called Eddie's Trick Shop. I walked in and started off with the same basic close-up tricks that lots of people have started with: Nickels to Dimes, Scotch and Soda, Stripper, Svengali and Invisible decks, thumb tips, etc.

At some point I was shown some really great card tricks by Memphis-based magicians Jim Surprise and Richard Oakley. Jim showed me Brother John Hamman's The Twins and Richard showed me Vernon's Triumph. Those 2 tricks changed my life.

What keeps me going? The friends, the depth and breadth of magic in general and the looks of amazement on spectator's faces.

As for books, I recommend most of the classic texts on magic: The Expert at the Card Table, Greater Magic, Expert Card Technique, Card Control, The Card Magic of LePaul, The Inner Secrets Trilogy and Ultimate Card Secrets books by Vernon, Revolutionary Card Technique and the other smaller Marlo booklets are all great books.

I have a list of great card magic books in this Theory11 video that you might find interesting: https://store.theory11.com/products/what......-england

Jason
Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God's unconditional love. --Bill Hicks
shaunluttin
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The video at the link is terrific. Thank you.

Here is a 29-minute live performance of mine: https://youtu.be/lq2Rj1uf05M

I used to be quite sensitive to criticism; I am much less so now; so, please do criticize my technique, presentation, and posts. It helps me to grow, and I promise to take responsibility and not to be defensive.

Robert M
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Jim Surprise's "Surprise Aces" is my favorite spectator cuts to the aces routine. I believe it appeared in one of Jerry Mentzer's Card Cavalcade books.

Robert
Jade Ferrer
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That was an awesome reply. Thank you, Jason.

How would you define magic?

Who are your major influences in magic?

Are there new things coming up from you?

I hope you can answer these questions. Thank you very much and I am honored to have conversed with a living legend. Smile Smile Smile
JasonEngland
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Jade,

I've thought a lot about my definition of magic. I think I would define it as "an openly theatrical demonstration of an impossible or apparently impossible phenomenon."

I've chosen those words very carefully and I'll break down my reasoning for you. I say "openly theatrical" because I think it's crucial that your audience knows that a performance is taking place. If they don't know that a performance is taking place, it's too easy for the audience to dismiss what they've seen as a scientific phenomenon they don't fully understand, or decide that they must be mistaken about what they just saw.

A good example is Needle through Arm. If you think I shoved a needle through my arm, then you haven't witnessed a magic trick at all - you've witnessed some nut stick a needle through his arm. But if I assure you (as Harry Anderson does with his, "Lady, it's a trick!" line) that you're watching a "openly theatrical" (read: fake) performance as opposed to an actual demonstration, then you're much more likely to experience a magic effect.

Mullica's cigarette act is another example. Anyone who thinks he swallows them at the end hasn't seen a magic trick. They've seen a really funny guy swallow 20 cigarettes. That's not magic, it's just gross. But those of us that know he didn't swallow them see a great magic effect. Many times I've shown a layman a clip of Mullica's act and had them react at the end by saying, "Isn't it dangerous for him to swallow those?" When I mention (without telling them how it's done) that he didn't swallow them, they suddenly (and retroactively) realize that they've just seen a fantastic magic effect. The knowledge that it wasn't "real" is the only way to get them to feel like they've seen the impossible. It's perhaps a little counter-intuitive, but it's true.

So, while the above is a fine point, and many effects can blur the lines, I think it's an important point.

I include "apparently impossible" in the definition of magic to cover things like Out of this World, which don't technically violate any known laws of physics, but are so preposterously unlikely to have happened by pure chance that they play like impossibilities. Most mentalism isn't technically impossible - it's possible you just got lucky and duplicated that lady's drawing and then "guessed" at the word the guy was thinking of out of a 1000 page novel, and then predicted the exact sequence of numbers that was chosen by 8 audience members. But it is so ridiculously unlikely that "improbable" doesn't quite cut it as a description. "Impossible," while perhaps technically incorrect, feels like a better descriptor.

Things like gambling demonstrations are difficult to categorize. Many of them are simply demonstrations of skill, while others are so over-the-top that they play more like impossibilities than things that can be achieved by skill alone. Darwin Ortiz calls them demonstrations of "transcendent skill" which I think is the best phrasing. Memorizing a deck of cards in 2 minutes is skillful. Doing it in 30 seconds is "incredibly skillful" (for lack of a better term) and doing it in 2 seconds is a demonstration of "transcendent skill"; a feat so skillful it plays as impossible, even while you're telling the audience that it's a practiced skill and not magic.

With regard to magic, Vernon, Marlo, Jennings, Darwin Ortiz and Brother John Hamman were all huge influences. In the gambling world, it was Richard Turner, Steve Forte, Martin Nash and Darwin Ortiz (again) that were my biggest influences.

Darwin has a great dedication in Scams and Fantasies With Cards that I'll turn on its head here: "Thank you to all of my mentors, whether or not we've met."

Jason
Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God's unconditional love. --Bill Hicks
Ray Haining
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I think mentalism works best when spectators think it's real, which presents (some, most?) performers with an ethical conundrum.
JasonEngland
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Ray,

I don't know how you define "works best," but I imagine your definition differs from mine.

Jason
Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God's unconditional love. --Bill Hicks
Jade Ferrer
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I love how you invested time to reply to my questions and not just that but also willingly expounded on the subject. I am learning so much in those two posts.

How do you practice?

What are your practice habits?

Has there come a point in your life that you just wanted to do something else aside from magic? Magic burnout per se? What did you do? How did you get back on track?
JasonEngland
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Jade,

I'm glad you're learning from my answers.

I practice in different ways. I have informal practice, where I practice whatever strikes my fancy at the moment, regardless of where I am. If I'm traveling I "practice" on airplanes and in airports, in the hotels and restaurants while waiting on the food to arrive, etc. The quality of this sort of practice isn't very high, but there's so much of it (especially when I'm traveling) that you can make significant gains on a given move or routine with this type of practice over time.

Focused, formal practice is tougher. That's where I don't allow myself to jump from one move to another - I stick with whatever move I've planned to practice and I don't deviate from that plan. Focused practice is high quality practice and I usually don't do more than an hour at a time these days (I did a lot more when I was first getting into magic). Occasionally I'll skip a day and not do any focused practice, but make up for it the next day or on a weekend by doing 2 or 3 hours in a row, but I'd say on average it works out to about an hour a day these days.

Lastly, there is rehearsal. Rehearsal is the most difficult form of practice, because you aren't leaving anything out. You say all of your lines out loud, you should be wearing what you would wear in an actual performance, you should arrange chairs and lighting the way you'll be lit in actual performance, and you shouldn't allow yourself any luxury that you wouldn't have in an actual performance. That means that if you lose a card, or flub a move - go with it. Don't fall silent and reset and then keep going - that's artificial and you'll never be able to do that in real life. You may have to tap dance your way out of a routine that goes wrong in the real world, so you may was well "practice" that too while you have the opportunity.

These days my act has had the same basic structure long enough that I don't have to do a full rehearsal all that often. Usually once a week I'll run through a full rehearsal, and I always rehearse the day before a show or the morning of a show - sometimes several times. What I will completely rehearse is any new routine that I'm trying to put into the act or any time I have rearranged something in the act and I want to see how it's playing in it's new spot or with the new timing. This is critical. Even though you may have done the effects a million times before individually, how the effects interact with one another within a routine is often disturbed when you start moving things around. Without rehearsing, you might get to the real show and find yourself saying, "Oh right...the reason I did that trick before this one is because it retained the setup for me. Now I'm a third of the way into this trick I've done a zillion times but I don't have the right cards where I need them!"

Rehearsal would've uncovered that flaw in the routining for you.

As for have I ever wanted to take a break from magic, the answer is "not really." I've always maintained that I do magic for me. It is a performance art and needs an audience to be fully "realized" (or whatever), but I'd still shuffle cards and fool around with magic if I was the last person on Earth. I just enjoy it that much. That said, I have a wide range of interests and read extensively outside of magic. Those hours-long or day-long "escapes" that I get when reading non-magic material has so far been all the distance I need to be able to come back to magic a day or so later with plenty of excitement and enthusiasm.

Jason
Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God's unconditional love. --Bill Hicks
Jade Ferrer
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Though I haven't seen you perform live, coming from your practice habits, I can see that you are a great performer.

How did you come about the character "Jason England" and who is "Jason England"?

When and how did you start as a performer? Did you get paid right away? Who markets you?

How do you filter the material that you perform to the lay audience?

I know my questions are exhaustive and I appreciate every ounce of effort that you put so that we can learn! Thanks, Jason! Smile
Ray Haining
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My definition of "works best": thrills and delights people and makes them want to see more.

Jason, what's yours?

[By the way, I ordered (from H&R) and am waiting anxiously for the DVD version of your "At the Table" lecture.]
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