Up Close with a Magic Legend

Up Close with Magic Legend Paul DanielsIt’s not often that you get to spend time with a legend in your chosen field, let alone be able to spend a whole day with them asking questions and listening to, and learning from, their years of experience. However, that is exactly the opportunity I had a couple of weeks ago when I, and 9 others, spent the day with Paul Daniels

So how did I get this opportunity to spend a day talking magic, up close with a TV legend?

It all came about off the back of a fabulous online magic conference – I bet you didn’t even know such things existed did you! Well they do, and Paul made a big hit at this years conference and then received hundreds of requests asking if he did any private mentoring. Now in the past he has said no to this but as he is now looking to spend more time at home, he decided to try out a new concept where he invited small groups of magicians, willing to learn, to his home for a day and let them ask him any questions they have.

Now as far as I was concerned, this was an offer that was too good to miss – especially at the price he was charging, so I duly booked up and got my place reserved for a Saturday afternoon in late September.

I arrived 10 minutes before the start time of 10am and rang the door bell, which was duly answered by the Lovely Debbie McGee; Which to be honest was a rather surreal experience – made even more so when the man himself walked around the corner and said good morning!

Now I know that this is what I should really have expected, after all I was at their house, but it was still all a bit strange.

So we all settled in to their front room over looking the garden and a lovely part of the River Thames, introduced ourselves, had some complimentary tea, coffee, biscuits and cake and listened intently to what Paul had to say with his 60 + years of experience in magic.

Just looking around the room, you can see that Paul really does live and breathe magic – in amongst the art and general pictures there were many magical artefacts and curiosities relating to the art. Even the downstairs loo, which one of the other attendees recommended I visit, was festooned with press cuttings, bill posters, pictures and newspaper cartoons – many of which had the original illustration and the actual printed version underneath – a real treasure trove of stuff.

So what did we all learn throughout this day? Well this is a bit hard to explain to people who are not involved with the magical fraternity, and much of it wouldn’t make sense. Subjects ranged from theatre shows, to the best way to do close up magic at weddings and parties through to marketing ideas and opinions. However there were probably three stand out bits from the day for me – in amongst all the various handlings for standard props, and bits of advice Paul gladly dispensed during our day there.

  1. “If they don’t know you, they can’t book you!” – now this sounds painfully obvious, but you will be amazed how many magicians just simply don’t think about this when they are trying to get work etc. and this was certainly a kick that I needed.
  2. Some great advice for working at trade shows to really help build the crowds and get custom to the stand
  3. The Malini Coin Game – this was THE take away item from the day (ok, along with many other gems that would take too long to explain here – oh and an out of print book which I found on eBay!). A simple premise, but a great little impromptu item, involving two coins, a handkerchief and a lot of skill. Ask me to show it to you the next time I see you, but don’t expect your coin back! 😉

Now in all honesty, there was one other item which was has transformed my magic somewhat and has made me use something that I had always dismissed as being too difficult. Now I can’t explain what this is without giving away too much about my art, suffice to say it has changed the way I do some of my magic and even fooled the wife – which is not an easy thing when she has seen almost as many magic items as I have over the last 10 years or so!

Back to the day. We finally finished at around 6.30pm having spent almost the entire day listening and learning. It was such a valuable experience that I wish I could go back again as I know there is still so much to hear, depending on what questions people ask – I still have two which I didn’t get time for!

It was a pleasure to meet them both, they were both excellent hosts and if there are any magicians reading this I would whole heartedly recommend the experience. Even at double the cost it would still be great value for money!