I didn’t know it would be as if Benedict Cumberbatch was waiting for me at the theatre as I cycled over to the Hackney Empire for an Open House London tour this month. Hackney Empire is of course one of the great success stories of a UK variety theatre returning from the dead.  I also wanted to go because I’ve always had a soft spot for the place as it was the first theatre where we did a public show of my act Norvil & Josephine in a variety revue there in September 2007.  But here’s the thing… While Mr Cumberbatch wasn’t actually there that day, the Open House tour struck me as a sort of Sherlock Holmes examination of this gem of[…]

I’m just back from a whirlwind sweep of California. The first secret was for me. Even as I flew from Heathrow to San Francisco before a connecting flight to northern California, I still didn’t know where exactly I’d been booked to perform my show. I knew it was in a secret location a two-hour drive from the nearest small airport. My escort – a cowboy who worked at the estate I was headed for – greeted me at the airport and on the way he filled me in as to the specifics of this mystery. It turns out I had been booked to perform in an enchanted forest, of sorts. A private location tucked away in these magical Pacific woods I had[…]

What do Lady Gaga, a string of Broadway musicals and Harry Potter all have in common? The answer is magic consultant Paul Kieve. He’s accumulated an impressive list of projects he’s consulted for, adding magic to shows that tell stories. I did a degree in theatre and I’ve always been interested in storytelling. So what Paul does using magic to help tell stories I’ve always thought is some of the most magical magic out there. I sat down with Paul a few months ago over coffee to chat about these things and have finally managed to get it in writing. Here I am with Paul talking about how magicians can better connect with their audiences, the ‘problem’ of the magician’s ego,[…]

My alarm went off and my eyes shot open looking toward the ceiling. It was the morning of Day Two of my most recent clown training workshop and I felt muscles used from the day before that I never knew I even had. My brain was fried as well – maybe just from being repeatedly catapulted out of my comfort zone for a continuous five hours the day before (sometimes to land with a splat!) Clowning can be many things but if you’ve never thought much about it, it’s probably not what you think it is. And I definitely had no idea what I was in for… BANANA PEEL IN POSITION: ENTER THE CLOWN STAGE RIGHT One sweltering summer’s day[…]

As I walked through the drizzly December morning in the once shishi Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens after my interview with magician Kevin James, I couldn’t help but think that a hundred years of entertainment history had come full-circle back to this moment. Over coffee Kevin told me he had discovered that just down the road from where we sat, the Queen’s Head pub had been owned by Charlie Chaplin’s uncle. Chaplin had said that it was the distinctive gait of the stable hand who worked in the stables next to that pub that inspired the most famous walk in entertainment history. Still wonder why has anything come full-circle? OK, here’s the answer: Kevin’s of course the magician who for decades has bemused[…]

It’s almost like a cruel joke: your mouth is bone dry and the rest of your body has sprung leaks in places where you didn’t know sweat glands even existed! All this while your stomach feels like it’s either left your body or turned into an anvil. I know this from my experiences as a stage magician but it’s a wicked twist of fate that’s an all too-common feature in most people’s lives. Yes, that’s what I’m saying: you’re not alone. Karen Dwyer and Marlina Davidson are researchers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha who in 2012 carried out a survey of eight hundred and fifteen college students. The survey asked students to select from a list of the most common[…]

In great films there must be a reason why we get sucked in to caring for something even as implausible as, for example, a boy called Elliott who befriends an alien. It’s probably the same reason why we can’t stop watching a TV series about a charismatic and ruthless couple hell-bent on becoming the U.S. president and first lady, crushing anyone who stands in their way. I’d think it’s also the reason why one woman can convincingly swing between playing Margaret Thatcher in one film, a contemporary New Yorker lost in the musings of Victoria Woolf in another, and yet transform herself into Julia Child in the next. Why all this has been on my mind is another story though… You[…]

What would you respond?  In the past I’ve received emails and phone calls to either ‘heal’ or ‘curse’ a particular person. This happened despite what I think is unmistakably clear messaging on my site that I’m a London magician offering magic entertainment and nothing more miraculous (or sinister) than that. How many calls would I get if I actually professed to hold secrets to the dark arts or was a miracle guru? People have different comfort levels to not knowing the ‘secrets’ in play in a magic show. Everyone tends to fall in one of three categories as they respond to the ‘magic’ they just saw.  In my London magician shows, there are three types of people I meet. Here’s a little personality test. Which one are[…]

What’s there to do when it all falls apart?  People often ask if things ever go wrong for me as an illusionist in front of an audience.  Of course it happens but if the illusionist is good at improvising and has thoroughly thought through back-up plans then it can be a life saver.  Also, most of the time the audience doesn’t know what’s supposed to happen so the illusionist can usually work their way out of the pickle through some fancy footwork. But sometimes, it’s worse than that… The year was 2006 and I had been working frantically for months with my partner in crime Desireé Kongerød to create a brand new illusionist act to debut at London’s Old Billingsgate Market[…]

Traditional Neapolitans started their New Year by throwing old clothes, dishes and furniture off their balconies. It looks like a dream-come-true for a health & safety manager but it’s just a pragmatic way to start afresh and make room for the new.  I learned about this tradition while living in Italy… long before a future as a corporate magician was in sight.  While only a minority still heave their sofa onto the cobblestone alley below at the stroke of midnight, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions still lives on.  Because of the theme of a new project, the resolution I’m thinking the most about these days is getting out of my comfort zone to reach new horizons. As you can imagine I’m usually[…]