All-purpose Sydney magic guide
So how do you make magic? Well, it’s hard to find out the tricks unless you join the club -- that’s the catch.
Magicians usually take an oath against exposing secrets and it is rare to find one that doesn’t abide by it.
For the newbie prestidigitator, or just the casual wannabe, however, there are plenty of products you can buy to play your magical part.
You can even join a semi-secret magic academy.
In Sydney, magic is taking on a new look. Not only are sleights-of-hand confusing the public, but other so-called magicians are bringing powers of intuition and mentalism to the masses.
For anyone who wants to be entertained, there are plenty of places to catch a trick.
Hey Presto: Australia's largest magic shop
After 15 years as a magician, James Dehombre says he has the quickest, most magical fingers in Australia. He's also discovered he has a knack for pickpocketing.
But he promises not to try it on you if you visit Hey Presto Magic Studio, which bills itself as "the most advanced magic studio in the southern hemisphere."
Originally a joke and novelty store, Hey Presto also claims to be the biggest magic shop in the country.
Hey Presto Magic Studio attracts amateurs wanting to learn about magic, as well as professional magicians who have been performing for years wanting to top up their prop box.
Dehombre says that the ever-popular Harry Potter has encouraged more children visit the store.
Easy tricks to buy
Not everyone has to take an oath in order to put a little magic
in their lives. These products make for an easy start.
Coinvexed 2: Sharpie Edition, by David Penn ($290)
This book and DVD shows how to present the illusion of bending a coin with your bare hands.
We all know that you can’t bend a coin in a minute with your bare fingers -- but what if you grip an already bent coin?
Show your subject a coin, tapping it to show that it’s real, and flick it a little before carefully and quickly replacing it with the bent one. Boom, boom.
Urban Illusions: Ten Cutting Edge Illusions and Presentations. by J.C. Sim ($110)
The old art of illusion is all about wowing your audience. This guide for beginners teaches big-thrill tricks such as "Fortress," "Dekolta’s Dilemma" and "Crystal Metamorphosis."
Coin Pail, by Morrisey ($150)
So, you walk up to a table and pick up what looks like a wine bucket. It’s empty and you start to pluck coin after coin from the air.
Take a coin from behind someone’s ear or perhaps their nose. With coins hidden in the apparatus, your audience is none the wiser and you (might) look spectacular.
Hey Presto Magic Studio, UG/F, 84 Pitt St., Sydney, + 61 (0)2 9232 7660, www.heyprestomagic.com.au
How to become a magician
Organizations such as the Magic Academy have various programs for budding magicians.
The popularity of American illusionist Criss Angel, who has dazzled audiences with his storytelling magic, has led to an increased interest in magic, says Academy president James Karp.
Once you've completed your training at The Magic Academy under the magician’s eye, and bought a bag of tricks, you might stop in at The Geniis Magical Society Incorporated.
The Society might be described as a secret gathering for magicians, where magicians can learn new tricks, show off some old ones or take part in lectures about new trends.
Beginners, skilled amateurs and professionals meet in Merrylands in Sydney’s western suburbs twice a month.
The Magic Academy, +61 (0)447 550 050, www.themagicacademy.com.au
The Geniis Magical Society Incorporated, meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at 17 Miller St., Merrylands, + 61 (0)2 9476 5242, www.sydneymagic.net/geniis.html
The move toward mentalism
While card tricks are still very much in fashion, magic is now leaning toward mentalism and illusion.
Practitioners appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities.
Performances can include telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis and medium control.
“Mentalism is a new wave of magic that was introduced about seven years ago,” says Black Jack, a local magician. “It gives the perception of magicians having more power, which is why most magicians use mentalism in their acts.
“We normally use cards, words, numbers or ESP symbols in our acts. People like to see the impossible. It’s a different form of entertainment and that’s what magic is.”
Where to catch a trick in Sydney
If you’re keen to watch an expert magician perform a few tricks, head to El Circo in Darlinghurst. It offers both a nine-course French meal and a show rolled into one, including nine circus acts with a touch of acrobatics and fire-throwers.
Rhythm Boat Cruises run Illusions/Magic and Comedy cruises, which include dinner, tricks and magical harbor views.
Darling Harbour will host the upcoming World Festival of Magic, held at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre on November 12.
The show is supported by The Lions Club and will raise funds for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Eye Clinic and other Lions Children’s Charities.
El Circo at Slide, 41 Oxford St., Darlinghurst, every Saturday, 7 p.m.-11 p.m., +61 (0)2 8915 1899
Rhythm Boat Cruises, +61 (0)2 9879 3942, www.rhythmboat.com.au
World Festival of Magic (Sydney), November 12 www.festivalofmagic.com