Malini-esque Impromptu Magic

impromptu

At last, Todd Karr has published the revised and expanded edition of Martin Gardner’s seminal book, Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. He asked several magicians to comment on the importance of this book, for a feature story in Genii Magazine (November 2015). I was honored to share my thoughts in this feature, alongside Eric Mead, Joel Hodgson, Paul Daniels, Levent, Christopher Hart, Quentin Reynolds, Jade, and John Fisher.

MALINI-ESQUE IMPROMPTU MAGIC IN GARDNER ENCYCLOPEDIA

In the early twentieth century, Max Malini made his reputation performing impromptu tricks for members of the upper class. He sidled up to socialites and policy-makers in upscale hotel lobbies and presented a cascade of off-the-cuff miracles that compelled them to visit his ballroom show.

As I’ve modeled much of my own career after Malini (he too performed at New York’s Waldorf Astoria), I often hunt for quick Malini-esque tricks and stunts that make a strong impact on discerning crowds. Martin Gardner’s Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic is full of such items, and I’ll share a few that have served me well.

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Guest author: Genii Magazine interview by Richard Kaufman

Genii: Why do you call yourself “The Millionaires’ Magician?” Doesn’t that turn some people off? It sounds kind of snooty.

Cohen: Nice way to start the interview!

Genii: It’s my prerogative: I remember teaching you and Mark Sicher how to shave when you were both kids.

Cohen: So you did. To answer your question, an upscale magazine in New York City wrote a feature story about me, and that was the headline: “The Millionaires’ Magician.” I’m at The Waldorf Towers every Friday and Saturday night for my show Chamber Magic. But the other five days of the week I travel around the world to perform at people’s mansions and private islands. They pick me up in luxury cars and put me up in fine hotels in Switzerland, London, Paris, the Caribbean, Boca Raton, Aspen, all over the place.

Genii: You’ve clearly figured out a great niche for yourself.

Cohen: To be honest, there are at least three million millionaires in America, and in my geographic region—New York City—it seems like everyone I know is a millionaire. So when I call myself “The Millionaires’ Magician,” it’s simply a description of my market. Now, I find myself contacted only by people—event planners, corporate groups, and individuals—who can afford my current rates. They kind of know what they’re jumping into when they call me, so there’s no sticker shock when they hear my prices.

Genii: How many shows per year do you perform? […]

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The Red Car Trick

Guest author Mark Levy: “Why did I tell this story? I told it because, well, it’s a damn good story. It’s got an intriguing premise and action that unfolds on the streets of Brooklyn and New York. It’s also got a big city reporter who’s so affected by the experience that he lies awake in anticipation and nearly starts believing in miracles. What could be better?” […]

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