So what have you seen so far? Two wonderful photographs by my best friend out here in LA, Steve Sears and a caricature of me from The Magic Castle. The photos are of me in a tux performing magic. Close-up magic. Legerdemain. Sleight of hand.
I wanted to start with these photos because magic has been part of my entire life. Everything I’ve done has involved magic in every sense of the word. Since I can remember, I was performing “automatic” magic. My magician friends know exactly what I’m talking about. The rest of you are assuming correctly. I always had something ready to go in my pocket or book bag. And my friends knew it. As I got older and went off to college, I began to get a bit more sophisticated with cards and was starting on a path toward doing things that were moments of mystery as much as magic tricks.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1976, I discovered the writings of a magician whose name is Harry Lorayne and his voice was clear and I practically wore out the pages working on his magic. I was getting better and more confident and for those of you who don’t know magic, practice until perfect and being confident are two of many requirements for a good magician.
Then I got into the world of television. First of all, I consider film and television to be magic and I always approached it with that sense of wonder that I had always had. Even when I made my way to being a television director of such iconic shows as “Miami Vice” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, I always kept the audience in mind as if they were the spectators watching the magic happen on their screens. As a side note, I usually stayed around after the trucks were loaded to do Friday Night Magic for the crew before they headed off to their weekends. I’ve actually heard things in the not too distant past like “Were you there the night Chip levitated his head off his shoulders and moved it around in the air??” Of course that never happened, but word of mouth…..well, you know.
Early on in my first job as a Production Coordinator on a television show called “M*A*S*H”, and after a few years of seeing the castle on Franklin Avenue and wondering, I met someone who was a member and heard I did card magic. He asked if I would do something for him, so I did a short routine and he was surprised. He asked me if I knew anything about the castle on Franklin and I didn’t, so he invited me up for lunch and I was in love with The Magic Castle. The home of The Academy of Magical Arts. I auditioned and became a Magician Member in March of 1981.
As I mentioned, I always had something “up my sleeve” on the sets as my “show biz” career went along. I even appeared in front of the camera a couple of times with some well-known magicians and always advised whenever there was some sort of magic an actor needed to perform. But it was the magic of television and film of which I feel I had a particularly good understanding by being a magician.
I stopped directing television in 2003 when I was asked to teach at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. One of the top five film schools in the nation. I jumped at the opportunity for a number of reasons and started as a Visiting Assistant in Film Directing and ending up after some 9 years as an Associate Professor of Directing and The Head of Production. I had no idea I could teach. I still don’t. But I do know I learned so much while I was there. And I used magic constantly. In fact, it was a demand before every class that they get their “Morning Magic”. But way beyond that was the light in their eyes as they wrote and directed and edited their own magic. I just reminded them constantly that the medium of film is a moment (or two hours) in time that is completely magical. What you were writing and eventually watching was a magic trick. It didn’t exist before it came out of their talented brains and went through the process of becoming a short film. To this day, I have lunches with many of my students who tell me what they are doing now and recounting the days of when I through a card through a double paned glass window. Inspiration to make those magical moments.
So for the last two years, I have been back in Los Angeles and returned to the beloved Magic Castle and have started making new friends all over again.
That is why you see photos of me doing magic. It’s what I’ve always done.
A Proud Member of the Magic Castle
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