Some frequently asked questions.
How long have you been performing magic? I’ve been performing professionally since 1992, but I’ve been studying sleight of hand since the mid 80s. If you want to get really precise, I started when I was five (the story of that is in the ‘About Ian’ page).
What kind of magic do you perform? That depends a lot on the venue, to be honest. If you take a normal strolling close up magic gig as a benchmark, then it would be strong, visual magic that involves the audience in a very active way. A lot of effects use borrowed items, so there’s a much more personal aspect to the show for the spectators; it’s not just a ‘watch me’ experience. There’s a healthy mix of styles, but certainly not ‘nothing but card tricks’, and a healthy sense of humour; I’m not Derek Generic, nor am I Mordo the Mind Eater.
Why are you not in the Magic Circle? Heh. The short answer is that I used to be, but was thrown out. The longer answer is a tad more detailed; in 1986 I was living in London for a year before going to University. I was proposed for the Circle and accepted, and I had some great times there, learning and meeting other magicians. After a few months I returned to Edinburgh to start my University studies, and the Circle stayed in London. Now, at that time the annual ‘out of town’ membership for the Circle was £85, and my Grant gave me £70 a week in term time – and that paid for my rent, books, food and skydiving. I was not a professional magician at that time, and I was never in London on a Monday evening (when the Circle is open). Since there seemed no real reason for me to remain a member, I didn’t send off my renewal cheque when the time came.
A few weeks later I was sent a letter informing me that I had been ‘removed from the mailing list’, and that was the end of my time in the Circle. I still like to visit when I am in London, and I’m lucky enough to be allowed to see friends in the clubroom, but I’m no longer ‘in the Magic Circle’. There are a lot of very good magicians who are members of the Circle, and there are a lot of very good magicians who are not. I’m tending towards the latter.
What about Equity? I am a fully paid up member of Equity, which includes a very comprehensive Public Liability Insurance policy. Rest assured that should I do ten million pounds’ worth of damage to you or your property, everything will be covered. (Now I am seriously wondering what I would have to do to cause that amount of damage…)
Why don’t you do kids’ shows? The simplest answer is that I am not a kids’ magician. If you are looking for one and somehow ended up on my website, then there’s something very wrong with my SEO. I know a lot of the top kids’ magicians in Scotland, and I’ll be very happy to recommend someone if you like. I did one a few years ago, with the emphasis on ‘one’.
How much do you charge? This is the ultimate nasty subject, and it’s never black and white. There are many factors that can affect my fee, but the bottom line is that I’m not the cheapest, and I’m not the most expensive. Like most things in life, we get what we pay for and I feel that my fee is commensurate with my level of skill and experience.
What’s the Edinburgh Fringe? The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, and in the last couple of decades it has expanded by a terrifying amount. I’ve performed in some capacity at every Fringe since 1992, which is at best unusual and at worst, somewhat insane. In that time I’ve done street shows, stage shows, formal close up shows, late night cabarets and strolling close up. I’ve had a lot of very nice reviews, and one ‘One Star’ review, three official ‘Sell Out Show’ awards (which are very hard won) and made many friends from all over the world. If you’ve never seen the Fringe, it’s certainly something to do before you die, even just to experience the High Street mid afternoon on a Saturday…
Do you teach magic? Yes, but not here. I write for a couple of trade magazines, and have a range of teaching books and videos for students. If you are seriously interested (and believe me, it’s fairly incomprehensible to the casual browser) you need to pootle along to www.virtualmagicshow.com
If you have any other questions, please get in touch through the Contacts page and I’ll do my best to answer in a coherent manner.