A modern underground illusionist born from absolute deception once surviving from intricate short cons on the streets and in game rooms across the world. In April 2000, Daniel was banned from casinos for using an advanced memory technique of card counting to cheat at black-jack, which left only back-room poker games for his attention. After six months as a card-cheat, the repercussions of an exposed sleight of hand technique landed Daniel in the hospital. His life as a poker-cheat had ended.
After having his debut lecture notes rejected by the magic circle, Daniel held a private lecture at a major 2005 convention for an invite-only-audience. It was the success of this lecture that launched Daniel into the underground spectrum of the industry as a definitive artist. Daniel currently provides security training for casino and gameroom staff and resides as the president of Magic Is Dead, an underground magic circle based in the UK. In June of 2011, d+M performed on Penn and Teller's "Fool Us" television show in the UK. Watch it here!
Q&A with Daniel Madison
What got you into magic?
At an early age I was influenced by a card cheat who introduced me to some sleights and con-techniques. I spent years developing a wide range of deceptions, from sleight-of-hand to memory training. When I took my skills to the casinos, I was quickly found and banned for life. This led me to back room poker games where I was able to make a short living. Eventually, an exposed cheating technique landed me in a wheelchair for 6-months. Through my recovery magic found me, and the rest is history.
How long have you been performing?
My first official magic gig was Halloween 2001, an event that ultimately helped me decide to keep going in magic.
Do you have a favorite effect?
My favourite effect to perform has to be RIP, or anything that involves a deck vanish. My favourite effect to watch is Smoke by Derren Brown. Magic at its finest.
Who is your favorite performer to watch?
To me, magic is all about the showmanship. The first person to help me realize this was David Blaine. He took simple ideas in magic and inflated them with serious character, something that made the effects seem more real and amazing. He has a truly magical way of freaking people out. When I watch magic, I don't want to think or know how it's done; I want to be amazed, and somebody with that level of character can do that with ease.
What do you see as wrong with the industry today?
Magic is an art, although most magicians will fool you into thinking it's not. Most magicians will simply stock up on effects from the magic shop, learn the routines word for word, and call themselves "artists". Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good effects out there, but it takes more than the ability to perform an effect to become an artist. Magic would have a much better name for itself if those involved had more respect for the art.
It's so refreshing to see a place like theory11 - a place for development and progression toward the art and new ideas. Somewhere that pays due attention to performance and character. As for fixing the problems, I think the revolution has already begun. There's no other place quite like theory11, and those who don't catch on will simply be left behind.
What advice would you give to those that are just starting in magic?
Remain true to yourself and try to give others the feeling you had when you were first inspired. Be confident with your magic. If you have faith in your practice, you'll have conviction in your performances. Performing isn't just about doing a trick, it's about being the magician - playing a character that has the ability to do what others can't.
This should never go to waste through average performances. Routines and tricks can go from clever and interesting to astonishing and mind-boggling, with the simple application of showmanship. It can bring effects to life, act as misdirection, and be very beneficial to the performer's social skills: something all magicians need.