He is magic's leading expert on all things Erdnase - the most influential card magic book of the past century. He is an authority on casino gambling - more specifically, cheating with cards. He has some of magic's most dangerous hands, able to switch, change, and maneuver cards in the most clandestine manner imaginable. His hands are quicker than your eyes.
Jason England is a living legend of the conjuring arts. Influenced by Steve Forte, Richard Turner, Dai Vernon, and Darwin Ortiz, Jason is well studied, well rehearsed, and unique. His attention to detail and intense study of original texts make him one of magic's most sought after historians. But his hands are far more adept at handling cards than turning pages.
Jason is based out of Las Vegas, yet travels the world giving lectures on proper card technique, card magic, and advantage gaming. A close friend and confidante to Steve Forte, Chris Kenner, and many other icons of magic, Jason also serves as a writer for MAGIC Magazine, the largest printed periodical of the conjuring arts. In 2009, Jason joined forces with theory11 in an effort to continue progressive, proper education of the next generation of magicians. In 2012 and 2013, Jason hosted the World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
Q&A with Jason England
Who are some of your inspirations in magic?
My early influences include Brother John Hamman, Dai Vernon, Harry Lorayne and Larry Jennings. I learned almost exclusively from books written either by or about these men. Later came Ed Marlo, Richard Turner, Darwin Ortiz, Martin Nash, and Steve Forte. Again, books were the primary source of information, but in the case of Turner and Forte, their VHS tapes (at that time) were all I had.
Forte eventually would become the single biggest influence in how I handle cards, with Dai Vernon and Richard Turner close seconds. In terms of routining and effects I'm partial to Darwin Ortiz's card magic and similar performers. Jack Carpenter, Jim Swain, Andrew Wimhurst, etc.
What are your favorite kind of playing cards?
I can use just about anything in a pinch, but I prefer a good deck of Bicycle or Tally-Ho cards. Even with some of their consistency problems, Bicycle cards when they're good - are very good. For gambling demonstrations, or when I don't need to secretly reverse a card, Bee cards or casino Aristocrats are tough to beat.
Do you think technology (internet) has helped or hurt the art of magic?
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai being asked by Richard Nixon, during Nixon's 1971 visit to China, about the historical impact of the French Revolution, which had been fought nearly 200 years earlier. Premier Zhou's reply? "It's too early to tell."
That's how I feel about magic and the internet. If pressed, I'd wager that the internet won't make or break magic, but will simply change it. Whether it changes magic for the better will depend on the particular circumstances or your particular point of view. Some effects, principles, etc will undoubtedly suffer due to the massive amount of exposure available online, and other technologies and ideas will come about only because of the available technology. Good, bad, and/or indifferent labels are going to take some time.
What advice would you give to someone starting out learning magic?
Well, there are many things I'd like to tell someone just starting out, but I'll limit myself to just three for the purposes of this response.
1. Learn from all available sources in these approximate ratios: 85% from books and 15% from videos/DVDs/instant downloads. Stay away from YouTube. If you're an expert, you can navigate those waters, although I don't see why any sane person would. Beginners will only get themselves in trouble trying to emulate what they see there. If you had access to a good teacher, you could alter that ratio a bit, but it works pretty well for everyone else.
2. Get a solid grounding in the 20th century classics. It will help you more than any other single thing you can do. If you're interested in card magic, you need to read, in no particular order:
The Royal Road to Card Magic - Hugard and Braue
Expert Card Technique - Hugard and Braue
Scarne on Card Tricks - John Scarne
Card Control - Arthur Buckley
The Encyclopedia of Card Tricks - Hugard
The Expert at the Card Table - S.W. Erdnase
Close-up Card Magic - Harry Lorayne
The Cardician - Ed Marlo
Dai Vernon's Inner Secrets Trilogy - Lewis Ganson
Dai Vernon's Ultimate Card Secrets - Lewis Ganson
The Card Magic of Paul LePaul - Paul LePaul
The Revolutionary Card Technique Series - Ed Marlo
Greater Magic - Hilliard
The Dai Vernon Book of Magic - Lewis Ganson
Stars of Magic - various contributors
Only after you read the books on the list above should you seek out more modern books.
Card College is an excellent series and one I recommend. The same can be said of the Card College Light series. Any book by Juan Tamariz is also excellent. The books by Darwin Ortiz are must-haves for anyone serious about card magic.
3. Don't look horizontally for information, technique or advice. Look vertically. This is something that I first heard from Darwin Ortiz during a discussion I was having with him regarding mentors. Darwin used the phrase "looking horizontally" versus "looking vertically" to refer to the peculiar manner in which "internet" magicians seem to look to their peers for information, when what they should be doing is looking to more experienced performers and established experts.
You see this all the time in online forums. Someone has a question, and instead of "looking vertically" by sending an email or PM to the person that could likely best answer their question, they put it out in front of the entire forum membership. What you wind up with is, at best, an answer by committee. Frequently, the most experienced professionals, with the most insight into the problem or question at hand, don't even bother to answer. Why should they waste their time composing a good response when it's likely to simply be drowned out by the herd of incoherent and moronic replies from the non-experts?
Even more ridiculous, are the idiots that begin their "answer" with this disclaimer: "I don't actually use move XYZ, but here's my take on the matter."
If I still haven't convinced you, let's change the subject matter and you can see how ridiculous looking horizontally is. If you had a question about a potentially deadly disease that you think you might have, and you had to use the internet to find out information about it, would you really bother asking your questions on a forum full of first-year medical students and then try and sift through all of their guesses, speculation and nonsense, or would you track down and ask a few recognized, board-certified specialists in the field?
I think the answer is obvious. If you really want a worthwhile answer to a serious question, look vertically.
What is your favorite effect?
As a general rule, my all-time favorite effect is Vernon's Triumph. I rotate other routines in and out of my sets, but Triumph is almost always in there somewhere. I perform essentially his original routine, with the only difference being a Zarrow shuffle versus the block transfer shuffle that Vernon really used (Johnny Thompson tells me that in his actual performances, Vernon did not use the shuffle that was described in Stars of Magic).
Although I use a Zarrow to accomplish the raw method, I don't believe the basic effect can ever be improved upon, and I never, ever add any "bells and whistles" to it.
To me that's like trying to "jazz up" Beethoven's Ninth. Leave it alone, it was already perfect.