Q&A with Tom Isaacson
What is theory11 to you?
theory11 to me represents a platform to improve the art of magic on a mass level. Its a commitment to an ideal that has the potential to guide the next generation of magic in the right direction.
What got you into magic?
I was a teenager watching David Blaine's first TV special on ABC, I found myself totally captivated watching him. I had never seen magic performed close-up, I and remember thinking WOW - what an amazing ability to have with you wherever you go. I immediately saw the universal power of magic. So I begged my mom to take me down to Mr. A's Magic Shop in West Palm Beach, Florida. I bought the Penny & Dime trick and a Brainwave deck, and the rest, as they say-- is history.
Do you have a favorite effect?
Too many to pick one, but IÕm always one to be constantly looking to seize opportunities to enhance an effect on the spot, elevate its impact.
Who is your favorite performer to watch?
Derren Brown - his ability to transcend tricks and create performance art by emotionally connecting with his audience is incredible. Dan Lacivita - one of my best friends in magic - unfortunately he sold his soul to the corporate gods but in his prime, I've never seen such a confident, engaging, and natural performer.
What do you see as wrong with the industry today?
Watching most magicians perform is like going to a bad karaoke bar with everyone singing other people's songs, in a horrible voice and deluding themselves into thinking they are ready for a record deal. Most magicians are nothing more than imitators of another person's creation. In my opinion, a magician is an artist, and an artist has to CREATE, or enhance something that they perform.
As far as the selling of magic, there are too many effects that should never be put on the market. Overall, there is a complete saturation of mediocre effects that are deceptively marketed. If I could sell back all of the bad magic IÕve bought in my life, I would have enough money to feed all the starving children in Beverly Hills.
What's the last trick you saw that fooled the crap out of you?
One of my best memories in magic was back at the 2001 IBM in Orlando, Jerry Andrus did his 2 Card Trick for me, and produced 15 Morgan Silver Dollars from 2 cards right into my hands. Considering that he was 83 years old at the time, and the fact that he didn't flash ONCE, it was one of the coolest things ever.
What advice would you give to those that are just starting in magic?
Aside from practicing the techniques and performances until they become instinctive- command respect from your audiences. Don't jump and perform every time they ask; performance is an art. I think it was PT Barnum that said that the first rule of show business is to always leave them wanting more. An age old principle that is still universally applicable.
You will earn more of a reputation by doing a great effect once, and letting other people buzz about it than you could if you did the same thing 10 times for everyone. Don't bend to the pressure. Wait for the right opportunity and make your performances a rare treat that they always remember and look forward to again and again.