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Making Magic on the Streets

David Stewart

Magic has changed dramatically over the past decade, which is both good and bad news for those wishing to develop their sorcery skills. There’s no longer much need to carry around a white rabbit all day, but you do need to possess very good social skills.

That’s because, thanks to the likes of David Blaine and more recently Dynamo, the magician (or illusionist / deception artist if you prefer) now has to ply their trade on the street.

David Stewart of Horsham has been developing his skills as a magician for about five years. His tricks include guessing the pin code of a member of the public, transforming water into ice, and turning a £10 note into a £20 note before placing it inside the screen of a mobile phone.

But it all started with a funny video, before a long process of embarrassing mistakes and slip-ups! He said: “About five years ago a friend sent me a YouTube video of a hypnotist who had about ten people lined up on the stage. He touched each one on the shoulder and they all started having orgasms!

“I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen in my life. I began to learn more about the techniques of people like Derren Brown. I remember in one trick he went into a shop with just blank slips of paper and was able to buy jewellery just with this paper. I wanted to have that skill too. I started learning psychology, but it was only a hobby that I thought would be cool to show my friends. I would go into college and say ‘Look at this trick I have learnt’.

“My favourite trick back then was a psychological card trick where I would influence them into picking the card that I wanted. I had seen street magicians doing it to random people, so I said to a friend ‘Would you come out and film it?’

We went to Brighton and spent the day going up to people. It’s hard because you’re not just relying on your skills. You also need to be able to communicate with different types of people.

“I remember the first time I went out my hands were shaking as I was so nervous. But I knew that if I wanted to be able to do these tricks I had to just go for it. If I mess up, so be it, I’m never going to see these people again. I did mess up sometimes. When I started out it happened a lot. The card tricks take a lot of dexterity and when I wasn’t used to the handling element I would drop the cards and the person would see something that they were not supposed to see. It’s just very embarrassing and you have to walk away!”

As well as practicing his skills on the street, David works the tables at a Brighton restaurant on Friday nights. He will soon be boarding a cruise ship where he will be charged with entertaining guests on a Scandinavian tour.
But wherever he goes, he always has to face that same old question: ‘Is it real?’

David said: “When I finish a trick people often say ‘Well, magic isn’t real’ or ‘It’s fake’.  I don’t really know what they are talking about. Obviously I don’t have magic powers! I’m not really conjuring up £20 notes! Magic is a name you give to the hobby. There is deception of course, but it’s just a trick. People should just sit back and enjoy it and not try and be clever about it.”

In the future, David hopes to develop a stage show of his own. He also wants to make more videos for the internet, but in order to do so he needs a cameraman to stick with him for long periods of time. He hopes, whatever happens, that he’ll always be an authentic act.

He said: “I like to see what other magicians and performers do and I put my own twist on it if I can, such as Derren Brown’s Psychological Card Force trick. I don’t like seeing magicians who sound or act like other people. With most of the magicians I have met you can be talking normally to them and when you ask them to do a trick they put on an American accent and say ‘Okay, pick a card, any card’. It’s all a little surreal.

“But it’s a good time to be a magician as it’s cool at the moment. Years ago, it was all people like Paul Daniels, with rabbit-in-a-hat tricks. People say David Blaine isn’t very good because he just stands in the street, does a trick and then walks off. But I would rather do that than say ‘I have a tiger here and I’m going to make it

For more on David visit his website at www.davidstewartmagic.co.uk or visit his YouTube and Facebook pages.