Guest Blogger: Eric Richardson

Over the years I have had many magicians inspire and influence me, but it is easy for me to name the most influential magicians in my life. Of all the magicians who have really shaped my thinking, three individuals rise to the top: Eugene Burger, Simon Aronson and Darwin Ortiz.  They win, hands down.  But since just listing them off is relatively pointless, allow me to explain. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Eugene Burger has had the most profound influence on me from the very beginning of my journey as a magician.  I encountered Eugene’s works early on (after my magic initiation by Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic and all eight volumes of Tarbell).  I spent several rewarding years studying everything Eugene had written, recorded, etc.  Eugene’s published works helped form my views on practice, scripting, dedication and communicating my love for magic to my audience.  When I wrote to him (email was still in the future!), I was surprised with his open and friendly responses that kept coming frequently for years.  If an audience enjoys my magic, then they owe much thanks to Eugene–everything not enjoyable is a direct result of not heeding his sage advice!

Simon Aronson’s influence on me has been primarily through his example of tenacity and innovation.  Simon seeks out the ultimate solution and he attacks a magical principle with a thoroughness and thoughtfulness that inspires me.  The fact that such thoroughness and thoughtfulness pay off is evident in the absolutely marvelous routines he has created, fascinating principles he has discovered and, of course,  his amazing stack.  His ability to dig into a principle and find new and undiscovered uses is rare and is as beautiful as the magic that results from his efforts.  I try hard to apply that same tenacity and innovation to my own creative efforts.

I have learned so much from Darwin Ortiz about effect construction through the examples of his own breathtaking routines.  Thankfully, he has also produced the neo-classic Designing Miracles that distills that knowledge into a collection of principles that has the potential to change one’s magic forever.  The gifts Darwin gave me were the tools and insight to understand how to think about and create well-structured and strong effects.  

I am profoundly thankful to these men for their thoughtfulness and willingness to share with the larger magic community.  They love magic and their passion continues to influence magic’s future generations in powerful ways.  Of course, there are many others worthy of mention as well…perhaps another time…

Question 1: What are your top three effects in magic and why?

The Haunted Deck: This effect has fascinated me ever since I first witnessed it as a child.  What a magical, mysterious and unexpected effect with cards!  To my mind, it is one of the most astounding things that can be done with a deck of cards.  I am so fascinated with the plot that I use my own version more than any other effect in my repertoire.

The Story Deck: This genre of routine is also a classic that has intrigued me for many years.  Of course, Bill Malone’s version of “Sam the Bellhop” is a modern classic.  The story deck has fascinated me so much that I took on the challenge of creating my own version.  Bizarrely, one (Hero’s Tale) came to me, in completed form, in a dream!  I love how a story routine can really draw an audience into a performance.  It is so different than anything else done with a deck of cards.  Plus, I find story routines incredibly fun to perform.

The Card in Orange: This effect has been in my repertoire since my very first magic show, and has been in almost every show I’ve done for the last twenty-five years!  I have performed it under almost every conceivable condition and it always kills.  Years later people still remember it and share the story of their experience with others.  All I can say is that when someone remembers an effect for years, it’s an excellent indication that the routine is one to keep around!  (I use the exact technique taught in Tarbell and it really is a beautiful and practical method.)

Question 2: What is your intention and goal with every performance you give?

When I perform, I have a definite goal which I imagine won’t be very surprising: I want to amaze my audience!  If I don’t do that, then I’m NOT a magician!  Period.  End of discussion.  This is simply the non-negotiable, unbending law of magic as a performance art.  It is also the prime expectation of an audience.  So, my goal is to provide a series of amazing, magical experiences and to deliver them in an engaging and entertaining way.  It is my great desire that my audiences will love magic deeply and fondly remember their experiences for the rest of their lives.

Question 3: What are you currently doing to leave the craft of magic a little better than you found it?

Answering this question makes me think back to my own start in magic.  I grew up watching David Copperfield specials on TV and going, with my parents, to the Magic Moment restaurant (in Sarasota, Florida). The Magic Moment was an incredible venue that featured world class close-up magic from amazing magicians like Paul Cummins and others.

I can’t imagine a more pleasurable way to be introduced to magic as a spectator, and then as a young magician myself, than by experiencing magic by such talented performers.  My great love of close-up magic certainly was directly influenced by the close-up magic I witnessed as a child.

In the same way, I hope my performances influence people to love and respect magic as a performance art and perhaps inspire others to take up the art themselves.  I also desire that my performances leave people eager to see more magic in the future.  I would love to believe that my own magical creations and published material will help expand the magical knowledge and possibilities for others to use and build on in the future.  I love sharing what I have learned about magic with other magicians (like Eugene Burger did for me) and I hope I am able to do so for many years to come.

Finally, I’d like to thank Michael for asking me to contribute my thoughts to his wonderful blog.  It has allowed me to reflect, once again, on my path and recognize how fortunate I have been and how much I owe to so many people.  It has allowed me to take another look at my goals for the future and ask some good questions.  I hope you have benefitted some from my answers as well.  So, thanks Michael!  Thanks for your friendship, your magic and your challenge to always seek the best in everything.

Eric’s products available at Vanishing Inc.:

Performance video link:  (password: eric) 

Mike’s Guest Blog Commentary

I have been looking forward to receiving Eric’s contribution and I am delighted to say I wasn’t disappointed.  In fact, I will go as far as saying that I was very inspired by his train of thought and clarity in expressing his point of view about his magic and inspirations.

I was really intrigued by Eric’s choice of heroes, back in the 1980s the name Eugene Burger set the world of magic on fire with his stellar book Secrest and Mysteries for The Close-up Magician, what a fantastic book by virtual unknown at that time. It was like Eugene came out of nowhere and everyone was talking about this extraordinary magician from Chicago. Simon Aronson and Darwin Ortiz have always been on my radar ever since I started in card magic so to hear that Eric’s path in magic has been almost identical to mine is really fascinating.

I first heard about Eric through his ground breaking books which unpacked The Aronson Stack even more than Simon did. I was curious to see how much more mileage could be gotten out of Simon’s ingenious stack. Eric took the concepts into unchartered territory presenting us with even more unbelievable effects. His finest hour came when he shared with us Aronson Stack lovers, the holy grail – “Getting into Aronson Stack Order” from New Deck OrderYES, you read that right. Eric has solved the unsolvable, check out his e-book for details.

In reading his top three effects, what is immediately clear is his love for the classics – three solid gold routines. His inspirational sources again provide the answer to his train of thought. Let me not forget the most influential books on magic ever published, “The Tarbell Course in Magic”. I am proud to say that my collection from this series gets a regular workout when I am looking to solve a magical problem.

Eric’s passion, commitment and dedication is an inspiration along with his friendly approach to all and his generosity of spirit in sharing his magic. I am really delighted that he has joined this great list of magicians from the past few weeks. His contribution has added to the growing value that I hope all of the readers of this blog will get.

Thanks Eric.

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