Speaking of Magic

The Encanto, LA FOG part 1, is finally available! Order your copy today!

While researching the novel, I had the privilege of interviewing Matt Marcy, a real, honest-to-god professional magician, who has performed more than 4,000 shows. Matt’s love of magic began with his first magic kit at age five. “A lot of kids go through a magic phase; it just kind of stuck for me.” Since he grew up in LA, he was able to see shows at the Magic Castle on a regular basis, which he eventually joined through the rigorous Junior Membership program. Without it, Matt doubts he would have turned pro.

Matt loves the creative aspect of magic. “It’s the most expansive art form there is. [There are] no rules. You can create your own style. Mix and match mediums.” Matt’s act combines comedy and magic, which he says are similar because they’re both based on surprise. “They both have a punchline.”

Because of the pandemic, Matt has adapted to virtual performances, but he prefers shows with a live audience. “The key thing about being a performer in any art form is that you want to read the room and feel connected to the audience, and you want them to feel connected to you, and you want this idea that we’re all having this experience together in this one moment that will never live again.”

Matt enlightened me on the difference between a hobbyist magician and a professional. Professionals think in terms of show structure, marketing, logistics, and repeatability. “When developing a show, you have to think about how to transition from one thing to the next. How to entertain an audience for an hour or two.” When adding a trick to his act, he first considers if it fits his style and will provide the experience he wants for the audience at that moment in the show. Then it’s a matter of what props are required and how easy it is to have them available at that point. He has to consider how much space props require when he travels. In 2019, he spent more than three months on a cruise ship. “The time standing on stage is fun, but it’s a small portion of what a lot of these jobs are.”

Professionals all started out as hobbyists, who simply do it for the love of doing. For hobbyists it’s more about the tricks. “They help keep magic alive by going to conventions. They buy the books and the props. Hobbyists want to know the answer to a puzzle that bothers them,” Matt says. That’s exactly how Saul Parker feels in The Encanto.

Like most members of the Magic Castle, Saul is a hobbyist magician. By day, he’s a detective in Homicide Special, and the need to solve every puzzle drives him to continue investigating an open-and-shut case, with the killer arrested and more than enough evidence to nail a conviction. Even after his lieutenant orders him to move on, he can’t let it go. He has to make sense of the madness.