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David Morey on His Beginnings in Magic
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Sunday, February 19, 2023

  • What’s the first magical thing you remember seeing? And who is the first magician you ever saw?

Age 4 or 5, I went to a birthday party and a magician from New Jersey made a signed bill magically re-appear inside a lemon. My child-eyes saw a miracle. And soon, I was watching Mark Wilson’s “The Magic Land of Alakazam” on our black-and-white TV every week . . . and starting to read everything I could find about Harry Houdini. I even tried to convince my electrical engineer father to make me a Water Torture Cell.

  • Who got you into magic? Who has been a key mentor, or two, or three, for you in your magic career? And how can someone get into magic today—or get their kid into magic?

22nd November 1962: English actor and magician, Channing Pollock, in the film ‘Rocambole’ directed by Bernard Borderie. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Mark Wilson . . . . and then, about the same time I saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” I saw a Tall Man on Television produce card fans from the air. Magically. I couldn’t believe what he did. Even sent away the next day $1.25 for something called the “EZ Card Act,” from the Top Hat Magic Company in Evanston, Illinois. Two weeks later, it came in the mail. I tried it in the mirror . . . but it didn’t look anything like the Tall Man on Television. My EZ card act was just a beginning. So . . . after a short break from magic (several decades) I began studying card manipulation with Tony Clark in Los Angeles and with Jeff McBride in Las Vegas. And now, I’m the Tall Man on Television. 

By the way, the Tall Man on Television was Channing Pollock . . . .  

By age 10, I was making $40 an hour performing at kids birthday parties. Only problem, my Mom mentioned, was I was spending $50 the next day at the King of Prussia magic shop. So . . . noticing life’s other distractions, I decided to take a little time away from magic. 

30 years.

And then, slowly, I found magic again, a first passion, about 20 years ago.

The key to getting into magic is start by reading magic books at the library, and then go to a magic school like the McBride Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas or online. And find a mentor: My magic mentors: Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Bob Fitch, Tony Clark, Ross Johnson . . . and another hidden bunch of folks who know who they are . . . .

  • What was the first real piece of magic you performed? And what’s the most magical effect you have ever seen a magician perform?

Cut and restored string. It magically repairs itself inside your mouth. Not sure if I learned this on Mark Wilson’s show or from the cardboard instructions on a cupcake package, which was part of a big promotional campaign in the 1960s. I can still do this effect. And it’s pretty magical . . . . 

The most magical thing I’ve seen in magic: Jeff McBride’s Water Bowls . . . Lance Burton’s Sword Fight Illusion . . . David Copperfield’s flying . . . . or Juan Tamariz’s just messing with card magician’s and people’s minds . . . . 

  • Who today is your favorite magician? Or two? Or three? And how do you prepare for a show or break in a new piece of magic?

Too many to mention. Jeff McBride. Eugene Burger. David Copperfield. Ross Johnson. Darren Brown. Juan Tamariz. David Ben. Lennart Green.  

How do we break in a new piece of magic? It’s a pipeline: First, we imagine it. That’s key. Second, we mock it up. Like Edison used to do. We prototype it. Third, we script it. Because everything good in entertainment must be scripted, or begin with a script, because words are so valuable. And finally, slowly, carefully, we take it out for a ride in the real-world world, before a live audience. Maybe we do this in a charity show—as opposed to a big-paying corporate event where failure is not an option. And then . . . . we begin to cut, cut, cut and refine, refine, refine. It’s quite a magical journey. A journey of magical innovation.

  • Why is the art of magic so important today—in the times in which we live?

In times like these, the world needs a little more magic. People want to get away and to rise higher . . . and believe their dreams can come true. And magic teaches us, if only for a moment, that this is possible. Magic is the ultimate metaphor of life . . . which itself is magical. Ask yourself: Have you ever seen something truly magical in your life? And if you step back, and remember, and imagine . . . I bet you have! 

*** Tell us about how and why you created Washington Magic and what it means to you.

I recently remembered that I used to organize magic shows in my Doylestown, Pennsylvania garage and recruited a whole cast of fellow kid-magicians, 9 years old, same age as me. We charged money. Set up lawn chairs. And once, I even floated Billy Mounce around my living room and my older sister visiting from college, and the audience of grownups, who expected very little, freaked out! So . . . . 50 years later, Washington Magic is the same idea. Different garage. 

We modeled the show after a Las Vegas monthly event created by Jeff McBride, called “Wonderground”—because I wanted my own venue to practice and advance in this magical art. So, with an amazing team, and fabulous performers, I’m kind of like the band recruiter that I was 50 years ago. And we’re trying to be something like the E Street Band of magic . . . to be really, really good! And I think we are . . . .

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