Montreal Gazette Profile

Today, I’m grateful for this profile of my work in the wonderful worlds of magic and circus. Ever since Nathan showed me the first trick that truly mystified me, I’ve worked to learn as much as possible about how to create similar magical experiences for others. Why are we humans are so fascinated by displays of what seems impossible? What is magic? The exploration of these questions continues to be a meaningful journey. There have been many serendipitous moments along the way: discovering a magic shop in my hometown (Grand Illusions), seeing Quidam in Berkeley, California, at 16, meeting David Ben and Julie Eng in Toronto, meeting circus scholar Dr. Patrick Leroux at Concordia University, collaborating with Patrice Aubertin, Daniela Arendasova and Eric Langlois at the National Circus School, learning from Boris Verkhovsky at Cirque du Soleil, and benefiting from the wisdom and guidance of so many extraordinary people in this alternative universe that we somehow inhabit.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Responses

Cirque du Soleil acquires The Works Entertainment

It’s a good day when the industrial partner you work for as part of your postdoc invests in a magic entertainment company. Sophie Haigney’s article for the New York Times reveals some of the thinking behind this acquisition. The Works Entertainment has produced shows like The Illusionists and Circus 1903, which feature a variety of magic disciplines (a comedy magician, an escape artist, a manipulation act, a stage illusionist, a mentalist, etc.). This model fits Cirque du Soleil’s variety act model, which contrasts with solo shows like David Blaine’s, Darren Brown’s, and Michael Carbonaro’s recent celebrity magician tours. Looking at this development in the entertainment world from the other direction of the sale is also interesting: The Works Entertainment has never only produced magic shows. Simon Painter and Tim Lawson’s production company also has Cirque Noir, Cirque Adrenaline, The Unbelievables, Cirque Paris, and A Magical Cirque Christmas under its belt. As the genres and disciplines of live entertainment continue to mix, overlap and mash-up, the amalgamation of these two companies and their magic/circus productions makes sense.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magic at the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco (Jan 25 and Jan 26)

I can’t wait to perform strolling and stage magic at the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco’s beautiful Regency Ballroom on January 25 and 26, 2019. If you’ve never been to this Paradox Media event or this historic venue, I highly recommend it. The Edwardian Ball celebrates both the Edwardian period as well as the delightful and macabre style of Edward Gorey. Click on the image above to experience what it’s all about and don’t forget to dress up!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Icaro by Daniele Finzi Pasca and the Theatre of the Caress

If he were a magician, Daniele Finzi Pasca might be Michael Skinner or René Lavand or Juan Tamariz. He has the elegant touch of Skinner, the soul of Lavand, and the unconditional love of Tamariz.

Last night I saw Icaro, a virtuosic one-man show by the Swiss-Italian circus artist, clown and storyteller Daniele Finzi Pasca. He finished writing the show, which he wrote for a single spectator, during a short period spent in prison for conscientious objection. That experience, along with Pasca’s earlier humanitarian work with terminal patients in India, may explain the tenderness and intimacy of this show as well as the aesthetic approach of the Finzi Pasca company.

Theatre of Caresse is the phrase that embodies Pasca’s creation and performance philosophy. The book of the same title, a collection of interviews articulating this school-of-thought, is epitomized in the heart-to-heart style of Icaro. In the show that I saw a spectator was gently made more and more comfortable onstage, established a camaraderie with Pasca, and, finally, embarked upon an imaginary journey of recuperation . . . and escape. The theatre of the caresse is a lovely contrast to Artaud and other’s so-called “theatre of cruelty” without being its opposite.  Having lived with and watched performances by two current Finzi Pasca members (Quebecois musician Andrée-Anne Gingras Roy and Argentine juggler Marco Paoletti), I’d already been introduced to the soul and aesthetic style of Pasca’s performance work through their collaborations with him. So, it was a special treat to sit in the front row last night and watch the founder putting his own philosophy into practice (and sometimes only a few feet away).

I don’t want to spoil any other surprises that occur in Icaro, but I will say this:

If you’d like to see a master of vulnerable performance, physical clowning, and human connection, go see Icaro. And if you’d like to go deeper, read Theatre de la Caresse. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magical Thinking — a podcast dedicated to the art of magic

I’d like to take a moment to recommend Elliott Terral’s wonderful podcast Magical Thinking. Magic podcasts and audiobooks are finally beginning to appear in larger quantities and with greater regularity nowadays, which is a wonderful way to spread a deeper understanding of the art. Terral is a young US magician based in Los Angeles, which gives his podcast a different style and flavour compared to UK magician Richard Young’s The Magician’s Podcast (mentioned in an earlier post). Having listened to every episode of each podcast (I listen to them on my daily commute to and from work), I encourage those interest in gaining a more intimate understanding of how the magic industry operates at every level to do the same. It’s amazing what you can learn by listening to the fascinating ups, downs and lives of the magicians interviewed and the topics explored during these smart, silly, and sometimes shockingly unguarded conversations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magic History Presentation @ Atlanta’s Clary Theatre (5 Oct. 2018, 6PM)

See you soon, Atlanta and Georgia Tech! Thank you to Dr. Patrick Ellis, his department, and his students for this fantastic poster.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Machines. Magie. Médias.

I’m delighted to see that this magic scholarship is now available for order from Septentrion Presse. The volume collects work from a diverse number of magic scholars from around the world. It includes an article that I wrote about “The Circus Card Trick,” performative language and the ethics of deception. Many thanks to Les Arts Trompeurs  magic research group for this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magic at Dracula’s Guest on Oct. 13th (San Francisco, CA)

Come to Slovenian Hall in San Francisco this October 13th to see me perform magic at one hell of of party. I can’t wait to be reunited with my Edwardian Ball and Paradox Media family.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atelier de Magie à Montréal (24-28 septembre 2018)

J’ai hâte de faire un atelier de magie à Montréal ce mois en collaboration avec En Piste (le regroupement national des arts du cirque)! Souvent je n’ai que trois heures d’enseigner l’art de la magie aux artistes (de cirque, de danse, d’écriture, de film, . . . en bref, de tous les autres disciplines). Cette fois on a trois heures chaque jour d’une semaine (le 24 au 28 septembre 2018) pour intégrer des effets magiques aux disciplines des artistes de cirque.

Voici un résumé de l’atelier:

Pensez comme un sorcier ou une sorcière! Cet atelier est une introduction à la magie pratique et théorique pendant laquelle les participants exploreront l’histoire de la magie nord-américaine jusqu’à la magie nouvelle et contemporaine, son vocabulaire dramatique, et ses influences sur les spectacles du cirque. Des exercices techniques et créatifs permettront à chaque participant d’approfondir et de personnaliser la magie afin de l’adapter à sa propre spécialité.

Venez nombreux ! 

Voici des commentaires des ateliers déjà donnés à Arezzo, à Toronto, en Californie, à Toulouse, à Montréal et ailleurs:

« Très inspirant. Il m’a ouvert l’esprit et m’a donné envie de tester des choses! »

« Très intéressant car il amène un autre côté à la création d’un numéro. Cela pousse à voir les différentes possibilités de la magie. »

« J’ai participé fréquemment puisque l’atelier était engageant, intéressent, interactive, et bien organisé. L’environnement/l’atmosphère était encourageant et excitant.»

* * *

I’m excited to be leading a magic workshop in Montréal this month in collaboration with En Piste (the Circus Arts National Network). Often, I only have three hours to teach magic to artists from other disciplines (circus, dance, creative writing, film, and many more). This time, we’ll have three hours each day from September 24-28, 2018, to adapt magic effects to the disciplines of each participant.

Here is a brief description of the workshop:

This workshop is a crash course in the art of magic for circus artists. Joe Culpepper* will share secret sleight-of-hand techniques and research tools for adapting magic effects to your future shows. You will learn how to make objects magically appear, transform, and vanish. You will learn how to create illusions using your body. Most important of all, you will learn how to think and direct attention like a magician. No previous magic experience necessary.

Come learn and experiment with us !*

*Please note that the workshop will be taught in French.

Here are some testimonials from previous workshops given in Arezzo, Toronto, California, Toulouse, Montreal and other cities:

“Top quality teaching: engaging and inspiring. Good technical information as well as mentoring and guidance.”

“I was inspired to use magic within my discipline as a better way to express the message in my act.”

“Helpful and soul-nourishing.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Received the newest issue of Scapegoat Journal this week: “Life.” It includes my article on Nicholas Green, The Children’s Bell Tower in Bodega Bay, and its sister monument in Southern Italy. Thanks to this awesome team, to Marcin Kedzior, to Bruce Hasson and to Reg Green for thinking through the miraculous nature of organ donation with me. This one’s for them and for you, Irene Devon, and all of the good moments we’ve out there on the Sonoma coast. (Anyone who would like to order a copy can click on the link or photo above).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment