Meet the Members… Frank Allan

Frank is a leading British performer of Bizarre Magick. He became interested in the occult from the age of 15. After 2 or 3 years of sifting out the good from a terrific amount of rubbish that has been written on all the various subjects that fall into the category of the occult, he started to read tarot and became interested in Witchcraft as the old Pagan faith. 

He became interested in Magic (that’s the magical entertainment that we all know and love) with cards, coins and sponge balls, at the age of 20 when he first met Bernard Anderson.

He spent the next twenty years earning a reputation as a good professional close-up worker, cabaret artist and restaurant entertainer. During that time he won many magical competitions and received many magical awards.

About 1992, he became bored with all the usual standard magic and in an attempt to relight his enthusiasm, he began reading the reprinted volumes of Invocation and thus started his deep interest in Bizarre Magick.

In October 2006, he won the British Magical Society Close Up competition, performing one of his Mountebank bizarre routines.

Q. Can you remember your first experience of magic?

A. My first experience of magic was watching Bernard Anderson do his mentalist & hypnotic show in the 1970s. I ended up working a cabaret piece in between the two halves for a few years. 

Q. Who was your inspiration to start learning Magic?

A. It was Bernard who first inspired me to start to learn and perform magic. Seeing him perform the wild card was stunning close up in the 1970s.

Q. What was the very first effect or trick you learnt?

 A. The first effect I learned to Perform was  the vanish and production of four aces from a back palm  – I then went on to produce card fans into the top hat all general card manipulation of the day – it’s a lot better today some of the manipulators of today are fantastic 

Q. You are known for many different genres, like close-up, mind reading and bazaar, why did you focus on these different disciplines?

A. The beginning of my career I was focused on club work & cabaret shows  I also worked   with the BMS – Coventry circle & Leamington club  on there 50/50 shows  – as the club scene  died away in the 1980s I moved into hotels and restaurants doing close up work I spent most of the 1980s and 90s working in very nice hotels and restaurants doing the magic of the day 

Q. What is your favourite genre to perform and why?

A. After 20 years I got a bit fed up and went to the Blackpool convention to look for something new  I came back with two bound volumes of invocations  which kicked off my interests in bizarre magic  from that I developed  Alain the storyteller 

I still enjoy performing the bizarre magic these days but I also still enjoy the close-up –  the bizarre magic good you can scare people to death  and challenge their understanding of what magic’s all about  all at the same time  and still have a good night   can’t beat that

Q. What advice would you give yourself if you could go back and start over again?

A. The advice I would give myself if I was starting today is to get out there and enjoy yourself  – working to a live audience is the best way to learn – you can rehearse and practice all you want, but an audience will tell you if you any good or not and if you have the wow factor in your magic.

Q. What do you like best about magic?

A. The wow, the shock and the surprise on the spectators’ faces as the effect roles out. Hopefully, you can still see it the smiles when you’re finished. 

Q. Is there anything you don’t like about magic?

A. There isn’t much I don’t like about magic but unfortunately as in most professions  arrogance crepes in with some performers who think they know it all  I’ve been in magic for 50 years and I have only scratched the surface  there’s always more to learn 

Q. What is the most difficult thing you have tried to do or learn in magic?

A. The most difficult thing I have ever tried to do is children’s entertainment.  I tried once or twice, but it was just not for me. I don’t enjoy the company of children, so consequently, they don’t enjoy me.  But I do admire those that can – but hay, each to their own I can live with that,

Q. What is your favourite trick to perform?

A. I have two tricks I always love and enjoy performing, the first is the linking card. There are so many ways to do this, some easy and some that require a lot of preparation, but I love playing with them all. For me it’s just a fun trick.  The other is the cups & balls.

The Cups & balls is the trick that teaches you all you need to know;  vanishes,  productions,  transpositions and most of all how to handle an audience.  It can be performed in the street, close up at a table, in parlor and cabaret. It will teach you how to play and how to have fun. It will also bring the performer out in you, every magician should have a go at this. 

Q. What do you do when someone asks you to ‘do something’ when you’re not expecting it?

A. When someone asks me do something on the spur of the moment I tend to tell them to fuck off. I don’t consider myself a preforming monkey,  if you want to see my work you can book me any time (maybe ). There are times of course when I feel more generous and want to play. If you have a coin you can do a quick vanish and pull it out your arse or a short coin sequence is ok.  If you have business cards you can do a quick mindreading trick. It all depends on how you feel on the day. 

I don’t feel I have anything to prove and if you don’t like it tuff shit, (that’s arrogance for you).

Q. What is the biggest and most memorable show you have performed?

A. The most memorable shows in recent times have been the bizarre shows and lectures at the Edinburgh gatherings from the mid to late 1990’s. They have always been good shows with good audiences. In the past, we have had some fantastic cabaret nights but unfortunately, these kinds of venues no longer exist, but then we all have to move on. 

Q. What would be your ‘Desert Island’ trick?

A. If  I was taking a trick to a desert island it would probably be the Cups & Balls. It’s a never ending effect that you can play every day and make it different every day it could keep you busy for years.

Q. Are there any other words of wisdom you’d like to leave with us?

A. Magic is about entertaining your audience, not just funny jokes, but with the wow factor to leave your audience stunned and amazed as well as having a smile on their faces, and still wanting more.

Magic is also about performing your skills and techniques like a master technician, sight unseen so all that is left to see is the magic. At the end of the day enjoy your audience and they will enjoy you. 

What you give out is what you’ll get back.  Give a good time, have a good time and that’s what you’ll get back, and if you’re lucky you’ll get paid.

You can contact Frank at: ft-allen@outlook.com

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