Meet the Members… Stephen Folwer

Stephen has a great love of magic and probably has the biggest private collection of magic effects in the Midlands! He is always very keen to help and contribute to the Society in any way he can and is very passionate about certain aspects of magic. Stephen certainly has his own unique style of performing and always leaves you with a smile on your face.

  • When and why did you first get interested in Magic?

I am a lifelong enthusiast and I have always had a deep fascination with Magic. I have very happy and incredibly important memories of seeing Magic done on TV which has always been very special for me.  

Perhaps unusually for someone with a lifelong interest, I did not start learning or performing magic until I was an adult.

  • Who is your biggest inspiration in Magic?

PT Selbit, the great early 20th Century British Magic inventor and performer who invented many varied effects including several famous stage illusions.

  • What was the first trick you learned?

Rubber Band Jump: one of the first tricks many people learn when starting Magic. A rubber band jumps from the first two fingers to the last two fingers.

  • What type of Magician/Entertainer would you say you are when performing?

Well, I very much like to bring wonder, fun and often comedy and entertainment value! I put a lot of thought into how to present effects and what visual gags, patter and jokes I can fit in with them.

Some of the comedy just seems to happen though! I like to have a good laugh with people (when appropriate!) although I can be a bit nervous and unpredictable, I always aim to have a good rapport with my spectators. So, an unusual and informal Comedy Magician!

  • You have a huge collection of magic, what is your favourite item?

I have some books on Magic including Magic History which I find fascinating, and one which gives a good overview of Magic History is The Illustrated History of Magic, by Milbourne Christopher.

I have many Cabaret Magic items I have purchased from LAWMS auctions, other LAWMS members and some from the great late Keith Pearson. I have several items I am currently working on which include great visual items that have colour and form changes.

  • What is your least favourite item?

Anything that does not work, needs fixing, or I cannot get to work, (and sometimes are missing bits / instructions), or where I have not figured which goes with what and what it actually does. Yes, I am not so keen on these items!

  • What would you say is the best thing about being a member of a Magic Society?

I have made a lot of good friends and have many happy shared memories. Many members have been very encouraging, getting me going with performing Magic.

I speak to and see many members at club meetings and outside the club. This has built genuine friendships and a positive community. We all have different insights and areas of expertise which we share with each other and contribute, which can greatly benefit a Magic club.

  • Is there anything you don’t like about magic?

Yes: though I like and am interested in all types and aspects of Magic, there are things I feel do not help Magic as a whole and have caused a disconnection between some in the Magic Community and the Public, many of which support and are big fans of Magic.

Sometimes magicians reveal secrets (not as an actual exposure) but when proving/stating they are not using other methods (used elsewhere). This is all well-and-good within their own performance, but it’s not good for Magic as a whole!

Within the community of magicians, while we are entitled to have our own preferences, likes and dislikes, there can be intolerances of other genres and performance styles of Magic. Provided everything is ethical, performed well, with respect, consideration, and the right reasons, there is enough space for all of us in The World of Magic.

Also, some in the Magic Community do develop aversions to well-known effects. They think all audiences think this. However, the Classics are Classics for a reason. They have remained famous and memorable and are what many people instantly relate to and recognise. We may have seen/do; e.g. Linking Rings, Professor’s Nightmare many times, but many of the public will not have seen these tricks, or not that often.

This issue of aversion to doing famous Classics is especially true of Pulling-a-Rabbit-out-of-a-Hat (the real issue being: are the animals themselves OK and with no detriment to their welfare, and ensuring this) and Sawing-a-Lady-in-Half (the real issues are to make as safe as possible and respect the assistant).

When people keep asking a magician if they can perform the tricks I mention above, this means they are genuinely interested, relate to, and have an affinity to these effects. Just because some in the Magic Community have seen them performed several times, does not mean we should never perform them again. (There are of course some in this country and many abroad who still do these Classics of Magic). Of course, I am also not against the invention of new tricks and new versions of effects. Nor am I suggesting we do not do less famous effects.

I am very sad about this entire recent “Women in Magic” “issue”, with some people saying (and putting their own untrue opinions as to what they want and would like to think is the case): “there aren’t enough/where are the women (lead/solo performers) in Magic” and “they were sawn in half in the past but now things are changing” etc. This has become needlessly and incredibly toxic and not helpful to anyone. As far as I am concerned, things are more straightforward: there have always (now and over history) been lead performers in Magic who are female. It is really a ratio where it (performing solo Magic or in the title lead role with other Magical performers) is more common amongst males. Magicians that are female are not being stopped from performing! Many ladies who are magicians (solo or lead performers in Magic) perform, entertain and mix with the male magician majority very happily. It’s only recently a magician’s gender was even brought up or even an issue.

Also, support performers, especially “the lovely assistants” are seen as “less than”, by some within the Magic Community, despite them knowing that shows and tricks cannot be done without the assistants and are central to much of the Magic! I would actually go as far as to say that, although I like all genres of Magic, the Glamorous assistants are the very Heart and Soul of Magic. We need parity of acknowledgment and respect for Magic assistants, as we do for magicians, Double Acts, Stage Hands, Magic historians and trick inventors etc… likewise for our audiences. We all need to come together.

  • What advice would you give to anyone thinking of learning or starting magic?

The book I suggest is The Art of Magic and Sleight of Hand, by Nicholas Einhorn.

It’s good to see what tricks and what sort of performer (what patter, jokes, gags and style) works for you. Different people have preferences on the effects they do and how they perform. They should find their own individual performing style, persona, ideas and what works for them and their routines.

Magic is here for whatever one wants to do: mentalism, coins, cards, illusions, escapes etc and any combination of the areas of Magic.

Ask others for honest constructive feedback on what to keep or change etc.

Also, for me personally, especially as someone relatively new to actually performing Magic, stick to what you’re comfortable with when performing. Keep the effects you are “still working on” for yourself and other Magic club members e.g. on a club night: “what do you think of this?” and get feedback.

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

So far, it has been considering and being sure of the angles for my Dice Matrix.

  • What is your favourite piece of magic to perform?

I will probably have a better more definite answer in a few years when I have built up more routines, although I have found that Dice Matrix is one I really like. I also enjoy performing “Prediction” mentioned in the question below.

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

I carry 3 or 4 tricks in my wallet.

I have a version of Free Will, Colour-Changing Kings to Aces and sometimes Mystery Calculator. If I have a flat surface to work on, I do what I believe to be called “Prediction” because it’s an amusing trick (which seems like a wind-up) with an unexpected ending!

  • What would you like to achieve in magic?

I very much hope to help ensure UK TV Magic can return to how I remember from my childhood. To have a return to how it was and should be. I was born in 1982 and remember much more Magic being on and much of it being truly wonderful. But for the last say, 25 years, there has been a general absence of UK TV Magic in a full definite way.

Though there have been many smaller series and one-off specials in the last 20 years, on British TV, there is no Prime-Time, warm-hearted fully produced fun family shows with dancers, guest Variety acts and all different types of Magic.

The Paul Daniels Magic Show finished after a long run and since then we have had some series including some on Prime-Time and more recently “The Magicians” for two series on BBC 1. There has been great output from Stephen Mulhern on ITV 1, and some things on BGT (and on the US AGT that sometimes has been shown here), for examples, but the overall presence is still not here like it is around the World.

I would also like to fully heal Magic, where everyone feels welcome in the Magic Community and where there is not this disconnection with performers and the public. Where wonder and enchantment are preserved. Encouraging everyone that Magic is for everyone, whether watching, finding out about, performing or any combination of these.

Also, for myself as an individual performer: well, I am quite happy to continue entertaining people. I have not learned much complex Magic so far, and I am still a relative beginner. I may well improve and hopefully continue to learn more and keep learning. I am not really expecting to be the ultimate sleight-of-hand artist or illusionist with the biggest show!

We also need to conserve and preserve Magic for future generations and this includes the history as well as the creation of new things.

I certainly hope to continue to pursue my academic study of Magic. If I am very lucky, my big dream is creating and directing shows with other performers, inventing new effects, ideas and presentations!  

  • What would be your ‘Desert Island’ trick?

A production cabinet, shown empty (to anyone else there, but just to myself if just me!), e.g. a Tip-Up Trunk, and make a beautiful lady appear! In fact, anyone happy to join me for a Happy Island Party! Also, the empty cabinet could produce food, water and medical supplies!

Contact Stephen at: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.fowler.18062 

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