Like many in the deceptive trades, Ian Rowland caught the 'magic bug' while very young, and gave his first magic show at the age of five. In the 1970s he read "The Magic of Uri Geller" by James Randi, and became fascinated by the world of psychic claims, the paranormal and related themes. "You could say it became an obsession," admits Ian. "Two things really spurred my enthusiasm. First, the effect upon laymen. Any psychic-flavoured effect, even a simple spoon-bend, seemed to have a tremendous impact. Secondly, I soon became aware that it was a challenging line of study. You can't just buy a book called 'How to do the psychic stuff', or send off to a dealer. You have to meet the right people, be shown techniques that no book can explain, get the right insight into how it all works."
Ian's interest in the subject led to the development of his own unique show, "Beyond the Psychic." This combines a firm belief in what Ian calls 'real' mind power with numerous psychic effects presented for what they are: fun and thought-provoking illusions. These include his signature pieces, such as metal-bending with examined spoons, and more exotic items such as psychic surgery.
Today, Ian's showreel includes a great many media appearances on both sides of the Atlantic. He has featured on entertainment shows, demonstrating everything from ESP to remote psychokinesis, as well as serious documentaries on the paranormal and discussion shows about what the mind can, and cannot, achieve. Some of these appearances have involved ground-breaking demonstrations. For the BBC's 'Heart of the Matter' series, Ian was challenged to demonstrate 'cold reading' under test conditions. His entirely faked reading was judged to be "99.9%" accurate - the first ever demonstration of its kind.
Ian has lectured by invitation at Oxford, Cambridge, UCLA and CalTech, not to mention being the first person to lecture at the Magic Circle on the subject of cold reading. His first book, all about cold reading technique, is widely regarded as the definitive work on the subject, and a copy sold on eBay (the internet auction house) for over ten times its original cover price! A second (expanded) edition is now nearing publication, and visitors to Ian's new website can even win a free copy.
Despite his rather specialised arena, Ian still retains a love of more 'conventional' magic. "I really admire the skilled close-up guys, people like Michael Vincent, Jerry Sadowitz and Guy Hollingworth. I have only the utmost admiration for their skill and artistry."
Favourite magical moment? "One would have to be seeing Gordon Bruce performing his 'card under the glass' routine at a magic convention years ago. The epitome of brilliance - and I'd go anywhere to see it just one more time. The second would have to be Copperfield's first UK show, at Earl's Court. I got my tickets early, so I had excellent seats in the centre of the second row. Stunning!"