Martin Taylor


Born in Birmingham "it took seven years at public school to lose the accent" and raised in Bristol, Martin read maths at Cambridge, where an interest in magic was kindled at the Pentacle Club. On moving to London, where he's lived ever since, Martin read for a PhD at London University. In London he met Eric Mason, Brian Sinclair, and other magicians of the 'Marlborough Arms' group and learnt much about misdirection from Eric and improvisation from Brian, and never looked back.

Martin became interested in hypnosis after watching a fellow student perform, and gave his first show in 1981. He then developed the hypnosis show, and presented close-up magic throughout the eighties while at London University, first as a student, then as a teacher, and then as a writer. Martin worked as a professional writer for two years before going pro full-time as a magician and hypnotist in 1991.

In the mid-nineties, after discussions with psychologists, skeptics, and others, he realised that hypnosis as commonly perceived has nothing to do with stage entertainment, and "took a big leap of faith in telling my audiences this." He found that the show worked just as well, and developed his own unique show 'Hypnotism without Hypnosis', which is what he now does for a living at universities, sixth form collages, clubs, and "anywhere else they'll pay me!"

Other interests include playing the piano (badly), bridge (rather well - he's a Regional Master), singing and amateur theatricals "when the rehearsals don't clash with work - but they always do."

Top Trick?
"Chop cup. It grabs the audience's attention with a prop which is interesting without looking proppy; it has the right mix of mechanical and sleight of hand; but best of all it leaves audiences literally open-mouthed with amazement. (At least, it does when I do it.)"

Top Book?

"Very hard decision, but I'd probably go for Corinda's 13 Steps to Mentalism. There's no other book that encapsulates a whole branch of magic so well. Whatever you need in mentalism, it's probably in 13 Steps somewhere."

Top Magician?
"David Nixon, who inspired me (and countless others) when I was a kid. And for demonstrating effectively that personality counts for so much more than technical skill."

Top Magic Quote?
"All these young guys dancing round with silk scarves and magic boxes look great when they're twenty, but by the time they're fifty they just look ridiculous. Stick to mentalism. It has a dignity that makes it more effective as you get older. Maurice Fogel (I like to think he'd have looked on hypnotism in the same way.)"

Top Audiences?
"For me, drunken students. They're out to get you, but they will give you about thirty seconds to prove yourself. My strategy is simple: lull them into patronising complacency by being competent and bland for twenty-nine seconds. Then hit them as hard as you can with something unbelievable. After that, they're yours."

Worst Audiences?
"Children. I know entertaining kids is an important branch of magic, but I just don't get any kicks from self-working tricks and getting all the boys and girls to shout the magic word as loud as they can. King Herod was misunderstood."


MagicWeek 2001