Paul Gordon lecture
2nd February 2006
Reviewed by Giles Cartwright

Paul is a highly successful professional magician who performs ‘Strolling and Close-Up Table Magic’. He lectures all over the world, is the author of many best-selling books, and creator of many tricks and DVDs. He is also a long standing member of our club.

His pre-lecture marketing seemed to encourage many people to come along, there was an extremely impressive turnout. In his e-mails and fliers prior to the lecture he recommended watching an online demo of him performing in a ‘real world’ situation (at his website). Seeing him performing like this, one can see just how effective his magic is with a lay audience. He interacts with his audience with a kindness and charm, with enthusiasm and a gentle humour, and performs some jaw-dropping magic. There is a sense of fun, and something special and unique about the magic he creates.

He performed and explained many of his routines on the night, including; ‘Fry Them With Oil & Water’ and the ‘Laymen Assembly’ with jacks. A clever and direct ‘one ahead’ routine called the ‘Muldoon Match’. A self working trick (‘Fone Finnell’), which could be performed over the telephone. A couple of tricks which produced the four queens. He talked about some routines which use only the aces, and performed ‘Diminishing Not Likely’- an offbeat trick which ends with a surprise production of the four aces. He also performed ‘Twin Peeks’ and his ‘Easy Ace Estimation’ - without explanation.

The effects ranged from the completely self working through to those requiring intermediate skill. He succinctly explained the various methods and techniques required to achieve these effects, and additionally taught methods for forcing a card, false shuffles and a sleight-free culling technique. Of course, detailed descriptions of all these techniques and tricks can be found in his books and DVDs. Throughout the evening he also dealt with some of the finer details of performing card magic...

It is perhaps here, that he revealed some of the more illusive and more important secrets of our art. An in-depth awareness of the seemingly small details. The nuances and the intricacies. Subtle psychological ploys and ‘convincers’. How to plant ideas in the minds’ of your audience. The motivation for certain moves and gestures. Thoughts about timing, and the structuring of routines so that effects run together and build to a climax. The significance of when the moment of ‘magic’ occurs. The sum of all these parts contributing to the single most important factor … that of creating a truly ‘magical experience’ for your audience.

Over the years Paul has cultivated his talent for presentation. It has been honed through extensive experience in the ‘real world’. He mentioned that he acts sometimes as if he is surprised at what is going on, as if it is a miracle to even him. He also mentioned that, even if you are performing something which you know is simple, to make it appear difficult or skilful to your audience. He is very mindful of his audience, wants to create something magical, and is careful not to detract from this by humiliating, embarrassing, or creating any awkwardness amongst them.

As an observer, I think one of Paul’s greatest attributes is his ‘naturalness’. There is a naturalness of technique, and a balance between the clarity of effect, directness of method and his presentation. He seems as comfortable with a deck of cards in his hands as he is with himself and his audience. There seems an utter congruence between who he is, and the magic he creates.

Paul has absorbed a wealth of knowledge concerning all aspects of card magic, and is deeply respectful both for his fellow magicians and for the history of his craft. He took great care to credit the appropriate people when explaining his routines, mentioning the origins for many of the tricks, moves and sleights he taught us.

He reminisced intermittently, about some of his thirty years at the club. From his nerve-wracking audition in front of Jack Avis, Peter Warlock and Francis Haxton. An experience with Hugh Goater (Hugo), where Paul forgot the name of his selected card. And, a note of thanks to Mike Petitt for first introducing him to card magic.

And many of us have Paul to thank for introducing us to the wonderful world of card magic. At very least for guiding us more deeply through the intricacies of this beautiful aspect of our art...

For your generosity of spirit, for sharing your passion and enthusiasm so willingly and openly. Thank you! … Your love of magic is truly infectious...

© Giles Cartwright, February 2006