These are words from a truly beautiful woman, Lupe Nielsen.
Since the launch of Abracadabra Blow I have been learning so much about all the magicians, creators, performers, and all the other words associated with the magic community but non so far have touched my heart the way Lupe’s story has.
As some of you will know in April 2020 Lupe lost her best friend and husband of 25 years and yes of course the magic community lost a legend Mr Norm Nielsen. Norm had opened Nielsen Magic in 1956, he performed around his local area, Kenosha, and built his own magic tricks. In the early sixties he met Johnny Thompson and through their collaboration they came up with clever effects such as Bottle Through The Table, Flower To Silk and as they were both dove workers they created the Nielsen Vanishing Dove Cage.
Norm had his big break in the late sixties and went onto have one of the most successful careers as a performing magician for the next three decades. In 1990 he started to become a magic collector of vintage posters, at this stage he had three careers; performing magic, buying, selling and trading vintage posters and manufacturing magic.
In 1995 Norm and Lupe came together, Lupe’s background in magic, props, working in magic shops and a love for magic history made them both a perfect couple, they had everything in common besides age.
As mentioned they had 25 happy years together, they both worked on Nielsen magic together, both performed and complimented each other in the building of magic.
Lupe faced another blow in October 2020 when she was diagnosed with cancer, the good news is it was caught early and reacts well to aggressive chemotherapy – which of course Lupe has been going through for the past few months. In between fighting cancer Lupe has been busy finishing an entire batch of ‘Visible Block Penetrations”, made a batch of poster frames for a big client and spent some time speaking to us!
Hi Lupe, thank you for taking some time out for us, let’s go back to the beginning! How old were you when you first got into magic? My interest in magic started when I was four years old. I was at a family party, and a friend of the family sat with me and showed me a magic trick. This was a simple effect in which he held a dollar bill. The portrait of George Washington was facing up, and after folding it, and unfolding it, it was then facing down. This effect blew me away!
What inspired you to learn magic? I was fascinated by the puzzle aspect of magic, and how one could make things seem what they are not. When I was in first grade of school, and learned how to read and write, every week we had to go to the library and get a book. I found a children’s magic book and I started learning from there on.
Do you have a favourite magic trick? Yes. My favourite trick is the Miser’s Dream.
Do you have a most difficult trick? I don’t know… They all have challenges, either in the technique or the presentation. Technically, I am unable to top palm a poker sized playing card. My hands are so small that about quarter inch sticks out when I perform the sleight. I can do it with bridge cards, but I refuse to use those smaller cards. To compensate for top palming with poker cards, all the steals and palms I do are bottom palms.
On average how long does it take you to learn a new trick? It depends. I start learning a trick because it fits a presentation. Sometimes one wakes up with the perfect presentation for a particular effect, and it could be a very quick process involving a day or two. Other times, one learns a trick, and it takes years before one can add it to the repertoire with the proper presentation.
Have you ever botched a trick in front of an audience and how did you handle that? When I performed a lot, of course I botched tricks now and then. When it happens the first time it is quite upsetting. But when one performs hundreds of shows, it is not a big deal. If one messes up, either one has an out, or one shrugs the trick and continues the show. Magic is not brain surgery or a life and death situation. It is a form of entertainment. If one messes up, so what? As long as you remain likeable with your audience, they will forgive your mishaps.
Do you have a most embarrassing moment? Being stuck in traffic and arriving late for a private show. I was so late – by two hours – that I did not perform or get paid that day.
What is the best thing about being a magician? Instead of performing, I currently make a living by running a magic manufacturing business and building magic tricks for others. The best thing about being in this business is that I am able to do something I love. It is effortless to get up in the morning and work each and every day.
And the worst? The worst thing about having a small business is the paperwork that is necessary for running it.
Career goals and aspirations. None at the moment, as I am content with what I am doing in magic. I guess my only aspiration is to be the best I can be at what I do.
Who’s your favourite magician? My favorite magician of all time was René Lavand.
Do you enjoy watching others performing and what goes through your mind when you watch magic? I enjoy watching GOOD magic and magicians, as it is a wonderful form of entertainment. However, and unfortunately, most performers are just not good. If the latter is the case, I really get annoyed, as life is too short to waste it watching bad magic. Lol!
How many shows do you do a year? I no longer perform magic professionally. My last official performances were at the Close-up Room of the Magic Castle in 2014.
What is your preferred size audience to perform for? Do you prefer intimate or large scale events? I love the “parlor magic” format, for audiences of 10 – 150 people. It is a more intimate setting, and you can relate to an audience in a more personable way. Huge stages bother me. The lights are in your face, and one has to perform to a dark void. Lol! I prefer having a closer relationship with the audience.
Most rewarding career moment? Not sure… I have won regional awards, and magic has allowed me to meet some of the most talented and amazing people in the world. However, everything just feels like a blur to me.
In my current life, the most rewarding moment is the present. I still have enough health which allows me to work, and the greatest satisfaction is finishing whatever project I am working on at the time. The feeling of accomplishment is rewarding for a day or so, only to look forward to the next challenge.
Worst fail you have ever seen? Nothing extraordinary that couldn’t be fixed. All magicians make mistakes, but because it is not a life and death situation, it is really not a big deal. I have heard of major fails, though… Like the time Johnny Thompson had to go on stage, and during the middle of his performance he realised he forgot to load up his birds. Being a professional, he improvised his act with other tricks that did not required doves. Lol!
How diverse do you see the magic industry? In the year of 2021, the magic industry is extremely diverse. Everyone and anyone that wants to do magic and is good, can do so if they wish. Long gone are the days when magic societies had limits or requirements on their membership due to sex or colour. All you need now is desire to participate in the community, and regardless of who you are, you will be welcome.
Please tell us about any new projects you have coming up? I am currently making a few props for our magic line at Nielsen Magic. However, we at Nielsen Magic acquired the rights to manufacture and sell the late Dean Dill’s “Dean’s Box”. It is my goal to start making this effect in the next few months to have it available to the magic community later this year.
Lupe, thank you so much for sharing your life and story with us, we are truly honored.
Reader please head over to www.nnmagic.com or follow Lupe on her social media feeds: