Magic For Cool Cats

If you love magic, drawing simple cartoons and cats then its an obvious name choice for your third book, right?

Johnathan Friedman is the author of ‘Magic For Cool Cats’ as mentioned this is his third book. The first book he published is called The 80’s Called…They Want Their Magic Book Back-Volume 1 which took him over 20 years to write on a stop start basis, however was met with good reviews and appreciation which he now marks as one of his most rewarding career moments.

Jonathans second book is titled ‘The Fifth Fourth‘ which has received with a 5 star review over on Amazon. Known as a prolific creator, award-winning author, and lecturer on close-up magic and in the middle of writing another 2 new books we were lucky enough to have a little of his time to ask some questions we were curious about

Hi Jonathan, thank you for your time today! First thing we would like to know is how old were you when you first got into magic? I dabbled with the occasional magic kit when I was a young dude, around 6-8, or so. The real, “proverbial” magic bug bit me when I was 11-12. I joined  a local magic club, started buying tricks from a magic shop, and checked out a bunch of books from the local library.

What or who inspired you to learn about magic? I suppose my first inspiration was my father. He was always doing tricks around the house when I was a kid, so I was exposed pretty early on. He had an interest in magic when he was a kid, but I don’t even think I would call him an amateur magician or even  hobbyist. He did about three things: The 21 Card Trick, a coin vanish, and a card back-palm.

As you are a creator and an author; can you explain the process to us of how one goes about creating a magic trick? Is there a set of ‘rules’ you generally have to follow? I’ll give the stock answer, which is that there is no “one way” to come up with material. I’ve created both method-first and effect-first. I’ve created based upon a specific presentational idea. I’ve even created things solely because I came up with a good title.

For me, I suppose that since I’m not really a move monkey and I don’t usually have a lot of “my versions” of other people’s tricks, I tend to try to look at things in a “weird” way. That doesn’t mean having weird thoughts, although I have those too. It means looking at everything through a “Could that be a magic trick?” filter. It’s a little obsessive, but then again, so am I.

Let me explain. I am more apt to come up with a piece of magic, not by reading or watching magic, but by applying this “filter” to just about everything that I encounter. For example (and I am absolutely just riffing here), if I was at the grocery store and I was putting my fruit in a plastic bag, I could look at it and say to myself, “What could I do here that would make magical sense ?” I would see that I need to tie a knot at the top of the bag, so maybe I could magically produce one there? Or maybe I could somehow remove the open ends of the bag and keep the fruit sealed inside forever? Weird thoughts breed weirder thoughts. Next thing I know, I’m down a rabbit hole, trying to crack the code on all things “plastic bag-magic.” I’ll probably stumble onto a few things that were born from these “plastic bag-sessions” that can be applied to other weird thoughts. Next thing you know, I’ve got a new coin trick where I pull the wings off of the American eagle before putting them back on (I just made that one up. Don’t anybody steal it! ) because it reminded me of pulling the ends off of a plastic bag.

Do you have a preference of what kind of magic to create? I almost exclusively create close-up magic. It’s what I know. If you want to fool me, perform a stage illusion or some mentalism. I am almost a true layperson in these areas, and I think that is a good thing.

Who is your favourite partner to collaborate with on creating something new? I LOVE to collaborate. I am fortunate that I live in a city (Seattle) with some of the freshest magic thinkers around. I have regular sessions with two of my favourite magicians/friends, Louie Foxx and Chris Beason. We always score when we are together. We also laugh a lot too. I think that definitely is the “fertiliser” that makes our sessions productive.

Who’s your favourite magician of all time? My favourite magician of all time is Paul Harris. He moulded the way that I look at magic and most other things. I couldn’t look myself in the eyes if I didn’t also mention a few others that I adore. Jay Sankey, David Williamson, Michael Weber, David Harkey, Ben Harris, David Acer, and Richard Sanders are all aces in my book

Do you enjoy watching others performing and what goes through your mind when you watch magic? I do try to stay current with the latest techniques and ideas because it comes with the territory as a creator/author. But that being said, I do not go to a lot of magic shows or watch as many magic performances as I probably should.

How diverse do you see the magic industry? I think that the magic industry is diversifying as we speak. Let’s face it. Magic has always been a “Boy’s Club”-thing, for the most part.

I’ve thought about this a lot. In the last twenty years, the number of female magicians out there has skyrocketed. I attribute it to the Harry Potter books. They cemented the idea of female wizards. A lot of kids grew reading those. There were also a lot of TV shows directed toward young-female audiences (“Wizards of Waverly Place, “The Magicians”, etc.) with girls doing magic. Add to that, the internet and its reach, and you’ve now got all different types of people from different countries all over the world learning and sharing (and stealing) from each other.

Can you tell us all about magic for cool cats? And how you came up with your illustrations! Magic For Cool Cats is my third book. It’s all close-up magic, although you a can apply a few of the items for bigger performance venues. I love magic, drawing simple cartoons, and cats. It only seemed logical that I combine the three.

Truth be told, I originally did not plan on doing illustrations for this book. I originally envisioned photographs with myself and real cats doing the tricks. Since I was not going to actually go and get a bunch of trained cats, it was going to have be accomplished with Photoshop. I am not good in that area at all so I figured that I could probably draw out the illustrations faster than I could learn Photoshop. I think I thought wrong, regarding that, as it took me over a year to do all of them. I’m ok with that though. Now I can say that I have illustrated a magic book!

Do you have a favourite routine? I think that my favourite routine in the book is the section I devote to my “Jenny Jenny Stack.” Besides being incredibly proud of coming up with it, I think it is wonderfully diverse in its potential uses. It’s a great stack that is demonically easy to memorize.

In fact, I challenge anybody that reads or hears the secret, one-sentence code to be able to forget it after reading it just one time. You can’t and you won’t. It’s also got a presentational hook built right into it that can be used as a “Sam the Bellhop”-type of story trick, Differentiating it from virtually any other stack out there!

Please tell us about any new projects you have coming up. I am currently writing two new books. One is called “Dream Magic” and it is a collection of highly visual effects, There are some brand-new, slightly-surreal concepts in these pages. It’s going to be pretty fab. I’m also writing my first book of  all-card magic. It’s called “Abby-Normal Card Magic” (and yes, that’s a nod to “Young Frankenstein”). It features some of my weirdest and most bizarre, yet fooling, card tricks to date. There are no “Triumphs”, Four Ace Productions, or Assemblies in here.

Jonathan thank you for your time, we can’t wait to read the news books, make sure to send us a copy!!

Carol Cooper

Carol Cooper

Married to Antony, Mum to our children. Full time working in media for over 20 years, part time writer and assistant to Antony, which I guess makes me a magicians assistant :-)


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