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Lee Asher Interview

Lee Asher in a big chair!A Dozen Questions for Lee Asher

1. How old were you when you first went to a magic convention and what are your memories of it?

I was born into the art of magic and started attending conventions, even before I was aware of my surroundings. However, the first one I actually remember was the 1981 Tannen’s Jubilee up in the Catskills of New York.

The strongest memory I have was of Lou Tannen gifting me a Tannen’s baseball hat.

I know what you’re wondering, No, I don’t own the hat anymore. I’m sad to report, I lost it at the same convention in the public lobby.

2. Where did you first lecture? How old were you?

The first real lecture I ever gave was in the February of ’94. I was sixteen. It was held at ‘Annie’s Costumes and Magic’, and I had a whopping 13 people show up. We had a lot of fun that night!

3. Having a father who’s also a magician must have meant that you got to go to more conventions than the average kid. Was that the case?

Having a father in magic certainly offered me a head start, and yes, I attended more conventions than most. He made sure, the whole family attended at least one convention a year.

However, the majority of the conventions attended in my youth were because of my employment with Daytona Magic.

As a child, I worked behind their booth at three to four conventions a year, for several years. It was one hell of an experience!

4. Where are some of the most interesting places that you have lectured?

I’ve been all over the world, and it seems there isn’t a place on this earth I haven’t enjoyed visiting. Without fail, each trip has yielded fresh stories, new friends, and original experiences.

For instance, I had the opportunity to speak in Perth, Australia. After the lecture, they took me out for some Kangaroo. It was great! (My apologizes if finding a country’s mascot delectable seems weird to anyone reading this, it’s an experience I’ll NEVER forget.)

5. Your passport has no more space for country stamps. Does traveling to magic conventions ever get boring?

It’s been a childhood goal to fill-up my passport with stamps from the countries I’ve performed in. A little over a year ago, I reached my goal. My passport ‘Visa Section’ is completely filled, and now customs agents are forced to stamp my ‘Amendments Section’.

To answer your question about my thoughts on travel, I cant say ‘boredom’ is the best way to describe how I feel. Maybe the word ‘desensitized’ offers better insight?

Traveling is fantastic, but as everyone knows, after 9/11 it’s become more complicated and strenuous.

Most people refuse to believe it’s not worth all of the long, ass-numbing flights, and the hassle of customs. I delight in eating a normal breakfast in Eugene, Oregon. Being served a cold lunch over Chicago, Illinois, and ending the evening with exotic drinks, exquisite dinner, and original card tricks in Toronto, Ontario.

I live the CardStar LifeStyle.

6. You spend quite a bit of time these days lecturing to magicians and creating new magic. How much performing for real people do you get to do?

In the last few years, I’ve pulled back from both performing for the laity and lecturing for magicians. These days, I have the option of picking and choosing where (and when) I want to work.

I do not actively chase new clientele, though if the right gig comes along, I’ll work it.

It has to interest me, as much as it does the client.

For instance, in a week’s time (end of March ’07), I’m going to Florida to perform along side my father, Michael Ammar and Karl Hein.

This may sound like a magic convention, but it’s not. We’re all hired to perform our various styles of magic at a very lucky young man’s Bar-Mitzvah.

This gig interests me for two reasons:

First, it allows me to work with my father. I haven’t worked a room with him in years and have always loved it when we have.

The other reason, not as important as the first, is that I want to see Michael Ammar brandish his wand to fend off a group of young troublemaking Bar-mitzvah attendees from his cups and balls. Oy vay!

7. Who is your favourite magic lecturer?

That’s a tough question, because there are so many. In general, if I had to pick the supreme raining champion of magic circuit lecturing, it has to be Michael Ammar.

Without a doubt, Michael covers more ground than anyone else, and magically inspires more people.

I’m not trying to ‘blow smoke up his ass;’ Michael is the best this industry has seen to date.

With time, there will be better. Nevertheless, he has set a high standard for a long time to come.

If you want to see Michael Ammar on a lecture tour, click on the link below: http://www.leeasher.com/ammar.htm

8. What’s your favourite magic convention that you’ve been to?

A lot of them have been outstanding, but I don’t think I’ve attended THE BEST ONE yet. Nevertheless, I hear ‘it’s coming soon’.

9. What do you think are the essential ingredients of a good magic lecture?

Let me preface my answer by saying the lecture experience is different for everyone:

-There are those that subscribe to the school of ‘If I learn one item, it was worth it.’
-Then there are those who want to learn as many tricks as possible.
-Don?’t forget those who attend lectures for the theory.

Again, it’s a different experience for everyone.

So to answer you question, I’ll respond from the lecturer’s perspective. I think the key ingredients to a great magic lecture are three-fold:

  • The lecturer must have the ability to express his material successfully
  • The material taught must inspire others to perform it
  • The audience must be ready and willing to learn

Add all three of these ingredients together in a bowl, whip until you see heavy peaks, bake at high and then you have one kick-ass lecture pie!

10. Which 5 magicians would you book for your ideal magic convention?

I would book the five magicians who are cutting edge in each of their individual fields.
I’d book one card guy, one manipulator, one mentalist, one children’s entertainer, and a juggler — always have a variety act on the bill.

11. Which magician would you have most liked to see lecture, but were unable to?

I would have loved to seen Jerry Sadowitz, but I heard he died years ago.. on every stage in the UK.

12. Magic lectures have been around for over 50 years, how do you see them changing in the future?

Are you asking me if they’re going to get better or worse?

If you want me to predict the quality of the circuits improving or degrading, I believe the future holds vast improvements.

My vision of the future holds:

  • superior quality lectures
  • more attendees
  • higher fees
  • better organization of the lecture circuits
  • other positive movements for the art and the artist

We can speculate about the future all day long, but it’s how we treat the situation now that will determine the quality of the lectures of tomorrow.

I’m working to improve the future of magic. Who’s with me?

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About Lee Asher…Lee Asher is a close-up magician specialising in performing and teaching card magic to other magicians.