On episode 160, Jonah sits down with Michel Clavello to discuss finding the magic that’s right for you, how to share joy through your magic and producing magic products. Co-owner of Vernet Magic, Michel is a magician and mentalist from Argentina who has won several awards at major conferences for his innovative illusions.
Michel was a ten year old boy in Argentina when he started doing magic. With limited access to magic, Michel only had the books from the library and a short, black & white television program where only a set of hands would demonstrate and teach a trick. At eleven, he discovered a magic shop in Buenos Aires which he attended with his friend. To this day Michel can still recall the beating of his heart as he approached the shop. Michel would soon discover a second magic shop where he would eventually meet the great magic masters who would become his mentors.
While Michel currently performs mentalism, he explored everything as a child die to his deep love for everything in magic. From children’s birthdays, to close-up, to stage, to manipulation, it would only be at the behest of one his mentors that he chooses one area to focus on.
Throughout his career, Michel has had several mentors who have shaped his knowledge and passion for magic. From the magic club, Michel learnt under a man named Oscar Keller who became like a father to him in magic. They would often meet up multiple times a week to discuss and develop their magic, allowing Michel to go deeper into the craft. The magic club is also where he was introduced to Greco—his current co-owner of Vernet Magic.
Michel also had two major masters who’s words still remain with him in all of hide performances; Juan Tamariz and Fantasio. Michel was fifteen when he met Juan; he was competing in a conference and Juan happened to be one of his judges. Throughout his career, Michel would attend Juan’s lectures and have the chance to watch him perform. Eventually, Juan would be the one to prompt Michel to choose a specific area to focus on and explore it deeply.
Where Juan was the deep, insightful thinker, Fantasio was the artist. Michel would see Fantasio performing on TV and wanted to be like him. The two eventually became good friends, and, to this day, Michel can still feel his words whenever he performs.
For Michel, competing has never been about winning first place. While it was nice to win, competitions became a way for him to focus on accomplishing one thing. He needed to have an act polished by the time the conference arrived which prevented him from veering off to explore new areas of magic.
Michel, alongside his friend Greco, owns and operates Vernet Magic which is known for producing thumb tips and other strong effects. The two purchased the company in 1994 from Vernet and continued to create the products already in production; it would be over the course of a few years that they would improve and update the molds for the products.
At his first conference when he was fifteen, Michel met Vernet, and it would be to him that Michel showed his first thumb tip to. Vernet, who had entered magic later in life, brought a childlike wonder in his approach to magic. At the competition the two competed in, he performed a stage illusion like a parlour trick, winning him first place over Michel.
In terms of the products released today by Vernet Magic, Michel says they only take on and produce effects that they like. Whether they do the effect in their shows or it brings a genuine joy to them, Michel explains that it has to be a real, human effect because they have to spend time to bring the concept into reality; he doesn’t want to view it as an arduous task.
In a corner of his home, Michel has an extensive magic library. He finds a nostalgia in books that reminds him of being a child and opening the pages to learn a new secret. Between receiving the book in the mail and feeling the pages as he riffles through them, there is a magic, to him, in the physical book. He knows where every book is on his shelf and will spend time just going through his collection.
With that being said, Michel still sees a value in eBooks. When he’s travelling, he knows that all he needs is his phone to bring the collection with him and continue his studies; he doesn’t need to bring unwieldy books with him in his bag or risk damaging them. However, Michel belio that you can’t get the same feeling from your phone. That tactile feeling brings a connection to the content that you seem to lose otherwise with a phone.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you hate?
Michel likes that we have entered into a new golden age of magic. Where before you had a handful of good magicians, you can now go to New York and see a handful of fantastic shows playing in different venues.
Michel doesn’t necessarily like the route close up magic has taken for competitions. It’s playing for the screen, not the audience, but he doesn’t hate it; he finds it beautiful. He would just prefer they call it a more apt name like “screen magic.”
Take Home Point
Jonah resonated with the idea of doing magic that brings you joy. The better you can connect to what makes you happy, the better you’ll do moving forward.
Michel agreed, adding that you need to bring passion into your work. He reminds us that magic is a gift; you are performing an effect for somebody that may change their day or life if done well.