This week Jonah connects with Helder Guimarães, a prolific magician known for bending the expectations of what a magic show is capable of. In this episode they’ll discuss how to balance the artistic and the logical sides of your performances, why Helder requests that those who purchase his material not perform them on TV or online, and how he directed his love of performance and creation towards the past year of pandemic-era virtual performances.
A Live Show Like No Other
If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to one of Helder’s shows you might have found yourself outside a convenience store with your ticket in hand and a confused store clerk assuring you that there is no show at this address but he can at least offer you a memory. And as he led you into the photo booth and the secret door opened up to a hidden room where Helder was waiting to perform a one hour set with you you might realize that this person likes to upend your expectations about what is possible with a magic show.
Helder opens up about the work that went into his immersive production of Borrowed Time and what it took to assemble the right team that brought it all together.
Embracing The Mystery of Theatre
Helder magic career really took off after his FISM win in 2006. But that win almost never happened because the panel of judges truly believed he had cheated, rather than simply fooled them, by using a stooge in his act. His performance was just too impossible and the judges couldn’t figure out how he pulled it off without cheating.
Jonah and Helder talk about that act and break down some of Helder’s thoughts on the importance of disguising the method.
A global pandemic shutting down all live performances on the planet wasn’t going to slow down Helder either. He shares with Jonah his process of putting together another truly unique show with The Geffen Playhouse, called The Present, in which members of the virtual audience are sent objects that they use during the show so that the magic is literally in their hands.
Helder shares what it was like to produce a show in lockdown and finally break out a concept he had been considering for a long time but never had the right environment to test it out in.
Bill Goodwin is an amazing person, amazing friend with a lot of knowledge of a great era in magic. He met all those great card guys.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
One of the things that it’s both positive and negative is that I do believe that magic is not yet developed as a performing art as it can be. I think there is a lack of depth in what magic is still today. But that’s a positive thing at the same time, because it allows us to be able to explore that. There is a lot of things we can do to create new magical experiences and to create new ways of audiences to feel impossible moments and at that point it becomes something positive.
One of the things I like about magic right now is the possibility of seeing diversity much more than when I started. When I started, the only things you could see or read were the videos that these big names produced or the books or the people around you or you had to travel and you’re still always going to be limited. Now you can talk with friends in Japan and then they can share things that happened there. That’s amazing, that the idea that that diversity exists and it’s more attainable, that is something really powerful. Used correctly, I think it can be of great advantage for everyone.
One negative thing would be the lack of criteria of publishing magic these days. I think a lot of things get to the press or to videos or to whatever medium they are using to sell before people really think through what they are putting out. It’s almost like people have ideas and two months later they publish it. And I feel that magic has much more to gain with each people keeping their secrets a little bit more. Nourishing them. And when it comes to the right moment that they will feel it to then publish because that will have a little bit more of that depth as well.
Take home point
Something that took me a long time to learn and that I do believe it’s the essence of magic. From the creative point of view. And the way I like to think about magic is of self-expression, that’s what we are creating. I would say that being honest is the best thing they can do in every single thing. Be honest when working on it, be honest when sharing it, be honest when receiving criticism, be honest with yourself, be your own self critic. The worst comments should be yours after a performance.
For magicians, Secret Language is still available and if you visit secretmagic.com there will be a password hint. It’s very easy for people who know a little bit about magic and once in you can get a lot of Helder’s releases through the website.