Jonah is joined by Juan Esteban Varela, a master at performing without props. Juan is the mind behind Magic in the Dark and in this conversation he talks all about it, about magic without props, and shares his personal story through magic and how wonderful it is. 

Moving to Madrid

Like many others, Juan got bit by the magic bug at a very young age and never looked back. He’s so immersed in his love of magic he says that he can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be in magic. Originally from Chile, and after studying for law “as a hobby”, he moved to Madrid to chase down and connect with the Spanish magical community there. The openness of the community allowed Juan to settle in comfortably and he shares with Jonah some of his memories as a young magician going from lecture to party to hangouts and learning from the best magicians in the region. 

It was during this time that he began asking questions about how magic can change. How important is it that we see for it to still be magic? How should you feel? How should you react? Nothing bothers Juan more, it seems, than when someone tells him how skilled he is or how amazing an idea his show was. Nothing short of “that was impossible” will satisfy him.

Magic in the Dark

Realizing that senses were just a means to an end, Juan developed a show called Magic in the Dark where audience members and himself wear blindfolds and the entire routine is performed entirely in darkness. Juan explains how you don’t need to deceive all the senses for magic to work and break down his core pillars to create any effect. All you need is to create a mystery, stimulate the imagination, and finally connect it to emotion. Nowhere in those three things does it suggest that you have to see!

Magic Without Props

Juan loves studying the principles of magic and using those principles to examine his methods to create incredible effects. And if, like Jonah, you’re having a difficult time imagining how a propless sightless magic effect can be possible Juan helps us out by performing a trick he usually saves for radio interviews. It’s an effective demonstration that should open up your mind to realizing the possibilities of magic without props. 

After all this talk about props one shouldn’t assume that Juan is averse to technology. He has a lot of thoughts about technology and how it’s affecting magic and is excited to share with Jonah his latest ideas about VR, AR, and using technology to move magic into new possibilities. 


Endless Chain

Roberto Mansilla

What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?

The community has gotten much bigger. Even having this conversation on this podcast wouldn’t have happened not too long ago. The community is everyone now, this is great! Magic is expanding the frontiers of expression. 

The love of the secret has been lost. It used to be that the secret was sacred but it seems like now, especially since the community is so large, everyone wants to share their secrets right away. It would be great if we could recover the love of the secret in some way.


You can follow Juan on Instagram @juan.e.varela

Juan’s website is

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