Q&A with Magician Hank Morfin
Q: Tell us about yourself as a magician.
A: I’m not “Mr. Sleight of Hand”-- don’t get me wrong, I have studied and practice the mechanics of magic, but I’m not a magician who does a lot of manipulation acts. For me, it’s about performing and making that connection with the audience. The person I am as a performer is me, and I think that’s important. Yes, you have to amp up and “be bigger” when you perform, but I believe that who you are as a performer has to come from who you are for real. For me, that is very much the case. I believe that an audience will like you if they feel they are getting the “real you”. If you come off phony, it will put them off and they will not be receptive to you. If they feel like you are being sincere with them, being yourself, they will relax and enjoy what you have to offer. Gerry Griffin, one of my mentors, always tells me, “You can be the greatest magician in the world but if they don’t like you, they don’t care.” So for me, it’s about having a storyline that is based on my real experiences and being myself and making that special connection with my audience.
Q: What started your interest in magic?
A: When I was nine-years-old, I received a magic set as a gift. My parents used to host foreign exchange students, and a young man named Kirin from Kenya, Africa gave me the magic set as a farewell gift when he left to go home. I remember the set exactly; it was a “Marshal Brodine Magic Set”. That was it, I fell in love with magic and it’s been a part of my life ever since.
Q: Tell us about your first performance as a magician?
A: The first time I put on an actual magic show was for my parents, sisters and my Grandma when I was around ten-years-old. I had spent all my money, allowance, birthday money, etc. on magic equipment and books. My Dad had a rolling work table he had built; I covered it with a beach towel and put a close-up mat on the top of it to make it into my performance table. It had shelves underneath to store my props and to ditch the effects after I performed them. I performed in my parent’s living room, and my grandmother almost fainted because two of the effects I did in the show were swallowing razor blades and putting a big knitting needle through my arm! I remember how great it felt to be there performing and seeing my family react. That feeling stayed with me and eventually led me to begin performing professionally many years later.
Q: Name a magician that has inspired you the most and why?
A: Wayne Houchin. I don’t know if he inspired me the most, but I think he was the most significant. If it was not for him, I might not be a professional magician at this point in time. Magic has always been a part of my life, but since my childhood performances in my parent’s living room, I had never performed publicly. Life happens, and I spent most of my time focused on my job or my personal situations, family and everything else that came with life. My involvement with magic would weave in and out of my life. There were times that I spent little time with it and times when I would get inspired and dive back into it. About five years or so ago, I saw that Chris Angel had a new show starting up on A&E. I watched it and on one episode, he performed “Sinful: Signed Coin to Soda Can”, an effect created by Wayne Houchin. Seeing that effect reminded me why I loved magic and I had to learn how to do it. I searched online, found the effect from an online magic dealer and I bought it. When I learned the method I loved it even more. It’s one of those effects that the method is almost more fun than performing it. I went to Gerry’s magic shop in Pleasant Hill, a shop I had gone to for many years off and on, but he was gone! I had an old business card and tried the number which still worked. Gerry told me about the California Magic Dinner Theatre he had started in Martinez, California, and I started going to shows there. Needless to say, I never strayed from magic again and today I am a professional magician with hundreds of hours of performing under my belt. I believe Wayne Houchin played a key part in that happening.
Q: What is favorite style of magic to perform?
A: I love performing both close-up and on stage. For me, it’s all about making that connection with your audience and sharing those few moments to create a great memory for both your spectators and yourself. That’s the real magic of it all.
Q: What is your favorite magic memory to date?
A: I’d have to say the first time my stage set really “clicked”. Anyone who performs will understand what I mean by that. You put together an act, you try out effects, change some out that don’t fit or just don’t go over well with an audience. Then one time in this process, you put together just the right combination of effects and you perform them really well. The audience connects with you and goes along for the ride, and your show just kills. That is a fantastic feeling!
Q: What's the most important thing about magic to you that you'd like the public to know?
A: We (magicians) always talk about the negative perception that a lot of people have about magic. Everyone has that uncle who does that bad card trick over and over to friends and family. Most people have seen cheesy or poorly performed magic on television at one point or another. Worse yet, with the creation of YouTube and the internet, people have seen magic performed by people who have absolutely no business performing it for anyone. I guess what I’d like people to know is that they need to see magic done the right way, live and in person, right before their eyes and possibly right in their hands by people who have done the work and who know how to perform. Once they do that, they understand what a unique and special form of entertainment magic can be. That’s why I love California Magic, because that what Gerry strives to bring to people each and every week, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of it.