Q&A with Magician Jeffrey Korst

Get to know magician Jeffrey Korst! For more than 30 years, Korst has been performing magic all over the world. We sat down with him this weekend for a few of the most popular questions asked by you, the readers. Enjoy the article! Have another question? Leave a comment, and we'll get right back to you.

Q: Please tell us about yourself as a magician:

A: Unlike many magicians who got a magic set as a child, I started a bit later. Just after starting college, I bought a copy of “Now, you see it, now you don’t - Lessons in Sleight of Hand” by Bill Tarr.

Not long after that I was hanging around the local magic shop so much that they offered me a job. The magic shop was in Old Chicago—the worlds first indoor amusement park. That job led to my first stage experience.

Q: Tell us about your first performance as a magician?

A: My first time doing a magic show on stage wasn’t as myself. I was hired as part of the cast of a theme park show. I played “Charlie Baffle” Magician and Mayor of Old Chicago. He was a costume character – big, plastic head and shoes – and with a cast of four, we did four magic shows and four puppet shows a day for about three years.

In 1985, I was in Lake George, New York doing four shows a day as myself in an ice show. The same act I do on stage at California Magic, I did on ice skates. I performed in ice shows at state fairs, hotels, shopping malls—even a cruise ship.

The last ice show I worked was a six month run at a hotel in Atami, Japan.

Q: Name a magician that has inspired you the most and why?

A:  Cardini-the epitome of the silent manipulation act. In fact, he invented many of the techniques still in use today.

Shimada – a wonderful Japanese magician – was one of my earliest influences as I developed my act.

Eugene Burger – I know Eugene from my time back in Chicago. One of magic’s most influential teachers, he taught me that if I don’t present my magic as important, the audience won’t feel it’s important, either.

Q: What is favorite style of magic to perform ?
A: My favorite type is a kind I don’t get to perform much anymore. Called “Manipulation,” it’s an act based entirely of sleight of hand, often set to music, producing objects such as cards, coins, balls and (once upon a time) cigarettes. It’s great that California Magic has a stage suitable for this act!

My other favorite is close-up magic. Everything happens right under the nose of the spectator – sometimes even in their hands!

I get an enormous charge from performing close up at private parties – mingling with the guests, hearing the laughter and the gasps, seeing the jaws drop, having one guest grab another and say, “You’ve got to see this!”

Q: What is your favorite magic memory to date?

A: Having been performing since 1980, there are too many to pick just one. Some of them are: being asked to perform for Francis Marshall’s celebration of her 50th year in magic; the first time I performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood; my first standing ovation – which was at a magic convention in Toronto with Dai Vernon in the audience; getting to spend six months performing at a hotel in Japan; having Harry Blackstone Jr. call me when he arrived in Chicago for a show to find that his birds had not made the same flight. I was the one they called to borrow replacements.

Q: What's the most important thing about magic to you that you'd like the public to know?

A: I’d like people to know that magic is not just for children. It has an inherent deeper meaning. The fact that the separate can be joined; what is lost, can be found; what has been destroyed can be remade.

It is the fault of magicians that magic has been stereotyped as “just for kids.” Too many times, magicians seem afraid of the magic. Rather than performing miracles, they treat magic as being unimportant – tossing in a joke that just kills any moment of astonishment they may have created.

Gerry Griffin