The man behind the mask

‘Wow!’ That was my dad. 

I was probably lying on the floor (to this day, I’m a frequent ‘floor-dweller’, preferring the comfort of the carpet over the settee. A trait which often gets bemused looks from friends when they gesture to their couch, only to find me squatting on the floor instead), head propped up on arms absorbed by the magic on the telly. I was probably 10. Maybe 11. 

On the TV was an American magician doing a magic act with masks. As a kid obsessed with magic, my parents were used to tolerating my ownership of the TV peak-time every Saturday eve to watch either Wayne Dobson’s ‘A Kind of Magic’ or ‘Paul Daniels Magic Show’ (both became friends of mine over time, one of the many ‘pinch-me’ moments in my life). 

The mask guy was called Jeff McBride. And dad was right, it was a totally ‘wow’ act. 

It would have been around 1998 or maybe 2000, when Jeff and I first made contact. Or, should I say, I made contact! It was hardly like this Vegas Headlining magician was in his luxury magic pad in Vegas thinking, ‘hmmm… wonder if I should contact some random teenager in Bristol, England?’ 

After that initial contact, our friendship grew with me arranging UK tours for Jeff. We ended up sharing the stage on a few occasions, with me opening and him getting the standing ovations (I received polite applause… sometimes!). Jeff also arranged for me to perform in Vegas, another ‘pinch-me’ moment. 

Skip forward two and a half decades and we continue to speak, plot and show each other magic almost monthly despite him being 3000 miles away. 

And so, I am thrilled this Christmas to make Jeff the subject of my give-away mini-print. The funds raised from any sales will go to Jeff’s passion project and legacy; the McBride Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas. While the prints are free (all you pay is P&P), if you are in a position to do so, you can choose to pay the nominal £10 price and the profits are donated to the Scholarship Programme for the School. 

Back when I was 10 (maybe 11) floor-dwelling on my childhood home carpet watching this master magician, little did I realise how my life would turn out. Not only have I met many of my magical heroes from my childhood but I’m beyond grateful to count many as my friends. I’ve just pinched myself. (Photo: Jeff with his mini-print of my charcoal portrait.)

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And here’s the act that I was watching. Wow or what?! >>