January 21, 2021

The First Rule of Sleight Club

by Jason Alan

The first Rule of Sleight Club…I know you’ve already finished the quote out loud. But here’s a question….if we don’t talk about it, how are we going to talk about it?  I mean, I want to tell you about this secret group of magicians, yet I can’t mention it?  I want to tell you that all of the stuff you see in movies, the secret meetings etc. are true, but I can’t say a word.  Okay okay lets take it back to spy movies instead. 

In every single Bond movie there’s s a scene where 007 must be briefed and given his gadgets for the upcoming mission.  Q branch gives him a rundown of devices they created which fit neatly into a beautiful Aston Martin.  You click the pen 3 times to activate and 2 to neutralize.  If the pins on the brief case are turned clockwise you are fine but if turned counterclockwise well, I hope you have a gas mask.  In the background you see experts trying out applicable ideas while others are exploring crazy but interesting ideas. Every time I watch one of these scenes I think, please get us into this room! 

This is exactly what Sleight Club is for magicians.  A room full of individuals who specialize in varying skills and are willing to take a look at your objective.  Here you are, standing in front of an Aston Martin DB5 with dual exhaust listening and taking it all in while Bob is off in the corner working on a new telepathic device that will fry the audience’s brain.  Joe and Joey are flipping open the secret center console showing you a secreting hiding place while Max is rolling out blueprints of what directions provide the clearest and most concise path. You step out and bump into Josh who shows you a move that will make it look like you are really scratching your nose but in reality, you’re switching out high level documents.  You’ve decided on gun metal gray for the color for your ride but then Chris shares his artistic eye and leads you to a something better that ties everything together.  Before you head upstairs to talk to M you are met by Bryan and John.  They’ve been on this mission before and tell you what to expect and prepare you for the unknown. 

Side note…M in our scenario is a man by the name of Scott Robinson.  Scott and I met years ago at a convention held in Batavia, NY.  If I were to say Scott and his wife Janet are friends of ours, that would be an understatement because they’re more like family.   I’m drawn to people who give more than they get and these two do that every single day. Each year they host, what I consider to be the best convention in Magic, TRICS (Carolina Close-Up Convention). It’s an intimate meeting of liked minded people held in Charlotte, NC.  They keep the registration number small to encourage more interaction between convention goers and lecturers, that’s really the best part! You get to spend the entire weekend hanging out and learning from some of the greats in magic verses sitting all the way in the back of a convention hall squinting to see who’s on stage.

Trics Magic Convention

Now that you have a little back story on Scott or “M” in our spy story let’s get back to his role in Sleight Club. M sits back and watches while others give their opinion and thoughts.  

Every once in a while, he chimes in and helps steer the boat in the right direction.  Someone mentions an old Jennings move that would be perfect for the scenario.  You think to yourself “I’ve’ been practicing that move for years and I can’t make it look good”, and that’s when it happens… M stands up and pulls out a deck of cards. He performs the move flawlessly and then graciously shares pointers on how to improve your handling.  Those pointers create an energy that makes you want to be better…so you do what needs to be done…you practice more. 

            In my best ode to spy movies that’s sleight club in a nutshell. A group of incredible people with their own unique skills fighting for the greater good or in this case fighting for meaningful and beautiful magic. 

The one thing I learned from graciously accepting an invite to join the club was the fact that honesty hurts.  I’m going to admit here that I am terrible in front of other magicians.  Actually, I’m terrible in front of anyone that I seek approval from.  Let me clarify…As I write this, Stacy and I are working on remodeling a room in our house.  I’ve successfully measured cut and hung trim to the exact measurements required.  YEAH ME!  Yesterday I went down to my parents’ house and tried to help my Dad with a project.  I successfully held the hammer backwards, tried to hammer in screws and hit my foot twice.  Yes my foot… we were working above our heads.  That’s what I mean…I seem to lose all control when I’m in front of people I look up to. 

With that said, I remember my first experience with Sleight Club.  I performed a routine that involved a top change, which I’ve done for 22 years.  Afterwards I waited for critiques and received a few small suggestions.  That’s when Scott chimed in and told the group to be honest with me. It was hard for me to realize something so simple could use improvement.  Hard for me to talk about something that I thought I did well.  But… if it isn’t hard it’s not worth doing.  I promise you that my top change has improved tenfold since our first meeting.    

What I’ trying to say is that the idea of having a room full of individuals who love magic so much and are willing to listen and help is astounding to me.  I had always listened only to the individual that I KNEW was right… ME!  Now I had to face my biggest fear and accept other’s point of view.  This is exactly what Sleight Club is and everything I hoped it would be.  Stacy and I are so humbled and thankful that this group let us in and provided us with constructive criticism. But it’s their genuine support that means the most to us.

We owe a lot to Brent Braun and Sleight Club and truly feel their help led us to the Penn and Teller stage. But there are others who have a role in our story too. And I can’t wrap up this blog without mentioning a few more. If it weren’t for Francis Menotti’s work, the trick we chose to explore and make our own, wouldn’t’ have been a consideration.  If it weren’t for Doc and David, we wouldn’t have had the courage to keep auditioning.  And Josh… pick up your PHONE the next time I call.  

Tomorrow you will see the outcome of our mission.  I truly do hope that you enjoy it but most importantly I hope you get a sense of who Stacy and I are and how magic has touched our lives.  This blog will self-destruct in 5..4…..