10 questions: Dylan Studebaker

1) What the fuck is going on?
Well, we are not in a free world or country. It may seem so, but without going on for 10 pages, I’ll just say look at how the world is close to death and ask why. Maybe art and expression can help set it right, but if not – at least we can have some fun and express ourselves before it’s too late.

2) Do you have any unifying theories when it comes to performing magic?
Only the three rules: to dare, to know, and to will – and (I guess it’s four rules) to keep silent.

3) What does punk mean to you?
Simple: Be yourself at the expense of yourself – even if it means only others in the future will benefit from your efforts (i.e., do what you do for the benefit of all).

4) How do you keep the audience from messing up the flow of your trick during a street performance?
Training and doing 1,000 shows. A wise busker said to me once, “until you do 1,000 shows you suck. After that, you’re just crappy.” Practice again and again and again and again and again. Keep the flow. Don’t give people a chance to interrupt or take control by having what you’re going to say planned, even if it looks made up, it can’t be. Sure you can put stuff in on the fly, but always have a bit to launch into.

5) What’s the magic word?
Oh stop. We all know it’s “please.” Try to give people what they want when they use it. After all, it is the magic word.

6) Do you think magicians are duly respected members of the broader performing arts community?
No, not at all. Unlike rock stars (there are sooooooooooo many) the world only likes to notice a couple of magicians at a time. Think about it. How many magicians can you name? Then ask, how many actors or rock stars can you name? There will be a big difference. However, this was not true 100 years ago. Times have changed, but magic is an old art form.

7) What are you optimistic about? Aside from sex, love and happiness, that George Bush will be seen for the puppet he is.

8) With corporate events, children’s parties, and bar mitzvahs, do you ever run into problems preserving your artistic integrity?
No. Like Bob Dylan said, “Know your song before you start singing.” If you do that people will listen and nothing can go wrong. (Fingers crossed. Do 2,000 shows just in case.)

9) How do you go about developing a new trick?
I need to keep some secrets, sorry! But i can say this – write your ideas down, they are easily forgotten. Keep a way to record them on hand ALL THE TIME!


10) Any tips or tricks from your busking and magic experience that could apply to other kinds of performance?

i. Practice.

ii. Become really good at a least one thing. REALLY GOOD. The best! But it only has to be one thing to start!

iii. If you can’t make it, fake it. Most will believe it anyway.

iv. Don’t be afraid to copy others. Most people never see the same show twice. Only .00001% of people keep looking at the same thing over and over, and in 100 years nobody will care anyway. Have fun, but try to do your own thing when you learn to have the necessary confidence.

v. Don’t listen to other performers. Listen to the audience. After all, they’re the people you’re doing the show for right?! (e.g., judge things by clapping, laughs and such, not thoughts of others.)

vii. Read a lot – get books on what you’re in to. It WILL help!

viii. Cards are good. Get business cards and a website. Be current. Return emails and phone calls. Be a pro. Act like a pro. Paid like a pro – they say. Don’t slack off!!!

iix. Do research. Make a serious effort! You’ll be glad you did. Dig a bit, you may be surprised at what you find if you keep looking! Don’t give up until you’re inspired!

ix. Things go in cycles – something overdone 50 years ago can be fresh now. Don’t forget, people forget over time (see 4-6 and 8).

x. Get involved with others doing your craft, and, most important, NEVER be jealous. Be happy for others and their successes. Chances are in the long run there’s is yours too. Sometimes people rub you the wrong way, but if they’re in your circle, better to be friends the enemies.

Life is short. Live it well.