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Believing in Magic: A Conversation with Award Winning Close-Up Magician Gary Schiffman

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Gary Schiffman is not your traditional ‘close-up’ Magician, he is modern, sleek and specialises in the Art of Deception. Performing just inches in front of you, there are no camera tricks, no assistants or stooges, just one of the UK’s top skilled magicians. Gary has been practising magic for over 20 years and has performed for the likes of Watford FC, Heineken, Bosch, PriceWaterhouseCoppers, Herbert Smith Freehills and GlaxoSmithKline.

His unique and captivating personality, along with his incredible magic will fit in perfectly with any type of event and audience. Whether at a wedding, private party or corporate event, Gary will ensure that your event will be remembered for years to come!

His down to earth & easy going personality, along with his incredible magic will fit in perfectly with any type of event and audience.

The Fan Carpet’s John H Shelton had the chance to speak to Award Winning Magician Gary Shiffman about his artistry…




You’re not your usual close up magician are you?

No I suppose I specialise in kind of deception 


Yeah modern magic


Modern techniques and everything. You’re award winning as well; you’ve won awards since 2012?

Yeah I’ve won some kind of wedding show awards, and last year I won the Watford Associated Magicians’ Magician of the Year. 


Brilliant, just brilliant. So you always get this, like, you seem to get this reaction from people, what’s the best reaction you’ve had so far, some of them seem quite funny, from what I’ve seen in your videos. 

Yeah, I’ve got a few on YouTube who are kind of collapsing and on their knees and just can’t believe it. I did have quite a funny one in December actually, I’m going to swear on this one, there was this old woman she was about 90 years old, didn’t look like she was going to react much, did a little show and she whacked me round the arms and stuck her finger up at me and called me a bastard.

Oh dear (laughs)

So that was quite an interesting one, I wish I’d caught it on camera, it was quite funny.

So obviously you found it quite funny? 

I did find it quite funny yeah (laughs)


Brilliant and you’re part of a magic circle?

Ah yes.


Brilliant. So, I don’t know if I’m allowed to ask this but how do you become part of the magic circle? You don’t have to give anything away, because I know magicians can’t give away everything.

Yeah, you kind of need to know a couple of magicians for a couple of years at least who have to recommend you for membership. You have to have an interview and you have to have an exam just to kind of show that you have a genuine interest in magic and are not just trying to get in there to learn their secrets.


Is it like an X-Factor thing, like stand in front of them and perform or Britain’s Got Talent?

Yeah you basically got to do a whole performance in front of a room full of magicians, who all know everything you’re doing and it’s quite a scary thing. 




Yeah I can imagine that. So what tricks did you perform to get your audition if you don’t mind me asking? 

Can’t really remember what I did, I did a coin trick where I made some coins appear and disappear and stuff, I think I did a card routine and I think I did a trick with a borrowed wedding ring as well.


That must go down well at weddings (laughs). Has anything ever gone wrong? 

Interviewee: Generally if anything goes wrong though you wouldn’t know, being professional you just go with the flow.


You got to get on with it haven’t you?

Yeah, the only time something’s ever gone wrong I was only practicing it, I wasn’t actually performing luckily, I did a trick where I had a spike under a cup and someone mixes up the cups and I don’t know which one the spikes is, and I slam my hand on all the cups except the one with the spike, and I slammed it down on the spike.

Oh dear.

Yeah that’s the only time it’s ever really gone wrong. Luckily it was thick cups, so that took much of the impact. (Laughs)


Really you didn’t hurt yourself or anything did you? 

Well I pierced the hand a little bit, but I didn’t go through my hand.

So that could have been quite close couldn’t it?

Yeah luckily that wasn’t in performance, just in practicing.

Just in practice?

Never doing that trick again (laughs)


You’ve never done it again?

I could do it, but I don’t think you should put yourself in danger; there is genuine danger to it. It shouldn’t go wrong and if you do, I knew which cup it was under, it was my own fault I was trying to do a dramatic finish and I ended up doing the wrong thing.

Ended up being over-dramatic 

Yeah (laughs) just a bit.


(laughs) That’s brilliant. So what magicians inspired you growing up, what made you want to become a magician? It might be a bit of a basic question sort of thing.

When I was growing up, Paul Daniels was on every week, he’s kind of the old style magician.

Old school?

Yeah magic was great, but it was kind of a bit geeky when I was growing up. So I did used to do it, no one used to pick on me, they just used to enjoy it and stuff but it was a bit of a geeky kind of hobby. It kind of went to the side, I used to kind of always do magic and stuff like the old party tricks, then David Blaine comes along and he turned magic cool.

Oh yeah definitely Mr Blaine. 

Yeah and that’s where I kind of picked it back up and went from there. 




What do you think of Blaine?

Oh Blaine’s brilliant, he’s one of my favourite guys on TV.

Have you been to see him?

I saw him when he was in the box, but I think a lot of people went to see him when he was hanging in the box.

The one over London wasn’t it?


Yeah I do remember that.

Yeah I saw that, but I’ve never seen him perform live or something, primarily on TV.


Yeah, that’s brilliant. Let’s move on to a few more questions. I thought I’d let you know, my dad does a few magic tricks, he’s not a professional or anything like that, but he impresses the in-laws and stuff like that and the sister in laws will go ‘how’d you do that?’ If she saw any of your stuff they’d probably faint.


Do you actually want that reaction from people?


Yeah we do it for the reaction, that’s what keeps you going, everyone reacts differently. That’s the challenge and that’s the surprise, not knowing how their going to react.


I suppose it’s like you try to outdo yourself and stand out from the crowd, especially with other magicians and stuff?

Yeah, it’s like every magician is different you know, so people go for comedy magacians who want people to laugh, I do throw a few jokes in but I’m not a funny person so I don’t go the comic route.

Giving people that experience that experience that I used to have when I was younger when I used to watch Paul Daniels…..


I used to watch Paul Daniels; every Saturday night wasn’t he, with Debbie McGee?

That’s the one (laughs)


Yeah and in my opinion, he’s still respected by some of the younger magicians, that’s was a good starting point for you ….

That was the starting point..

Yeah I can appreciate that definitely. 

But nowadays, it’s all kind of street and modern, that’s what people want to see and what I try and do in my act. There’s loads of magicians out there, a lot of them do old school stuff with like sponge balls, but people see Dynamo on TV and see David Blaine and that’s what they want to see so that’s what I try and get as close as you can in real life.


What do you think of Dynamo then?

He’s a very skilled guy, he’s done really well for himself and got a really good show. I haven’t personally seen him perform.


That’s cool. What about Copperfield? 

Copperfield I did get to see him perform once when he was in London, one of the most amazing magic shows I’ve ever seen. He’s the proper kind of 80s and 90s magician, it’s very magical and cool and stuff, fantastic show.


Yeah. I’ve heard his modern show is really, really good, but I haven’t got the chance to go to Vegas recently….




I was actually going to move on to that, talking about Vegas or something like that. Would you like to perform somewhere like Vegas?

Vegas is like the top isn’t it for a magician now…

I bet it is

Yeah I mean for a British magician to get in the West End that would kind of be the top of your game here, but the very, very top is to perform in Vegas, so yeah.

Yeah I can definitely understand that and I wish you luck if you went that route in future…

I did Close Up but as we’ve kind of seen last year on Britain’s Got Talent, (close up?) can be performed on a big stage.

Oh yeah definitely. Would you actually go on a talent show or anything like that yourself? Or is it not cool enough?

Yeah I mean before last year everyone on Britain’s Got Talent where illusionists and stage magicians, never thought I could do that if I didn’t come up with a stage show but then on last year and showed Close Up can work.

So yeah I’m tempted to go on all the time, like this year or next year I might apply.


Yeah definitely, that would be really cool because you’re always looking for something different on talent shows?

Yeah, so magicians do really well the last few years, so you never know could be this year or next year, give it a go.

Yeah I wish you luck there as well.

Thank you.


No problem. Is there any, have you got any close magician friends that you like to shout out anytime at all or anybody in the industry that you would like to shout out to, just anybody who’s helped you along the way, who you really do appreciate.

Yeah there’s a guy called Etienne Pradier whose helping me at the moment with something pretty big so he’s in there, a good friend of mine Martin Rees he’s been helping me the last few years.


Brilliant. Do you also like the theatrics itself? I guess you do kind of, like the David Copperfield.

Yeah I like to watch it, I’ve always loved illusion, even now I can watch a show and genuinely know what’s happening, I can appreciate the work that goes into watching illusions. I don’t know if that goes into Close Up, you’re on stage doing a simple trick, but there’s so much that goes into that. The theatrics that make that trick work, I appreciate that so much, that’s what I love about the stage.

You’ve worked with fire before as well?


Is it the flaming bottle trick isn’t it?

Yeah I do a few bits with fire; the bottle is like a signature thing.

Yeah that’s really cool especially if you did it indoors or anywhere like that. I do it indoors all the time.


Do you? I suppose it’s more controlled with people on standby with extinguishers just in case.

Yeah, it’s genuinely pretty safe, I mean there is a small chance you know, you just got to make sure that the audience sit in the right place and you do things right.


Brilliant. Where else do you perform, is it just London at the minute, do you tour? 

I tour all over the country soon. London, Hampshire because that’s where I’m based.


Are there any tricks that you want to perform that you haven’t performed? 

One of my favourite illusions is called The Metamorphosis, you can Google that one on YouTube, you see these guys called the Pin Draggers do it. Basically there’s a man/bloke, a woman and a magician, magician goes into a big box, it’s all tied up and padlocked, woman stands on top of the box, she lifts up a cloth for half a second and drops it and we swap places and it’s just one of the most visually impressive illusions I’ve ever seen. I’d love to be able to perform that.


Brilliant, brilliant. Is there anyone else you want to mention, shout out or anyone you want to give a thumbs up to. Anyone you think anyone else you think should go and see as an artist?

I think Jamie Raven from Britain’s Got Talent did really well last year, he’s a really brilliant, genuinely nice guy, fantastic magician, he’s got his tour coming up this year so that’s defiantly worth checking out.


Have you got a tour that you want to plug? 

No not at the moment, but I’ll go for Britain’s Got Talent next year or something (laughs) 


Last question now, promise. What does your family think to all this?

Oh they love it, my parents bug me everyday asking me about the latest trick, so they actually see me doing something out of it. My dad’s my number 1 fan, he took me to my first magic show at the Magic Shop, so he’s really proud.



For more information on Gary Schiffman, The Magician and to book Gary for any big/small events, conferences, parties or even weddings, please go to his Official Website or email [email protected] or follow Gary on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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