As magical creator, innovator, and teacher, Jeff McBride has become one of the most important and influential of modern magicians. His early training in performance art included intensive participation in kabuki drama and in mime, both of which are evident in McBride’s brilliant performances such as his famous “Masks” routine or water bowls. While he is at ease with large illusions, McBride’s emphasis on performance is invigorating and reinvigorating, while his acknowledgment of the spiritual aspects of magic has brought in a new generation of magicians who are not interested in “tricks,” but in magic. McBride continues to influence the world of magic, not only through performance and DVDs, but also through his famous Magic and Mystery School. McBride, despite his busy performing and teaching schedules, often attends local and national magic conventions where other magicians are delighted to discover McBride's open and friendly nature, his interest in the magic performed by others, and his willingness to share his experience in magic performance.
The early years: Jeff McBride, Born 1959, started his magical interests in Sullivan County, New York. The mystical aspect of Jeff McBride has always been hinted at. Jeff once said, that he was walking a back road of his home town and saw a playing card in the road. He picked up that card and it was blank. This singular event so intrigued the young McBride, that he sought out anything he could about cards. A voracious reader, he absorbed the local libraries magical content and developed his skills at a very early age. Jeff McBride was influenced by reading The Golden Book of Magic by The Great Merlini. His fascination for magical history led him to discover the older great magicians, especially the great Cardini. He even befriended Swann Cardini (Cardini's wife) getting stories and information on the master. Jeff has Cardini's original Linking Rings. Jeff had emulated the techniques of that great master of cards, all from reading books (the only media at the time).
In 1973, he made his national television debut as a guest on the quiz show What's My Line performing a small Flying Carpet illusion. In 1975, he was booked on a tour of Japan as the opening act for the "Fania All Stars". Jeff also performed at birthday parties and civic events in his teen years, and was featured at the Orange County Fair in Middletown, New York at age 12 (his brother Clayton eventually took over that show). McBride also performed street magic and "busked" in Miami, Orlando, and New York with a friend and partner Abe Steier "Abatar". The act was a combination of magic, juggling, and fire-eating. It was during those years he developed his "commando" style of magic, being able to bring hours of magical entertainment with a small backpack of simple props.
Jeff co-founded the local S.A.M. Cardini assembly #147 in Middletown, N.Y. along with Magic-Ian, and won his first of three Magicians of the year contests in that groups annual function.
McBride's importance to the entire magical field will continue to grow as his innovations and creativity continue to inspire.
- Cover Genii 1992 May