browsers den

Toronto's repository of Wonder

When talking with people after a show, surprisingly often if I've ever been to that store they remember from their childhood near Bathurst & Eglinton. They're talking about the city's local magic emporium, The Browser's Den of Magic (which moved a number of years ago to Dufferin and the 401) and everyone with an interest in magic usually winds their way there eventually. 


They were recently featured in a short article on when a journalist stumbled on to their monthly magic club meeting. If you have an interest in magic, it's definitely worth a trip to explore what's inside. 

A Sold Out Event No One Was Invited To

On April Fool's Day, Toronto saw a one day convention for magicians, The Browser's Bash. (Named after the local magic emporium, The Browser's Den of Magic.) The event received a rather prominent writeup on the front page of the entertainment section of Thursday's Toronto Star. 

Browser’s Magic Bash is an annual massive meetup for 400 mostly local and a few international magicians. Here, amateur and professional escape artists, mentalists, comedians and prestidigitators convene for a quasi-networking, quasi-educational get-together that is really more like a massive family reunion than anything else.

With niche magic shops petering out, and web tutorials readily available, chances for modern-day magicians to hang out with tons of their peers don’t arise often. So when an opportunity presents itself, up-and-coming magical entrepreneurs jump on their chance to poke around for tips from the pros, while hobbyists come out to hang with part-timers and everyone gets to gawk at the impressive tricks done by masters of the craft.

I'm frequently asked where I go to learn what I do.

[As an aside, I believe based on reading that "Where do you learn how to do that?" has replaced "How did you do that?" as the most popular question audiences ask. This seems to be a recent shift, and I think it's due to the influence that Harry Potter, or more importantly Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has had in popular culture. My audiences can now imagine a magic school, even though there really aren't such schools in real life.]

The truth about us is that we're not terribly secretive people. Magicians are horrible at keeping secrets. The reason has primarily to do with vanity: If you come up with a truly interesting idea, you want credit for it which leads to the idea being promoted in one form or another. So in actual fact the "secrets" of magic are being disseminated all the time, just slightly off the side of the road where you don't notice. 

In a typical year, I add twenty to fifty books and a similar number of periodicals about magic to my library. By and large, these books aren't especially hard to procure. In the magic world, my money is just as green as yours — fabulously rainbow-coloured in Canada. But educational resources, and gatherings like this are easily accessible if you know where to look for them.

As Fox Mulder was famous for saying; The Truth Is Out There.


The 2015 Len Cooper Memorial Award

Every year the Browser's Den of Magic in Toronto gives out an award commemorating the shop's founder, Len Cooper. The award is given to a promising young magician and includes a complete set of the Tarbell Course in Magic. This eight-volume set is one of the most expansive magic references sources in English. I've won the award, as have a number of my friends in magic in the city. This year's award was presented at the shop's 40th Anniversary Party to Abdurrahman Ahmed who is also the Director of Covert Mischief on Magic Tonight. So to not only congratulate him on receiving the award but also to encourage him to lock himself indoors and study his treasure trove of magic reference materials, here is a collection of photos, some of which will make him embarrassed to show his face in public.

French Photos

I'm slowly beginning to catch up on my sleep after spending most of last week with Vincent Hedan, the charming and wonderful French magician, with the equally charming and wonderful accent. While he was in town, he presented his show, The Wish, in English for the first time, did two special events for The Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club and we even snuck him out to perform at a private event. Enjoy the photos, while I get back to plotting and scheming - there's lots of great magic coming up very soon.

I need to thank Hat & Rabbit Club and Ben Train for helping to organize everything and thank Michael Weber and Dr. Sammy Jakubowicz for their mischievous tweets.

Photos by Johan Duker, Josh Sexmith, Vincent Hedan & James Alan, not all at the same time.

A Very Spanish Weekend

While catching up on sleep, I'm coming down from the high brought on by spending five days with Dani DaOrtiz. He was a guest, visiting from Spain, here to do a series of seminars and shows with Abracadabaret, The Hat & Rabbit Club and The Browser's Den of Magic. I remember first hearing about Dani and his magic four years ago. I remember not believing what I heard. After all, this is an industry built on misleading people (for entertainment) and we have no shortage of hype. Imagine my surprise when, earlier this year at Magi Fest in Columbus, Ohio, I saw Dani live. He wasn't just as good as they were saying, he was somehow better.

There is a feeling that comes with spending time with truly great magicians. It's a sense that anything is possible that seems to ooze out of their pores and seep into you by osmosis. Or maybe it's disorientation brought on by too much time in nice restaurants and not enough sleep. Who knows? But several other magicians that spent time with us mentioned a similar feeling… almost a religious experience. Apparently those can be brought on just as easily by card tricks!

More than a few people asked me how I was able to pull off organizing these events - the sold out show, sold out workshops and the lecture packed to the rafters with local magicians. The secret is, as usual, I cheat.

It takes a lot of people to coordinate large projects and these were no exceptions. Top of the list is the executive of the Hat & Rabbit Club: Chris Harvison, Pete DiLisi, Eric Simmatis and Andrew Goss (along with our secret cohort of learned advisors). Our partners in crime at The Browser's Den: Jeff Pinsky, Lisa & Michael Close. The crew at the Wychwood Theatre: Beth Brown, Dean Johnston, Joe Culpepper and Ivan Bekcic. And for being generally magical: the loveable Ben Train, the resourceful Chris Mayhew, the dependable Bobby Motta, the generous Daniel Zuckerbrot, the incomparable Mahdi Gilbert and the hunky Joshua Jay.

Now I'm going back to sleep, then to the gym. In the meantime, you can look at pictures: