Article by Nina Christopoulou
Real Magic in the Heart of London There’s little evidence as to the existence of the Magic Circle’s headquarters on Stephenson way; other than a mysterious plaque of the zodiac circle. Then again, that’s probably the charm of it all! In an attempt to unravel the mystery behind the magical activities taking place in Euston, we got in touch with Jake Banfield, a full-time magician and a part of the Magic Circle, who joined us on a Friday morning videography session on Drummond Street.
When we filled up our plates at Chutney’s and sat on the table, the only thing on my mind was how the whole thing started. As it turns out, getting mesmerised by the mysterious world of magic is a piece of cake! At age ten, Jake was taken by his dad to a show in London, where he got to experience close-ups of some incredible magic tricks. And we say incredible, because coincidentally, that same weekend was the one when the World Championships of Magic were taking place.
“So those guys in the bar were the best magicians in the world” says Jake, with undying enthusiasm. My dad saw that I liked i t, and where he worked in London there was a magic shop, so he went and got me some books.” he reminisces, describing how he would teach himself tricks and replicate them in school, evolving from there to replicating tricks performed by David Blane on television.”
“But what’s the buzz of it all?” I wondered, trying to figure out what it is that draws people to explore the art. Apparently, there’s the obvious aspect of it – ‘it’ being showing something amazing to someone and waiting for their reaction – and t hen there’s also the pleasure of incorporating an audience to the acts. “The artistry of it is that if I have a trick and I know requires two people, then I need to bring it to mind at that time. It’s all the things that go on behind the scenes that people don’t know about that pose a thrill. They have to do this at the exact moment, otherwise the entire thing won’t work. If you can get them to do the exact thing, the moment they need to do it, then it can be really special.”
Jake specializes in sleight of hand, which means achieving magic tricks without a special apparatus, and it was quite incredible watching how people would pause their day for a second or two, trying to figure out how this or that trick happened… “I think that’s strongest because people know the item they are using is real, it can’t be fake.”
Magic is a curious art, and it’s quite interesting how people get caught up in the process of growing their knowledge and garnering all the more tricks. “The best stuff, the most intriguing stuff, is found in old books, w h ere people never look. The best secrets are shared amongst magicians. As I would meet more and more magicians, they would share ideas amongst each other and then you would sort of pick and choose whatever you want.” Apparently, magicians also have a trusted circle of friends that they tend to talk to about the tricks they have on the works, at which point I can’t help but be fascinated by the idea of being a part of a magician’s trusted circle.
And when does a magician decide that’s their career path of choice? Apparently, when you fail your driving test twice at age 18 but get into the Magic Circle on the first try! “My dad used to joke around that if you get good enough, maybe you’ll be a member. And I actually became a member. “Says Jake, jokingly adding “Priorities, huh?”. Priorities indeed!
Jake’s priorities currently – other than filming this spectacular video featuring Drummond Street – include releasing a children’s book called “Show Me Cool Magic” ( which has the very modest goal of taking an aspiring magician from zero to hero ) as well as his awesome magic show Modern Magic. So, if you feel like entering the beautiful and mesmerising world of magic, click here.
Finishing off our delicious dinner at Chutney’s, we pondered on the “magic” of Drummond Street. “The Magic Circle is literally just around the corner. Normally after the lecture we come to Drummond Street and decide what we fancy, have a big dinner, and just generally have a big social. Many good curries on Drummond Street!” says Jake, who had managed to mesmerise the better part of Drummond Street’s guests, all within the span of a few hours! If you would like to see how, take a look at the following video…