‘I don’t believe in fairy-tale magic’: An interview with DMC

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Magician DMC, real name Drummond Money-Coutts, has teamed up with Virgin Atlantic as they announce 200+ routes in the US in association with Delta. The magician has previously has his own series on National Geographic channel entitled Beyond Magic with DMC, and now he’s reading people’s minds to give them tickets to their US destination.

How do you handle people are skeptical of mind readers and magicians?

I think everyone has a cynicism or at least grown adults you’ll find very few that believe in real magic. I think to me the secret of magic is so relevant that it doesn’t matter whether it feels like magic, if it looks like magic. I think it’s rather like going to the theatre. To my mind in order to enjoy magic you just have to release your mind, you just have to flow with it. That for me I think is the most important thing that you relax your mind into it and again you could watch a movie for all the CGI, you could watch a theatre show with all it’s production values but as soon as you allow yourself into the story it becomes much more beautiful. Now I think it’s very rare for people to be sceptical, people being difficult comes when the magician becomes a bit smug sometimes and that incites people to catch them out. I think if you’re just let’s have fun with this it’s ok. To me the method is very relevant.

So are there any magicians that we would know that you would say are smug?

Very few, very few. I’m very bad with the whole magic world so I don’t know many.

So you’re not part of the magic circle then?

No. Sadly, well not sadly no I’m very bad with being up to date on the magic industry.

And what is the most difficult thing you’ve faced as a magician?

Probably for my series last year with National Geographic channel I did one escape where I was tied to two trucks and I had to escape. It was a horrendous thing and I did it a few years ago and it went wrong with golf buggies so we sort of stepped it up into a very dangerous level and I think for sure that was the nastiest thing I’ve done.

And what do you think Jamie Raven’s recent success on Britain’s Got Talent means for the magic industry?

Do you know, I love Jamie. I’ve worked with Jamie in the past and we had lunch a few weeks ago and he’s a great magician. I think when magic is done well and magic is done right and there’s a level of skill to it and it’s not camera trickery I think it’s wonderful. I think any good skilful magic is only ever a good thing.

So what did you think of the mistakes that were pointed out later on?

Well they’re not really mistakes. This is it but I think people find a chink in the armour but it doesn’t explain so much of it you know and specific to that I haven’t seen the footage but people have this idea that if they can work out 5% of a trick then they’ve cracked the whole thing but there’s so much and by the sounds of what he did he did so much more than just that so I think the press love to unravel these things. People at home and on YouTube it’s always a challenge to try and freeze frame magic you know but I think it’s no big deal. It was a great trick and that’s the most important thing.

Do you think his success will lead to more magic on TV?

I hope so. There seems to be a real boom for magic at the moment and you know there’s been some great magic shows, certainly in this country there’s no shortage of magic shows. So I think right now we’re riding a very good magic wave at the moment.

How did you feel about the fall of magic from TV because it did wane a couple years ago and it’s been resurged with people like Dynamo and there was a TV show on BBC Three called Killer Magic?

I think it’s really down to the talent because it’s like anything. Folk music becomes popular when Mumford and Sons come along and make it very well and I think magic is the same. You know there is like comedy, like arts, like theatre and film there are bad magicians, there are magic shows like there are bad movies, there are bad pop bands. I think when someone comes along with talent and they make magic well skilfully and it’s done properly it’s only ever a good thing. I think magic will always change, when that talent wanes then interest wanes and at the moment there seems to be a lot of great musicians around.

Do you think at the moment there’s a specific magician that can resurge it even more so?

Magic is so much more, I think it’s very three-dimensional. I think like music there are so many different styles of magic you’ve got the edgy street magic and you’ve got the much more thoughtful theatre magic so Derren Brown does theatre magic and you’ve got everything in between. You know it’s very hard to define and again it’s always in motion so it’s very hard to pin down magic as being just one style or one flavour at any one moment. At the moment you’ve got this wonderful range of styles and characters.

What’s your personal favourite style?

I’m a huge fan of magic with a story to it and magic with some sort of narrative.

So Derren Brown-esque?

No it’s exactly that. I’ve been a huge fan of his since the beginning and just magic with real thought to it. I think like magic like music is very easy to do as a trick where it doesn’t really mean anything. I think that when that trick has a reason or a story behind it becomes like a song when there’s something behind the lyrics there’s something more beautiful than that. When magic has a purpose to that I really adore that.

Do you feel like having someone like Simon Cowell come on board, obviously he’s seen magic and said he’s converted, he’s a believer, do you feel having someone like him on board in that TV aspect would really boost it?

For sure there’s no doubt. He’s virtually an industry himself so to give it his support would be a big deal. I think a lot of people perhaps wouldn’t think about watching or exploring magic but I think like I said we’re riding a very happy wave of very talented magicians right now. There was a very quiet period but it seems there’s really a sort of renaissance now. It’s a good time, a good chapter.

1415288399208_wps_52_Beyond_Magic_with_DMC_IslWhat got you into the industry, was it a hero or inquisitiveness?

 I was just as a kind I was obsessed with mysterious things and initially it was always ghosts and UFO’s and ancient Egypt, bigger mysteries in the national world and things with great questions marks over them and then I sort of discovered magic. I think to a lot of people magic can be quite cliché and quite naff and I think what’s important is that there’s a very beautiful side to magic. You know there’s a fearful side to magic, historically magic has been something that’s been abused and feared by so many people so I sort of saw this side particularly then. I mean in the 90s magic was very cheesy with it all on stage, with props and I think now it’s become just this many headed best of so many different things so yeah it’s ever changing.

What’s the link with you to Virgin, I mean do you think you could read Richard Branson’s mind?

There’s a challenge! I don’t know I haven’t met him. I don’t know that what the Virgin team would say. You know I’ve only been to New York twice properly and they both times were this year and both times I flew with Virgin and they’re great. The whole thing, it’s always a fun trip and this year to get involved on the project, I’ve always adored very simply mind reading, not to elaborate or too complicated. This was just like think of a place and I’ll tell you what it is and I love the sort of naked form of very pure mind reading. I guess it’s telepathy for a lot people.

Would you consider yourself telepathic?

I consider myself gosh many things. Telepathy, it’s not something I believe in. I’ve read around it and I would wish to see it more. But no I’m just someone who’s studied.

So do you find yourself able to debunk other magicians?

Debunk, you’ve got to be very careful of. Whilst magic’s being used to entertain it would be a shame to debunk it. If it’s being abused by people and you see people who take advantage of various cultures around the world or people who claim they can talk to dead people. You know there are stands of magic that are not quite so positive.

So you’re not necessarily on board with people who hold séances and that kind of thing?

I would wish to see evidence for it but I think but this something a lot of magicians will take time to look at and Houdini famously gave a lot of the latter years of his life to debunking fraudulent mediums. I’ve never seen evidence for it and I don’t think any magician has. If you look at somebody doing these things very often as a magician you can go well they’re just doing this and this and this. I would love to sit down and have my mind blown but so far I’ve travelled the world and tried to find these people and I’ve never seen it so I’m going to keep looking.

So is Houdini a big hero of yours or is it that he went to massive extremes that you can’t see yourself going to?

An extremist he certainly was. He was an extraordinary man and one of the first global superstars and he was extraordinary on many levels. I respect him profusely for so much of what he did.

Is there anything that you don’t like or do you criticise his celebrity?

No I don’t think so. He was just such a huge name and to be a hundred years on and still has this title of the industry and an immortal name. Very few have come close to that since and virtually nobody has endured that level of fame so he was an impressive man, for sure.

So what do you think is the difference between a kid’s party magician and a global superstar?

Well there can be, there hasn’t been yet but maybe there’s a global superstar children’s magician brewing.

I’m sure the BBC are probably looking.

Well I’m sure they are. Actually I did this party last week. There was a chap who emailed me and said my daughter’s turning 7 and she’s crazy about the show would you come and I’ve never done that, I’ve never really done children’s magic but I just thought it was be such a joy to do so I went and I did a little show for her and her 12 best friends. Children’s magic can be a challenge but there’s all those different approaches and I’d love to look at them all.

Do you sort of believe in that old druid sort of magic?

I believe in magic but I think magic is what you wish for it to be like love is something you decide to define yourself. Everybody has to find their definition of that. But I absolutely do believe in a form of my own definition of magic. And I think that very often historically when people, curse and potions of spells then it becomes real if people believe it. If you take it on board and you decide that that’s true for you then it can absolutely have an effect on you, very profound effect. I would always say that magic exists and it exists in many forms. It’s probably not what most people would define it as that sort of fairy-tale disneyfied form of magic but I think that there’s certainly a form of magic

So do you think that you’re going to make a plane disappear now, in a non-threatening manner?

We thought about it but there’s a lot of plans down the road we’ll see what happens.

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BA English student at University of Southampton and Editor for The Edge (2015-16). A deep love of reading, theatre and all things entertainment.

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