Lance Burton Interview

Well fans, youíve had the chance to ask Lance something youíve always wanted to know. Now heís answered! Hereís what he had to say about his most frequently asked questions!

Q: Are there any trade schools or universities you can go to become a magician.

How did you learn?

Lance: There is the Chavez College of Magic in Los Angeles. They offer a professional course for magicians. And thereís also a chapter of the Chavez College in Michigan. You may contact Dale Salwak at (909) 593-5374.

I always wanted to go to the Chavez school but I could never afford it when I was growing up so a lot of my learning came from magic books and watching other magicians. I was also very lucky that I had a couple of really good magic teachers.

When I started out back in Louisville, there was Harry Collins. He was my first teacher. He saw that I was so obsessed with magic that he taught me the love of magic. Itís very common for an older magician to help the younger guys starting out like I was. Then when I moved out to the coast, I spent a lot of time with Johnny Thompson. I learned a lot of magic from him. In fact, I still learn magic from Johnny. Just the other night I spent the evening at Johnnyís house working on close-up magic.

So my advice would be to find a magician in your area who has been around awhile. The best way to learn is from a live person.

Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a magician and what was the first trick learned?

Lance: Harry Collins was the first magician I ever saw back in 1965 when I was five years old. He was doing a magic show and I was the volunteer from the audience. When he pulled the silver dollar from behind my ear and I heard the audience laugh and applaud, I was amazed. That was the moment I realized I wanted to be a magician.

My first tricks came in a magic set I got for Christmas with 10 or 15 small tricks in it.

Q: How long did it take you to perfect your championship act?

Lance: The dove act? Iím still working on it. I donít think itís perfect yet. I got my first pair of doves when I was 14 years old. That was the beginning of the formation of that act. So itís been 24 years now that Iíve been working on it.

Q: How can you get started with magic when you or your parents canít afford all the expensive tricks?

Lance: We didnít have a whole lot of money when I was growing up either. I would always ask for magic books or magic tricks for my birthday or for Christmas and the rest of the year I either had to mow lawns or find part time jobs to help supplement the cost of doing magic.

When I started doing birthday parties, I would reinvest the money I made into buying more tricks.

So you really donít have to spend a lot of money when youíre starting out. I think the best investment is magic books like the Tarbell Course in Magic or the Mark Wilson Course in Magic. It can be inexpensive if you read and practice.

Q: Do you use your own pets in any of your acts?

Lance: All of the birds I use in my acts are my pets. There are seven doves, a parakeet, seven or eight ducks, a couple geese, and about fifty or sixty pigeons. And they all have their separate dressing rooms. Iíve had them for years.

Q: What do you do when youíre not practicing or performing magic? On your days off?

Lance: Day off! Whatís that? Iíve never heard of that! I really truly never get a day off because when I get a day off Iím usually working on my magic. This last Monday, I spent the evening with fellow magician John Thompson working on close-up magic.

Every now and then if I do get some time off I like to go skiing at Mt. Charleston.

Q: Are you friends with any other popular magicians?

Lance: Yes itís kind of like a brotherhood with most of the magicians in the industry. We all try and help each other whenever we can. Iíve even called a fellow magician and said, "Hey Iím working on this trick can you help me" and theyíll give me some advice or help. Most of them actually live in Las Vegas. Penn and Teller are very good friends of mine. Along with Mac King, Fielding West, Johnny Thompson, Jeff McBride and even the magicians that donít live in Las Vegas will eventually visit Las Vegas. So I get to see a lot of the really popular magicians.

Q: Do you like to read? If so, who are you favorite authors?

Lance: Yes I like to read. Ann Rice is one of my most favorite authors. Her writing is truly magical.

Q: What is your favorite trick that youíve ever performed?

Lance: Thatís sort of like asking a parent who their favorite child is. Itís very hard to determine. Sometimes Iíll get feedback from somebody who liked this part of the show. Others like another part of the show. I really try and include a variety, sleight-of-hand, interaction with audience, and the big spectacular tricks to because I like them all and the audience likes the variety.

Q: Are you married?

Lance: Iím married to my work.

Q: What were you like growing up?

Lance: Growing up there was me, my sister, and my mom and dad. I guess I was kind of shy growing up in one-on-one situations. But I always enjoyed being on stage. I was in school plays and things like that.

Q: Whatís your favorite kind of food?

Lance: I love hamburgers!