The following email magic interview of Magician Zoe Reiches was done by Anastasia Dziekan and published in the Society of Young Magicians, Group 96 newsletter in January 2014. Zoe is a brilliant young magician in her own right and is one of the featured magicians in the movie Magic Camp .
Female magicians face different challenges and expectations than our male counterparts. For me, one frustrating thing is that dresses usually don't have pockets, compared to a men's suit, with ton's of pockets. What's something you've found different as a female magician and how did you handle it?
One thing I have found that makes being a female magician "challenging" is the stereotype that women are usually assistants, rather than the magician. Although historically there have been extremely influential female magicians, the field is laden with men. Although I have never been able to pin point exactly why this is so, I hold myself to the same standards as any man, woman or child who does magic.
The two acts of yours I saw at MAES were themed, scripted, and funny. Is that your primary style? Why does it seem to work for you?
Thanks for thinking my acts were funny! I would say that humor is definitely my primary style. I have always relied heavily on my ability to think on my feet, engage with my volunteer and audience, and use words rather than elegant movements to make magic happen. It works for me because my strong suit is not my technical skill (which I struggle with) but my ability to entertain holistically, not just with effects. I have been told by other magicians that I should "focus on comedy, maybe don't do magic." It's really beaten me down in the past, but idols like Darren Romeo have been told the same thing, and he overcame all of those obstacles to be the incredible magician he is today.
How and how often do you practice, and who serves as a test audience for your new routines?
If I know I have a gig coming up, I try to run the act 3 times a day. The first time I focus on the magic, the second time I focus on the patter, and the third time I work to combine them for the whole shebang. When one move is particularly challenging, I do it over and over and over - knowing that the more confident I can do it off stage, the better it will be on stage. (Things always seem to go wrong on stage if you don't practice enough, don't they?) I practice in front of other magicians (when I want to be highly critiqued) and lay people friends when I want compliments. I did it for my family when I was younger, and they were always supportive. I try to do it for people I would normally be embarrassed to practice in front of - that way an audience is less intimidating.
Often beginning magicians have few outlets to perform and tend to perform nearly exclusively for family & friends. What are the reactions of your friends and family who have been exposed to your magic for years, and do you perform for them regularly?
My high school friends roll [their] eyes when I ask if they want to see a magic trick, but everyone in life after high school (college friends, co workers, etc.) love it. Even my parents never got tired of it. I really struggle to do magic these days - I have a really complicated love-hate relationship with it, and so on the rare occasion I feel confident enough to break out a deck or some rubberbands, I'm lucky enough to have an avid audience. If I were to dispense some advice, I would say that most people want to see magic, so seek out strangers and forgiving audiences to practice new moves on.
Real World Magic
Have your magic skills ever proven useful in the real world? How?
I think I would be a totally different person without magic. I find magic basics to incorporate into my life every day. For instance...the entire idea of misdirection is extremely useful in my day to day life. I have learned how to steer a conversation a certain way, how to pull attention away from certain things, etc. I think like a magician all of the time. I look for ways effects could be incorporated into my daily life, even if I don't act on them. I feel like a part of a community that is accepting and quirky and complex and dynamic, and I have a lot of confidence in my social life primarily because of the experience magic has given me.
Suppose you have just a minute or two to show President Obama a quick magic miracle. What effect would you choose and why?
I would probably launch into a short rubberband routine, perhaps Crazy Man's Handcuffe, torn and restored, and jumping dollar bill. I think these are quick, powerful effects because they use every day objects that can be given to the volunteer after the trick. Obama would be walking around with a magic rubberband, and that would be awesome.
Are there any magical items that you carry almost all the time?
I usually have rubberbands and a deck of cards. I used to carry hot rods and some gimmicks, and an ITR for a while. I've gotten away from gimmicks as I've gotten older, though.