Birmingham "it took seven years at public school to lose the accent" and
raised in Bristol, Martin read maths at Cambridge, where an interest in
magic was kindled at the Pentacle Club. On moving to London, where he's
lived ever since, Martin read for a PhD at London University. In London he
met Eric Mason, Brian Sinclair, and other magicians of the 'Marlborough
Arms' group and learnt much about misdirection from Eric and improvisation
from Brian, and never looked back.
Martin became interested in hypnosis after watching a fellow student
perform, and gave his first show in 1981. He then developed the hypnosis
show, and presented close-up magic throughout the eighties while at London
University, first as a student, then as a teacher, and then as a writer.
Martin worked as a professional writer for two years before going pro
full-time as a magician and hypnotist in 1991.
In the mid-nineties, after discussions with psychologists, skeptics, and
others, he realised that hypnosis as commonly perceived has nothing to do
with stage entertainment, and "took a big leap of faith in telling my
audiences this." He found that the show worked just as well, and developed
his own unique show 'Hypnotism without Hypnosis', which is what he now
does for a living at universities, sixth form collages, clubs, and
"anywhere else they'll pay me!"
Other interests include playing the piano (badly), bridge (rather well -
he's a Regional Master), singing and amateur theatricals "when the
rehearsals don't clash with work - but they always do."
"Chop cup. It grabs the audience's attention with a prop which is
interesting without looking proppy; it has the right mix of mechanical and
sleight of hand; but best of all it leaves audiences literally
open-mouthed with amazement. (At least, it does when I do it.)"
"Very hard decision, but I'd probably go for Corinda's 13 Steps to
Mentalism. There's no other book that encapsulates a whole branch of magic
so well. Whatever you need in mentalism, it's probably in 13 Steps
"David Nixon, who inspired me (and countless others) when I was a
kid. And for demonstrating effectively that personality counts for so
much more than technical skill."
Top Magic Quote?
"All these young guys dancing round with silk scarves and magic
boxes look great when they're twenty, but by the time they're fifty they
just look ridiculous. Stick to mentalism. It has a dignity that makes it
more effective as you get older. Maurice Fogel (I like to
think he'd have looked on hypnotism in the same way.)"
"For me, drunken students. They're out to get you, but they will
give you about thirty seconds to prove yourself. My strategy is simple:
lull them into patronising complacency by being competent and bland for
twenty-nine seconds. Then hit them as hard as you can with something
unbelievable. After that, they're yours."
"Children. I know entertaining kids is an important branch of
magic, but I just don't get any kicks from self-working tricks and getting
all the boys and girls to shout the magic word as loud as they can. King
Herod was misunderstood."