The brighter side of dark magic

Was your card the king of ghouls?

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about, one of magic’s two Internet powerhouses. Now it’s time to write about the other biggie:

Brad Christian started Ellusionist in 2001, after David Blaine’s first three TV specials aired. Boys and young men across the country were desperate to duplicate Blaine’s impromptu, gritty, on-the-street miracles. And Christian sensed this desperation, and he acted on the “street magic” market demand.

Of course, “street magic,” is nothing new. It’s just close-up magic performed outdoors. But that didn’t stop Christian from branding an incredibly successful company around David Bainian, edgy, dark “street magic.”

(I use “dark” in the figurative sense and the literal; one of Ellusionist’s bestsellers is a black deck of playing cards.) gives secrets the respect they deserve; the company is known for its DVDs that feature just one trick. These DVDs sell for 20 or 30 bucks. While that might seem like a lot for just one secret—one that you could probably find on YouTube for free (shhhhhh!)—it’s not. Let me explain…

If you learn a trick from a two-minute YouTube video uploaded by an eight-year-old boy, you’re going to perform the trick like an eight-year-old boy on YouTube.’s hour-long DVDs are filled with the subtleties and the psychological tips that are necessary to actually fool people. Any professional magician worth his weight in invisible thread will tell you: It often takes a long time to learn a “simple” magic trick.

Ellusionist’s prices (e.g., $20 for the King Rising DVD [a perform-anywhere levitation trick], $30 for the Frozen DVD [frozen quarter trick], $30 for the Factory Sealed DVD [nickel in unopened water bottle trick]) are practically necessary in a field in which it’s nearly impossible to copyright, patent, or trademark a secret. These prices keep out the amateurs. The amateurs will go for the YouTube videos…and they’ll get exactly what they pay for.


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