As an addition to his already wildly popular stable of websites devoted to various facets of magic, Richard Robinson has announced that Magic Spin (www.magicspin.com) is now live and open for business. Magic Spin features up-to-the-minute reviews of new magic media products such as books, DVDs, CD-ROMs, videos, e-books, and downloads.
Innovation is no stranger to Robinson, who was one of the first to envision personal computers as a conjuring tool as viable as linking rings, cups or any other traditional apparatus. In 1991, his Spider Network was one of the first computer bulletin board systems exclusively for magicians, boasting hundreds of users at its peak.
However, with the Internet explosion, Robinson immediately seized upon potential of the graphically rich World Wide Web and staked his claim in cyberspace. In 1995, he launched Magic Show, the Internet’s first magic webzine (www.allmagic.com). He followed up Magic Show with the All Magic Guide (www.allmagicguide.com), a still enormously successful collection of just about every magic-related link on the Net.
In the intervening years, Robinson has developed many other magic sites, including Talk About Magic (www.talkaboutmagic.com), a weekly audio program that discusses various issues of interest to magicians, All Magic Reader (www.allmagicreader.com), a downloadable e-book source for magicians with PDAs, and The Magic Theater (www.magictheater.com), which features RealVideo clips of magicians. There are at least a half-dozen other sites in Robinson’s stable, all pertaining to conjuring. Two years ago, in an interview with the “New York Times,” Robinson estimated his audience at 1.5 to 2 million visitors a month to his sites with half-a-million regular visitors. Since then, his hit rate has almost certainly grown exponentially.
First and foremost, however, Richard Robinson considers himself a magician and the components of his performing curriculum vitae are just as impressive as his Internet successes. Prior to his embarkation on a career as a professional magician, Robinson was a high-profile mover and shaker in the music business, producing records for Lou Reed, David Johansen and others, directing videos for Blondie, writing a book with Dick Clark and even hosting a radio show on New York’s prestigious WNEW-FM. He ultimately found all of this to be, in his words, essentially unsatisfying, later saying, “I found magic more honest work because the audience knows ahead of time they’re going to be tricked.”
In the late 70’s, Robinson became a full-time professional magician, touring the country with his full-evening, large-scale illusion show, Robinson’s Mysteries, appearing at such disparate venues as college campuses, the Yale Art Gallery, Trump Castle in Atlantic City, The Bottom Line in New York and even on network television. However, his take on the traditional magic show was very unique and audiences who were expecting top hats, doves and rabbits were in for a bit of a shock. Richard had created a theatrical character that wasn’t easily forgotten.
Magician Dale Scott of Florida remembers Robinson’s creation very vividly. He recalls, “When I was a kid, I loved when an illusionist would perform on TV. One night, I saw magic presented in a way that I had never seen before. It was Richard Robinson on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, a TV show that usually only featured big time rock and roll bands. His assistants were dressed and moved about like zombies. His character was very intense, almost as if Dracula was performing real magic. I will never forget that dramatic performance and the effect that it had on my magic.”
Later on, Robinson would scale down his show, appearing without assistants in two productions that ran off-Broadway, “Richard Robinson’s Magic Show” in 1994 and “The Last Magic Show” in 1995.
Robinson remains unfazed by his remarkable successes on line and off. “The nice thing about the Web,” he once told an interviewer, “is everybody’s got the best seat in the house and nobody is allowed backstage.”
Jim Sisti is a full-time performer and the publisher and founder of “The Magic Menu.” He specializes in restaurant magic, corporate shows, private parties and comedy clubs. Jim’s articles and effects have appeared in MAGIC, M-U-M, Genii and Apocalypse. He is also the author of “Professional Restaurant Magic” and is the associate editor of L&L Presents. For more information visit his website: www.jimmsisti.com.