Stevens Magic is excited to announce a partnership with Thomas Blacke, the President of The International Association of Escape Artist. Thomas is also the editor of “Escape Masters Magazine,” which is published quarterly and mailed all over the world. We would like to welcome Thomas Blacke to our family of GeMiNi (Greater Magic Network) contributors and other SME columnist. We invite you to check out Thomas’s website where you can subscribe to this entertaining magazine. This interview was recently featured in one of the editions of “Escape Master’s Magazine.”

Thomas Blacke – Author and President of The International Association of Escape Masters.

The Jim Steinmeyer Interview

(authorized for Stevens Magic, and GeMiNi – The Greater Magic Network, by Thomas Blacke)

Jim Steinmeyer has created many illusions for top magicians including Doug Henning, Lance Burton, David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, Harry Blackstone, Jr, and many others. His illusions include "The Magic Elevator", "The Origami Box", "The Pole Levitation", and many others. Jim’s creative talents have been used on television shows such as "Blacke’s Magic", and "Magic in the Magic Kingdom", and he served as co- producer of both "Learned Pigs" and "Fireproof Women" for Ricky Jay on CBS, and "The Secret Cabaret" for Channel 4 in Great Britain. He also has been a Concept Designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, since 1987, and was a founder of the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History, that occurs every two years. Jim’s latest book "Hiding the Elephant" continues to be very popular with magicians and lay people alike, and is available, along with some of his other books, and effects, at

Q: How did it all begin for you?
A: I was born in Chicago in 1958. My interest in magic began with my brother, Harry, who was interested in magic, and had bought many magic tricks in Oak Park, IL. When we moved away, Harry lost interest, and I discovered his collection of magic.

Q: What got you started in building and creating illusions?
A: When I was in college at Loyola University, I sent some material to Doug Henning. He called me, we met, and that began a long association with him, and his show.

Q: What inspires you to create, or build illusions?
A: I have not built an illusion in 25 years. I create the concepts, designs and drawings, and let others build the illusions. I am also very interested in magic history. Illusions were changing in the 60’s and 70’s. These different illusions were being created, and influenced by interesting people.

Q: Did you have a mentor, or someone you credit you success to?
A: Not especially, not one person. I enjoy working with great performers with material that compliment their shows. When we were children, my brother worked with me on scripting my tricks. Jay & Frances Marshall from Magic, Inc., John Gaughn, Alan Wakeling, Bill Smith, and Doug Henning have all played important roles in my success.

Q: Much of what you do requires a great deal of mathematical and mechanical ability, creative thinking, along with analytical processing. What would you say challenges you the most?
A: I wish I had a better sense of mechanics. I’ve had to come up with formulas for some tricky elements – like the way certain trap doors are hinged – but I always feel that it would be easier if I had more mechanical skills.

Q: What words of wisdom would you give to our readers about performing an escape?
A: In terms of presenting an escape, I think it should have the same plot points as an illusion. For example, the audience should always have something to look at, and be able to follow along and be surprised at the end. Sometimes illusions or escapes are so well tuned and staged that it comes across as "scripted" to the audience, which is a bad thing. On occasion, we have had music intentionally run out to give the audience the impression that something has gone wrong, when in fact, it was part of their surprise.