By Deana Murray
Harold Voit stands under a banner that says, ” Zauberzentrale Munchen, ” which means Magic Central, Munich (Germany). He and his wife, Angelika , and their good friend, Hartmut Koll were selling magic at the 2006 FISM Convention in Stockholm, Sweden, where we were introduced. Over the next several days (as we got the chance to chat) I discovered that Harold Voit , is a man made of ‘defining moments’ . There have been certain times, specific people, places and events that were so captivating–they became inspired turning points in his life. As these moments presented themselves, he took charge and chose a path. The resulting stream of events set in motion– became his future. For Harold, there have been more than a few of these moments that claimed his destiny.
Caroline, Angelika & Christiane
One of these defining moments was meeting his wife, Angelika . There have been others such as becoming a magician instead of a clown. Becoming a translator of sorts. Watching the Berlin Wall come down. The birth of his daughters ( Caroline and Christiane ) and his granddaughters. Meeting Seigfreid and Roy . The first handshake to a lifelong friendship with Hartmut Koll . Or the beginning of the (Academy Of Magical Arts, Germany) Zauberakademie Deutschland .
Who’s to say whether these moments are a product of fate or circumstance, external forces or even pure luck. I can tell you what defines the moments–is the path it puts you on. No matter how one uses emotions or intellect to decide–it is the forward motion from then on. The difference for Harold, between things that get done and those that don’t… “is in finding a way to make it happen.”
As these moments presented themselves,
he took charge and chose a path.
For example, Harold’s first encounter with Angelika. It was inside a hostel, amongst a room full of 30 other youths on winter holiday. As is the custom for hostels, the guests shared a common area for the night. Angelika was looking for a warm spot near the fireplace. Harold was struck—with opportunity. His choice was to put himself directly between her and the chimney. That was over 30 years ago. They still talk about it as if it were yesterday. Angelika says, “she still likes to sleep near the fireplace!”
They have performed together and THEY ARE the couple in a picture you’ve probably already seen. On the rooftop of the hotel BAGERISCHE HOF. Set against the blue skies and the backdrop of the city of Munich is the Magician and the Floating Lady. Harold and Angelika, in a Bavarian costume, proving (at least visually, if not literally) that they have been to the top of the German magic scene…with no strings attached!! This single photo became the 1981 poster shot of the Super X Munich Levitation Magic Convention that year.
The choice to take the picture was easy. To get to the top of the hotel required some thought. Not only making and moving props. It also meant crawling through an air conditioning duct! But that picture is an icon in defining moments. For others, it is the possibilities of a challenge. For Harold it is the result of his choices long before that. It speaks of what he had to achieve just to be able to take the photo!
Overcoming fears and other obstacles is the lifeline of all magicians. The outcome is not always as expected, envisioned or rehearsed. But, as opportunity has knocked, Harold has opened the door. And this is what happens–a string of events starts to occur. Among them are jewels in time… Harold and Angelika got the chance to attend a private reception for Seigfreid and Roy during the Desert Magic Seminar . Upon being introduced, Harold promptly fainted! He woke up in the hospital. When Roy called to find out his condition, a kinship evolved. Proving that otherwise negative events can have a positive effect. Even Harold’s first introduction to magic went the same way.
As a kid of 12 or so, there was a shop that sold magic. They also had a catalog that you could order from and pay with stamps. Harold sent away for a “Blow-Out Candle”. The kind you light, blow out and it relights. It didn’t work properly. Harold got burned by the candle and the experience.
Now his concepts and ideas are being studied and
used by magicians throughout the world.
Sometime later, Harold began working at a place called WINTER COURT , which is a stationary location for circus acts to train and perform when they are not touring. Harold was well on his way to becoming a clown under their instruction. He chose this work because he liked “to hold the mirror to people’s faces.” Even after his first brush with magic, he thought he could add six or seven magic routines to improve his clown act. Two things happened… One, Harold needed to translate into German many of the magic books or instructions he read. This was a pivotal moment leading to Harold’s purchase of a printing machine and his goal to translate for others. The second thing that happened, he began to understand the concepts and inner workings of the magic he was studying. And he began interacting with other inventors. He eventually remade the “Blow-Out Candle”. Now his concepts and ideas are being studied and used by magicians throughout the world.
Case in point… ZAUBERAKADEMIE DEUTCHLAND (ZAD) . “If there is an Academy Of Magical Arts in the United States, then why not one in Europe?” From that question and the answer, “There should be.” The path was chosen. For Harold, inventing, performing and selling magic are fingers of the same hand. Teaching magic is the interlocking clasp, the palm, the move. The balancing act of love and trust. Harold found a way that “allows students of magic to believe that they can achieve what others contend is impossible… to learn by doing.” So creating a school to teach magic with the help of longtime friend, Harmut Koll was just such a decision made some 25 years ago.
Floating down the Tsar River for past 12 years with the Academy.
Now with 12 teachers, technique and technicians revolve and change. The faculty still includes Harold and Hartmut and others like Jorg Alexander and up to half of his fellow members of “The Flicking Fingers.” The Academy offers a curriculum of Cards, Children’s Magic, Mentalism, Parlor Magic and Grand Illusions to approximately 280 students. They are surrounded by all types of magic until “they find their corner and start specializing to fine tune their talents,” says Harold. “The only thing the teachers cannot teach–is good character. The students must arrive with this on their own.” Hartmut adds, “Only occasionally, someone arrives with the notion that card manipulation aids them in some other (gambling) pursuits… They don’t last, primarily because it’s too much work.” Sincerity, perseverance and determination can get you through 38 lessons per semester, and there are four to this 2-year program. Passing the final exam will earn you an actual degree and membership into the German Association Of Magic . There are a few other requirements, for instance, the minimum age for admittance is 18. The rare exceptions, however, include Nadine , Hartmut’s daughter, who is quick to address the issue. “Because of her talents and not because of her father.” Also on this short list is Max Schnider , who won the Grand Prix in Hong Kong at age 12.
And for other academy students… what roads unfold for them? Just this last August, at the 2006 FISM in Stockholm, Sweden, Academy student, ” Gaston” was the winner in the Parlor Magic category. Wow! What a triumph for him and the Academy, which is now owned by Harold and Angelika’s daughter, Christiane. And she is married to another famous magician–mentalist, Thorston Havener .
In one way or another, Harold is still holding up the mirror to people’s faces. He challenges them (US–one and all) to be and see who we truly are. He enables us to improve our talents and encourages us to reach our own rooftops. He provides techniques, tools and translations. I fell like Alice in front of the Looking Glass. Bound by the well crafted and carved framework, inside the mirror are the developing stories of Harold and Angelika. The colorful playland of events born out of ‘ defining moments ‘. As I stand back and see my own image–halfway between the outside and the inside of the mirror…I’m thinking… “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend a couple of years in Deutchland?”
Harold Levitates Angelika
Harold and Angelika work his magic booth
Harold working his magic at 2006 FISM in Stockholm, Sweden