Joe Skilton has been a full-time professional magician for several years, and whenever I tell people this, they inevitably want to know five things:
1. Does your husband tell you how he does his tricks?
No, and I prefer it that way. If I reaaaaallly want to know, I can scour through his books, DVDs, and lecture notes, or beg incessantly until he throws me a crumb, but I'd rather not know. The few times I've found out the secret to a trick, it's either been a bit of a letdown, or, more often, it's been even more mind-boggling to realize what he's trained himself to do. The tricks he performs are the result of skill and practice, honed over months or years, rather than pre-bought gimmicks from stores.
2. Is your husband always showing you new tricks and ideas?
He stops when I'm sleeping. I used to be more "pure" to him as an audience member, because I was clueless, but now I can spot certain elements at play and point them out from time to time.
3. Do you get sick of watching him perform the same shows over and over?
If I've seen a particular set many times, I'll stop watching him and watch the audience instead. It thrills me to see people's reactions: gasps, "No way!"s, "You did not!"s, clutching their seats, etc. And it makes me happy that he's made so many other people happy.
4. Are you his secret assistant?
Yes but only secretly! Actually, no, not at all. He doesn't do tons of big stage illusions, and even if he did, I'm not the right body type to be a box jumper (women must be small and limber to fit inside boxes; I'm kind of tall and gangly).
5. What's the weirdest thing about being a magician's wife? (This is my favorite question.)
A) Props everywhere! The other day I saw two perfect peas on the carpet and went to pick them up, wondering how they'd traveled from the kitchen. Then I realized they weren't actual peas but part of a
"pea and shell" game. There are playing cards in the laundry room, office, kitchen, den and bathroom. There are bits of rope throughout the house, as well as antique coins, close-up pads (velvet portable squares perfect for close-up magic shows), and a beautiful wooden magic wand that seems to travel from room to room.
B) Clown insurance. Let me preface this by saying there is no love lost between magicians and clowns. A few years ago, Joe was asked to perform at a hotel in Beverly Hills. The hotel required proof of liability insurance. Since there is no Magician's Alliance (unlike in Arrested Development), he needed to get performers' insurance, fast. The only place that fit the bill was the Clown Association, so he purchased a year's worth, which came with a free subscription to a magazine called Clowning Around. When the first issue arrived, I screamed and dropped the magazine. (Like many people, I have a fear of clowns.) Soon, however, I was hooked. The masthead and columns included pictures of the writers in full clown regalia. Since then, Joe has found another insurance provider that, shall we say, lets him keep his dignity.
C) He works evenings and weekends, so we're often ships passing in the night with our schedules. The holidays are his busiest time of year, so we don't always get to hang out on Thanksgiving, New Year's, or large portions of December. He's got lots of corporate parties, holiday cocktail parties, and New Year's celebration shows he needs to focus on. He's always supported my writing so I don't mind the "ships in the night" schedule or the crazed Decembers but I'm always happy when I get him back in January :)