Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Five Questions I Get Asked as a Magician's Wife

My husband 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 :)


  1. Clowning Around sounds glorious. In that it almost made me spit out my soup while I was reading your description of it.

  2. Best post ever.

    Oooh 111 followers - that's a very lucky number!

    When I was a tween I really wanted to go to clown college, like for real, because my fam took me to the Ringling Bros in the city every year.

    (and for goodness sakes, turn off word verification!)

  3. Awesome post! That answers all of of my questions. :) I'm totally with you on the clowns.

  4. Really interesting post, Sarah! I'll add one more question: how many times have you been to The Magic Castle? My parents somehow got to go when I was a kid, and I envied them after hearing what it was like.

  5. I'm genuinely surprised that one of those top five isn't "have you ever been cut in half?" ala the "Saw a Girl in Half" trick (I'm sure it has a more professional name than that.)

    Really entertaining post. I'm not overly keen on clowns. They don't scare me, they just annoy me!


  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Cat, I'm an associate member of the Magic Castle (which means Joe is a magician member and had to audition to get in, but I reap all the benefits without having to do anything, heh). I used to go quite frequently but now I go maybe once every 2-3 months, unless Joe's performing there, in which case I'll go several times that week. It's a fun place for sure.

    Kirsty, glad you liked it. I haven't gotten the "sawed in half" question in a while, luckily. Clowns both terrify AND annoy me ;)

  7. Your husband is a magician -- I had no idea. How cool! Ooh, the Magic Castle! I've only been once but it was... well, you know... magical.

  8. Oh, WOW! You just moved from my list of really cool writers to my list of REALLY INTERESTING PEOPLE.

    Love this post! And I can't think of a better coupling than a performer and a writer. You can understand each other's ups and downs better than anyone, because you're both in a biz where you're laying out your heart and soul for other people to judge. Not only that, but the people you entertain decide how successful you will be by their reaction to your art.

    Merry Christmas, Sarah! And many blessings on your growing family in the new year. :) I'm so happy we met through our awesome publisher!

  9. Hi Sarah,
    My better half is also a magician.... I know exactly what you mean about there being props all over the house. It's nice to know I'm not the only one experiencing this :-)


  10. Hi Karen, nice to meet you! What kind of magic does your spouse do?