Bill Goodwin – Card Magic Beyond Belief. If you could ask him one question…what would it be?


Billy and I backstage before a gig in Tokyo!


Bill Goodwin is not only the resident librarian at The Magic Castle – He’s also one of my favorite card men in the world. For real.

His touch with cards, simply put, cannot be duplicated. Billy can take ideas which scare any sensible card man and make them look elegant and deceptive. On top of that, Bill goes on the short list of most-well read magicians alive (along with Max Maven and only a few others). If you meet Billy, don’t tell him I said those things – he’ll kick my ass for blowing his cover.


Here’s your Challenge…

Billy’s stopping by my place tonight after work. If you have one great question you would like to ask him, drop a comment after this post. I will read the questions that have arrived by 10pm pacific time tonight, and I’ll ask Billy to answer the best one. Of course, my taste is perfectly subjective, and I’m likely to choose the question which will  benefit the most readers.

So write your question with care – it just might be your personal introduction to one of the greatest card experts in the world.

He’ll be here in five hours. Get to work!


27 Responses to “Bill Goodwin – Card Magic Beyond Belief. If you could ask him one question…what would it be?”

  1. 1 Luka Malensek January 10, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Hi Aaron
    Hi Bill

    I believe that you two being together must be a great oportunity to share ideas and creativity to each other. So this is my question that i would ask Bill if i would ever meet him at any Lecture.

    What was your biggest experience in Close-Up magic?
    How often do you use gimmicks in your Close-Up magic performances and if you like BIG GIMMICK card tricks?

    In waiting for an answer,

    Luka Malensek

  2. 2 paul January 10, 2008 at 1:40 am

    what is magic?

  3. 3 Paul Rooney January 10, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Hello Bill and Aaron,

    Bill – What is the factor that unites card magicians in particular?; the strong frinedships, the kindness to one another etc? Any ‘feuds’ that develop are often relatively short-lived. As an example, how did you and Larry Jennings become such great friends?

    Best to you,

    Paul Rooney

  4. 4 Lou Rowks January 10, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Who is you favorite up and coming young magician?

  5. 5 Matt. G January 10, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Hey Aaron and Bill,

    Bill, I could ask you your favorite card techinique or the most valuable move in magic but I won’t. The one question which I’m sure is encrusted deep within every aspiring magician’s brain and plagues them every day would be how can I take my magic to the next level? Not just up a notch but really to the higher levels of the art? Or how can a magician completely remove all signs of tension in his sleights? I know Aaron explores this in his book but I’d like to hear what you think Bill.


    Matt. G.

  6. 6 Ben Long January 10, 2008 at 2:04 am

    Bonjour, Monsieur Fisher et Monsieur Goodwin.

    What makes an effect powerful? The effect itself, the patter and presentation, the number of times one practices it? How does one strike the appropriate balance between skill and presentation?

    Also, what is in your opinion, the best, but most underrated source for card magic available?

    Thank you.

    –Ben Long

  7. 7 Tyler Wilson January 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Hey Billiam,
    Now that you’re the librarian over at The Magic Castle, is the Dewey Decimal System all that it’s cracked up to be?

    Tyler Wilson

  8. 8 Chris A. January 10, 2008 at 2:16 am


    Happy New Year to all. My question would be if someone tossed you a deck of shuffled playing cards and said show us something, what effects would you perform and why. Thanks.


  9. 9 Ray Jaegers January 10, 2008 at 2:20 am

    Bill, can you tell us who had the the biggest influence on your card magic? Did your relationship with this person cause you to immitate their style and if so, how were you able to break free and develop your own performing style?

  10. 10 Phillip Young January 10, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Hi Bill,

    What would you suggest as the best daily general practice regime with cards?

  11. 11 Dave Atkins January 10, 2008 at 2:37 am

    To Mr. Goodwin I would ask: as the libriarian of the Magic Castle, if some magician was going to make the libriary disappear, which three books would you try to save before he did it?

    Enjoy your time together,


  12. 12 Dane Griffith January 10, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Just to Ponder, Billy:

    What is the most interesting thing you have learned from Larry Jennings… I realize this may not make the A list of important questions, but I’d still like to know.


  13. 13 DP January 10, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Because Bill is really an “underground magician”, I feel that questions about performances or how to perform better, should be saved for the professional performer such as yourself. Therefore, I have a question that I hope you will consider because I think it is one that he can answer better than most.

    Most magicians – dare I say around 90% of them – are what you can call bedroom magicians. What I mean by this is, most magicians practice in front of the mirror in their bedroom. These types do perform, but for family and friends. You know this is different from performing for a live paying audience. So what is their creative outlet? Inventions!

    So finally, the question is this:

    How do you create your magic? Does it come to you in an instant inspiration? Do you have set ways to find inspiration like Stewart James? How and what motivates you to invent or discover your magical creations? In short, how the hell do you do it?

    Side note: I know Bill and he is a great guy. I hope he answers this question because it will help the majority of magicians around the world. Isn’t that what your site is about?

  14. 14 justin fraser January 10, 2008 at 3:07 am

    greetings from winnipeg, canada.

    who are your biggest influences and how do you create. do you start with an effect in mind first and then work out a method or do you have a moment of divine inspiration.

  15. 15 Tom Powell AKA Twozwozer January 10, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Hey everyone!

    Heres a question for you Bill.

    What is the one piece (or maybe 2 :P) of advice you have been given that has helped you the most in your magical profession?

    Cheers, Tom

  16. 16 bobby hasbun January 10, 2008 at 3:32 am

    How do you feel about “fake” magicians? Those who talk highly of Erdnase, but can’t do a DPS or a ‘Bottom Palm When Cards are Riffled’ (or anything out of the book, for that matter). Those who use Jerry’s Nuggets, but can’t do anything with them. Those who criticize but can’t take criticism….

    I have been a “victim” of knowing MANY people like this, and as a young card magician (just turned 17), support is something I definately need, but instead most of what I get is NON-constructive criticism and jokes, from magicians who can hardly do a palm to palm transfer, or just a simple top palm at that.

    How do I deal with ” fellow magician hecklers”? They’re everywhere, and I hope you answer this question so that I find a way to deal with it.

    Thanks very much.

  17. 17 Rick Benstock January 10, 2008 at 5:16 am

    The world has too many “me too” magicians. So I wonder how you evolved who you are as a magical performer, your performing persona? Is it easy now to eliminate potential effects because they do not fit the character you are playing, or if you are playing yourself, the kind of person you are?

    I may be too sleepy to participate actively by 2 or 3 a.m. my time but if I’m awake I’d like to listen in. However you do that.


  18. 18 Pete McCabe January 10, 2008 at 7:39 am


    Since you are a librarian, what five books would you take to a deserted island? And while you are there, would you categorize the books by author, or by subject?

  19. 19 Cesar January 10, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Hi Aaron, we miss you at El Escorial, I hope you can make it again one of these years, man.

    Hi Bill, here’s my question for you (well, a couple of them actually):

    – What do you reckon spectators like better, highly visual and magical looking effects or those that go straight to their brains and fry them ’cause they cannot assimilate what has just happened? And which ones do you prefer doing for lay people?

    – Is there any chance we can see a DVD or book featuring the magic of Bill Goodwin sometime (preferably in the near future)

    Nice to talk to you again, Bill

    Take care, guys

    – César –

  20. 20 Christian König January 10, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Why Cards ?

  21. 21 Yves Tourigny January 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Aaraon and Bill,

    I met Bill once and only briefly this past summer during Roberto Giobbi lecture in Toronto. He did two effects for me. Before doing them he said something that stayed with me until now and it made me think a lot. He said that sometimes his effects can just look like a bunch of moves instead of a magic experience. I think we can say that to alot of us.

    My question is: Do you recognize when the effect resonates like a magic experience and why it is so?

    Yves Tourigny

    And the best to you both! 🙂

  22. 22 Ricky January 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    My question to Bill is this. If you where starting all over again from scratch and was told that you can only have 2 magic books to help you on your way, which 2 would they be and why?
    Thanks, I look forward to reading the answer to which ever question is answered:)

  23. 23 Dave January 10, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    As an intermediate card man I would ask Bill Goodwin which 5 learning resources he would’ve started with (and progressed to) if he could do it all over again…..if they’d be different from the road he personally took and why?


  24. 24 Jerry Sigman January 10, 2008 at 7:19 pm


    Over the years I’ve had the honor to see some of the greatest cardmen perform; Ed Marlo, Derek Dingle, Martin Nash, Darwin Ortiz, Br. John Hamman…all different, all brilliant. In your opinion what are the 5 essential qualities needed to be a good card performer?

  25. 25 David Cox January 10, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    As a faithful subscriber, I would LOVE to know ANY info about the state of the “Penumbra”, which is such a cool publication it bums me out to think it’s disappeared for good…SAY IT AIN’T SO BILL!

  26. 26 Hunter January 10, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    To work your way up to being a respected and good magician what kind of tips would you give to people to better their performance and leave spectators walking away mystified and feeling lucky they got to see some magic from you. Thank a lot!!!

  27. 27 Tyler Erickson January 15, 2008 at 6:25 am

    In your opinion, what sleight(s) are the most
    1) misunderstood?
    2) Under-explored?
    3) Versatile?

    Do you have a *core* set of sleights that do most of your heavy lifting, or do you have a plethora of techniques customized for every effect?

    Do you have any favorite *combinations* of sleights? (i.e., Double Lift + Top Card Cover Pass) or favorite covers? (Dribble, hand to hand spread, lots and lots of squaring?)

    What are your pet peeves about current card handlers? Current treads? Current teaching methods?

    What technique have you worked the hardest to obtain proficiency, and (more importantly) do you feel that time was well allocated, or was it more of a “because I wanted to learn it” type of move?

    In the same vein, would you list the moves you really felt were worth every ounce of effort you expended, and list the ones that you practiced equally (?) hard but never found a use for. (And I know there are at least a few. )

    Lastly, what do you think is your *weakest* area of development when it comes to your magic? What, if anything, are you doing to change that?

    Thanks you for considering/answering any of these.

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