The Fishin' Magicians

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

and Craig a counselor. After several years of marriage, Craig left his position to try his hand as a full-time magician. He specialized in close-up illusions--disappearing coins, card tricks and the like. A couple of years later, Short quit her job and joined him.

"We met working together. We like working together," she explains. She shrugs off a characterization of the career change as drastic. "What we do now is preventive medicine."

For a while they performed both close-up magic and stage shows. As they tried out a variety of comedy bits and illusions, they searched for a unique identity. "Entertainment requires a niche," notes Craig.

"We've never been a traditional magic act, with a gentleman in a tuxedo and a woman scantily clad," adds Short. "We looked for what fit us."

They finally hit on a formula, thanks in part to a little inadvertent prodding from the Missouri Conservation Department, which invited Craig and Short to perform at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center as part of the center's "Family Month" activities. There was one stipulation, though--their show needed to relate somehow to nature and conservation.

"We had done a trick or two using goldfish, but being invited to the nature center motivated us to put together a whole act related to fishing," says Short. "So we became "The Fishin' Magicians.'"

Inventing new illusions and modifying old ones to include material about fishing proved a natural transition for Craig and Short. Both are avid lifelong anglers. Craig started fishing with a cane pole as a kid growing up in Tennessee and Kentucky, and Short--who is from North Kansas City originally--began on an old spin casting rig when she was 5 or 6. She still has it. They used their knowledge of fishing to sprinkle tips and educational facts throughout their performance. More importantly, though, they try to get across messages they believe in--that people should get outside, that fishing is a great way for families to spend time together and that conservation is important.

The nature center appearance went swimmingly, and pretty soon "The Fishin' Magicians" show was the only one they did.

But is a magic act about fishing something everyone can appreciate?

Short had her doubts. "We were doing a show for an association of surgeons and their spouses. I brought a woman up onstage whose first question was, "What's an angler?'"

Craig continues. "We were concerned it would be limiting, but people say, "That was different,' or,

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