As part of our special interview series with the founders of The Leicester Magicians Network, our third interview is with Pete Whitmore.
Congratulations to Pete who has been promoted to MMC within The Magic Circle since this interview was written.
Pete is a practicing magician with over 30 years experience. One of the Founding members of the Leicester Magicians Network and a member of The Leicester Magic Circle.
He specialises in close up magic, including mentalism and psychological magic. Experienced in entertaining guests at social events either at tables or gathered in groups. Always giving events a personal touch.
Pete is Midlands based and can be booked via his website. Covering Leicestershire and surrounding areas. All contacts and social details can be found at the end of this article. Mix and Mingle / Close Up / Walk around magic is the perfect addition to any event.
Pete has assisted Scot Jerram in the publication of his book "Scot Free", reading many drafts and enhancing an effect called "Playing Card Bingo".
For more information about the Leicester Magicians Network, please see after the interview with Pete Whitmore.
Magic Seats - Thanks for joining us today Pete for a chat.
Now, I have to ask the good old background question. What’s your story, how did you get into magic and who influenced you?
Pete Whitmore - I think my story is pretty much the same as most people in magic, it started with a magic set for Christmas when I was about 7 or 8. I remember fooling my dad with one effect and my dad was pretty clued up on most magic. It was a great feeling I got from knowing I’d fooled him! All my pocket money etc from then on went on buying magic (as it still does today, which my wife will testify to!).
As for influence, I grew up watching Paul Daniels, and then Wayne Dobson on TV, so they were my earliest influences. I drifted in and out of magic over the years, showing family and friends stuff, but that was as far as it went. Then a couple of years ago I just told myself it was time I either did something with my magic, and start gigging and learning the ropes, or carry on as before, kind of like a secret magician. My biggest regret is not joining a club sooner, but at the end of the day it's about confidence, and that's something I lacked for a long time with my magic.
Magic Seats - I can definitely relate to that and have lots of memories myself watching Paul Daniels and Wayne Dobson on TV.
You mention that joining magic clubs helped with building your confidence to perform magic. What advice would you give anyone who needs to gain confidence to perform in public?
Pete Whitmore - For me personally, performing for other Magicians and strangers gave me a massive lift. Friends and family are not the best critiques when you show them something, everything is ‘brilliant’ no matter what you show them!! But having other magicians and total strangers giving feedback and showing astonishment makes you appreciate how good or bad you are, and it’s the quickest way to learn. Doing a few gigs with Ian (Gamage) and Adam (Edgeley) before Covid helped massively, I’d always feared performing in public. But there's nothing to fear but fear itself, just going ahead and doing it, it’s an amazing buzz, it’s addictive! So the best advice I can give anyone is just get out there and do it, perform in front of anyone that wants to see something, enjoy it and have fun. If something goes wrong, it doesn’t matter laugh about it, we’re all human after all! And if you are fortunate enough to get the help, advice and encouragement from mentors then all the better.
Magic Seats - I can relate to that. What benefits have you personally gained from being a member of magic clubs like Leicester Magic Circle and Leicester Magicians Network?
Pete Whitmore - I have met some amazing people since joining a club, not just as magicians, but genuine friends, and the last 12 months have been a lot easier to get through with having people with the same passions to share ideas with. Before joining a club, it was mostly time spent hidden away or driving the wife and family mad showing them effect after effect. I think the best way to get a mentor is through a club too. I am lucky enough to have Ian and Adam as mentors for performance, these guys have been doing gigs a long time, and took me on my first couple of gigs. It was amazing watching them both just becoming these larger than life characters when they perform.
I also met another great mentor in Scot, my card work has always been pretty limited, but he gave me the confidence to try the moves I’d previously shied away from. He constantly points me in the right direction when I’m working on a new sleight. I have spent many hours jamming with Scot, whether in person or in recent times over zoom, and he never fails to amaze me when he shows me something new he’s working on! One of the reasons for forming the LMN was to get people that share a passion for magic to be able to meet with like minded people. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most confident performer or the quiet type that just enjoys practicing magic for your own pleasure, we want to share our passion with you. If you are just a hobbyist with no desire to perform for the public, or if you are an established performer, we welcome you exactly the same. If you’re confident and comfortable performing in front of others, we’ll encourage and help anyway we can, if you’re not confident or you don’t want to perform in front of others, we respect that too, there’s no pressure at LMN for anyone to perform.
Magic Seats - As one of the four founders of the Leicester Magician’s Network, you all carry out individual roles with unique areas of responsibility. Can you tell us a little about your unique contribution to the running of the club?
Pete Whitmore - In fairness, we all pretty much share the responsibilities of running the club, that was pretty much the idea when founding the club, having ‘set’ roles was mainly about ticking boxes. The running of the club, like the membership, is about freedom for anyone who has an interest in magic. Working for the NHS, the last year has pretty much been like a tornado for me, and the guys have been fantastic in supporting me through a difficult year. I’ve probably sat back and done the least to be honest, but the guys have been supportive and understanding of this.
Magic Seats - I think it is understandable that while working for the NHS, you have been extremely busy. The pandemic of course continues to present challenges for performers like yourself who perform close up magic. What does the future hold for magic in your opinion and what (if anything) needs to happen to make sure it thrives again?
Pete Whitmore - Firstly as a close up performer, a lot of what we do involves interaction, we borrow things to use, we ask spectators to hold things or choose things. We have to respect that a lot of people are not going to be confident at close contact and handling things for a while, so it's going to be a case of changing a lot of the routines or things we do to accommodate that. For example, when signing a card, some people may not be comfortable handing cards, so asking for a word or symbol we can write so they can recognise the card again later in an effect. I think the greatest gift in magic is the gift of making someone feel special, so personally I’m not comfortable just doing tricks/effects that are all ‘look at me, look what I can do’, so it's finding ways of doing effects where the spectator feels like they're special if possible. As for magic striving again, it will just take time, it's another learning process, until we get out there and perform, I don’t think anyone truly knows how it’s going to go. The only way we can help is by doing what our spectators are comfortable with us doing, we will have to adapt to what they are comfortable with.
Magic Seats - You are right about Magic making someone feel special in the audience. What about you - what achievement in magic are you particularly proud of and do you have any burning ambitions?
Pete Whitmore - I am proud that I passed my first audition at the Leicester Magic Circle, I am proud of the Leicester Magicians Network, we have a great membership, it feels more like family than a club. As for ambitions, the first is for the LMN to be the best it can be, to watch our members be the best at what they do. I genuinely get great pleasure watching people improve and grow and become better performers, better magicians. Lacking confidence in the past, helping someone gain more confidence and be the best they can is rewarding for me. My only other ambition is to get back out there performing with real people and becoming the best I can be.
Magic Seats - I definitely agree that the LMN is more like a family than a club. A group of really good friends.
Thanks Pete for taking the time to chat with us today.
To book Pete or learn more about his services, take a look at his website and social sites below.
See below for details about the Leicester Magicians Network:
The Leicester Magicians Network
As part of this series of interviews with the founders of the Leicester Magicians Network, I sat down with them and asked some questions about the club.
Magic Seats - What’s the story behind the Leicester Magicians Network. How did the idea come about to form a new club?
Whilst we all love and respect the traditions of ‘older’ magic societies, they can be sometimes intimidating to new members. The four founding members all shared a similar philosophy and it was something that we are all passionate about, particularly in bringing on the next generation of magicians.
This is why we thought long and hard about our mission statement:
“To Create A Magic Community Where Everyone Who Is Passionate About Magic Is Welcome, Built Around Trust, Friendship and Support, And Aiming to Help All Members to Be the Best They Can Be.”
Magic Seats - With many magic clubs to join, what is different about Leicester Magicians Network. Why join your club?
When founding The Leicester Magic Network, the philosophy was to create a modern forward-thinking Club that was not constrained by out-dated ideas or principles. Unlike traditional magic clubs we have dispensed with the requirement for an audition in order to join. We do not want in any way want to preclude anyone from joining such as the hobbyist magician. Our desire is to promote a relaxed, friendly environment which allows members of all abilities to share ideas, ask questions without fear, or perform if they feel comfortable.
We also have what we believe to be a unique membership model where for when a small set annual fee is paid, it gives you access to many members evenings, workshops etc which occur average twice a month. On top of that, we of course have Professional Lectures which operate on a pay-as-you-go basis members are able to pick and choose which ones they wish to attend.
Magic Seats - How did you come up with the name of the club?
We had a bit of a brainstorming session and obviously creating a new magic club in the midst of a pandemic was a challenge. With the name we wanted to convey a message of ‘connectivity’ even though none of us could initially meet in person.
For information about the club, events or membership details, please visit the website here.