Torsten Rau manages the office of the Magischer Zirkel in Lampertheim. From his living room, he looks after the largest German association of magicians and after their concerns—even beyond stage activities.
Torsten Rau still remembers his first magic trick well. It is called ‘catching the cigarette out of the air’ in the jargon. In this trick, the magician presents his empty hand, then grabs the air and—voila—a cigarette appears. That Torsten chose this trick of all things as a six-year-old makes him laugh out loud a good 45 years later. Together with his wife Andrea, who is also a magician, he is sitting in their home in the Hofheim district of Lampertheim—in their living room, which has recently become the office of Germany’s largest magicians’ association. A black curtain hangs behind him serving as a background for some tricks he is about to perform. Magicians’ books are lined up on the shelf next to it. They bear titles such as Zauberkunst (magic) or Magic as a hobby.
Torsten took over the management of the Magischer Zirkel von Deutschland association at the beginning of 2023, officially moving its office to Lampertheim. The association was founded in Hamburg in 1912 and is the most important organisation of magicians in Germany. Around 2,800 members belong to it—among them many amateur magicians like the Rau couple. But even real superstars, such as Siegfried & Roy, were members to the association. It is subdivided into about 80 local clubs organising competitions and magic fairs, maintaining its own specialist library and publishing the Magie magazine.
After all, what is it?
One long thread?
Or a number of short ones?
Or even both at the same time?
Magic determines the life of the couple—as well as their living room furnishings.
They rarely perform together though.
Naturally card tricks are a part of the repertoire.
“I inherited my passion for magic from my father,” Torsten says. He sports a red shirt, black suit trousers and his typical big smile. As his day job he runs a textile company in Bischofsheim, which he also took over from his father who had performed magic tricks as a young man, but gave up his hobby when he became a father. And so Torsten jumped at the chance, when their father gave the older son a magic box for Christmas. “My brother didn’t know what to do with it, so I grabbed it right away.”
It’s not about demonstrating how superb one is. It’s about enchanting people
This marks the beginning of a very typical career. Torsten drops a lot of money on the counter at the magic equipment dealer at first, buys trick after trick and studies the acts thoroughly. He pores over books that explain magic tricks. “But to become good at it, you need the exchange with others,” he says. At first, he discovered that with his father, who revived his former hobby. When Rau senior subsequently joined the association, Torsten also got in touch with other magicians. “This way I found my first teacher.”
The tricks he learnt from him are spectacular: candles disappeared, sparks shot out of his hands and he played with fireballs. Whether he often suffered burns? “Oh yes. Quite often! But you get used to the heat.” When he competed at the German championships in 1987, he even set fire to the box that held his equipment. The fact that today he chooses to perform magic with everyday objects—cards, coins, dice and the like—is, however, down to something else. “The big stage, artist-centred performance, glamorous effects—that’s not really my thing.”
The amateur magician prefers to perform in small groups—at family parties or in cabarets in front of no more than 100 spectators. For him, magic is communication. “The tricks should amaze, of course. I do want them to have the impression that ‘this can’t be!’ But for me, it matters more that I interact with the audience and we have a good time together.” To attain this, it is not so important how skilfully you handle the props. One of his role models is the Swedish magician Lennart Green whose cards fall down all the time. “But what he performs with them is just stunning.”
Andrea Rau, who works at a bank, strongly agrees with her husband. “It’s not about demonstrating how superb one is. It’s about enchanting people.” She came to magic when she was in her twenties. For her performances, she has created an alter ego from the Middle Ages, Mara vom Runensteyn, under whose guise she performs at medieval fairs. The origins of magic, by the way, date back much further. The cups and balls, for example, in which a ball magically moves back and forth between inverted cups, was already known to the Egyptians.
It goes without saying that Andrea and Torsten met while performing magic. Andrea was performing at a competition and asked Torsten, whom she knew fleetingly, to come on stage. It was to remain an exception, because the two of them rarely perform together. But they got married four years later and spent half of their honeymoon at the World Championships of Magic in The Hague. Magic is still a male dominated arena, but this doesn’t bother Andrea. “Even as a child, I preferred playing with cars to dolls, and later I did karate and even sword fighting.”
Torsten estimates that about ten per cent of the members of the association are women. However, the percentage is gradually increasing. Nevertheless, the association has to deal with the widespread problem that young people aren’t joining anymore. “We have the same situation like all other associations. Many young people don’t want to get involved in associations’ work anymore.” As a result, some of the local clubs are ageing. Torsten is member of the Mainz/Wiesbaden club, because he grew up in the Rhine-Main area, while his wife belongs to the club for Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg (Ma-Lu-Hei), whose members regularly perform on stage in the Schatzkistl in Mannheim. However, Torsten and Andrea rarely perform at the moment. The club management, their main jobs and other hobbies keep them too busy.
Torsten hopes that this will change again soon. He has already chosen the next trick he wants to learn: the Chinese ring game, where you link two or more rings together. He plans to perform it in the region’s pedestrian areas, as soon as he gets it right. He has been planning to expand street magic for some time, because “you get very honest reactions on the streets,” he says. “If there’s money in the hat, it was probably good.”
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