Sebastian Midtvage has it all. He has the stage presence, the looks, the charming smile, and the ability to make the hardest sleight of hand look effortless. And I hated him for that. Why should someone younger than me be so much better than me?

Sebastian and I met years ago at the Daytona Festival of Magic and we instantly hit it off. Within hours we had already created a card control that is just unbelievably deceptive. Well, he created it, I just helped fine-tune it. That became the ongoing relationship between us: we created magic and fine tuned it together.

Sebastian was obsessed with the Hofzinser plot. It is a very old card magic “story” where the 4 aces systematically found selected cards or a card. I’ll never forget the first time he showed me one of his versions at a magic lecture we were both attending. I remember thinking to myself, “he can’t be serious … does he think this is good?” It was really bad. I was used to Sebastian showing me miracles that would blow my mind and now he was showing me this thing he called a “trick”. I told him to keep working on it. I didn’t even have a constructive criticism for the routine.

We went our separate ways and I didn’t see Sebastian for a few months. By the time we met up again he said he had made some improvements to the routines. In his new routine the aces don’t simply find my card, but the ace corresponding with the suit transforms into my card. I knew there was sleight of hand happening, I just didn’t know when or where. He then said he created another routine. It blew my mind as well! The aces found my card and then turned into a matching four of a kind while the deck was on the table. I didn’t know where the aces went! He then proceeded to do two more routines, each one getting more and more ludicrous. It was pretty clear to me that Sebastian took my critiques to heart and he really worked on his routine.

I had never seen such well-polished routines all following one idea. The idea to record all this work just came naturally. What’s great about this project is that it takes one routine, the Hofzinser plot, and it creates four new routines, each one just as unique as the other. Each trick builds on the last routine producing an unbelievable effect. We decided, obviously, that Sebastian needed to perfect these performances before we move forward. We were not about to produce a sub-par product.

If you know Sebastian, you’ll know he is obsessive over getting something right. I can only imagine that he sat alone in his room for hours on end into the night going over every little detail. He’s not much of a sleeper, he’d prefer to do magic over sleeping. It took him no time at all to get these routines performance ready.

We started brainstorming name ideas and I truly wish we wrote down the awful names we came up with at the time. They were embarrassingly bad but you can’t get to the good ideas without getting all the bad ones out of the way. The Hofzinser Anthology was eventually decided upon. Anthology has a nice, but not too pretentious, feel to it. Right about this time is when The Poker Test started giving me tons of problems and I had to take care of that (see here) and The Hofzinser Anthology was on hold for the time being.

It wasn’t until much later that I got past The Poker Test issues and was able to start filming with Sebastian, which resulted in a one year ban at all Universal Studios locations for yours truly. Be on the lookout for Part 2 to find out how and why.

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