The Insider | Yigal Mesika
By Damian Jennings - Monday, March 14, 2022
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In a rare interview, Yigal Meskia shares with us stories about his start in magic, how he got into Loops, and incredibly useful tips about thread work.
For more information about his work, check out https://yigalmesika.com
Listen the the audio above, or watch the video below!
The Insider: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of The Insider, brought to you, and this is going to sound really weird, but it's brought to you by Vanishing Inc. I know, just for a change. My guest today moves things and makes them float. And he's done that for a jolly, jolly long time. It's Yigal Mesika. Yigal, how are you this afternoon?
Yigal Mesika: Hey, I'm good, thank you. How's it going Damian?
The Insider: Very good. But it's a quick show. There is no time for pleasantries. What's your magic origin story? You've got 27 seconds.
Yigal Mesika: Well, I got into magic when I was 10 years old. My mom took me to a variety show and all of the performers, I forgot who they are, or what they do, but one guy just got into my mind. He was a magician. And when I seen it when I was a boy, I thought this is real. Didn't know what's magic tricks. And that kind of inspired me. When I seen it, I felt like, "Wow, life has so much to offer." It just showed me a sense of wonder.
The Insider: Yeah. Yeah.
Yigal Mesika: And I thought this guy can do everything possible.
The Insider: Do you remember anything that he did?
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. The first things that really got me, he produced doves. I forgot about that section. But in the end he vanish all the doves. He says, "I'm going to give you the doves as a gift." So he covered the cage with the fabric and he hold the cage with the dove and toss it away. And they all gone and I thought, "Wow, this is fascinating."
The Insider: Wow, cool.
Yigal Mesika: And that's got me.
The Insider: That's really cool that you remember the specifics.
Yigal Mesika: And you know what? The funny thing, about a year later, I find out that this magician was living in my neighborhood, and he had a warehouse where he built all the magics. And he asked my friends and me to help him out one day. And as we help him out and we got one magic trick, each one and I tried it in school, everybody loved it. And I became his apprentice. And I came every day after school to help him crafting magic and learning about the process, how to invent and how to develop and how to produce. And that's what I did all my childhood.
The Insider: Oh man. That's so cool. The guy that inspired you, you ended up learning from. That's amazing and rare.
Yigal Mesika: And he was the most famous magician in Israel. His name is Faust, and he was one of the pioneers, he has all kind of illusions and that's what he did for a living. And as a boy, I looked him up and I felt like, "Wow, you can do living out of being a magician. And that's what inspired me.
The Insider: That's so cool. Let's talk about the art of levitation, how and why did you get into it? Who inspired you to follow that path?
Yigal Mesika: That's a great question. The first things I seen was a Finn Jon video when I was about 14 and my English, I didn't know even how to say good morning or good evening. I was very young and my English was broken. And when I seen his video, he explained how to do the floating bill, and different things. But at that time, magic was secretive. So he didn't teach even with a rubber band or something visible, so you can see it, and the video didn't come with Loops, so I didn't have the Loops. But as I'm watching this, I felt like the explanation is impressive as the magic.
Yigal Mesika: And I didn't know how it's done, but a friend of mine had one package of Loops and he has one last loop. And when I went to his house and he showed me that I was very fascinated and when I hold it and it just snap out of my hand, I felt so terribly sorry. And I find a way how to make Loops myself because I always, since I was a boy, I was developing and making those things and what happened, I heard that it's possible to get it out of stocking from the ladies. So I took my mom's stocking and I start to break it apart, start taking strings. And then I tie it some way and started this way and that way I play with it all day long till I found a way to make one loop. Then as I'm playing with that...
The Insider: Hang on. That was one day? You figured out that...
Yigal Mesika: Yeah, it took time. I told my friend, "Hey, don't worry. I'll get you that loop that I broke, I will get it back to you." So I make long story short when I got into the stocking and I got one loop and I made it and I came a week later to him and I get him bunch of Loops and he loved it. He was so surprised and so amazed. And he was very amazed how I being able to tie it to make a loop, but out of his amazement and other friends, amazement, I felt like, "Wow, I'm into something that I don't even know I knew it.
The Insider: You've got something.
Yigal Mesika: But to me it was simple, to me it was, "What's the big deal?" And then as I see the reactions, I got more into that. And then I start to playing with it all day long, moving forks and spoons, and start to play with the anti pack and different vibrations because I have nobody to teach me. So I had to come up with my own ideas. And as I come into my own ideas...
The Insider: What age was this?
Yigal Mesika: I was 14 years old. Only few years ago.
The Insider: Last week. Yeah.
Yigal Mesika: So long. Can't believe it. Almost 30 years... Yeah, more than 30 years ago.
The Insider: So you are quite isolated then, in Israel and there was nobody else doing that kind of work? Thread work.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. Magic was very popular in a way of the stage magic. Everybody did boxes and illusions, doves was very popular, dove act. And I was as a boy doing classic magic. All the flowers and the silks and producing different things. And that was things that I love to do. But the thread work was just the side daily things you can do for audiences and have fun just as impromptu effects. And as I'm doing that, and I realize people love that and I get so much good reactions and that's got me one idea, spark another idea. And that's got me involved into doing close up, very up close magic. That seemed as real, as real magic. And as I go over the years, I realize, "Wow, it's not that I had a vision since I was a boy. And I was like, okay, let's do that." It's one idea, spark another idea. And then you find yourself finding a genre that I never thought about.
The Insider: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I vividly, my uncle got me into magic and got me Royal road when I was 11. So very long time ago. But when I was about 15, at one Christmas gathering, he floated a bill for me. And I'd never seen anything like it. Now I know that he'd anchored the thread to the deck and put the deck down and the thread was going there, but at the time I was like, "Well, there's a thread." And then he did this. I was like, "There's no thread." And so I'm looking round and round like this and it's floating. And it felt the closest, to 15 year old me, to real magic as anything I'd ever experienced. Why do you think it is that it hits that hard? That it still gives me goose bumps thinking about that memory now, a long time ago. So why do you think levitation resonates and hits so hard with ordinary people?
Yigal Mesika: I think there is many answers to that, but to try to make it simple, it's so visually strong and it fits all languages. You can speak Chinese or Hebrew or English and you can still enjoy the visual. You're breaking the law of physics. When you see something like that, that is completely break all the law of physics. And it's so amazing that you float something and you show that there's no way that something attached to it. And it's create that moment that you experience something new that you never seen before. And it hits so visually strong and it's trade impossible. As a magician we create the impossible. And that's what it is.
The Insider: There you go.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah.
The Insider: Tell us about the history of Loops. So Finn Jon was the first? So how did it go from that to where we are now?
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. Finn Jon is the inventor of Loops. I own a big credit for come up with this brilliant idea. And when I was young, I come up with my own ideas, how to make the Loops with better quality, with better handling, with different effects. And years later, I'd been going to conventions and show it to magicians. And they said to me, "If you want to make this popular, you need to buy permission from Finn Jon. And once you buy the permission, that would be great. You can sell it worldwide and you can make great money and make magician using these amazing things." And I thought, "Wow, this is a great idea. I'll give it a try." So I find out that he has an agent. So I contact his agent and we talked and he says, "Okay, we can talk more about this."
Yigal Mesika: And when I talk to them about the pricing and they've been willing to sell the rights to promote this because they love what I do. And they felt I'm really passionate and very young and Finn was very busy with doing performing and shows and his mind wasn't into a product development. He didn't have the time and the resources, and that wasn't his passion. So he was willing to sell me the rights to get exclusive rights worldwide and to start manufacture that and sell it to magicians. So I felt very fortunate to get the rights. And I remember after I got the rights and we signed the contract, I was young. I was 21 years old. So we went to a restaurant in Paris and we had a great time. And after we signed the contract and everything, I showed him some magic and everything I showed him was with Loops. And then he goes like, "Oh my God, don't tell me you did it with Loops now." And I'm like, that's all I've been using is Loops. And he's like...
The Insider: So hang on, you fooled the creator of Loops.
Yigal Mesika: No, no, it wasn't Finn Jon, it was his agent.
The Insider: By using Loops.
Yigal Mesika: It was his agent.
The Insider: Ah, ah, okay.
Yigal Mesika: He was really shocked that the whole things he can do with Loops, moving different heavy objects and the haunted deck and really with this invisible strength, so invisible, you can move heavy object and do amazing things. And he was like, "Wow, I couldn't believe that you can do all those things." So that was exciting, that he give me the green light to share these ideas, and being amazed and appreciate it as well.
The Insider: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think probably everybody listening to this and magicians all around the world have tried out, have played with your Loops, from professionals to hobbyists, TV work all around the world, down to somebody's house, doing a haunted deck at the end of the night. How does it feel to have produced something so insanely popular that has lasted the test of time? What does that feel like?
Yigal Mesika: That's a good question. To be honest, I start doing it since I was a boy, and when I was 21, I start selling it. So it was very exciting first to get the permission from someone that it was like my hero, when I watch Finn Jon, he was the godfather of invisible thread. And I loved with the shared and then being part of that and allow to share magic of magicians, worldwide and see their appreciations. It's always make me feel great. And I feel grateful and blessed to be part of this journey. It's difficult to describe in a word how happy I am with this. But it's allowing me also with time to explore different ideas and to expand on that field.
The Insider: Different ideas? Different ideas... This is going to be really good for audio listeners, different ideas like this little chap here, your Spider Pen X. Now it is slim, it's elegant. And it's very clever.
Yigal Mesika: Thank you.
The Insider: Can you talk us through the journey from the original Spider Pen? When did that come out? I was young.
Yigal Mesika: That came out in 2004, 2005.
The Insider: 2004, right. Okay. So talk us through the journey from that one in 2004 to this one here now.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. So I will go a little bit back so people can get a sense of history. Before the spider pen, was something called ITR, invisible thread reel, which been very popular and every magician has one and I had one as well when I was young, when I was about 15, 16, I was exploring with this idea and I was performing a lot. And I had technical difficulties when the thread was very visible and it's breaking, and it's a nightmare to fix it. But overall, the concept was great. So with the heroes, I always thought, "Wouldn't it be great if it something more invisible or something more easy, and if it breaks you can fix it quickly." And so on and on and on.
Yigal Mesika: And when I got into product development and working with threads, I'd been playing one day with invisible thread reel that was exist on something on the market. And then I said, "Wouldn't it be great if it would be electronics." So as I'm playing with one idea, I think it was, I tried to fit it into a cylinder. Okay. And then the cylinder got smaller and when it got smaller, I realized, "Wow, this is looks great." Very small, but what what would I do with that? How can I make the object more like a daily object that people can...
The Insider: Organic.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. Organic. And then I said, "Oh, this looked like a cap, like a cap of a pen." So let's put a clip to it...
The Insider: Was that it? Was that the moment?
Yigal Mesika: So I put the clip to it and then I got the pen and I couldn't push the pen inside. So I said, "How can I push the pen inside the cap?" And then I remember when I was a boy, when I had a costume with a kind of a fighter or something, and I had a knife, that the knife was springy. So I made the pen kind of springy. So when you push it into the cap, make long story short. I came up with the first variation and I sold it to magicians and the reaction was phenomenal and everybody loved it. And I realized that I'm up to something. And as I'm selling many, I start to develop it and get it better and better and better. And for 15 years or more, it's been always refinement, refinement in terms of the quality, in terms of the performance, in terms of the effects, all of those years allow me to do that.
The Insider: Right.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. And the new one is all like completely different level.
The Insider: It really is because one of the...
Yigal Mesika: I felt I went a little bit...
The Insider: With nothing but love, the first one ate batteries like I eat chocolate and I'd forget to turn it off. And I come back and it'd be like, "Oh man, I just wanted to do it. And now, there's no batteries. And I haven't got any of the stupid little batteries that you needed." Was it difficult to solve that problem with this? Were you sat there thinking, how can I fix the battery problem?
Yigal Mesika: Yeah, that was... Oh, wow. That was many sleepless nights, years of development to make this happening because the new one has a microchip that knows when you... It has no switches. So you cannot forget or need to remember any click on button like the old one. The old one is electronic. The new one is digital. It doesn't have any button, doesn't have any switches. You pull the thread, it's activate the motor. It give you the old retractions. It's almost like you have a big loop or ITR, but works
The Insider: Like a loop.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. You can pull up to 40 feet. And when it comes back, it shuts off by itself. You don't have to click on anything. So doing the software, doing the electronics, doing the slickness of the pen, doing the whole product development, the effects, everything, takes years of refinement and exploring so many ideas and prototypes to get it where it is. I could do something like the iPhone and every year selling another type of iPhone, but I'm not there to get the magician money. Yeah, of course I'm happy to make more profit. But at the same time, I want to give the best of the best quality. Something that wasn't there for me when I was a boy. When I was a boy, I seen a lot of advertising that was false advertising that me as a magician, that making products, when I was a boy, I did those magic for myself because my parents couldn't buy me any magic because we didn't know if there was any magic shop.
Yigal Mesika: And so I had to explore and develop those magic for myself out of necessity. So when I start to develop those things, I realized what's good quality, what's a bad quality. And when I bought something and I have to spend $200 or $300, that wasn't exactly what the marketing said it is, it was very disappointing. So when I start making magic, I didn't want people to feel that experience. I wanted to be so happy that when they get my product, they have three months guarantee. If they don't like it, for any reason, they get the money back. No question asked. That's my policy for the last seven years.
The Insider: It's the confidence that you have in what you're putting out in the market.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. I'm doing it for the last seven years. On the website, there is a statement. You can buy the products worldwide, any shop. If you are not happy for any reason, you get the money back. No question asked. And I want people to even buy two of them, have one that use all the time and another one backup just in case you lost one. And it's a great feeling. From all that seven years, I get only one return. Only one return in seven years.
The Insider: That's testament to the quality of the product you put out. Isn't it really? That's amazing. As I've got you, can we get into some specifics about thread? What do you think are some common mistakes that people make when working with thread, initially?
Yigal Mesika: I think the number one mistake that people do, they float an object and they forget... It's difficult to explain, but I see two type of magicians, someone who floated something, and it seems like really happening for real, is really floating it. And you enjoy it as a audience and you feel like, "Wow, this is so amazing." You don't want to even know how it's done. You just enjoy that real magic. And then I see another type of magicians that doing the same effect with the same hinder link, with the same two link. But you know there is something, you know there is a thread or there is something and you feel like, "Eh, this is a trick." And the big difference is it's almost like the magician that doing it the best is the one who forgetting the thread and focusing on the magic. So the thread is not there.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah, you can see it. You have to act like it's not there to your facial expressions, to your body expression, everything you have to communicate that it's really floating. And once you signal that people start to telegraph that kind of back and forth bouncing kind of telecommunication. And then they feel like this is really happening. But if you look like you look this way and that way on the string and you throw it and you start to act that way, it just doesn't look the same.
The Insider: Game over.
Yigal Mesika: So the number one is to forget the thread.
The Insider: Yeah. So you believe yourself that it's really happening.
Yigal Mesika: To forget that completely, I know it's difficult, kind of to trick yourself, but you're doing it for a purpose of entertaining. It's not like you saying, "Oh, look at me. I have a supernatural power and now I can heal you." It's not that. We're doing it for just enjoyment and pleasure, to create a sense of wonder.
The Insider: Of course.
Yigal Mesika: So I think it's okay to lie to ourself, to see that it's really floating. And it's amazing for one second or two seconds and create that special moment.
The Insider: For somebody new to thread, that's listening to this, how do you work out or know whether the lighting environment is appropriate for you to do that sort of work?
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. I think it depends on the apparatus. If you use Loops, it's safer than using other apparatus. Spider pen has the finest invisible thread. It fits almost every surrounding of lights, but sometimes there is a light that reflect, and it has a lot of reflection. Flower scent is great because it has that diffusion. So it's more deemed. So when I go to a room, I look, I see the light and when I pull the string, I see if it has a lot of reflection or not, if it has a reflection...
The Insider: So you actually do a little test.
Yigal Mesika: Of course. Yeah.
The Insider: Say it's a loop. You'll do a little test and look around, check the environment and then you'll know where to position yourself.
Yigal Mesika: Absolutely. Yeah. There is some different rules and ideas that you can use that can help you diffuse the invisible thread, make it more invisible. In a way that let's say, if use Loops, you can use a shirt that has some diffusion, like it's texture.
The Insider: Like a patterned shirt?
Yigal Mesika: Yes, exactly. So that's diffuse, the light from not seeing the thread or sometimes if I move an object, I will do it on the floor because usually the floor has a lot of distraction, is not smooth. So I will do it on the floor. If I move the glasses or I move the fork or I do the haunted deck, usually don't do it down the floor. But with lighting, my number one rule, stay five feet away from the light. If the light above stay five feet, either forward or backwards from the light. If the light is go above the head, is not good because it's reflect on the thread. But if you stay five feet backwards or forward, you are in a better stage.
The Insider: Perfect. That's a fantastic tip. When you are out at the bar or friends for the dinner or something, what's your go to, what's your favorite thing to do?
Yigal Mesika: That's a tough question. I have few. I have bunch.
The Insider: You must have one that you do more than others, Yigal.
Yigal Mesika: I like to start with something that suits the moment or the environment. Let's say if someone, they ask me, "Hey, can you hand me this napkin please?" So I'll say, "Hey, can I show you something with that napkin?" And then I would do something with the napkin. And it seems like it's up and out of the blue. And it's not staged. It's not like, "Let me show you something." And if someone that hold these glasses in his hand and look at them and I'll say, "Hey, can I borrow the glasses, I want to show you something special." And then I will do the things with the glasses and go like, "Oh my God," he will know that I wasn't prepared. I just did it spontaneously.
The Insider: Yeah. And so you will jump off whatever's happening in the environment.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. I like to find that moment that give me the right start. But if I'm up there to do magic, like stalling magic or enjoy, and being as a performer, I even sometimes like to start that too, like to borrow something that they have in their hands, or just to grab a pen and say, "Hey, can you please hold that pen? Let me show something interesting that you never seen before." And then I will get into it, build up the presentation, and then move the pen out of their hand or do something that go like, "Wow, this is amazing." And segue into something else.
The Insider: Perfect.
Yigal Mesika: But I don't have a trick that I don't like. If I don't like it, I wouldn't do it.
The Insider: Fair enough. Fair enough. Ridiculous question, really. Oh, Yigal, what excites you about magic today? Apart from obviously your own product?
Yigal Mesika: What's excites me. Well, I see a lot of YouTube's videos about many ladies that when I grew up, I haven't seen any lady magicians. And now I see this ladies doing fascinating, they have such an amazing slight of hands and good presentations. And I feel like the generation of magic should have both ladies and guys doing magic.
The Insider: I completely agree.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. It's cool to see different people styling. I feel like the young generation have more appealing of something more modern, more fit with time. When, I started magic, it was all tuxedo, it was black and white, it was the flowers and the silks. And all of this kind of gone. And I feel like we are getting into the zone of using daily objects and using things that people are familiar with. And it's not some alien objects.
The Insider: Sort of weird...
Yigal Mesika: And it's great. Because there's a lot of amazing young magicians that doing those things, that seems so real, that the audience appreciated and that's excite me to see that generation moving forward in that style.
The Insider: Absolutely. I completely agree. As the father of a seven year old little girl who's into magic, I completely agree. What's next? Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now?
Yigal Mesika: Oh that's a tough one.
The Insider: Or is it all top secret? No, It's just you and me. No one else is listening. It's just us Yigal. What's next?
Yigal Mesika: Wow. I'm working something new that will hit the market hopefully in a couple months. But I can say that it's not related to invisible thread work. Yeah.
The Insider: Ooh, there's a scoop.
Yigal Mesika: Yeah. Something new, but I think in a way it has some kind of, it's difficult to say without giving too much, It has something that related in a way to threads, but it's not invisible thread, but it's really good. I feel like this is going to be appreciated with a lot of magician because it's a classic item. That's innovations on a classic item that been done, but in a way that it's all new again. Yeah. And I can't wait to put it up.
The Insider: What a bomb shell to end on Yigal, we always finish the show with four quick fire questions. Are you ready?
Yigal Mesika: Sure.
The Insider: Favorite pizza topping?
Yigal Mesika: Mushrooms.
The Insider: Favorite person or people who make music?
Yigal Mesika: Hmm. Peter Gabriel or Coldplay.
The Insider: Favorite movie?
Yigal Mesika: Hmm. True Romance.
The Insider: That's a good film. And finally, who would you rather fight? One massive Andi Gladwin or a hundred tiny Joshua Jays.
Yigal Mesika: You know the answer. The first one. Yeah.
The Insider: Yigal, thank you so much for giving us so much of your time and sharing such valuable information with our listeners.
Yigal Mesika: Oh, thank you, Damian, for allowing me to share the knowledge with your magician viewers. It was an honor and I hope we can talk again soon.
The Insider: You take care. Lovely to see you.
Yigal Mesika: Awesome. Cheers. Thank you.
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