Edinburgh Fringe: Laura London interview

Laura London is a magician who travels the world with just a deck of playing cards. Her passion for the secretive world of sleight of hand artists and crooked gamblers led her to make some extraordinary discoveries. CHEAT reveals the story of Geraldine Hartmann, a card cheat from the 1920s. Geraldine’s love affair with poker, and the cheating techniques she used to part the suckers from their money, are told through the entries in her personal journal. AAA caught with Laura for a chat earlier this week.

How has your Fringe been so far?

This is my first fringe and it has been an incredible journey. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve met the most wonderful people and seen some amazing (and not so amazing) shows. There is nowhere on earth like the Edinburgh Fringe – you have to be part of it to believe it.

Tell us about the show you’re in…

My show is called Laura London’s CHEAT. It’s about a female cardsharp from the 1920s called Geraldine Hartmann. Geraldine swindled London’s rich socialites out of money by using her sleight-of-hand skills, her incredible memory and by using her ability to read people. I tell her story whilst performing and sharing some of her card cheating secrets discovered from her personal journal.

What’s the audience reaction been like?

CHEAT is intimate. I show close-up card magic that can be seen not only by the spectators up close and personal but also by a camera and projector, so no one misses a thing. The reactions have been great.

Where did you learn to do magic?

I have been performing magic professionally for 15 years and have been lucky to have many mentors and friends who have helped me along the way. I also create magic that has been sold to magicians. I always suggest to anyone who wants to learn magic to join magic clubs, make friends, go online and read great books!

Was there a magician who influenced you growing up?

Many magicians have inspired me through the years. When I was younger it would be people like David Blaine, as he made close-up magic cool and accessible. He showed us that a magician didn’t need to be a man in a tophat and tails. I now only perform with playing cards and my influences in that area of magic are people like Ricky Jay, Guy Hollingworth and Marlo.

Can anyone learn to do magic tricks?

I always say it can take a minute to learn a trick but it can take a lifetime to perform it well.

Are there any other shows on this year’s Fringe you’d recommend?

I highly recommend Charlie Caper and Malin’s Minor Miracles at Voodoo Rooms, 5.15pm.

What’s on your hit-list to see?

As it’s coming to the end of the Fringe I have seen most of the shows I had wanted to see. I am really hoping to strike it lucky with a ticket to see the Royal Tattoo before I leave, though.

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

I haven’t taken a day off in 21 days! However, after my show, I like to catch up with friends, see shows, write and soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful (but rainy) city.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

Apart from the Voodoo Rooms, which I love and perform in, I have become quite taken by The Whiski Room’s on North Bank Street.

 What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen this year?

I live on the Royal Mile, so I see and hear strange things outside my window every day!

 Sell your show in no more than ten words….

Hustlers and Swindlers! Want to know how to cheat at cards?

Laura London: CHEAT, Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68), 2.35pm, free, until 29 August, www.edfringe.com

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