Steve Cohen is a genius. I think a lot about his work. Mark Levy is one of the smartest people in magic and I am sure a lot of Steve's success is due to their fruitful collaboration.
Genii magazine had a great profile on Steve Cohen about ten years ago (September 2008). The recent booklet from Vanishing Inc called Evergreen by Steve Cohen is well worth checking out as well.
By the way - you can read the Genii article here:https://www.chambermagic.com/wp-content ... t-08-b.pdf
One brilliant thing that Steve does is hire a model to hand out the programmes when spectators first arrive at his show. That is such a deeply brilliant idea. Nothing sets the tone of an event better than a beautiful person handing you your programme. It reminds me of how David Copperfield would use models in his audience as plants for when he wants to use an audience member for a trick in one of his TV specials.
This promo on Youtube does a good job of setting out the brand that Steve is communicating with his magic.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzCHZBp56zE
Very smart guy. Ricky Jay is the only other magician I have seen who was this smart at figuring out exactly what image he wanted to communicate to his audience.
The three paths in modern magic are defined by Robert Houdin, Harry Houdini and Johann Hofzinser.
Robert Houdin was a genius innovator who wanted to break new ground in magic. The modern heirs to Houdin are David Copperfield, Penn & Teller and Derren Brown.
Harry Houdini was the king of spectacle. You can see his influence in the work of David Blaine.
Hofzinser was a master of marketing. Sure he was a genius of card magic, but more importantly he understood how to package that entertainment as a high class intellectual artform. You saw this influence continue with Nate Leipzig and Max Malini. And it continued in the modern era with Ricky Jay and Steve Cohen.
Magic offers many different qualities to an audience. And the smart magicians focus on a single aspect and make that their defining goal. You will learn more about the real secrets of magic by studying the work of Steve Cohen than from just about any other source.
Once the spectators forget the tricks you perform what actually remains? This was the question that Derren Brown opened with in his book Absolute Magic. What remains once the audience forgets what you did?
Controlling how your audience answers that question is the most important trick of all.