14 June 2023

Checking in with Matt DiSero and The Fog Machine of War

We had the opportunity to check in with Matt DiSero and learn more about his recently released book, The Fog Machine of War: Observations, Stories and Advice from the Showbiz Trenches.

As many of you are aware, Matt is a show biz veteran who has accumulated over 30 years of experience and stories about both the entertainment industry and life on the road.

What is your first memory of magic? 

First memory was of my great uncle doing magic. I couldn't have been more than 5. He worked in the side show occasionally and played piano at private gigs. Black sheep of the family. Naturally I was drawn to the dude who was doing card tricks for me. Better than being drawn to Uncle Jimmy the pot dealer. The real thing that got me hooked on magic happened at Morrissey Magic, and that story is in the book, so you'll have to read the story of the crack that got me hooked on magic.

Who inspires you that isn't a magician?

Fran Lebowitz, Peter Hujar, William Gibson, John Wing, William Burroughs, Edward R Murrow, Hunter Thompson and a zillion others.  Worthy of note, I don't see much of their influence in my own work. Ironic. I can be a lazy arse about work sometimes. By that metric I suppose another influence is Garfield. Also I noticed just now that I'm influenced by a lot of older or deceased artists. That's troubling. 

Who from the magic community inspires you?

A lot of people inspire me for a lot of different reasons. Jay Sankey for his ability to create, Steve Valentine for being an obsessive student of the history of magic and one of its greatest performers, David Ben for many of the same reasons and for treating this like an art, though I'm not sure it can be. (Let's start the fight! It's in the book too.) Mostly though, I'm inspired by any magician doing the type of work they want to do, that's OF them and who are still excited to be in this. The juice is performing live. For me, that's where the respect is at.

What prompted you to write this book?

I had no real desire to write a book because WOW I'm lazy... but magicians are often asking me to write one. They seem to like my Facebook posts and think I have something to say. Well, I'll prove them wrong, just you watch. Not sure I have anything to say, but when I thought about it, the idea of putting out a book would silence the constant ask. At the same time donating profits to a magic school in Bolivia absolves me of any guilt from asking for cash for the work. See the goal here is to straddle the constant self loathing while equally promoting this thing. Apathy, it's my sword and shield. Hey, lets also not forget that the published author tag also sure helps on the green card application, which I'm currently in the middle of getting through. Not long until I'm outta this frozen hell hole of Hoth we call Ontario.

What is your favourite anecdote from the book? 

I'm fond of the Magic Castle story, because the first time performing there is super special and I think people ought to read how it feels if they've never been. Mostly though, it's the Monkey story. The whole thing screams show business. If nothing else I was hoping to show people just how crazy this business can be, and that's the coolest thing about it. Even when the money wasn't great, the stories were. It was the best way to grow up. Oh... there's also a ton of swearing in it. Apologies, but I swear a lot. It's a personal failure. Take it up with the editor of this thing.

You're not making a profit from this book.  All proceeds are going to charity.  Tell us about the charity you're supporting.
As charities go, this is a good one. It's a magic school for kids in Bolivia. If you've ever been anywhere in South America you'll notice they have it pretty rough compared to here. It's a good place to try and raise some cash for. To be fair it was Shawn Farquhar who put me on to that school. I always wanted to do something to help kids in magic and Shawn had a connection to the school, so it was a great fit. Magic has given us all so very much and so many crazy adventures. I like the idea of helping out a kid who loves magic who might one day have their own crazy stories. Maybe because we bought some props and helped them along.... hey I'm just a steel town girl on a Saturday night, looking for the fight of her life. In the real time world no one sees me at all, they all say I'm CRAAAAZZYYY... she's a maniac....maniac on the floor.....

[Editor's note:  Great.  Now that Michael Sembello song is stuck in my head.]


Is there anything else you’d like to share about you or The Fog Machine of War with our readers?
I always say this is bathroom reading for magicians. It's not a long book, really not long. I'm saving trees. Short stories, often less than a page at a time. I'm not trying to put out a Ken Weber style work. It's light reading, hopefully, to make you laugh and think about the industry. There's a few pieces in there specifically designed to start some debates, maybe even fights. I was always a fan of Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz, so I sort of patterned the book after that. Naturally my book is nowhere near as good as Fran's. That said, maybe I can build an empire off publishing a single book. Hey, worked for her.


Thank you Matt, for making the time to answer our questions! 

To learn more about The Fog Machine of War and to purchase the book, visit MattDiSero.com/book/

Learn more about Matt at his website MattDiSero.com and follow him on Instagram.






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