He considered performing magic at school, but felt much too shy to do so. Plus, there were other areas to investigate that did not require as many social skills. His father carved wooden sculptures, spun pottery, experimented with film animation, and much more. The man may have been intimidating, demanding and cold, but he placed Tom in context of constant exploration.
Then, in 1981, his father drove him to a nearby village to see a two-hour Folkets Hus (“Folk House”) show by Topper Martyn. Most Genii readers will remember Topper, a popular favorite at international magic conventions for decades, who had much success in the real world, performing in circuses, nightclubs, theaters and even on ice, combining magic, juggling and manic comedy.
Tom says that the show “was a huge eye-opener for me. It was my first experience ever where I felt that ‘anything is possible,’ and it hinted that life didn’t have to be so glum as I had come to believe.” After the show, Tom went around to the stage door to meet the performer. Topper asked, “Do you do magic, too?” Tom meekly replied that he did. Topper warmly said, “Keep it up!” Years later, Tom and Topper became good friends. Eventually, he told Topper that he was the reason for his obsession with magic. Topper laughed and teased, “Oh, no—have I destroyed another young man’s life?!” Of course, for Tom it was exactly the opposite.
Buoyed by Topper’s example and encouragement, Tom summoned up the courage to start performing magic for actual audiences. He developed a twenty-minute act, using common articles such as rope and handkerchiefs. The magic itself was not unusual, but it featured personalized patter that made it well received. For his first paid show he got fifty kronor (close to five dollars).