Need to hire a street magician to stroll around your event and perform intimate magic? Fascinated by TV magicians like David Blaine and want to see magic done right under your nose?
Mind-blowing card tricks, inexplainable stunts with borrowed objects like keys, watches, paper money, business cards. Want to give your guests an experience that they will remember long into the new year?
It helps when two people are speaking the same language. I don’t mean to complain (I say as I begin a rant) but before David Blaine there was no such thing as ‘street magic’. I mean there WAS, because at the time I was a street magician. I guess I need to explain.
When I graduated college, I knew I wanted to be a professional magician. At the time the standout acts in comedy magic were Harry Anderson ( who some of you may remember from “Night Court” and The World According to Dave”) and Penn and Teller ( who most know as “The Tall Loud One” and the “One That Never Talks”). From reading their profiles, I knew that both of them had spent time performing on the street, for tips.
You can imagine the scene: a busy pedestrian way or a set of stairs in front of an historic building that naturally form rows of seating for tired tourists. A crowd of folks surrounds an oddly dressed fast talker. At regular intervals the crowd erupts with laughter and applause. At the end the performer thanks the crowd and ‘passes the hat’, This was street magic. The emphasis was on comedy and shocking visuals. Harry Anderson finished a card trick by dropping his vintage zoot suit pants to reveal giant polka dot boxers, Penn ‘accidently’ stabled Teller through the center of his hand with a switchblade, The Amazing Johnathan cut his own hand off. Jokes needed to be yelled or at least projected like a Shakespearian actor.
Then suddenly David Blaine’s first TV special was broadcast and everything changed. He didn’t dress in a costume, just jeans and a tee-shirt. He didn’t bother to gather a crowd or tell jokes, he just wandered the streets of New York city and approached people randomly. Who was this guy? He seemed less like a professional performer and more like that guy from Kung Fu ( wow so many 1980’s references in one post!).
I remember my first thought was “Who does that? Walks the street and approaches random groups with the scintillating introductory line “Hey, watch this!”
But I soon realized Blaine was at the avant-garde. He was inventing something new “Street Magic” and the people who responded to him, and watched his tricks weren’t impressed by some random in jeans and a black t-shirt, they were responding to a guy who was walking around with a production team of camera people, lighting people, a sound boom operator and a couple of production assistants there to fetch coffee and keep traffic under control.
So call it street magic if you want, I’ll just call it magic.