Thanks for the post. I just bought a VIP to Nothing to Hide yesterday. Now I'm looking forward to it even more!
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
In magic, Guimarães pushed himself toward the impossible. What if, for instance, a volunteer signed a blank white card, and then it eventually morphed into a regular playing card — the same card that a volunteer had named earlier?
He somehow created such a routine, and in Stockholm in 2006, at age 23, he won first place in the close-up card category at the FISM World Championships of Magic. Some performers backstage were so stunned, they thought the volunteer was a stooge. To convince the panel he hadn't cheated, Guimarães swore a judge to secrecy and explained how it was done. He also re-created the trick by using a volunteer they picked.
"I was unknown in the magic community and, one day to another, I became known," he says.
Offers for gigs poured in. He released DVDs of his work.
DelGaudio grew up in a far different world: Littleton and Colorado Springs, Colo., raised by a single mom, a lesbian firefighter.
"It was a complicated childhood," he says. "She got into a nasty separation from her partner, there was alcohol and it was ugly. [Magic] was an escape path in a lot of ways. It was like, I'd go to my room and shuffle."
He dropped out of high school so he could practice with his cards for 15 hours a day.
DelGaudio's skill at cards became unparalleled. Many magicians can do second deals (dealing the second card in the pack, instead of the top card) and bottom deals. DelGaudio mastered the very rare skill of the center deal — dealing a particular card from the middle — when he was 14.
Since he was a young magician, he's cultivated an air of mystery. At one point, when L.A. artist Glenn Kaino wanted to learn about magic, people told him he should meet DelGaudio. But all he could find online was a message-board post asking, "Who is Derek DelGaudio?" "I'm, like, thinking the same thing," he recalls. "Derek was a very elusive figure."
Self-promotion made DelGaudio uncomfortable. He felt many magicians' reputations outstripped their abilities. "I want what people said about me to be real," he says. (He now has a website and Twitter feed, and there are a couple articles on him in magic journals and video clips from a show he did on Spanish television — but not much more.)
He's suffered multiple crises of confidence in his chosen profession. He's always enjoyed "magical thinking" — his childhood idols were Buster Keaton and Willy Wonka — but he's often uncomfortable with being a magician.
One day, around age 17, he saw one of his magician heroes do a corporate gig in a hotel suite. He found it inspiring but then watched as the audience left, gabbing about how they thought it was done. To them, it was just tricks — nothing more. "I was devastated," he says. "This is one of the best in the world, and this is how people leave his show. What chance do I have? Why bother?"
So DelGaudio left magic, moving to L.A. to study theater at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. But three years later he was offered a magic gig, and he needed the money. So he did one, then another and another.
Eventually he met Guimarães, who came to the Castle for a much-anticipated show after his FISM win. DelGaudio introduced himself afterward and they struck up a friendship. When Guimarães was in the process of moving to L.A., he slept on DelGaudio's couch for three months.
DelGaudio found his new friend's passion inspiring.
"It radiated from him — he loves doing what he does. And I don't like doing what I do," DelGaudio recalls thinking. "I don't think what I do has any value."
Why do we think of magic as a guy pulling rabbits out of hats at birthday parties?
"Because it is," DelGaudio says. "Magic suffers from the people who do magic."
Laypeople know the famous magicians — the David Copperfields, the Criss Angels. But in the trenches, artist Kaino says, "Magic is like a handful of professionals in a sea of hobbyists. It's a lot of people who are just OK. You could take every good magician and fit them into one gallery. You couldn't do that with every good artist. There are hundreds and hundreds."
People can buy tricks that can work with just a little practice. "It's so easy to get away with doing shitty magic," explains John Lovick, an Academy trustee and a friend of the duo's. "Teller [has] explained this: Even a crappy miracle is still a miracle."
Harris is more diplomatic. "The majority of it is very good but unfortunately often rote," he says. "Not to laypeople who don't see magic, but rote to other magicians who study magic. You find that you're more impressed by their sequencing of tricks, by their patter, more than amazed and wowed by the effect itself."
The Magic Castle, the center of L.A.'s magic scene, is technically a private club, where visitors must abide by a formal dress code. Magicians audition to be members and can bring guests, although civilians are permitted some levels of membership.
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