You’re a busy and influential performer. Why did you decide to take on producing this year’s Salute to Magic?
The Salute is an annual show that I’ve been going to every year since I was a kid. At that time there weren’t many other magic shows in New York at all, so it was a big deal, and I looked forward to it every year. I feel like there are still kids out there just like me all those years ago who want to see magic and be inspired by it. I wanted to put together a show that would appeal to and captivate this next generation of magic lovers. The acts we have booked this year are great for an audience of any age, but I think in particular they bring a contemporary approach and an upbeat energy.
What can you tell me about the acts you’ve booked in the show?
They have one thing in common. They’re all my friends. But I am friends with some great magicians. These are folks who I respect immensely as performers. I have seen them perform their acts many times and I know they kill 100% of the time, and if you put them all together in one show, it’s going to be a very, very powerful show.
Krystyn will be performing for the first time in New York City at this show. She started as what’s called a Junior in the Magic Castle’s Junior program. She was in a movie called Make Believe about young magicians, and she was in Criss Angel’s show, BeLIEve, in Las Vegas and then he sent her on the road with his touring show, The Supernaturalists. Krystyn's repertoire has included everything from a great version of the Linking Rings to a spectacular suspended straight jacket escape. In our show she's going to delve into the realm of mentalism. She's also going to M. C. the show with me, so we’re both going to host the show together, which in and of itself is a unique thing for a magic show, so that’s going to be fun. She’s an old friend of mine and when we get together, we make each other laugh hard, and I’m sure we’re going to do the same thing on stage. She’s also going to do an act of her own in the show.
Most comedy magicians are not as funny as a comedian and not as magical as a magician, but there are two comedy magicians in the show, Harrison Greenbaum and Mike Bent, who are both full time comedians, who both do standup comedy without magic, which means they’re very, very funny, but you throw in the great magic that they do and it makes it something very unique.
Harrison Greenbaum is going to just destroy. One of the fun things about his show is that he’s great at improvising with audience members, and he does a lot of interaction with the audience. Every show is different because you never know who he’s going to choose, what they’re going to say, and how he’s going to make that funny. Harrison has gotten a lot of attention lately through his appearances on America’s Got Talent and Last Comic Standing as well as playing many club dates and magic conventions all across the U. S.
This is an accomplished group of performers who already have made a mark, but many of them are on their way up and are going to be much more famous than they are now. People are going to know their names, all over the country. Because they are friends of mine, they are working for less than their regular fee. They’re doing me a favor by doing that. This gives people a chance to see really strong magic, right here in town.
Bob Little is a legend in magic. He has been involved in magic since the 1950s. He is a dealer. So he travels to about 30 conventions each year selling his products. But while he has been doing all this he has been helping young magicians and guiding them through their careers. He helps them with their acts, makes them better magicians. Anyone who has ever been to a magic convention knows Bob, because Bob is always there!
The Magician of the Year is the Parent Assembly’s award for someone who has made an impact in the art of magic and has helped keep magic alive and move it forward. Bob ticks off all those boxes.
You’re known as a children’s magician performing as Silly Billy. That’s your career, anyway, as a professional. You obviously have a love for all kinds of magic, right?
Yes, yes. I always think that my job is to perform magic for children, but my hobby is every other kind of magic. Card tricks, closeup magic. Some people think that kids magicians well, maybe, aren’t real magicians. But I didn’t become a children’s magician until I was in my late 20s. Until then, between age 8 and 28, I was studying all kinds of magic.
Some of the acts, I know, you came across originally at various magic conventions. I know that at these events you market your own materials and you do lectures, so there’s a professional side to it. What do they represent to you beyond just a professional opportunity.
I go to conventions, because I get paid to go to conventions to deliver my lecture and to perform, but I love magic conventions. There’s really no place I’d rather be. Most of my friends are magicians and most of them live all over the world, and when I go to a magic convention I get to see my friends, but I also get to see magic acts that people are finding and sharing, acts that I would never get to see if I never left New York City.
I love my friends in magic and I love hearing other magicians lecture about their focus in magic. Magic conventions also have a Dealer Room where all the magic sellers have their tables. You get to see all the new products that are coming out. You get to see people perform them and demonstrate them. During the day there are also lectures by top magicians, teaching their kind of magic, their philosophy of magic. And then at night there are magic shows. That’s a perfect day for me.
Why should people see magic at all?
Magic is about creating miracles, about making the impossible possible. It has been around for centuries and I think always will be. Magic is not about detaching from reality, but possibly letting go of it just briefly. I think that sometimes we all need to let ourselves imagine another world where anything is possible.