In Warnemunde, Germany, as in many port cities, seagulls are experts at snatching food from unsuspecting tourists. I’ve personally seen them dive in and pick a herring out from between a sandwich bun just as a woman was about to take a bite!
I wanted to catch their thievery in slow motion on video, so I enlisted guitarist Greg Reiter to film me while I casually held their favorite – ice cream – and we didn’t have to wait long! In the video, you can see two gulls circle around behind me, then the first gull swoops in, the second gull cleans up, and the gang below takes care of any crumbs!
I’m sitting upstairs in the veranda restaurant, on board Regent’s ship Voyager, with Woytek Mrozek, clarinet virtuoso from Poland. We had just finished our dinner, when one of the ship’s singers comes up to the table and says, So sorry to interrupt, but Mio, the captain wants to see you, right now! Gulp! Where is he? I asked.. He’s in the Grand Dining Room… Does he want me to have dinner with him?.. No, he wants you to come do magic for his table! …Oh! (I later found out that the cruise director had told him I don’t usually do magic in the Grand Dining Room, just the lounges, but he reminded her, he was the captain!, so she sent the singer to look for me).
So I gathered my things and hurried down, and having just come from my rounds of cocktail hour magic, I was fully loaded – I had lately been making it a point not to go to my room prior to eating to change and unload, just in case someone ever wanted some impromptu magic – and did someone ever want some now!
I got to the dining room and the Maître d’ was talking on his phone at the door, and when he saw me he continued into the phone, “He’s here!” and led me to the center of the dining room where the captain was entertaining a table of ten VIP passengers, who all recognized me. I proceeded to whip out all my favorites, and each effect seemed to do itself, apparently with no effort, as everything came together for me, and although I was concentrating like mad, it seemed effortless.
I started with a perfect, “mind over it doesn’t matter”, forcing the 8 on the captain right off the bat, the card appearing instantly between the two on the table as I sent it flying invisibly from the deck. I then continued to play to the captain, of course, with every effect. The card didn’t just rise, it literally jumped from his hand onto the table. When I pulled out the bubbles, the table came alive with chatter – this is my favorite, watch this one, oh yes, the bubble, for everyone at the table had already experienced my magic in the cocktail lounges, and I blew two bubbles, both becoming the perfect matching-sized glass balls.
When I had him sign his name and the word “Regent” on the card, it seemed to fly into my wallet with no effort, it even surprised me, so it was especially shocking to him when he opened up the envelope and it was there. When I asked for a hundred dollar bill, more giggle and chatter, for this was the one everyone wanted to see again, and it danced and then floated, impossibly, above the round ten top. The captain was just shaking his head in disbelief, his jaw slack! The invisible deck held his thought of 4 of hearts upside down, and I finished with my new, little card routine. When he could finally speak, the captain said “That’s the best I have ever seen” and “They should pay you more” to which I heartily agreed! It was a great session, and left me feeling on top of the world, or at least the ship!
Today in Helsinki it was sweater and jacket weather. We docked near an outdoor market that sold food and homemade crafts, all sorts of wooden carvings and sculptures by local artisans, and even Reindeer antlers.
I sat down at an outdoor stall, within sight of where the ship was docked, that sold freshly cooked salmon, herring and calamari, but what I wanted was local whitefish. There were only two small pieces on the grill, so I said, I’ll take ’em! It was “perch”, from the ocean. They seemed pleased that I had chosen that, unlike the usual tourists’ choices.
While eating, one of the cooks, who turned out to be the owner, asked me how long I’m in Helsinki, so I told her I was working as a magician on that cruise ship, and was here just for the day.
A magician?! Oh, can you show us some magic? came the immediate response, the one I had hoped for, I must admit 🙂 but with more enthusiasm than I had anticipated!
Of course, I said, and proceeded. Her daughter of 11, Sarah, here at moms’ work for the first time, and speaking flawless English, came right over as well, and all four watched intently, and within 5 minutes, it was “oh how great, the food is free!” Such nice people, so I had to do more magic…
And so did she, first giving me homemade salmon soup with potatoes, which was not on the menu and was amazing, then more fish, then chocolate cake! I told her how much i liked the soup, and next thing I knew she had wrapped a big bowl of it to go, for me to take. And wouldn’t let me pay a dime for any of it! And all of that with a simple deck of cards, no rising card, no wallet, no cube, no invisible deck, just 52 assistants…
She and the other two cooks, a guy and her sister, all watched. At one point, I asked her daughter to “show your card to the ladies”, forgetting about the guy for a moment, and from then on the very bright little girl, and then me, kept referring to him as a lady, which got quite a laugh from everyone, several times! It became a running gag, helped along when I “noticed” his full length cooking apron looked like a dress.
A great time was had by all, and I left full, happy and warmed from the inside, more from their joy and gratitude than the delicious meal!
Arriving in Sweden on a Tuesday, I decided it would be fun to offer the good citizens of Stockholm a chance to experience my magic. I found a broad avenue with no cars allowed that leads to the Old Town, yet still in the heart of Stockholm. I parked myself In front of a store that sold sandwiches and sweets, and began to busk! So there I was, standing in the walkway with a small table that said “magic”. Within two minutes of setting up I had the first crowd, and crowd after crowd continued to form for 4 hours! Young and old, men and women, swedes and turks, families and businessmen, before I knew it, my hat was filled with coins, but it was the shrieks of delight and amazement that kept bringing people around, as the passers by fully embraced what I had to offer. I was delighted with how open and friendly the Swedes are.
But the highlight of the day was still to come…sure enough, within about an hour from my start, I see a young man in a police uniform burst thru the crowd and come right up to me, just in the middle of the invisible deck routine.
“Do you know you need a permit to do this here?”
“No, I didn’t know that! I’ll be happy to buy one, can you tell me where to get it?”
“Well, you have to call”.
“Great, do you have the number I can call?”
“No, I don’t have the number on me..you know I got a call on my radio about this,(and he tapped his shoulder unit) and I came over here ready to bust you and take you with me…but I thought you were doing..you know, that shell game, we’ve had several of them ripping off People, mostly with large bills, $100 krona and such”
..then he looked at my crowd, who were all frozen in smiling silence, then at my hat, full of coins, and continued..”but I can see everyone is having a good time and you only have coins, no bills”.
“And I wasn’t asking for them, they just gave them to me” I chimed in, “I’m doing magic,” I said, pointing to the sign on my table.
“Yes I can see that”..
“would you like to try some magic officer?”
When he said ok, it was all I could do to control my delight. I thought, this is my chance to show him how close up magic in NYC is done.
“This gentleman is holding an invisible deck” and the poor fellow had been frozen in place the entire time, so I continued, ” take a card from that invisible deck officer” ..he did!, “now put it back in upside down. Throw me the deck”
I said to the patron. When the invisible deck appeared in my hand I got a smile from the officer “What card did you put in when it was invisible?”
“The four of hearts” when I opened the deck and spread it out there was the four upside down! The officer laughed, (so did the crowd,) and said “have a good day!” And walked off! I love Sweden!!
As someone who does Close-Up Magic in Miami, I was thrilled to witness this street scene in Stockholm just two weeks before I decided to try my hand at a similar performance!
Coming back home to the ship late on a city bus (It was standing room only), I stood next to a cool looking young man, his blond hair back in a pony tail. The bus was literally alive with chatter, young people laughing and talking amongst themselves, it seemed like I was in a party. After most got off, I looked at the young man and commented on the scene, and he was more interested that I spoke english, and immediately started a very friendly conversation, as we sat down. Victor was his name.
What brings you to stockholm?
Oh, a cruise ship.
What do you do?
Wow, I love magic, can you show me something?
After the first slide thru change he whipped out his phone:
Wow, so great! can I film you? Do more!…
and he held the phone in one hand while a card rose from his other as he filmed it. So excited he was, he asked if I could teach him.
I said, well, not before your stop!, there’s no time…
but he wanted to see one more, so I did, then he offered me a cigarette. It was the only thing he had on him and he insisted I take it. He then hugged me and thanked me. He said I had made his night as he hopped off the bus! He had made mine!
In Blankenberge, Belgium I came across a small “supermarkt” that had the most succulent blackberries I ever tasted, each one simply burst with sweetness in my mouth!
I returned once, then twice for more, and on my third visit for yet another pint, I waited as a customer came running into the store, looking worried and hurried, but soon relieved, as the owner handed her the cell phone and paper she had left behind several hours earlier. “Thanks, you’ve made my day ” she exclaimed as she left, now noticeably calmer, and happy.
Pass the Excitement
It made me feel like returning the favor to this gentle man, who had commented to me, on my second return visit, that he was pleased I so enjoyed the blackberries. So I told him I did Close-Up Magic in Miami and asked if he would like to see some, and his face lit up and he said he would love to. Still sitting behind the register, the kind owner was astonished with the opening slide thru change; his boyish wonder grew as he named a card and it instantly jumped from the deck; and then I brought out the rising card. He was speechless as the card slowly rose from his hand, not moving at all, and then shortly, he lay his head down on the conveyor belt for what seemed like several minutes, (I began to worry!), then he lifted it slowly, and said “that’s one of the most amazing things I ever experienced – it’s much better than watching a jet disappear on TV – I felt it, and there were no cameras!”
The line had begun to build up at this point, and the next lady in line, who had not witnessed the actual rise, had to listen, in excited Dutch/Flemmish, to Peter as he told her all about what she had just missed, before she was allowed to pay for her groceries!
I waited till the store cleared again, then continued with a short signed card routine, finally giving it to Peter at the conclusion. He again related his astonishment at the “mounted card”, as he put it, then insisted I take the blackberries, on him; and beaming like a kid, he said I had made his day!
I replied that he had made mine; and now that everyone’s day had been made, the good energy in the store was palpable. He took my name and told me he would like to friend me on facebook, an ending that really speaks of our present time in history!….
And speaking of present times, I have posted an amazing video on youtube about the thieving seagulls of the Baltic–
Just search the title, “Mio’s Magical Seagulls”… And enjoy!
I first talked about my performances for the Mario Lemieux Foundation, and how important it was to me in this post.
After the 18th hole and the days round was finished, the players would slowly gather four by four in the clubhouse. The only ones in there beside the players were the staff and me.
After entertaining for several hours, I had gathered a collection of cards that were stuck to the ceiling of the clubhouse, and the manager looked up and noticed the four signed cards : Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Recci, and Lynn Swann!
He took the cards down, framed them , and then put them back up on the ceiling in exactly the spots they had been in!
Please pardon theses these slightly blurred photos.
Working on cruise ships has afforded me the special opportunity to see and visit parts of the world I otherwise may never have!
Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Hawaii, the Caribbean, the French Riviera, the Mexican Riviera, The Amazon, Venice, Europe, and a host of other destinations have all been the sights of my performances and adventures!
I was able to swim with dolphins in Cozumel, cuddle with stingrays in the Caymans and fulfilled one of my life dreams, to catch King Salmon and Halibut in Alaska, which I did while performing on board Regents’ ship, Seven Seas Mariner, for the summer season.
I spent the majority of my time at sea entertaining on two Major Cruise Lines, Regent and Oceania.
I have also provided world-class entertainment on Silver Seas, Crystal, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity.
As the highest rated entertainer each summer I worked for Regent and Oceania, I was asked back season after season, culminating in a four month contract to entertain on the inaugural voyage of Oceania’s “Riviera”.
Working practically every evening during that tour allowed me to further hone my skills as a close-up magician, and as I strolled among the passengers in the bars and lounges I built up excitement and anticipation for my weekly stage presentations in the main theater – which created a sold out venue for my Mentalism Show!
I was able to further refine and shape my Mentalism Stage Show as these constant performances gave me a greater understanding of not only exactly what worked but also how to seamlessly interact with a full production crew- and these ships were equipped with the latest in theatrical technology!
All these skills have translated to my corporate and private shows, where I’m a Magician & Mentalist in Ft Lauderdale, and I also do Mentalism in Miami and NYC, as well as across the United States, and these shows now take up the bulk of my career.
Thank you Michael Day, Brett Bullock, Jan Stenning and others, for trusting me to entertain for all those years onboard your fine ships!
On the ship I often worked close-up in the lounges, and here a group of passengers is about to see my unique version of card to ceiling
It was while performing for the Mario Lemieux Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament that I had the pleasure and honor of performing for three gentlemen whose careers represented the very pinnacle of their respective sports when they played: Mario Lemieux, in his prime, arguably the best hockey player ever; Johnny Bench, perhaps the best catcher ever to play baseball; and Michael Jordan, well there is no argument, the best basketball player ever. These three greats all signed cards that appeared unexpectedly, some said impossibly, in a sealed envelope, in a zippered compartment of my wallet! To see the full collection of cards that have also made that unique journey, please click this link.
I was honored to be asked back by Mario the next year to perform, to again be able to contribute to the success of this great cause.
The Mario Lemieux Foundation was created in 1993. In that year, Mario was enjoying the greatest season of his brilliant career and on pace to establish a new NHL scoring record. Then he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.
For me, Mario’s story goes to show the fragility of life, and also the will to persevere, and in turn to help others; just as I love to share my magic with others, to give them a glimpse that says the impossible is possible!
I had the pleasure of performing for the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass during their annual collectors trip to Tacoma and Seattle, where they also visited the home of Dale Chihuly, the foremost glass sculptor of our time.
Coincidentally I performed for Dale on several occasions in Florida, and here is a photo from one of them.
I entertained all 95 collectors at the Tacoma Art Museum with my stand up Mentalism Show, “Extraordinary Moments “.
I was thrilled to receive a standing ovation!
I had a chance to visit the Seattle Space Needle, awesome views of the city and the Bay!
The views from my hotel room of the Space Needle at night: