Becoming a Mentalist in Miami

As a Close-Up Magician, I never imagined myself performing Stage Magic. As a kid, a Stage Magician was someone who cut ladies in half and restored them, or had dancing ladies that turned into tigers that disappeared in a huge cage, or like Richiardi The Great, who, in his grand finale’, would have a woman’s bloody entrails spilling out onto the stage as he invited spectators to file past and witness the carnage that his buzz saw had wrecked upon his lovely assistant who lay motionless and eviscerated before them; a spectacle that few who witnessed ever forgot!

That was something I never thought I’d be.

When I realized that Stage Magic wasn’t the only option and discovered Close-Up Magic as a legitimate, although highly difficult, way to make a living as a Magician, I devoted myself to becoming a full time Close-Up Magician!

Stephen Bargatze & Mac King

One day, after 12 years of making a living exclusively at my art, I found myself on a flight to Phoenix to entertain Mario Andretti and other celebrities at a charity golf tournament. I noticed that the passenger right next to me was reading Magic Magazine, which at the time was a top trade publication for Magicians. I started a conversation:

“I noticed you’re reading Magic Magazine. Are you a Magician?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Are you a Close-Up Magician or a Stage Magician?” I asked.

“It’s almost impossible to make a living as a Close-Up Magician. I do Stage Magic. What do you do for a living?“, he asked.

“Close-Up Magic!” I revealed and we hit it off tremendously!

His name was Stephen Bargatze.  When our mutual gigs in Phoenix were done that day, Stephen invited me to take a quick side trip to Las Vegas to see his friend Mac King perform and Stephen brought me backstage to meet Mac. Watching Stephen and Mac perform – two of the funniest stage performers in any genre – was a complete pleasure as well as a fantastic example of what was possible and what to strive for!

The entire experience was amazing and I was proud that I was a full time Close-Up Magician!

Roses’ Bar

It was with trepidation, albeit with lots of excitement, that after several years of Close-Up, I took my first stab at a Stage performance; the picture is of me floating a crumpled paper ball before it became a rose, in a flash, at Roses Bar on South Beach. My Show went well and I started getting more requests to do something for everyone after my Close-Up set, so I decided it was time to expand and include the Stage Show aspect of my craft.

Since I had always incorporated Mentalism in my Close-Up, it was natural that Mentalism was the direction I chose when I began performing a short Show, usually at the end of the evening, during my Corporate and Private events.

Regent and Oceania Cruises

The real turning point came in 2007, after two years of performing daily as a headliner – the only headliner not on stage! – on the luxury liners of Regent and Oceania Cruises. I was performing Close-Up exclusively, strolling throughout the bars, lounges and public spaces on board and receiving rave reviews from the passengers. It was then that I was asked to add a 45-minute show once per week. I told the Entertainment Director about my show; although it had no dancing ladies and tigers, it was an audience participation experience that amazed in ways that were subtle yet just as impactful. They tried my Mentalism Show and got great reviews!

So that combination, performing Strolling Close-Up Magic in the bars, lounges and public spaces for 5-6 days, followed by a Mentalism Show in the 500-seat theater at the end of the week, continued for the next several seasons on board! I added sound cues and lighting effects and in the beautiful, state-of-the-art theaters on the ships, my Mentalism Show took shape and grew into what is now a full evening presentation at private events as well as in public theaters around the country!


One thought on “Becoming a Mentalist in Miami

  1. Barry Morse

    Congratulations. Great story. When’s the movie coming out? Got someone to play you? Available 🙂

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