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 had the great honor of entertaining Yogi Bhajan on his 70th birthday!
Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, born as Harbhajan Singh Puri and also known as Yogi Bhajan and Siri Singh Sahib to his followers, was a Yogi, spiritual teacher, and entrepreneur. He introduced his version of Kundalini Yoga to the United States. He was the spiritual director of the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) Foundation https://www.3ho.org/ with over 300 centers in 35 countries.
A Rising Card
Yogi Bhajan’s birthday celebration was at the end of a seminar he held near Orlando, Florida. As a Magician & Mentalist in Miami, it was a fun trip North, filled with anticipation, as I had studied Kundalini and was excited to meet the master!
One of the highlights of the evening was when I performed the Rising Card with him. It is fitting that Yogi Bhajan introduced Kundalini Yoga to the U.S. and that my version of the Rising Card is distilled from Jeff McBride’s original, called “Kundalini Rising“!
Even though I knew of the Rising Card effect before meeting Jeff, it was his innovation to take the deck out of the hands of the Magi and to put it into the spectators’. Jeff generously shared that with me and I’ve been performing it that way ever since https://www.magicbymio.com/videos/ (Magic on South Beach).
In the ancient Kundalini practice, the rising serpent energy is the culmination of the alignment of the chakras and reveals the latent power within oneself. When I perform the Rising Card effect, I encourage my volunteer to unleash their own inner power and I give them full credit for the ensuing levitation!
So,Getting Back To Yogi Bhajan’s Birthday Celebration…
I asked Yogi Bhajan to select any card and to show it to the crowd, then put it back into the center of the deck. I put the deck into an empty box (that had been verified to be empty by another audience member) and handed it to Yogi Bhajan, smiling, and asked,
“Yogi Bhajan, have you ever levitated?”
Laughter drowned out his response! I asked again and Yogi Bhajan answered, “Of course“ which was followed by more laughter!
In a few moments, when the card did actually rise out of Yogi Bhajan’s hand as he sat there upon his pillows, the ensuing pandemonium was electric!
I continued my performance with my Signed Card routine, impossibly pulling Yogi Bhajan’s signed card from a sealed envelope in a zippered compartment of my wallet, only to have it fly up and stick to the rafters high above the crowd!
The picture I’m holding is a Polaroid of Yogi Bhajan with the card he selected which first disappeared, then subsequently appeared when the photo developed right before everyone’s eyes!
Mio’s Mind Melding Mirror
Today, 19 years later, my new TV Program, Life Is Magic, aired on PBS on January 5th, 2019. https://www.magicbymio.com/mio-hosts-tv-show-30-second-promo/ One of my favorite Extraordinary Moments was performing a variation of this effect in a Close-Up Magic set. Using a volunteer’s cell phone, I take their picture, and a card that they simply thought of instantly appears on a Mind Melding Mirror that they are holding! It’s an image captured forever by their own cell phone camera!
I’ve been performing Close-up Magic in South Florida for years now and have made a reputation as a Mentalist in NYC as well. Performing on Cruise ships has been a fantastic experience, being able to see the world by sharing my love for Magic and Mentalism with folks from around the globe.
Occasionally I also get to perform for folks from my hometown on the ships, and one evening in particular there was an especially lively crowd in the lounge before dinner, with lots of energy generated- in each direction!
There were several gasps when the signed card came out of the sealed envelope in my wallet, and a real scream from a woman from New York City when her card rose out of her hand. Everyone was thrilled with the close-up set, and they buzzed with anticipation about what to expect when I get on stage!
I’m looking forward to a full house for my Mentalism Stage Show in the main theater near the end of the cruise!
I was born in New York City. My mother was a professional Broadway dancer (until she was expecting me). My father was a professional costume designer, working on Broadway and in Film. He was also a Magic aficionado.
One evening, my parents attended a Broadway play that a colleague was in, “Winterset” by Maxwell Anderson. The lead character was named Mio. They liked that name and gave it to me when I was born. I’m often asked if Mio is my real name or a stage name, and the truth is that both are true!
When I was six or seven, my father would sit me on his lap in the kitchen and teach me Magic with cards. He brought me to Magic conventions and Magic shows, always explaining how things were done as they were happening. At the time I didn’t realize I was privy to classified information! Although I never thought of being a Magician when I grew up, I felt I knew some great card effects and secrets!
Growing up, I was fortunate to go backstage at Broadway plays and onto the sets of major motion pictures with my Dad. He was the costume designer on Robert De Niro’s first film, “Bang the Drum Slowly” and he brought me to Yankee Stadium for several days of filming.
Following my graduation with a BA in Theater from SUNY Binghamton in 1980, I pursued a career in acting and directing. I directed an original play for my senior thesis and directed an off-off Broadway production. Many Magicians take acting classes to improve their performance. I come from a theatrical background and it has been invaluable to the furtherance of my career.
Out On My Own
Having grown up in NYC all my life, I was curious about the rest of the country, so I went exploring… this photo is from Santa Fe, New Mexico where I lived for two years and played the role of Benvolio, cousin to Romeo, in a production of Romeo and Juliet.
In my late 20’s, I was living in Dallas, Texas, when an amazingly talented Close-Up Magician, Brad Cairnes, serendipitously moved in next door. Upon meeting, Brad showed me a card effect which just happened to be one that my Dad had shown me, so I showed him my version, Brad showed me another, then another, and away we went!
We became fast friends. Brad taught me the fundamentals of sleight-of-hand Close-Up Magic and said, “if you learn these seven moves, you could be a professional Magician,” which at the time sounded simplistic but to me was no joke! I took Brad at his word and delighted in the opportunity to perhaps shape my life into a previously unthought of direction, one that seemed super exciting in its limitless opportunities!
South Florida Home
After a year of constant practice, I left Dallas and moved to Florida. In the beginning, I only knew a few effects… about twenty minutes of Close-Up, but I made them very entertaining! I attended seminars, purchased books and videos, had private lessons and continued to strive to improve and expand my repertoire. It was when my technical skills caught up to my presentational abilities that I was really able to put it all together and move on to the next level!
To this day I continue to attend seminars and workshops with the leaders in the fields of Magic and Mentalism to master new effects. As a magician & Mentalist in Ft Lauderdale, I now have two, 50-minute Mentalism Stage Shows, and at least that in different Close-Up effects. I often get asked back by the same clients and referred to new clients!
People often ask how I get my gigs. My career has progressed with a recurring theme; the importance of word of mouth and how ones’ quality of work (an impressive performance) begets more work… which is the cornerstone of any business.
It all started when Dan Marino’s wife Claire reached out to me. As a Magician & Mentalist in South Florida, a friend of Claire’s had recently seen me perform and recommended that she have me at Dan’s birthday party.
One gig leads to another
Dan so enjoyed my presentations that he asked me to entertain at his upcoming Foundations’ Celebrity Golf Tournament. At the dinner that night, Mario Lemieux saw me and asked me to come to Pittsburgh for his own foundations’ Celebrity Golf Tournament, where I met and entertained Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Johnny Bench, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, John Elway, Mike Schmidt and many others. Mr. Schmidt asked me to entertain at his Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraiser and at several more functions over the years, both for himself and his foundation.
All of these legendary athletes are perfect gentlemen and a true pleasure to entertain, their warm-hearted generosity is apparent in the work they do and the foundations that bear their names.
I am happy that I can, in some small way, repay them for the hours of entertainment they’ve provided me! My work brought me to them and they in turn were moved enough by my Magic & Mentalism to literally “move“ me around from place to place!