At the age of 17, Alexander Magu was introduced to the surreal world of magic by a friend. The illusionist who considers magic as mathematics and through his deep passion for storytelling, engages with his audience using different forms of illusions developed a penchant for this art and as they say, the rest is history.
Armed with intuitive powers, sense of humour and an interactive style of performance, the magician loves to entertain his audience with his famous ‘needle’ trick. With more than 2,000 shows, several awards and television appearances in his kitty, Magu is one of the most sought-after Russian illusionists and the only one in the Russian Federation with his own TV show.
In conversation with indianexpress.com, the seasoned illusionist talks about his fascination with the world of magic, and how he keeps his secrets intact in front of his audience.
Most magicians become enamoured with magic at a young age. What was your first encounter with illusion?
When I was 17, my friend showed me a trick which really made me curious. The world turned upside down for me when I decided to learn magic on my own. This was certainly a life-changing experience for me.
You are known for your incredible feats like disappearances and reappearances, levitation of things and people, telekinesis, gravitational illusions, mind reading and control. What got you interested in the first place and what prompted you to explore so much?
I love being a magician because it is great to challenge my own self and make others smile.
Does the possibility of your magic secrets being uncovered bother you?
Magic is mathematics; there is a great chance of an error, but the art is to cover the error in such a manner that the spectator does not notice. I do not fear my secrets being revealed. As I say there is only one real magic that is love, rest is all illusion.
How do you handle stressful situations?
There is a lot of stress in the field of illusion starting with tricks going wrong or getting injured. However, I practice extreme sports like kite surfing to make myself better prepared and stronger.
Are the responses different from every age group in your audience?
Yes, usually most people above the age of 15 like my magic. There are various kinds of magic, for instance, kids prefer visuals like taking a rabbit out of a hat but that is not my style. I like to talk and add my own humour to my shows – interaction is key in my style of magic.
Who’s been your best audience so far?
A good audience is an important requirement for all artists since it is always best to have an audience who are keen to understand how I perform my tricks and yearn to see more and more. On the other hand, the most difficult audience is usually the rich corporates who communicate less since my magic is based on interaction.
What’s your favourite trick? And your most difficult one?
My favourite trick is the needle trick where I insert a needle in my hand and it passes through. It’s also the most difficult as it’s very painful and involves a certain amount of blood loss, patience and practice until the time it stops hurting.
Stand up comedians go for open mic nights to test their new scripts? How often do you practice, and who serves as a test audience for you?
I show my tricks to my mom and take her judgment.
What are your career goals?
I want to challenge my body. I have already lived in a bag made of ice, but I want to try stopping my breath for 15 minutes and living without food for a month.
Who according to you is the greatest magician of all time?
Long back I saw David Copperfield who inspired me to be a magician. My favourites are Dan Brown and David Bling because they challenge themselves and their human bodies to try new things.
Have your skills ever proven useful in the real world?
Magic really helps in breaking the ice between two people and I have used it many times myself. Additionally, it enables me to change my own mood and bring about positivity in others’ moods.
It’s not every day that a person encounters a magician. What’s the first thing people ask you (or ask you to do) once they find out about your profession?
I usually do not like to tell people that I am a magician because they ask me to perform magic tricks. But when people recognise me and ask me to perform I do not hesitate and in fact I enjoy entertaining them.
With a few exceptions, everyone loves magic, so in a sense, you’re dealing in the commodity of happiness. Do you ever give impromptu performances for strangers in an elevator or passengers on a flight?
Yes, I love giving impromptu performances as it helps break the ice. Also, when I date girls I do not start with talking about magic, I usually disclose the fact that I am an illusionist on my third date. I also like to perform tricks for people to lift their mood.
If not a magician, what would you be?
I had planned to be a railway operator.
Do you have friends who are also magicians? Can you describe what happens when magicians get together?
Magic happens when magicians meet. When I meet my magician friends we talk about new tricks, new achievements and how to keep this brilliant art form alive.
What would you like to have written on your tombstone?
“Choose a card”!
After having performed at thousands of shows across the globe, Europe’s magical legend Alexander Magu is in India for the first time to perform at Roseate House starting November 11 – November 12, 2017.