“Magic is about the People and the Memories”: What’s Up? Interview with Magician Michael Kaminskas
Apr 27, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Make no mistake, magic is real. No, I’m not trying to trick you and I’m not a magician. But Michael Kaminskas is and he’s made a believer out me.
Magic isn’t a reality warping mystical force that only few can harness. Magic isn’t even a skill that can be practiced through a series of tricks, illusions, and acts of sleight-of-hand like I previously thought. Instead, magic is a feeling. That feeling you get when a modern-day conjurer, a master of their craft, like Michael Kaminskas, performs an action that breaks the laws of physics.
You lose track of the ball, the cup, the card, or whatever the prop may be, and just before you rack your brain to figure out, “how did he do that?’ there is a certain moment. A moment before logic returns to you and off instinct you are bewildered, mesmerized, confused, and most of all entertained. It is that moment that Kaminskas has spent his life cultivating in others.
“Magic doesn’t happen in my hands but in the minds of the audience.” -Michael Kaminskas
Kaminskas is regarded by critics and peers alike as one of the top sleight-of-hand artists in the world today. He has authored several books, as well as created numerous effects and instructional DVD's for the professional magician. His work and talent has earned him numerous awards from within the professional magic community and has even been featured on the cover of MUM, the trade periodical of the oldest magic organization in the world.
Kaminskas has carved a niche out for himself, touring the tradeshow circuit as a Corporate Magician. Blending old-school magic with modern flare and business acumen, Kaminskas is a multifaceted entertainment expert. His previous one-man show entitled Imagine, went completely sold out for three years straight. He is set to double that success with his new show, Parlour Tricks!
Don’t miss out on the mysticism and catch Michael Kaminskas perform Parlour Tricks on Saturday, May 20th, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25th, and Saturday, July 8th at the Federal House Bar and Grille. Tickets are $50, but use the code "WhatsUpMagic" and save $10 per ticket.
How long have you been practicing magic and what inspired you to do so?I first started magic when I was five years old at friend’s birthday party. I had that obligatory magic set that most kids get for Christmas or birthdays. While most people get bored with it and never try magic again, I was fascinated. My first gig was that friend’s birthday party. I was paid $5 and was definitely over-paid for the quality of magic I was performing. Even still, I loved the feeling of performing and was lucky enough to have a supportive family.
I stuck with it all the way through high school and once in college at University of Maryland, I started performing around college park and the surrounding areas. I performed wherever I could. I also worked at Barry’s Magic Shop all through college and a few years after. The owner, Barry Taylor, became a mentor of mine and really pushed me to excel in magic. I always kept busy and did other things too, but in 1994 magic became my professional career
What is the magician community like online and in tangible organizations? Is it supportive of new magicians learning the craft? Is the community growing or shrinking?The magician community is incredibly tight-knit. It has also gotten significantly larger with the advent of the internet. Now you can skype people from around the world to learn something new. In the old days, the old days being the 80’s, you had to have a mentor because everything about magic was very secretive. It’s still secretive, but back then, to learn anything good, it had to be shown to you. There wasn’t many instructional videos or information available to the public.
Then, magic stores were the cultural hubs of the community for most magicians. However, there are magic organizations that go back as far as 1902 and still exist today. The oldest being the Society of American Magicians who’s first president was none other than Harry Houdini. The International Brotherhood of Magicians is currently the biggest organization. There are several other smaller organizations that are localized to regions. They all have clubs and monthly meetings. I like to lecture at meetings when I can and help young magicians advance in their own careers.
The Magician community is unique in that you can meet the best in the world and shake their hand, even learn a thing or two from them if you ask. No matter who you are, people will help you get better. I think that’s rare in a lot of other communities. I mean, you can’t just go up to John Mayer and ask for a singing lesson.
In 2012, you went on tour performing your one-man show, Imagine, to completely sold out crowds for three years. What was it like touring for that long and having that much success?It was a lot of work, I’m not going to lie. I don’t have large illusions, so I was traveling in a car, place to place. I had to work individually with each location on a marketing strategy and overall planning of the show. That is the day-to-day stuff about being a professional magician that isn’t fun. But, that show was designed specifically to be an evening of high-end entrainment. To give people a reason to put on some nice clothes and have a magical experience. I was elated with how well it was received, but after a while I wanted to move on and work on some new magic.
Your website describes you as a modern day conjuror. But, the average person might see one of your performances and think they just saw a magician. Can you describe the practical difference between these terms? Are they different schools of magic?Conjuror was the word for magician in the 1800’s. I use the term “modern day conjuror” to describe my role in my new show, Parlour Tricks, because I use some ideas from past and present day magic and meld them together to create the ultimate magic experience for people.
This isn’t a show where there’s a thousand people watching larger than life illusions that could have hundreds of explanations of how they were accomplished. The experience is up close and involves a lot of audience participation. The small and intimate setting limits the audience’s ability to explain away a trick, thus creating the feeling of bewilderment that is key performing magic.
Speaking of Parlour Tricks, I love that the crowd size is capped off at 50 with a cocktail dress code to provide an intimate, old fashioned entertainment experience. What else about the show is unique in that way?It’s very unique for a magic show and for the downtown Annapolis area in that it’s a sophisticated adult evening out on the town kind of show. Audiences can enjoy a nice menu if they want or they can just come to the show. The Federal House has made a great meal selection tailor-made to complete the viewing experience.
What’s great is that a show like this doesn’t currently exist in the downtown Annapolis area. If you don’t want to see a band at Rams Head or watch a two-piece guitar set at one of the local pubs, what else is there for you in the way of live entertainment? I think Parlour Tricks will fill a void with a slightly older audience or just people who want a change of pace to their nightlife.
Without spoiling too much, can you describe the general narrative of the show or elaborate a bit more on what audiences could expect when attending your show?Well I do the oldest magic trick in the world, which I always enjoy performing. I combine modern magic with some of the classics. Narratively, it is a lot about my personal life. There is a bit about my first show I mentioned earlier and how I’d always wear a red vest in those kindergarten shows. It is a smorgasbord of magic that is weaved together with mind reading, comedy, and audience participation.