Hocus-pocus, abracadabra, alakazam! And presto, there you have about five centuries of magical buzzwords, rabbit and wand in tow.
Although even young kids can pull up smartphone tutorials for any given trick, the profession of deception continues to keep especially talented magicians employed.
Take Sacramento native Ryan Kane, for example.
A self-described contemporary magician, Kane has a full-time one-man act in the San Francisco Bay Area and performs as far away as New York or Michigan for private parties, corporate gigs and theatrical shows.
Kane says the art of illusion hasn’t really changed much from 500 years ago, despite technology.
“People know so much. But you can fool anyone – absolutely anyone can be fooled,” Kane says. “Because the more we learn about neurology and the brain, the more we understand how susceptible we are to deception.”
Magicians, he said, have first-hand knowledge of this. “We’ve been doing this for years.”
Kane says people still want to be floored and witness something they’ve never seen before – to be wowed.
“I don’t think that’ll ever change,” he adds. “Ever.”
Kane has been booked at Sacramento’s Green Valley Theatre for one show June 5 and two June 6, the first performances in his hometown since his high school days in the mid-2000s.
“To get to the point where you could produce theater shows that I wanted to do and feel confident having the audience be in front of me, it really takes that long,” Kane says. “An act is not built all at once; it’s built piece by piece. And it felt right to come back with a show I was very proud of and do this in Sacramento.”
In his act, Kane makes bottles of Jack Daniel’s whiskey appear out of thin air, catches paint balls that audience members fire at him from close range, toys with people’s iPhones and throws in a few classic card tricks, too. He employs elements of stand-up comedy as well to help lead onlookers to a big payoff.
His latest show, he says, is all his own, as he’s tried to shed older, sometimes-rented material he’d been using for almost a decade.
From age 14 to 16, Kane would set up on a corner in Old Sacramento and perform renegade shows for anyone who would watch, sometimes 40 or more, he says.
“(Old Sacramento) gave me this great laboratory in which to perform and earn my chops and just really figure out who I was and who I wanted to be as a magician,” Kane explains. “And also make some money along the way.”
By 2012, his act was getting notice in the San Francisco stage magic community, and Kane says the Bay Area keeps him plenty busy. He would love to eventually take his show on the road, he adds.
“I’m 25 now, I live in the most expensive city in America, I do card tricks for a living, and I’m not dead. So that’s all right; I think I’m doing OK.”
Magician Ryan Kane
- Where: Green Valley Theatre, 3823 V St., Sacramento
- When: 7:30 p.m. June 5 and 6 and 9:30 p.m. June 6
- Cost: $20
- Information: www.ryankanemagic.com