Philip Levy, of Theatricks by Phil, is has been making magic in the Long Island area for thirty-five years. His popular close-up and stage shows feature magic, comedy, balloon twisting, puppetry, card and rope tricks, and more.
We were curious about the behind-the-scenes story of the life of a magician, and Phil was kind enough to entertain our questions (after all, he is an entertainer).
Everybody’s Invited!: When did you get into magic, and how did you learn it?
Phil Levy: After seeing the Tony Curtis movie, Houdini, at ten years old, I was hooked…but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I purchased my first “magic” trick. It was an inexpensive, and simple, close-up effect that was difficult to learn due to the fact that it was produced in China and poorly translated. As time went on I learned other tricks from purchasing at what we call “Brick & Mortar” magic shops – and also from books and tapes. I still learn through books but, now, from DVDs, downloads and lectures.
EI!: You perform for all different kinds of audiences. How do you go about crafting your live shows?
PL: My shows are crafted through practice and experience; the more shows you do, the better you get at what you do, as in any field of endeavor. If it’s a skill that you must learn, it must be built on a strong foundation, then through your passion and experience, hopefully, you become the craftsman that you want to be—although always striving to be better. For me, the entertainment value is the be all and end all in my act and magic performance. My forte is comedy magic and the laughs either come from much thought, and hard work, or simple ad-libs, due to circumstance.
EI!: What kinds of shows do you enjoy doing the most? What kind of magic is the most fun for you?
PL: I get the greatest fun when I perform for children. My holiday shows during Halloween and Christmas are themed, and only come into use once a year, so the opportunity to change the act is wonderful. I also say I get the greatest fun when I perform for an adult audience. In other words, whatever type of show I am doing is the the greatest fun. In the thirty-five years that I have been performing professionally, my audiences have been mostly children but I do enjoy the opportunity to perform for adult audiences. Obviously, the magic becomes more sophisticated as the audience gets older.
There are many magic categories: the silly kids show including close-up magic using cards, coins, ropes; stand-up shows from mentalism to comedy; or big theater shows with large stage illusions. I can do them all except the last.
EI!: Do you get nervous before you perform?
PL: Practice and experience keep a performer’s stress level to a minimum. But being nervous, to a certain extent, helps to keep your adrenaline going so you can be at your best. This also means you care about what you are doing and want it to be a successful experience for all.
EI!: What would people be surprised to know about the life of a magician?
PL: Whether we are performing magic for friends, as our hobby, doing it professionally, part-time on the weekends, or as a full-time magician traveling all around the world, there are a few things we have in common. One of these is what people don’t see or think about: the hard work that goes into making the magic look natural and easy.
EI!: Is there anything else should I have asked you?
PL: I mentioned Harry Houdini introducing me to magic performance in a very special way. He was the first President of the Society Of American Magicians, located in New York City, a National & International group that has grown to approximately three hundred clubs. Fifteen years ago I was fortunate to have discovered a local club on Long Island, New York – the Long Island Mystics, Assembly #77. The group numbers about sixty people, male and female, who gather once a month to share their passion. It is made up of hobbyists, part-time and full-time magical performers. Therefore my connection with Houdini continues as I am now into my third year as President of the most prestigious magic club in the area.
If you’re interested in hiring Theatricks by Phil for your next family or corporate event, please visit the website.