David Copperfield , Old Magic

2007-05-01 19:48:00


David has completely changed and expanded the world of magic and illusion. He's been called a 'modern day Houdini', and the 'world's best magician'. In our interview he tells a little bit about how he started in magic and the other sides of him that make him tick.

DM) You do almost 500 performances a year. Do you ever think of slowing down? Doesn't it take a toll on your life?

DC) Well, fortunately, I love what I do, so even with this schedule, I never tire of performing in my chosen profession, the Art of Magic!

DM) When did you first become interested in magic?

DC) I became interested in magic at an early age. I learned a card trick from my grandfather when I was seven, which involved four Aces. As a matter of fact, the illusion is in my current show. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before he ever got to see me do it for the public. Each night's performance of that magic is a special tribute to his memory.

DM) I've read that the reason you started in magic was to overcome social awkwardness growing up. It supposedly helped you make more friends and get a few dates in high school. Is this true?

DC) Well, when I began doing magic and brought this skill into school, I found out that it was quite an attention-getting magnet. And, as time went by, it really seemed to catch the eyes of the girls in school! My influences, unlike what most people think, came largely outside of the field of magic. Although magic greats like Kellar, or the Frenchman Robert Houdan (from whom Houdini got his name) were certainly great for the profession, it was artists like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly that have greatly influenced how I present my show on stage. Also, in an attempt to move my audiences emotionally, I would have to say that film directors like Orson Wells, Stephen Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola have had a great impact on my career.

DM) What advice do you give to up-and-coming magicians?

DC) For those that aspire to a life in the Art of Magic, I would say, "Practice, practice, practice, and never consider anything impossible!"

DM) You've done a lot of work preserving magical history. Do you feel that the public is limited in its view of magic history to only Houdini? Who are some of your other magical inspirations besides Houdini?

DC) Houdini was actually much more an escape artist and a master self-promoter than he was a great magician per se. Magic is the oldest of the performing arts, practiced in an unbroken succession from the earliest cave man days through ancient Egyptian times and the Courts of King Arthur right up to the present time. I'm glad I followed this path in life, and I never for a moment look back with any regrets.

DM) Many people in the entertainment industry, at one time or another, try one of the other arts, such as acting or music... You've already published a number of books, but have you ever thought of pursuing any of the other areas of entertainment?

DC) There really is nothing else I would rather have been. Although I did try my hand as a singer early in my career (when I was 19) in the hit show MAGIC MAN in Chicago... but by the end of the run, the director cut my singing to one song, and I did mostly magic... I guess that was a hint!

DM) Which part of your career are you most proud of?

DC) Project Magic is what I am most proud of in my career. It is in 1,000 hospitals in over 30 countries around the world. It helps stroke victims who are physically impaired to regain their manual dexterity through practicing sleight of hand, and it also helps those with learning disabilities regain their self-esteem. This is a program that has made the lives of many people a lot better.

DM) Every article about you seems to mention your infamous illusion of making the Statue of Liberty disappear. Have you ever felt challenged to do something to beat that?

DC) A few things I have always wanted to do are to put a woman's face on Mt. Rushmore, to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and to vanish the moon. So, it looks like I have a busy schedule ahead of me! "Flying", for example, was the most difficult illusion I performed in many of my shows, and it took me over seven years to create.

DM) After years of performing magic, how do you keep the illusions fresh?

DC) One of the new illusions in the show is to vanish 13 randomly selected people from the audience and make them vanish from the stage, all at the same time. This was a very difficult task and took many years to perfect without bringing harm to the participants. However, many of those that vanish have been known to reappear in strange and unusual places. Without giving away any secrets, suffice it to say, participants are as amazed as the audiences themselves!

DM) Some people describe you as "the next Houdini", or "the most popular magician of all time". How do you want to be remembered?

DC) It would be presumptuous of me to rate myself. I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors and hope that my contributions will have helped to elevate the Art of Magic even more.

DM) What has magic afforded you in your life?

DC) For me, being an illusionist has given me opportunities I could have only dreamed about. Magic has certainly made my life very special and allowed me the chance to make many of my dreams a reality onstage.

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