01 May, 2011
Josh the Magician...
JOSH GROBAN, 30, may have sold more than 24 million records worldwide but who knew the Californian was also a skilled magician?
As a kid I found myself fascinated by escape artists, especially Harry Houdini. I got obsessed with reading books about him and wanted to emulate him. I asked my parents for a pair of handcuffs but I couldn’t wriggle out of them so escapology clearly wasn’t for me.
Then I found that just down the street from my childhood home in Los Angeles was a store called Hollywood Magic and that was like nirvana to me.
After visiting it I became this 11-year-old boy obsessed with grand illusions. I remember thinking how cool it would be to turn a girl into a tiger, which wasn’t at all realistic and I wound up taking after-school magic classes.
We learned sleight of hand so we could perform card tricks and make coins disappear and since I’m extremely double-jointed, I was very good at it.
My obsession became so feverish that when I was 12 I auditioned to be a junior member of The Magic Castle, which is headquarters to the prestigious Academy of Magical Arts.
It’s this big old house in the Hollywood hills that has been completely tricked out with hidden doorways and secret passages. You have to say a password before they even let you in and you have to take an oath pledging that you’ll never give away any of the secrets.
It’s such a cool place; I’d been there for a friend’s birthday party and thought: “It’d be the greatest thing ever to be a member.”
One day I just decided to go for it but I’d been so busy with schoolwork that I hadn’t had time to practice properly and during the audition I dropped the coin I was meant to make disappear.
In all my years as a performer that’s the only time I’ve truly ended up with egg on my face and I was devastated. It didn’t stop me practising magic but I realised it was something I should do for friends and family rather than as a professional.
I was a shy kid at school and a bit socially awkward so I never got into any cliques but I found the other kids thought it was cool when I did magic. I also found I was good at what they call street magic, which is where you do things like getting someone to choose a number and then you guess it. I can’t tell you how that’s done because I still keep the oath, just in case The Magic Castle change their mind and ask me to re-audition.
I bought videos and books at Hollywood Magic and would practise constantly.
One of the tricks I loved was the “sewing needle through the arm” illusion, which is self-explanatory and can be achieved through the use of fake blood, much to the shock and awe of your audience. It always went down well at the shows I and my younger brother Chris, whom I recruited as my assistant, would put on for the family at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Many of the tricks I learned as a kid I still do at dinner tables and parties. I love the salt shaker through the table stunt, which is where you cover a salt shaker with a napkin, slam it on a table and it disappears. That gets them going “ooh” and “aah”.
I also got to meet David Blaine, one of my heroes. I was at a party where he appeared to eat an entire water glass in front of my eyes; he bit off pieces of glass and chewed until they were like sand in his mouth and then he swallowed the grains.
I’m not sure if that was a trick or if he actually ate that glass but it was really impressive. I haven’t tried to do it myself.
I’ve also got a signed photo of David Copperfield, who came along to one of the magic classes I took as a youngster. He had us all learn a trick and the one who performed it best got a signed picture. I’m proud to say that was me, even though I can’t for the life of me remember what the trick was.
All these years later I’m still learning new stuff. The one thing I’d love to master is levitating.
There are people who are so masterful they trick your eye into thinking they’re raising someone off the ground and whenever I see it I think: “How do they do that?” I kind of like that. Although I practise magic, I’d never want to get to the point where I know how everything is done because I still want to be wowed.
Josh Groban’s album, Illuminations, is out now.
Article by Simon Button from Express.co.uk - Original Source