Time I Performed Magic in Times Square

This past summer one thing consumed my attention: I wanted to perform magic on the streets of New York, Times Square and Central Park. To a certain extent, it was a dream come true.

I have been performing magic for decades. I once worked for Harry Allen and Irv Cook, owners of Daytona Magic. I have demonstrated magic tricks to customers; I have performed strolling magic at arts and music festivals; I have performed close-up magic at conferences, like the Buckeye Golf Association; I have performed stand-up magic at county fairs, churches, business functions and private parties; I have performed stage magic in front of crowds ranging from 300-900 people; and, yet, there was something remaining I wanted to do: Perform street magic in New York.

“There are no small parts, only small actors,” said Constantin Stanislavski, the father of method acting. This saying has served me well in life, especially in my magic career. I am not a world-famous magician, but I am the go-to magician in my market, a pretty good place to be. It does not matter for whom I perform, each person and each audience gets my best. I have heard it on more than one occasion how people really love my show. While they really enjoy the magic, what they like even better is how I interact with my audience.

I think this skill was honed growing up in an Italian family, and working for Harry Allen contributed to my quick wit, too. Harry was writing a book of comedy lines when I was at Daytona Magic. He wrote a series of booklets that were eventually gathered into a full-length book, “Sleight of Mouth,” which you can purchase here. It was that interaction that served me well when I was performing on Times Square. As you can see in the video above, the young man wasn’t reacting very well to my Ring on Rope routine, until I performed one move, and then I had him. You can see how I interacted with him. The video image grab below captures his amazement, too.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time performing in Times Square. It requires a number of skills to be able to perform.

  • You have to gather an audience.
  • In order to get people to watch, you have to build a connection with complete strangers in seconds.
  • You have to be able to focus on your audience and your magic and not be distracted by all those walking by and through you.
  • You must be ready to perform magic effects fully surrounded.
  • And, you have to be good enough to keep your crowd engaged.

As you look at what is required to perform on the streets, you might get the sense that it can be a little nerve-wracking. I am glad I had the opportunity to perform. I wanted to perform in Central Park, but you need a permit to perform in a park. I tried multiple times to use the designated website to secure the necessary permit, but I never received an email confirming my application was received. When I was walking around Times Square one time, I asked a police officer about performing on the streets and if I needed a permit. He told me as long as I was not blocking the flow of movement and did not charge, I was OK.

I am glad I had the opportunity to perform on the streets of New York. If you would like me to perform at your next function, contact me here.