A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Nate Staniforth show here in Denver. I didn’t know what to expect, really, because I don’t think I have seen a magician live, in person, ever. I mean, other than when I was a kid and stuff.
Nate’s site specifically warns you the show is not for children, but that is not to imply that it’s NSFW other than a stray curse word here and there. What he means is that there are no top hats, or rabbits, or sawing of women in half. It’s a Ted talk filled with Nate’s personality while he helps us remember to believe in magic again.
I was lucky enough to meet him in person after the show and then get on the phone with him last week. He’s a friendly guy who is willing to talk honestly about magicians, how he got to this profession and where he wants to go.
Interview With Nate Staniforth
I don’t really know your story.
I grew up in Iowa and I was really the only person around who was interested in magic. It helped me in a lot of different ways. I can’t imagine being influenced by other magicians. There are certainly the basics that most magicians learn – that anyone can learn from a book at the library, certainly – but when you start building your own style and aesthetic on top of that, it was nice to do it my way. I was forced to explore ideas and create in relative isolation.
What did your parents think of all that? Did they support you being a magician?
(Laughs) In general, yes. It’s really cute when you’re eight, but not so much when you’re 18. So they were terrified for me, of course. But living in Iowa, I was the only game in town really, and started working parties and festivals when I was 11. By the time I was in college on a theater scholarship, I had so much stage time under my belt that, again, I was comfortable and really was able to use that time to be expressive. During college, I did bars and sorority parties – if you can perform magic for drunk frat guys, you can do anything. Honestly, a crowd never cares about magic. It’s my job to make them care.
You had a show on Discovery?
Yeah, it was a one-off series that went really well. Kind of like a mythbusters for magic, and teaching science principles along with that. The funny thing is that that show aired in pretty much every country worldwide, except the US. It was a great success, except no one here has seen it. Watching myself dubbed in all these other languages was crazy. I learned a lot about how television works, though.
And you have toured for a long time, right?
Yes, I have toured for over a decade and performed in every state except Hawaii – and I would love to get there too! The great thing about coming back to cities over and over is you get a sense of the crowds there and are able to fine-tune the show for them. And of course, you find places you love to visit in every city.
What are some of your Colorado picks?
We went to Garden of Gods while in Colorado Springs this last time, which was incredible. And last time we were in Denver, we stumbled upon Billy’s Inn so I now have a favorite place for tacos.
OK. Excuse me if this an inappropriate question, but I know you aren’t faking it up there, as in I know people are not planted. So it has to be lots of misdirection, right?
Let me try and explain it this way. Think about when you watch a home movie from a camera phone vs. a film in the theater. The home movie is great, and it captures what is going on. But in a film, the director is controlling every shot: where your eye moves, the lighting, the words, the emotions. I am constantly guiding the crowd to the experience I want them to have. The worst reaction is confusion. I want everyone along for a ride with me. Not in a malicious way. Theoretically, the kind of magic I do is no more tricking you than how Shakespeare would “trick” you to feel things using his characters.
So, what’s next for Real Magic Tour?
We are going to continue to circle around again to cities we have already visited (June 16th Colorado Springs, June 17 Fort Collins). We started in the middle of the country since I live in Iowa still and then plan to expand the tour to both coasts into winter, as well as the UK.
I hope to catch Nate Staniforth’s next Colorado dates, and watch for him when he hits your town too!
Photos by Anna Jones