Sleight of hand: from party tricks to careers

Abby Nichol, Staff Writer

“Pick a card, any card.”; A magician’s favorite line. For some, the preferred line of work involves sawing people in half and making people disappear in boxes, while others prefer to trick the eye through the use of sleight of hand.

Two local magicians, Ben Ulin, a professional entertainer and Carson Jendro, ’18 both perform sleight of hand techniques. In the magic industry, Sleight of hand is a form of magic that uses hand methods and finger techniques to entertain and manipulate the mind. Its mysterious and puzzling origin has captured the interest of many young magicians-to-be. “Magic can be a very satisfying hobby, but to make it a career, remember first, that “show business” is two words,” Ulin said, “You can not just be a magician, you have to also work hard at it as a business and not everybody is cut out for that.”

Although it is difficult to learn and takes lots of practice, many people think they have what it takes to learn the trick of the trade. Ulin performs at Adventureland and was hired to entertain at parties and corporate events. Jendro performs magic as a hobby but has had trouble finding the time because of show choir and other activities that keep him busy.

Many students have chosen to make a hobby or even a side job out of their interest in sleight of hand. While it may not be a career choice for their lives, it’s one of many things they choose to do with their free time. It can also be an easy way to get quick cash. However, some have chosen to make a career of their interest in magic. “I assembled a show and had enough success that I became quite busy from client referrals,” Ulin said. “This led to many opportunities performing in a diversity of venues and types of magic,” he continued.

You can not be just be a magician, you have to also work hard at it as a business. Not everybody is cut out for that.

— Ben Ulin

Often times, aspiring magicians will spend substantial amounts of time attempting to learn how to do a certain trick. While some choose to simply give up and move on, others take a different route. “If I can’t figure out something, I will try to do it in my own way,” Jendro said. “Chances are, I probably wasn’t able to do it the same way they could, but I’m doing something to achieve the same effect.”

This method of innovation is successful in giving an element of originality to each magician instead of seeing the same trick happening at every show. Some choose to learn these tricks through watching Youtube videos or attending shows of those who have more skill or experience.

A professional magic show for some may be the equivalent of a game for athletes. This skill is one that can be displayed at a party or social event as opposed to showing basketball tricks or moves. “For a magician, your worst nightmare is being surrounded by people,” Jendro said.

As some may have seen on the internet, there are competitions that judge the best optical illusions of the year. Optical illusions, like sleight of hand, are known for challenging the mind. “I bought this really cool illusion thing where water comes down and it uses light that blinks super fast and it makes it look like water is just suspended in air or going upwards or downwards.” Besides sleight of hand and regular onstage tricks, another aspect of magic is illusions. “I just started building a whole lot of perspective stuff,” Jendro continued. “So if you look at it one way, it will say a word, but if you go a different way, it is a different word.”

Whether it is for the purpose of pursuing a career or just a hobby, students are practicing and perfecting their magic skills; an interest that could come in handy in a variety of situations, and even make them some money.