IN FRONT OF (AND BEHIND) THE CAMERA
The Chair was a short-lived television show in 2002 hosted by John McEnroe. They wanted John to do a knife-throwing bit. Knife throwing is not the easiest thing in the world to do, especially when there’s a living person in front of the target. John McEnroe maybe notorious for throwing things, not necessarily in a nice way, but he actually has a really good aim. But throwing a knife requires completely different balance than throwing a tennis racket, so we needed to create this target, have a person standing in front of it and have the audience believe that John McEnroe was throwing knives at them. We built this bullseye with balloons on it and(SPOILER ALERT!)fake knives hidden in some of the balloons so that when they pop the knives would “appear” in the board next to the person. John was having trouble with the mock knife throw. I used psychology on him, “Well then, would you like me to do that for you?”. When a woman says something like that it can be a great motivator for a man. He went from not able to able to do it perfectly in two minute flat. He performed it perfectly and it became one of their favorite bits. They wanted me to climb up onto the rigging above the set to observe part of the show. Now, I’m afraid of heights, really afraid. But the show must go on, right? So I went up there like a cat up a tree, but do you think I could get down? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.
They actually had to stop production to get me down from the stupid catwalk.
“Have you seen the magician? You’ve GOT to see the magician!”
One of my favorite experiences is when I had the privilege of working on Grays Anatomy 200th episode. The director had seen other magicians and didn’t seem very happy. I got the impression that he wasn’t expecting much of anything from me at all. Fortunately my mentor, Johnny Thompson prepared me for this sort of thing. I said, “You mean something like this?” And I ran a silk through my hand and suddenly there was a bird in the silk! The director freaked out, turned to the camera guy and said, “Oh my God you’ve got to put her on film and you’ve got to put her on now! I was the character they used for both the intros and outros for the commercials, and the main characters were talking about, not the jugglers, or the aerialists hanging from silks, but the Magician. Me!
Quicker Than The Eye
I have worked on many films and television shows as a hand double. They’ve used my hands for manipulating cards, coins, and other objects. I’ve also been the hand double for many female characters in movies when they need them to do magic. I love pretending to be somebody else’s hands, and work daily to keep them in great shape. I’m not found of wearing artificial nails though, because it changes the feel of what I do, and it makes specific tricks more difficult to execute. I have to charge extra for that.
Beyond The Footlights
I’ve also worked on Broadway, with the production of The Cherry Orchard starring Linda Hunt where I taught her how to do some basic magic. She was an amazingly quick study. My magic was used in the original Off-Broadway production of Forever Plaid and has been used in every production of the show. Too bad the Fire-Eating portion isn’t used due to current Fire Safety laws. I also worked with the Broadway touring production of Godspell with Adrian Zmed. That was, as they say, a religious experience…
I have worked on so many shows and I just love each and every one of them. They all hold such special amazing memories for me I enjoyed teaching them magic because you never know what they’re going to be good at and and what these people are going to be like and and sometimes when I come in I do that the hand replacement the the women that I hand-double for are always like, “How do you do that?, “Your hands are so small!” “How do you make that vanish?”, and “How do you make me look so good?”.
When I go in and work on these TV shows and movies that’s ultimately what it’s all about.