There are a number of magicians that have influenced my magic career. One of the most influential – and my all-time favorite magician – is David Copperfield. I think it is safe to say that he has had some level of influence on all current-day magicians. Oprah Winfrey calls him, "The greatest illusionist of our time."
Copperfield started learning magic as a young kid and was an accomplished magician by the age of 12, when he was invited to join the Society of American Magicians. He credits magic with helping him overcome his insecurities (something we have in common), and he began teaching a course called “The Art of Magic” at New York University when he was only 16.
One of my earliest memories of Copperfield is of one of his TV specials. CBS contracted him to do a yearly special, which became known as “The Magic of David Copperfield,” for which he won a total of 21 Emmys. I recorded all of his specials on my parents VCR, but the one show in particular is where he did a linking cards trick, involving linking three cards together. It was fascinating to me because it was close-up magic, but on TV. I watched the recording hundreds of times - over and over and over until I figured out how he did it. That was probably the first time I learned a magic trick in a way other than from a book, and that really solidified my interest in magic.
Copperfield is one of the wealthiest celebrities, second only to Oprah, and he does more than 500 performances a year – sometimes as many as four a day. He has sold more than 40 million tickets (putting him ahead of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Elvis) and grossed over $4 billion, which is more than any other solo entertainer in history. I have attended his show several times. One of the shows I saw was in Dallas, and I was randomly selected to be on stage and be a part of his grand finale.
For his finale effect, he had these huge, ginormous beach balls that he threw out into the audience and we batted them around. When the music stopped the people holding the beach balls were asked to come up on stage and be a part of the effect. It was one of the most spectacular magical moments I’ve experienced in my life, and afterwards, we all got to go back stage and meet him and shake his hand.
What I most admire about Copperfield is the way he presents his effects and his interactive style of magic. I feel he is the best at capturing the audience and getting them to interact with him. There is no sitting back observing from afar. He gets so many audience members on stage and is so interactive. I think it increases the value of the show to have audience members participate, so I’ve taken a page from his book, and I structure my shows the same way. They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
I also do one of “his” effects in many of my shows as an homage to him. Although he didn’t invent the “Flaming Rose” effect, it is one that he is known for performing. I first saw him perform it on one of his TV specials in the 80s, and although I don’t do it exactly the same way he does, I try really hard not to mess it up.
Something that people may not know about Copperfield is that he is the owner of the world’s largest collection of magic memorabilia. He founded The International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, which houses the world's largest collection of historically significant magic memorabilia, posters, books, props and artifacts. The museum comprises approximately 80,000 items of magic history, including Houdini's Water Torture Cell and his Metamorphosis Trunk. It also includes the only known recording of Houdini's voice—preserved on the original Edison wax cylinders.
There are many excellent magicians, some famous and some not so famous. From time to time I will highlight some of my favorites, and I’d love to hear who you think is the best. No matter your opinion on Copperfield, I think it is safe to say that he has forever changed the future of our art and has shown that there are no limits- that magic is as vast as the imagination.
For more on Copperfield, check out the following links:
David Copperfield Website: www.davidcopperfield.com
Wikipedia: David Copperfield (illusionist): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Copperfield_(illusionist)
Forbes: “Magician Copperfield’s $800 Million Fortune Could Make Him a Future Billionaire” : http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2013/09/25/magician-david-copperfields-800-million-fortune-could-make-him-a-future-billionaire/