Frank Alletto of Western Springs has two passions, poetry and magic. And they have something in common. A poet uses ordinary words to create extraordinary ideas, and a magician uses ordinary objects to create extraordinary experiences.
That’s what Alletto tells his students at Lyons Township High School, where he has been teaching English for 22 years.
“I graduated LT in 1992 and started teaching there in 1996,” Alletto said.
But he started learning magic tricks as a boy after he saw a magician at Disney World.
“I got a bunch of books about magic from the La Grange Public Library,” he said.
When he was about 8, he performed magic tricks at block parties and in the talent show at Seventh Avenue Elementary School in La Grange.
His interest in the hobby lagged a bit, until he was in college and saw a comedy magician at a TGIF’s restaurant doing jokes and tricks at customers’ tables.
“I was totally hooked,” Alletto said. “I started going to magic shops and watching VHS tapes of magicians.”
Alletto, who taught himself magic, performed on the side at birthday parties and restaurants during his early years of teaching. For about eight years, he also was in a band called Jank with his brother John.
“That’s how I met my wife. She was the special events coordinator for a bunch of bars,” Alletto said.
But when the couple had their second child, Alletto said he realized a part-time job that kept him out until 4 a.m. was not working anymore
So he resurrected his magic act, Frankie Ace Comedy Magician.
He has done 290 Frankie Ace shows at restaurants, festivals and private parties in one year, Alletto said. Five to 8-year-olds are his favorite audience.
“That is the giggliest and most adorable age,” Alletto said.
It’s also could be the loudest. At a recent Frankie Ace magic show in the lower level of the Hinsdale Public Library, the shouts and shrieks from the kids in the audience could be heard at the entrance.
For a time, he performed at Aurelio’s Pizza in La Grange, but the manager told him it was too loud.
“The kids were laughing and shrieking too much. He asked if I could do a quieter show,” Alletto said.
“I love to goof around with little kids and make them laugh,” Alletto said. “I think it’s genetic. My kids do it, too.”
He works so that the magic in the show is as entertaining as the jokes.
“I want the sleight of hand to be really good, so the adults in the audience watch,” said Alletto, who also teaches evening and online English classes at Roosevelt University.
One of his most popular tricks is the miser’s dream. Children pluck imaginary coins from the air and drop them in a bucket. There is a clank after each pretend coin is dropped and when the child looks inside there is a silver dollar.
Adults, he said, like card tricks and anything involving money.
“They love when I change a dollar bill to a $20 bill,” Alletto said.
Alletto can be reached at [email protected], Facebook at Frankie Ace, comedy magic, or at 708-721-4919.