Jibrizy, the millennial magician and hip-hop illusionist

Jibrizy Taylor is a hip-hop illusionist and magician. The Chicago native discovered magic by watching David Blaine when he was 8 years old, and that was a life-changing moment for the magician-to-be.

He began to fuel his dream by learning tricks, watching the greats. He then started posting videos to Youtube showing off his skills, and that’s when things started to take off. He became the youngest winner of the CW Television Network’s show “Penn & Teller Fool Us.”

Today, Jibrizy has amassed 182,000 followers on Instagram.  He dropped by rolling out studios to talk about his craft and how he has become a social media sensation.

What drew you to magic as a career?

I don’t really feel like I chose it, I feel like it chose me. I would die if I couldn’t do magic. … I love it that much. You cannot pull me out of the realm of what I like to do. I’m that dedicated. Read more

A grumpy magician who wears a dragon suit!

These days, John Van der Put is best-known as Piff the Magic Dragon. He’s a magician with an onstage persona that is somewhere between grumpy, irritating and disinterested. If you’ve seen him on TV, you’d remember him. He wears a satin dragon costume and is accompanied by a Chihuahua – Mr. Piffles, who has his own dragon suit – and a showgirl named Jade Simone.

Clearly, it’s an image that has been successful for him. He has a long-term contract with the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. And when he’s not there, he’s on the road. On Sept. 15, his wide-ranging travels bring him to the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, Indiana, for a single 8 p.m. performance.

It wasn’t always this way. Oh, the glum, moody attitude was always there. But his magic acts weren’t always such a big hit. For the better part of a decade, Van der Put performed at bar mitzvahs, corporate gatherings and weddings.

But there was a problem. People really didn’t like his act.

“Everyone hated it,” says Van der Put, speaking by phone from his home in London, “I would get fired all the time. It certainly wasn’t successful.”

When he started doing illusions, around the age of 14, he dreamed of a glorious career as a master magician.

“But it was just a hobby when I was younger,” he says. “It was something to fill the time. Then it became a job. Then it became something I could to do avoid having a job.”

The turning point – there has to be a turning point to his misery, right – came when he was invited to a holiday costume party. He didn’t have a clue about what to wear. But his sister happened to have a dragon suit in the closet. He was desperate, so he borrowed it and headed for the party.

When he arrived, he was the only one wearing a costume. He could have turned around and left. But hey, what’s a little more ridicule when you’re already feeling low?

“Since it was a Christmas party, I told everyone I was rein-dragon,” he recalls. So what did people think? “I don’t really want to know the answer.”

In an odd way, though, he found the experience liberating. He could be just as testy as he wanted and no one got angry with him. Indeed, everyone was amused. For a terminally disgruntled guy, this was a dream come true.

“When I found out I could re-invent what I was doing, I had a lot of fun,” says the 38-year-old Van der Put. “Basically, putting on a dragon outfit allowed me to say anything I want. Now I’m doing the show 400-500 times a year.”

When you do a show that often, though, there are bound to be audience members here and there who are frustrating. Or worse. But even that is OK.

“Now, I can say what I feel,” he says. “Instead of being fired for saying sarcastic things, I get to turn it into humor. It’s really quite amazing. When I had to do someone’s wedding, I couldn’t say these things. Now, people can’t wait for it.”

So, having unleashed this new vein of mocking wit, who is it who is attracted to his shows? And to his humor?

“Mostly, I aim for the people who don’t like magic,” he says. “You know – if you hate magic, come see Piff the Magic Dragon. I’ll turn you around.”

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Meet the Magician Who Taught Sandra Bullock Her ‘Ocean’s 8’ Cons

Meet the Magician Who Taught Sandra Bullock Her ‘Ocean’s 8’ Cons  Hollywood Reporter

Portugal-born Helder Guimaraes, who counts J.J. Abrams and Neil Patrick Harris among his Hollywood fans, also taught Cate Blanchett some sleight-of-hand moves.

To ensure that the many fake-outs in Ocean’s 8 ring true, writer/director Gary Ross enlisted a master of deception: Helder Guimaraes. The Portugal-born magician — whose dazzling sleight of hand has won him scores of accolades and Hollywood admirers including Neil Patrick Harris (who directed his 2012 show, Nothing to Hide), J.J. Abrams, Rob Reiner and even Stephen Sondheim — was brought on as a script consultant.

Guimaraes, 35, considers himself “a very honest person,” but his line of work — which boils down to “making people believe one thing while you’re doing a different thing” — offers unique insights into the minds of career crooks.

He later was brought back to the project to work directly with the stars, tutoring Sandra Bullock (she plays ringleader Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean) in the “psychology and principles of pickpocketing.”

After some hands-on instruction, Bullock’s first mark was director Ross. “She caught on very quickly,” says Guimaraes, adding that Bullock really got into the con woman mindset. “We spent a good hour throwing cards into a bin, while talking about the language hustlers use. She got really good at it. She was a natural.”

For that matter, so was Cate Blanchett, who plays Lou Miller, Ocean’s friend, who helps hatch a plan to swipe a $150 million necklace at New York’s Met Gala. Blanchett even managed to con the con man. “She asked me to show her my best move,” recalls Guimaraes, who obliged with a card trick. As Blanchett commented on the intricacies of his finger work, he “realized she was talking to me in character and not as Cate Blanchett. I kept the flow of the conversation going as if we were two con artists sharing insights and secrets.” When a crewmember announced “Places,” Blanchett floated over to her mark, a look of pleased mischief in her eyes.

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‘We’re more than just scantily clad assistants’: meet the woman making magic’s glass ceiling disappear

Katherine Mills talks about how she tricked her way into ‘the old boy’s club’ – and gives a mind-reading masterclass ‘Magic is still a bit of an old boys’ club’ … magician Katherine Mills. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian There …
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