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steve cohen***

Steve Cohen bills himself as the Millionaires’ Magician, and while this spectator and his wife fall more into the category of the 99%, Steve did manage to make us feel like a million bucks.

Steve has very cleverly carved his niche by marketing himself as the heir to such conjurors as Malini, Hofzinser, and David Abbott; they were magicians who entertained in posh salon venues performing for select, intimate-sized audiences. In this case, our posh salon is a suite in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a suite that seats about fifty people. The magic happens before our eyes, no more than a few feet away. In Steve’s introductory remarks, he tells us that our suite is just down the hall from the Presidential suite, the suite where US Presidents going back to Herbert Hoover have stayed. He also tells a true story about what happened when the Clintons came to spend the night, a story that gets one of the biggest laughs of the evening.

The show starts off with a few entertaining card effects, then a coin effect with a Malini-esque twist, but the bulk of the show is weighted heavily towards mental effects. Part of the pleasure of the show is the inherent surprise of the effects themselves, so I don’t want to describe too much, but rest assured that you will be very mystified and delighted. These are all classic effects, and Steve’s methods are devious enough that even if you are familiar with these tricks, the odds are that you will be scratching your head over them. Steve has an obvious joy of performing. His skill in anticipating audience reaction and improvising when the needs arises is part of the fun. His audience management skills are superb too—he reminds me of that teacher in high school who you knew could make the noisiest, most chaotic classroom snap to attention with just a look. You never doubt for a moment that he is in complete control of the situation.

One effect that I will mention is the famous Think-a-Drink effect. First popularized by a vaudeville performer called Charles “Think-a Drink” Hoffman, the effect is simply this: people call out drinks, and those drinks are immediately poured out from one magic tea kettle. At the performance I saw this evening, the drinks called out included an Apple Martini, Rum and Pineapple, a Banana-Strawberry Smoothie, a Rob Roy, and Pomegranate VitaminWater. Lo, all those drinks were poured out from the tea kettle on command! All the drinks were then handed out to different audience members who verified each drink’s identity by downing each potion. Really a great effect, and one that Steve has now made his own.

Several other strong mental effects followed, but the one that shook my wife the most was Mr. Cohen’s Q and A, where people wrote down facts about themselves and Steve seemed to know all, apparently reading minds. Again, very well done, Steve does a lot of quick thinking on his feet, and the illusion of real mindreading is very strong.

Ninety minutes of powerful magic, not a moment is wasted. In my opinion, if you’re visiting New York City, and you only have the time and money for one show, skip Broadway and catch Steve Cohen’s show. Thanks, Steve Cohen!

In other news, I was thinking maybe we could expand this idea of the Millionaires’ Magician into other areas. The Millionaires’_____________ —fill in the blank! How about The Millionaires’ Poet, who only reads poems in the salons of the wealthy? Or the Millionaires’ Delicatessen Worker, who only makes pastrami-on-rye sandwiches for a select few in posh venues.

And so on.

Update on The Contest for Magicians: Entries have been coming in, but there’s still time to get your entry in, and to win a great prize. See here for details. I’ll be taking entries until midnight this Tuesday night, October 27th; then I’ll take a few days to read them all, put together the pdf, and award the prizes. I’ll announce the winners formally here on November 1st. So don’t delay, get in your entry today!