Anyone with a handheld device is a magician of sorts. So how to explain the resurgence of old-fashioned magic in popular culture? Why are people falling for a brand of entertainment that seemed at its height a hundred years ago, when Harry Houdini was all the rage? Haven’t we moved beyond that?
Apparently not. In a private suite at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, Steve Cohen, known as the “Millionaires’ Magician,” presents a stately 90-minute illusionfest, Chamber Magic, five times a week. Last year he became the first magician in nearly four decades to appear at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and his refined act has impressed guests at the homes of Barry Diller, Martha Stewart and Warren Buffett, among others. And maybe that’s the role of magic these days – to provide a dash of wonderment for those who have seen it all.
A cluster of of well-to-do couples huddle in the lobby of the Waldorf Towers in New York City, buzzing with anticipation. At the stroke of 8:45 p.m. on Saturday evening, a tall man in a tailored suit ushers everyone into a gold-plated elevator – the same one that the President of the United States rides when he stays in New York. Primping and fidgeting, the group lines up at a suite at the end of a hallway on the 35th floor. 58 people file in for tonight’s magic show in Steve Cohen’s living room, run solely by word-of-mouth.
Cohen’s “Chamber Magic” shows inspire an intimate, old-timey parlor feel. Attendees, many of whom have purchased tickets months in advance, are expected to dress well. He doesn’t bother with hats, rabbits, or sleight-of-hand tricks; instead, he uses one gleaming tea kettle to produce five different drinks at the audience’s request.
At age 10, Cohen worked the elementary school circuit, appearing at kids’ birthday parties and Cub Scout meetings. Now, he brings in about 300 viewers each weekend – including high-profile guests like Martha Stewart, Barry Diller, and David Rockefeller – and a seven-figure annual income. “I put people in an environment where anything can happen,” Cohen says, pausing to sip Kombucha tea (the ginger helps his throat). “People start thinking, Maybe there’s another force in the world, and this guy has control over it.”
Being the Millionaires’ Magician has placed me into some pretty amazing situations. Like the time I entertained at the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington DC, during the Bloomberg after-party. This is the most “glam” party to attend, held at the Russian Trade Mission. Michael Bloomberg was there. Donald Trump was there. A-list celebrities at every turn. And it was my job to entertain them.
As I performed privately for two of the guests, I noticed that a photographer was furiously snapping pictures over my shoulder.
The photographer later informed me: “Those two men you just entertained were the Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Transportation. The only person who can usually bring them together is the President of the United States. And you just did the same thing with magic!”
This reminds me of another occasion, when Michael Bloomberg invited me to his Park Avenue office in NYC prior to being elected mayor. After chatting for twenty minutes about golf, memory techniques, and how to master a second language (he was studying Spanish), Bloomberg asked me to show him some magic.
Being the Millionaires’ Magician has placed me into some pretty amazing situations. Like the time my client — a high-end Israeli jeweler — hired me to magically pull a $2 million diamond necklace out of thin air. Or the time I performed for a wealthy businessman in Omaha who owns the original Louisiana Purchase document, handwritten by Thomas Jefferson. He keeps it on display in a climate-controlled museum case in his basement.
Last night I was booked to perform at a private show for just eleven people, in a Madison Avenue apartment in New York City. As always, I will not reveal the names or details of any people present, out of respect for privacy. Needless to say there were several billionaires in the room.
During the show, I asked the host if he had a favorite book. He answered, “Yes, it’s To Kill A Mockingbird.” I inquired if he had that book handy. His eyes darted to the corner of the room, and I followed his gaze. There was a hardbound copy of this book on display in a special place on a side table. He said, “I have another copy in the next room, but the one over here is a first edition, first printing. It’s in mint condition, and extremely rare.”
I took a deep breath and picked up the book. This would be my first time performing magic with a book that (I later discovered) is worth $25,000.
Instead of my usual routine, in which I handle the book, I opted […]
Today the NY Times ran an amusing story titled, “Calling Steven Cohen. No, Not That One.” The article states that there are too many famous Steve Cohens involved in politics and academia, and as a result they frequently get confused in the media. I was surprised to find that I was briefly mentioned in the article, along with other Steve Cohens: a wrestler, a soccer player, and (most famous of all) a hedge fund trader.
Hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen (shown above, with me and his charming wife Alex) has been to my show in NYC, and has also invited me to perform privately in Connecticut. We first met at […]
Billionaires, millionaires, media personalities, and other distinguished guests joined forces to support the Mercy Corps Action Center to End World Hunger on December 8, 2009 at the Magic4Mercy Benefit.
I presented a one-hour show that was well-received by business and community leaders, actors, fashion designers, and other luminaries including billionaire Steven A. Cohen, Founder of SAC Capital, and his wife Alexandra, who both served on the Honorary Committee for the event.
Once you’ve flown on a private jet, there’s no going back. I just landed in Cancun, on a Bombadier Challenger 605. And it’s all thanks to card tricks. My flight bag is loaded with six decks of Tally-Ho cards, a purseful of antique silver dollars, one red silk hanky and two false thumbs. Try explaining […]
Over the past ten years, I’ve met nearly a quarter of a million people (!) in my little show at the Waldorf-Astoria. Now you and I can finally talk to each other – I’m opening the doors to my magical parlor to you. Please follow my new blog – this is the first post. I’ll […]