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.”
We all know New York can be a magical place. But did you know that there’s real magic happening here? You only have to know where to find it.
Back in the 1800s, parlor magic was all the rage. European aristocrats would invite conjurers to entertain their guests with sleight-of-hand. Today, the tradition continues, and you don’t have to be a Vanderbilt to be invited. You do have to dress up, though.
Steve Cohen is “the Millionaire’s Magician” — he’s performed for Warren Buffet and the queen of Morocco, even at […]
I will be touring in September, and hope you can help spread the word. Tickets are now available for Chamber Magic performances in Atlanta. That’s right, Atlanta! The show will be identical to my long-running Waldorf-Astoria show in New York.
I’m excited to announce the following tour dates:
Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta
75 Fourteenth Street NE
September 21 and 22
(Four performances – 7pm and 9:30pm each night)
More details […]
Magicians and secrets have a funny relationship. The normal people who comprise our audiences watch us perform miracles and cannot begin to imagine how a person might learn the requisite techniques and other arcane knowledge to accomplish the impossible. Magicians on the other hand know all about the vast oceans of literature (in print and on film) obsessively detailing and documenting the history and lineage of all these bizarre, clever and wonderful ideas. They know you can walk into a magic shop and buy whatever you like without having to fight a dragon or some other kind of mystic wizard’s trial. They worry that their audiences will run home after watching a performance and look for the explanations on YouTube. The “secrets” are out there, if you care enough and know where to look. And yet, magicians and laymen can look at the same “miracle” and both be mystified—if for different reasons.
For example, many close-up magicians know the story of Max Malini’s famous production of a brick or a block of ice from under a hat as recounted by Dai Vernon in Stars of Magic. Vernon was tasked with watching Malini over the course of an evening’s dinner performance to try to pin down the little man’s sleight-of-hand secrets—in particular the the block-of-ice-under-the-hat trick. Throughout the full evening’s meal, Malini never left the table. Malini then proceeded to perform the trick and “…when Malini lifted the hat, a block of ice the size of four fists lay in the center of the table […] Vernon swears to this day that ‘The little bugger had no time to load up.’” While the regular audience members wondered how the ice got under the hat, Vernon was dumbfounded as to how the ice got to the table at all. A bribe to the waiter proved unsuccessful, and they never found out from where Malini had procured the ice.
On the other hand, whenever Steve Cohen performs the trick as the opener of his exclusive Miracles At Midnight show, the source of the block of ice is somewhat less of a mystery. The show is his second as part of his residence at the über-opulent Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. The kitchen at the Waldorf-Astoria is located on the second floor and takes up the area of a full city block. “They have a huge walk-in freezer, and they’ve let me have a whole shelf in there just for blocks of ice for this trick. I used to go down myself to fetch the ice, but it gets so cold in that freezer that our arrangement now is that I simply ring down to the kitchen and they run one upstairs for me at the beginning of each show.” Of course. Everything’s easy once you know the secret.
But while Steve’s audiences—like Malini’s—are astounded at the appearance of the ice under the hat, magicians marvel at something else. They don’t marvel at how the ice appeared under the hat or how the ice got to the table, but at how Steve Cohen himself has managed to “magically appear” in residence at the Waldorf-Astoria with not one, but two elegant, high-end magic shows—one of which costs $250 per person. For close-up magic! And coming this January, Steve will be premiering a stage show at a local Manhattan venue named Carnegie Hall. Compared to those “miracles”, blocks of ice and bricks under hats might as well be the old stretching thumb trick your uncle does […]
Have you ever wanted to see the inside of the legendary Friars Club in New York City? It’s a private members-only club with rich show business history. Then read on, and enjoy a few in-action photos from my recent induction ceremony, held on September 20, 2011. The ceremony was held in the Frank Sinatra dining […]
My favorite comment after returning from my Philadelphia tour was an email I received from a guest. He wrote, “Your show is a thing of beauty, a magical symphony.” Wow. What a nice compliment. But I must say that Philadelphia audiences – who came out in droves to the magnificent Four Seasons hotel last week – made my job a pleasure indeed.
Whenever I launch the show in a new city, there is considerable risk on my part. Will people show up? How do I get the word out? Do I have any fans in that city who can help drum up interest?
Fortunately, Philadelphia is close enough to my home base in NYC that the word spread quickly. I even got a little advance press on a cool blog that has a large local following. The four shows sold-out swiftly, even before I arrived in town.
Another part of the risk in performing in a new city is that […]
It’s the dream of any performer to stand on-stage at Carnegie Hall, presenting what they’ve trained their entire life to perfect.
I’ll have my chance on January 12, 2012, and I’d love it if you would share this momentous evening with me.
Carnegie Hall has three performance venues – I’ll be performing in their most intimate: Weill Recital Hall. Tickets went on sale this morning at 11:00am, and the box office tells me that they had people queuing up on the phones, waiting for the sale to begin.
This is a one-night only performance of my stage show “Theater of Wonder” – which is entirely different from “Chamber Magic,” now in its eleventh year at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. If you’ve been to my smaller show and want to see more magic, “Theater of Wonder” is for you.
Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall box office (57th Street and Seventh Avenue), through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or online […]
Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and her longtime collaborator, pianist Lambert Orkis are good friends of mine. Last weekend, we had a lovely dinner at Bar Boulud in NYC immediately following their recital at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. It was the last performance of Anne-Sophie’s year-long residency with the New York Philharmonic.
As dessert was served, Lambert casually mentioned something that instantly caught my attention – his rules on how to always give a perfect performance. He called these rules “The Seven C’s.” Coming from a Grammy award-winning veteran performer, I knew that his rules would be worth memorizing, and recording here on my blog for others to learn from.
He was kind enough to write up a summary of our conversation, and I’m honored to present his rules on my blog.
Here are Lambert Orkis’ Seven C’s:
CALM, CONCENTRATE, COUNT, COMMAS, COURAGE, CHOICE, CONSISTENCY
Stay CALM: Your higher mental functions are blocked when […]
Before serving dinner at a dinner party in Manhattan, my host asked that I do “a little something” for the guests. I declined politely — I don’t like to perform when I’m not actually working — but when people hear that there’s a magician at the table, they expect to see a trick. These were not children, mind you, but some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in New York.
I turned to the woman next to me and asked for one of her earrings. She was hesitant to remove one of her diamond studs for a magic trick. She thought I might damage it. But when our host nodded his approval, she allowed me to remove it.
“The Flying Earring Trick!” I announced, holding up my hand to silence the guests. The glittering diamond earring rested in my left palm, shining in the light from the chandelier overhead. I slowly closed my hand into a fist, and explained that I would make the earring fly – invisibly! – from one fist into the other. All of the guests looked at me with skepticism as I opened my left fist: empty. They craned their necks in closer. I then opened my right fist: also empty. The lady’s face turned pale.
“If the earring didn’t fly into my other hand, it could only have gone one other place.” I pointed to […]
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 […]