As part of Valentine's weekend at the Montalban, magician Blaise Serra will perform on Friday February 14 and Saturday February 15. This young man really knows who he is and what he can do, as you will learn when you read our detailed interview below.
Blaise, I love magic as it can be very theatrical and transport one to new levels of joy. What do you feel sets you apart from other magicians?
BS: I feel that what sets me apart as a magician is my background as an entertainer and artist prior to becoming a magician. I became infatuated with performing first as a musician rather than as a magician, and I think my approach to creating magic is heavily influenced by music and theatre. It started when I was quite young and began playing guitar. I continued for years and had my first experiences on stage in talent shows and in a band. It’s because of that upbringing that I approach art and creativity based more on the thought process of the musician. In music, there are no secrets- rather there is an emphasis on originality and writing something new that can touch the hearts of listeners. Although I appreciate the classics of magic and the effects that have amazed audiences for centuries, I don’t have them in my show as I am much more interested in sharing my own voice and perspective. I try to constantly create and improve upon what I’ve done before so that anyone who goes to my show, whether a magician or not, will witness magic routines that they have never seen before. Through that approach to this art form I hope my audiences can experience a magic show that is unlike any other.
What is your specialty act? Is it card tricks? Mental telepathy via the audience? Can you be specific?
BS: I believe friends of mine in the magic community would consider my specialty to be card magic, as I have developed new sleight of hand techniques that were published as instructional tutorials to sell to other magicians. And although I love sleight of hand, my show is not centered on being a sleight of hand artist. Rather, the reason my show is called Through A Magician’s Eyes (TAME for short) is because I think my real specialty is giving members of the audience the feeling of really being involved in the magic taking place. Rather than making the show just about me, I enjoy creating a story that every member of the audience feels heavily involved in. By focusing on a connection between all of us, I like to bring everyone on a journey where they read each other’s minds or visualize things that become a reality in their own hands. Every member of the audience becomes an integral member of the ensemble of the show, where they truly feel that they can do magic too, even if they can’t explain how.
Who or what inspired you to do magic as a profession? Have you been involved since childhood? Is there a specific event that happened in your life that catapulted you to success in the realm of magic?
BS: I can remember the moment that I knew I needed to pursue magic as a hobby, as well as the moment I realized it could be my career path. When I was in school, I was heavily focused on academics. I thought I was going to go to a university and study computer science or biomedical engineering. I think now looking back, I just enjoyed problem solving and found that aspect of those careers interesting. Leading up to high school I was passionate about music and theater whenever I was outside of class, but I remember the day my interest in magic was sparked. We were on a field trip during my freshman year and someone on the bus had brought a deck of cards to play games on the way. I had learned a couple card tricks when I was really young but had forgotten about them, yet when I saw the deck I asked if I could play with it and suddenly bits and pieces of those simple tricks I’d learned came flooding back to me. I didn’t recall them from beginning to end, but I began making up tricks on the spot and performing for some of my friends on the bus. The fact that they were reacting so strongly to something I just made up was a feeling I began to chase from that moment on and I was hooked.
I looked up clips of the show Penn and Teller: Fool Us on youtube and loved the idea of freaking out my friends at school with tricks I had come up with. I already was in love with performing, but found so much satisfaction in the creative problem solving that goes into magic that starts with trying to think of an impossible problem no one has thought of before that you set out to solve it by any means. Once when I was at the beach I brought a deck and started performing for people all around just for fun to see if people I didn’t know would be just as entertained as my friends. And one of those people asked me for a business card, which I didn’t have, so I wrote down my phone number on a playing card and a few months later was asked to perform for a holiday party with hundreds of guests. I had business cards made and I began getting calls to perform at various other events in Connecticut and other parts of New England. Suddenly I found myself pretty busy getting paid for the thing I loved to do for free, and I realized at some point I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
Do you perform mostly in the US or abroad? Is the Magic Castle a favorite venue to perform? If so, why?
BS: So far I’ve performed all over the US but I’d love to venture out and hope to get booked abroad soon. I learn so much about people every time I step in front of an audience, and would love to be able to better understand other cultures and create routines that are relatable to and touch the heart strings of people all over the world. I have an act in my show based around that concept and how magic is a universal language much like music that is able to connect us with people from any background. So I’d love any opportunity to test my ability to entertain audiences from different cultures and continue to grow as a performer.
As for the Magic Castle, I feel incredibly privileged every time I get the chance to perform there, since that is kind of a Mecca for magicians and a legendary place I hoped I’d get the chance to visit, let alone perform at, back when I was living in Connecticut. Audiences there are so much fun because they’ve all come to see magic (unlike many of the restaurant gigs I did when I first started out) and are really excited to be a part of the show. But my shows at the Montalbán are certainly the ones I am most excited about, as I get to be involved in every aspect of the production including the layout of the space, lighting, sound, etc. to fully customize the experience for my show.
Why is Valentine's weekend at the Montalbán so special? What do you feel you will bring through magic to the weekend of love?
BS: My show is all about forming a connection between myself and my audience, and showing them what life is like Through A Magician’s Eyes. The goal is that when audience members leave the Montalbán that evening, they’ll notice the magic in things that usually go under the radar or are taken for granted. Love is the ultimate connection, and without being an illusion or trick, it is one of the most magical things that we are lucky enough to experience in life. I don’t feel that by just doing some sleight of hand I’d be adding to that magic. Rather I’d like to put a spotlight on the connections we already have to one another, amplify them, and bring to life something beautifully tangible to behold from a concept as intangible as love.
Who is your favorite magician of all time? Why this choice?
BS: Recently through getting the chance to consult and work with him frequently, my favorite magician is Shin Lim. I first began working with him while he was on season 13 of America’s Got Talent which he won, and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone more deserving of winning that competition. He is the most creative magician I know, and he is constantly innovating in the field of magic and pushing himself to improve upon what he has done before. Aside from that, he is a great human being and hasn’t become any less of a genuinely good person with the sudden influx of fame. While I was starting out in magic I wasn’t influenced much by magicians but rather by musicians and other entertainers with skill sets that allowed them to create art that could not be replicated such as Joe Satriani or Gene Kelly. However, a magician that I’ve always found incredible is Asi Wind. It’s funny that he also is both a performer and consultant (for David Blaine), and he is notorious for going to any means necessary to make an effect he has visualized possible, no matter how difficult it might be. Which is certainly a trait I admire.
Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?
BS: I hope that the readers enjoyed this little peek into my thought process behind my show, and I cannot wait to share with them the magic I’ve created for this Valentine’s Day weekend. Also, when I found out that there is an art gallery in the Mezzanine of the Montalbán I reached out to my friend Marwan Shahin from Egypt who is the most incredible artist I’ve met to organize an exhibition. So on Valentine’s Day the same night as my show TAME, his gallery APEX Mirage will be opening upstairs. I urge people to either come early before my show or stay late after it ends to check out his artwork - you will not be disappointed.
More information and tickets to my show are available at TheMontalban.com/TAME, and if anyone has any questions for me they can find me at @blaiseserra on all platforms. I’m so excited to perform for everyone, and I hope they can make it out to see Through A Magician’s Eyes.
(photo credit: Lionel Garcia)
Visit Blaise at BlaiseSerra.com
To reserve tickets, go to TheMontalban.com/tame