Metal Magic

Loud rock music, sleight of hand, and life in a trailer. What a combo!

"I love this," he added. "But I don't want to be drinking Jäger in the Keys when I'm 50."

On May 26, Trixx was preparing to hit the road. "Going to Baltimore on Monday to meet with Jeff McBride. He's huge. One of the best. If he likes me, he could really open doors." Then, the next week, Trixx was off to Boston to make his new DVD. Of this, he said, the goal was pretty obvious. "Vegas. Of course, Vegas. That's where every magician wants to play."

After leaving the trailer park, as he zoomed past the Island Grille restaurant (one of his steady gigs) in his battered '93 Ford Explorer, after he had talked about plans to shock the Keys (a Houdini-style stunt), and his Vegas strategy, Trixx added with an almost sweet softness: "I finally found something that I'm really good at."

Jacqueline Carini
Jacqueline Carini

As he drove away, it was difficult not to wonder: Is he really good at this? Is it possible that a guy who has spent six years pulling rabbits out of hats at the likes of Snook's Bayside and the Island Grille, who couldn't look less like David Copperfield, actually make it to ... the Bellagio? Is it conceivable that, with this rock/magic thing, he's on to something, a new genre, the successor to rock/rap?

Also, how the hell did he lift that table?

The president of the Magic City Conjurers is Merlina, who goes by Maria Ibanez among laypeople. After she dropped several references to obscure early twentieth-century magicians, called Doug Henning "my hero," and said she, like any serious magician, will inevitably go to Queens to make a pilgrimage to Houdini's grave, it seemed patently obvious: If anyone in South Florida can make sense of the Trixx testimony, it is the Society of American Magicians Chapter 280, the Magic City Conjurers.

The Conjurers gather once a month in a small back room at the Steak and Ale just off the turnpike in Kendall. Trixx didn't show for the June 15 gathering, but if he had, he would have been obvious — like, say, Kid Rock at an opera. The group was overwhelmingly male ("At least 95 percent of magicians are," Merlina said), older (50-plus), and retired. Most were dressed in street clothes, but two fellows were ready for Vegas: One wore slick Miami Vice-style threads; another sported the stereotypical tuxedo. Most of the Conjurers had names like Brazilian soccer stars: Herbini, Pepe, Mordeeb, Fantasio. It was a small crowd — only 20 of the 60 members — but there were all kinds of magicians: mind readers, coin tricksters, manipulators.

Around 8:30 p.m., after a prime-rib dinner, some administrative business, and side jokes (Mordeeb kept making balls disappear and saying, "I don't know what it is.... I can't stop playing with my balls), Merlina took control and kicked off an hour-long show. Good times, for sure. Mind-reading by Merlina, coin tricks by Herbini, a slapstick set by Rene, an elegant linking rings show by Sabu. A lecture on money trickery by Phil "The Money Man" LaBush.

But as for Trixx? Bupkes. Merlina had never heard of him. Nor had Pepe and Fantasio. Herbini, though, when asked later, was dimly aware of him. He knew Trixx lived in Islamorada and had a "rock and roll" connection.

Still, the Steak and Ale trip yielded two crucial bits of information:

First, Trixx's refusal to discuss his vanishing cigarette or table levitation tricks — that's standard. Magicians are close-lipped. In fact Merlina had warned the Conjurers that a layperson (nonmagician) was present. Whenever the magicians discussed a trick, they did so in code. Merlina's mind-reading stunt was explained, cryptically, as "a modification of the Steinmayer Principle." This is because all members of the Society of American Magicians must take the Magician's Oath, which binds them to "never reveal the secret of an illusion" nor "perform any illusion for a nonmagician without first practicing it to the point where the illusion of magic can be maintained."

Second, it was abundantly evident that, among this secret society, there was a hierarchy. Novice magicians, such as Sandy Gonzalez, didn't perform or have a magic name. Then there were the part-timers, who for decades had been practicing on nieces and nephews and doing part-time gigs. They workshopped tricks. (Feedback among peer-level magicians was generally positive, although Pepe, a retired ad exec, was not pleased with the way Rene, a karate instructor, used an assistant during a gag.) Finally, though, at the top of the food chain were a handful of elites. For instance, when Ricardo Roucau — an elegant, sixtyish-looking native of Argentina with perfectly coiffed hair — walked into the room, several magicians turned, reverently. "That's Fantasio. You should talk with him.... He was on The Ed Sullivan Show nine times. He's played in Vegas...."

If Trixx had come that night, where would he have fit into the magical hierarchy? Was he a Sandy Gonzalez, a Herbini, a nascent Fantasio?

At least one Miami magician made comments suggesting that Trixx wasn't exactly on the Fantasio track.

Wil Golden — formerly known as "The Liberace of Magic" and a graduate of Chavez College of Magic, the Harvard of its kind — chortled at the notion that Trixx was unique. "Franz Harary," he said, as if it were self-evident. "Go see He's very well known. He's rock."

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