Local Magic Man Performed for Madonna, Named Magician of the Year

His father was a costume designer and his mother a professional dancer, so it's almost as if Mio Rodriguez was destined to be a performer.

His father also dabbled in magic, y'know, the occasional trick.

"When I was seven years old, he would sit me on his lap in the kitchen and teach me magic with cards," Rodriguez said. "He would take me to magic shows, and he always told me how things were done."

Pops should be proud, because unlike haphazard TV illusionist Gob Bluth, this guy is getting love from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He was just named Magician of the Year by the south Florida chapter, and he has his own television series in the works. Clearly, his development is anything but arrested.

Despite his upbringing, Rodriguez fought the initial urge and pursued a career as an actor. It wasn't until his late 20s that he was reintroduced to abracadabra. He was living in Dallas, Texas, and his next-door neighbor taught him the basic fundamentals of a new style that would rekindle the fire.

"He said, if I could learn these seven moves of close-up magic, I could be a magician." With those moves added to his dad's tricks, he was confident he could make a living out of it. "I discovered that close-up magic was something I was really good at."

Rodriguez has successfully worked as a magician for the last 24 years. He's an entertainer for hire. You may know him as Mio the Magician, and he's finally getting the recognition every magician wants.

Mio the Magician specializes in close-up magic and mentalism. Close-up magic, as the term implies, is when a magician performs magic tricks before an intimate audience. To be clear, there's no "far away magic," but the closest thing would be stage magic.

When you have a magician on a grand stage in front of a large audience, "it may look like a woman is really being cut in half, but that's an illusion that looks good due to all the money they spend on props and lighting and taking the distance into account."

With close-up magic, there is less spectacle, so it comes off as more authentic.

"In my magic, the card really does rise out of your hand," he said. "The card you think of appears in your hand or in my deck upside down - those are things that actually happen in front of your eyes. That's close up magic; it's more so to the point and interactive."

Rodriguez also practices a relatively new brand of magic. He can read your mind.

"Mentalism is like grown-up magic," he said. Children are easily fooled by a slight of hand, but adults are usually harder to trick.

"An adult may think mentalism is real because people do agree people can read other people's minds," he said, a belief mentalists take advantage of.

When Rodriguez discovered he was to be honored by his peers as Magician of the Year, he was happy, but not shocked.

"Though I'm surprised that they gave it to me, I'm not surprised that I got it," he said. "In other words, I feel like I've earned it, and I'm just happy that they also felt that way."

The International Brotherhood of Magicians, Rodriguez explained, is the largest organization of magicians in the world. The organization divides into local sections, Ring 45 being the South Florida chapter.

"Technically speaking, the award is not for the nation, it's not even for the entire state of Florida, but it is for our half of South Florida."

It seems the timing is perfect. Aside from his usual gigs as an entertainer (he's performed at private parties for Madonna, Barbara Streisand, and the Miami Heat), he is currently working on filming the pilot for a possible television series.

With the help of WPBT, the local PBS station, Rodriguez is working on Life is Magic, a show that "helps people become aware of the magic around them."

"We go to magical places, meet the people in those places, and do magic for them." For instance, he might visit scientists working with a partial accelerator, and he would amaze them with his magi. In turn, they would blow his mind with science, and both amaze the audience at home. It's all about getting that wow-factor, something a magician knows all about.

"It's about these magical places as seen through the eyes of me, the magician."

Of course, before letting him go, we had to ask: How does he do it?

"Can you keep a secret?" he asked. "So can I."

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