The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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September 11, 2008

Phenomenal trend: Illusionist part of a new identity for magical arts

By Joe Hadsall

jhadsall@joplinglobe.com

Magician Mike Super insists he wasn’t the best among 10 magician-contestants in NBC’s “Phenomenon,” even though he won the $250,000 top prize.

“It’s hard when someone’s art is put in competition with another’s art,” Super said. “I just look at it like I was performing well that day. It’s not like I’m better than anyone else on that show.”

Super — which is his real name, he said — will be on stage at 7 p.m. today at Memorial Auditorium in Pittsburg, Kan. The performance is part of Pittsburg State University’s Performing Arts and Lecture Series.

There were — among the millions watching “Phenomenon” when it aired last fall — likely some viewers who thought his effects were just prearranged camera tricks, done with the audience’s willing complicity. Super said he is ready to prove those viewers wrong by performing some of those winning illusions.

“We’ll solve a murder, do some voodoo magic and some of the other acts on ‘Phenomenon,’” he said. “People will know there were no stooges on that show.”

Super has been involved in magic since, as a 6-year-old, he watched a magician perform close-up magic at Walt Disney World. From there, he was hooked — he used to perform shows in his back yard, wearing a black Dracula cape from an old Halloween costume.

Since then, the Pennsylvania-born magician has performed for thousands, including Regis Philbin, Joan Rivers, Paul Reiser and Robin Leach.

Taking inspiration from David Copperfield and Doug Henning, he developed a performance style that brings the spontaneity and realism of street magic to the stage. Instead of using assistants and stagehands, many of his effects are performed with audience members.

During a typical show, a spectator might find himself on stage, levitating about four feet above the ground, or disappearing for almost three minutes.

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