Meet The Magic Man: Q&A With Gary Maurer
Author: C2 Magazine | Photographer: Photography by Anne
C2 recently caught up with Gary Maurer, South Carolina’s top “magic man” and one of the Lowcountry’s most beloved entertainers. Find out what led him to his unique career and how he earned the title, South Carolina Magician of the Year!
C2: You were named South Carolina’s 2010 Magician of the Year! How did you earn this prestigious honor?
Gary Maurer: Every year at its annual convention in Columbia, the South Carolina Association of Magicians names a magician of the year. The South Carolina Association of Magicians is made up of members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, an organization that has clubs throughout the state. Each club nominates and recommends a member, and that person’s name is sent to the South Carolina Association of Magicians. A committee of representatives from around the state then names the “South Carolina Magician of the Year.”
C2: Who or what was your inspiration for becoming a magician?
GM: I have always loved watching magic, but in 1986 I was at a convention in Pittsburgh, PA when a speaker was doing a presentation, and he was using magic to get his point across. I thought that this would be something that I could use as a teacher in the classroom. Well, once I got the magic bug, it didn’t stop. I started attending magic meetings in my hometown of Allentown, PA and started attending lectures by nationally and internationally known magicians.
The magician who influenced me most was Harry Blackstone, Jr. I loved the way he presented his magic and the respect he showed for his audiences.
Many other magicians have influenced me, but they are not household names—magicians like Samuelson, Burton, Becker—to name a few.
C2: Did you have to go to a special school to learn magic, like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry?
GM: I wish! Unfortunately, there are no schools or colleges where you can major in magic. I did join the local magic club (the Allentown Society of Magicians) and started attending its monthly meetings. I also started attending magic conventions where I would learn some magic from some of the leading magicians from around the world. But most of the learning of magic is by reading books on magic and sharing of magic techniques and ideas among each other. We actually have a local magic club on Hilton Head Island where we can perform for each other and hone our skills. We also bring in lecturers who share their ideas and tricks with our members.
I am very lucky to have friends who are magicians or entertainers who have been willing to share their techniques and magic knowledge. Local guys like Fred Reisz, Mick Ayes and Keith Bogart and the other members of our club are a wealth of information that have helped to advance my knowledge base.
C2: How long have you been in the business?
GM: I started performing in 1986. I started by doing birthday parties and performing at arts festivals in PA and NJ. I would do several shows a month, but became a full-time entertainer about 12 years ago.
C2: What is your favorite trick or effect to perform?
GM: There are so many that it would be hard to name just one. Depending on the situation or the audience, I have several. If I’m doing close-up magic, it would be “Three Card Monte.” On stage, I really like doing the “Snowstorm.” And if I am doing a show with a wide range of ages in the audience, I like the “$ bill in Lemon.”
C2: What is usually the audience favorite?
GM: I think that that would be the “$ Bill in Lemon” or “Snowstorm”. They also love it when I cut my assistant in half.
C2: How often do you switch up your act?
GM: Because I perform at several locations on the island, I try to have several different shows available each season for each location. The only problem with changing the act too much is that people will come up to me after a show and say “I was hoping you were going to do the trick I saw last year.” For this reason, I do not change a show completely from one year to the next, but only make minor changes. One of the problems that I have is that I have so much material that I sometimes can’t decide what to put in a show. If I do have a repeat private party, I make sure to change a good part of the show.
I have shows for children, family shows, corporate shows and adult shows. We have large shows with illusions and small shows that can be done in a living room.
One of the shows that I have been working on for several years is a show called “Bamboozled.” This is a show which is geared toward adults and has comedy, mentalism and prestidigitation. I have done this show at some local private house parties. What I really like about this show is that it can be performed for small groups of people as well as large audiences.
C2: Where are you from originally? How did you land on Hilton Head Island? Were you ever in any other line of work?
GM: I’m originally from Allentown, PA. My wife, Kim and son, Dustin and I were looking for a coastal area to relocate to when we accidently found Hilton Head. We immediately fell in love with the area and its people and moved here in 2002.
I have always told people that from a young age I wanted to be an entertainer, so I became a teacher. I was involved in education as a teacher for many years. My subject area was art, and I have taught all grade levels from elementary to college. I just went from one area of entertainment to another.
C2: What bit of magic that you perform was the most difficult for you to master?
GM: Well, being that I did not start learning magic until I was 35 years old, I found it difficult to master some of the card and coins sleights that are used in magic. Learning and mastering the “Three Card Monte” was a lot of work and took me about three months of working a routine and practicing before I felt competent to perform the effect for a paying audience.
C2: What is your rabbit’s name and what kind of rabbit is it?
GM: Monte is our rabbit. Audiences love our rabbits because they are so unusual. They are English Angora rabbits and look like a giant fur ball. We started using rabbits in our show about 16 years ago. In fact, our first rabbit was litter trained and lived in our apartment.
C2: Who makes for a better audience, adults or children?
GM: I enjoy all audiences. I consider myself a family entertainer and not just a kids’ entertainer. I love the laughter and wonder of kids and adults. There is a big misconception that magic is only for kids. When I mention to someone that I am a magician, the first words out of their mouth is, “Do you do kids parties?” or “I should have you at my child’s birthday party.” Some of my most memorable shows are the ones that I do for adults. When I am doing my shows during the tourist season, I am very aware of my audiences and know that I need to entertain everyone sitting out there. I am watching their reactions. Magic is not just for children.
Catch Mauer’s show at the following locations:
Coligny Plaza: Monday nights, through Labor Day, performing shows at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., rain or shine.
Salty Dog Café at South Beach Marina: Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, performing shows in the courtyard at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. All shows are free and open to the public.