In a world full of self-declared “experts,” magic is a great leveler. Even if you once dabbled in magic as a child, or think you’re quick enough to spot how a trick is done, professional magicians still have the power to amaze—not just through speed and sleight-of-hand, but through their commitment to selling a trick. And while television magicians can use spectacle and sleek production values to create a suspension of disbelief, a stage magician relies on the force of their charm, and, frequently, on the personalization of the encounter. A magician asks an individual to pick a card, any card; that person draws a physical card. A tangible connection is made, and the foundation for trust is built.
Part of the joy of magic for an audience member is to be right there as a familiar object you held in your own hands—or in your mind—is transformed by the magician into an experience. But can that wonderment translate across digital platforms in the same way? Magicians around the Bay Area are rising to the challenge.
A New Stage and Reworked Show
For longtime Daly City-based magician Christian Cagigal, the pivot to digital has been an interesting undertaking, in part because he’s spent many years deliberately crafting shows that hearken to a pre-computer age. Think Wunderkammer and antique music boxes and a Victorian parlor aesthetic. Even his “semi-autobiographical” show, Now and at the Hour—which he committed to camera with the help of filmmaker H.P. Mendoza—incorporated a live audience, and his close-up-magic-on-camera show Obscura also relied on the physical presence of its rapt attendees.
Fortunately, in order to be able to tour as a magician, Cagigal had already worked up a set of more standard, less atmospheric magic that could easily be adapted to a number of stages and lineups. For the last two years he’s traveled between New York City and the Bay Area, establishing himself bi-coastally at events such as Speakeasy Magick at the McKittrick Hotel, Odd Salon, and as the owner of the San Francisco Ghost Hunt. Thus prepared, he’s thrown himself into repurposing his material even further for an online audience.
Cagigal's experience setting up his magic table and filming it live for Obscura comes in handy here. He’s already learned a lot about positioning his camera for the best angles, and making his hands the star of the show as they swiftly manipulate cards, coins, photographs, and envelopes within unobstructed view.