Interview with Howard Blackwell, illusionist. For more information, visit blackwellmagic.com or Howie B.Well on Facebook.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about a magician, so I recently stumbled upon Howard Blackwell through the Flowertown Players website, where he will be performing two shows, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 27. No matter one’s opinion about magic or illusion, I think most people would agree it is quite a talent.
Regan: How and when did you start to learn and perform magic?
Blackwell: I became interested in magic at the age of 12 and was performing shows by the age of 14. I started when I stumbled upon a magic shop in Knoxville, TN. After learning that I had a knack for sleight of hand, I was hooked. I began performing at birthday parties, schools and restaurants, and have been doing it ever since. Magic has always been fun for me.
R: Please explain the difference between “magic” and “illusion.” Do you have a preference? Do you mix both?
B: Magic and magician are the general term that is used and, as a result, I am a magician. Illusions generally refer to larger stage-sized magic. Typically, I perform these larger illusions in my shows, so I am also known as an illusionist. It is just a specialization, like any field.
R: Do you have an audience member come on stage to participate? What’s a notable performance on this?
B: My show is filled with audience participation. I like to immerse my audience in the magic and make them feel like they are part of the show. Because of this, every show varies, and each audience brings something different. I have had about everything you can think of happen in my show because of this! With audience participation, it is hard to predict what will happen.
R: What do you feel is your best magic or illusion trick and why? Is it a crowd favorite?
B: I am known for taking the old classic magic of the past and updating them for a modern audience. A perfect example — I perform the old linking rings (a staple in the magic community for the past few hundred years). I do it while making them float around me, something most audiences have never seen. In addition, I also eat 22 needles early in my show and I have a “mind reading goose” in my show. Those are a few of the audience favorites. I will be performing all of these in my upcoming Summerville show.
R: What is one of your favorite performances? What was it like to be on stage with the famous “Penn and Teller” team?
B: I love performing! Each audience brings something different to each show, like their own personality. Therefore, I wouldn’t say I really have a favorite performance. I love my larger theater shows as well as my intimate parlor performances. A few notable items were that I was recently able to perform a full illusion show at Google’s Christmas party and, secondly, I was a headliner last year at the Palace of Mystery Theater, the largest stage at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. As far as sharing a stage with Penn and Teller, it was certainly a career highlight.
R: What is “new” in your field? Overall, is it more dangerous than in years past?
B: A few elements of my show could be seen as dangerous. However, magic should never be dangerous. After all, my job is to create an illusion for the audience. As far as what’s new? Well, YouTube is something that magicians will always have to deal with for social media. It makes us have to consistently step up our game and always reinvent ourselves. Yet, I think that is good for the magic industry because magic is more popular than ever now.
R: What’s next for you?
B: I always have things in the works. I am working on something big for the Charleston community now. Hopefully, it will bring magic to the Lowcountry in a way that has never been done before. I can’t wait to finalize those details and make the announcement soon. In the meantime, my calendar is staying full and I am continuing to stay booked.
Mary E. Regan, columnist, is a publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.