by Dr. Iain Corness
come clean. I am fascinated by magic, so when someone asked me if I
wanted to interview a young magician I had to say yes. I was not
disappointed. Steve Owens appeared with a plastic shopping bag, produced
a deck of cards and began to perform magic tricks, literally a few
centimeters in front of me. How he managed to change the Kings of Spades
and Hearts into two Jokers is beyond me. But not beyond him!
Steve is American, but not a noisy American, and admitted later in the
interview that he believes magicians should be humble. “Some people
think you have magical powers, and some take advantage of that. Working
on stage can make you feel as if you are on a pedestal. I didn’t like
that idea. It is almost arrogant.”
He describes his work as a magician as being a performing artist.
“There’s a difference between performing magic and showing it,” said
Steve, by way of demonstrating his personal approach to the craft, and
after watching some impromptu performances, I could see that he is a
Steve was born in Los Angeles, with both his parents ending up as
teachers. I asked if he had any siblings who were also involved in
magic, and he replied, “I sawed my brother in two. Ask my half-brother!”
However, the real answer is one elder sister who is not into magic, and
no two half-brothers!
A turning point came in his life when he was 12 years old, and as a
treat was taken to see the famous illusionist, David Copperfield. “I
thought he had a power!” From that day on, Steve became obsessed with
magic, reading every book on the subject he could lay his hands on. The
obsession took control. Some nights he could not go to sleep, thinking
about magic. “I would even dream about magic!” The obsession had taken
over his life so much, that his scholastic grades began to fall. “I was
a good C student,” said Steve with a laugh.
However, his application to magic, his real interest, was unstinting,
which meant that by the time he was 20 years old, he was accepted as a
member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, the number 1 magicians group in
To be a full-time magician was not practical, so he did what all young
folk do, and went to college to study computers, but very quickly
realized that sitting in front of a computer screen all day was not his
idea of a lifelong career commitment. He changed to Business, a broader
spectrum. While this might have taken up his weekdays, magic still took
up his weekends, but not without its traumas. The principal one being
His first public performance was almost a disaster. It was a free show
put on in a suburban church. “I was petrified. My arms went numb. My
fingers wouldn’t work.” But he persevered and finally got to be able to
control the fear. However, he still has it, and has to work through it
before each performance. “It is definitely not easy to be a full-time
As an example of this, Steve practiced so hard and so long with his card
tricks that he even ended up with tendonitis, the kind of condition that
workers on assembly lines for 10 hours a day would get. I even noted
that while he was sitting talking to me, he was repetitively working
with a pack of cards, still changing my two Kings into Jokers!
Having finished his Business studies, he decided to move to Las Vegas, a
city well known for its use of playing cards as well, though Steve
denied ever gambling while in the gambling capital. He also said that it
was not worthwhile to even contemplate a little sleight of hand card
sharping at the blackjack tables, as the casinos actually employ
magicians to make sure there is nobody like Steve at the tables! What he
did do was to hone his skills testing new ideas, one on one, in the
restaurants. He also met other magicians playing in Las Vegas and began
to allow his creative ideas to come to fruition. “New creative ideas
take so much time and effort. You have to beware of (people) copying.
It’s like music and plagiarism.”
He prefers the challenge of close-up magic, using sleight of hand with
the card tricks. “I don’t use apparatuses or props because people give
the credit to the device, rather than the artist, and cards are the most
challenging. A lot of magic is mental,” said Steve.
He also made his first contact with Thailand while in Las Vegas. He
rented a room from a Thai lady, who had been there for 22 years, but who
regaled him with stories about the Kingdom, and how she missed it. This
whetted his appetite for travel and he arrived in Bangkok, going to stay
for one week. “The culture shock on that first trip! The smoke from all
the Tuk-Tuks! I dropped my bag on the bed of my hotel room and said to
myself, what have I done?” After a few days he was more acclimatized,
and his one week became one month. He returned to the US and promptly
bought another ticket to Thailand and spent three months here.
By this stage, the ‘magic’ of travel was with him and he left the US two
years ago and has been traveling around SE Asia since then, using
Thailand as the ‘home base’.
His ambition is just to be happy. “I’ve thought a lot about life. You’re
here, so you may as well enjoy the rides!” However, he does bring
happiness and enjoyment to others, through his craft of magic. “People
do want to see different, unique and amazing things. Magic gives them
that - the Santa Claus feeling!”
If you would like to contact Steve Owens, this is his website
http://steve4magic. googlepages.com/home, and mobile 085 095 7498.