Local Personalities

Steve Owens

by Dr. Iain Corness

I’ll 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 true performer.
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 the USA.
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 performance anxiety.
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 artist!”
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.