May 06, 2014
Ent Scoop Interview
“Intimate Illusions” takes the stage for the first time in New York City this May. Illusionist Ivan Amodei brings his award winning show home to the Big Apple on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 for six jaw-dropping shows. Amodei grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is excited to perform at the Roosevelt Hotel. “I love New York, I think it’s going to be an amazing experience,” said Amodei.
The Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif. has been home to “Intimate Illusions” for the past four years and has been sold out for three years running. Amodei is expecting an even bigger crowd in New York City. The shows are already filling up and the audience is expected to be between 250 and 350 people per show.
Amodei became fascinated by magic at the young age of five and has since won six “Peoples Choice Awards.” “I think the awards are really great, but the real pedal to the medal is when you go out and are working and people come to see you, that’s more of an award to me,” said Amodei.
He has performed for celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Jim Carrey, Dick Clark, Nicholas Cage, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. “They’re regular people. They don’t act any differently. I’ve done magic for Ashton Kutcher a few times—he loves magic. Ashton Kutcher asked me to hangout and drink coffee after. When he was with Demi, she would take my coat upstairs and would ask what she could get me,” said Amodei.
Ivan Amodei is bringing a new illusion to the stage in N.Y. For the past six months, he has been perfecting this surprise illusion. “This will be a great mother’s day illusion to bring to New York,” he said. No two “Intimate Illusions” shows are alike. Amodei has four hours of material that he alternates between each 90-minute performance. Differing from other magic shows, “Intimate Illusions” uses audience participation as a main part of the show. “A percentage of the success of the show is that people are not just sitting and watching, but they are actually participating and they are actually changing the direction of the show,” said Amodei.
“Intimate Illusions” has moments that make the audience laugh, cry and think. Amodei says it’s sometimes like a sit-com because the audience says things that cause hilarious things to happen to the members on stage. In N.Y., Amodei plans to perform “Up in the Air,” an illusion that fills the stage with hundreds of helium balloons with paper messages inside. The selected audience member will have their choice of any balloon. The balloon will be popped to reveal the message inside and the audience will be shocked. “Somebody in the audience is going to find a miracle when they decide which balloon they select,” said Amodei.
Another act that will be performed Mother’s Day weekend is “The Miracle Worker.” In this act, Amodei will turn water into wine. Other acts include “Mona Lisa’s Secret” and “Einstein’s E=MC2.” Amodei’s illusion shows differ from other magic shows by having more meaning than regular magic tricks. “I think magic and illusion have one distinct difference; a magic trick is simply a trick, it’s a stunt,” said Amodei. “An illusion has a meaningful storyline that makes you understand why I’m about to do what I’m about to do and it has some sort of a meaningful ending.”
At an illusion show, audience members will receive an overall uplifting message. “Mostly, you’ll walk away with an inspirational message because my show is about what I’ve learned in life,” said Amodei. He performs destiny illusions and time illusions to help others understand what he has learned. His favorite trick to perform is an illusion around a glass barrel full of scrabble pieces. Audience members reach in to see if they hold their own fate in their hands, and they find out they do.
By following his destiny, Amodei has found that he is able to love his life, he said, “I wake up in the morning thinking about it and I go to bed late because I don’t want to stop doing it—that is the most rewarding thing.”
Read article on Entertainment Scoop Website
July 13, 2013
Boston at Night Interview
For many magic fans, the bigger the better. Make a building disappear, they think, and you have earned my applause. But as any good magician or true fan knows, however, it is often the smallest, most subtle deceits that truly amaze and impress.
Though he has won awards around the world and appeared in front of thousands of flummoxed fans (including the legendary likes of Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, Larry David, Dick Clark, Mike Myers and even royalty), Ivan Amodei prefers his audiences and his shows to be up close and personal.
That is what, for the past three years, he has eschewed calls from Vegas and Rome and instead commanded a ballroom at the historically luxurious Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles – an address so swanky and exclusive that his shows have a black tie optional dress code!
For those who know how to tie one on (a bowtie, that is!), Amodei delivers enormous fantasy in an intimate setting. Such will be the case when he brings his award-winning act to Boston for an exclusive engagement at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers' Georgian Ballroom for two nights only – Friday, July 19th (7:00pm & 9:30pm) and Saturday, July 20th (4:00 p.m., 7:00pm & 9:30pm).
Having recently become an American citizen, the Sicilian-born Amodei is looking forward to coming to the birthplace of the American dream.“This is an honor for me to perform in Boston,” Amodei says. In an effort to show his appreciation and gratitude, Amodei will not only be donating part of the proceeds from his shows to the One Fund to help victims of the Marathon bombings, he will also be bringing a brand new illusion to his Hub hosts. “I know the city has been challenged this year,” Amodei says, “and I wanted to create a new illusion that would really reflect on their resilience and strength. As the birthplace of our nation they are a perfect example, we can over come any set back and accomplish great things!”
When asked what first drew him to magic, Amodei explains that, when he was five years old, he saw a family friend perform a few “simple tricks.”
“I was hooked,” he recalls. “From then on I wanted to use my art to inspire others.”
While his magic has inspired many others to pursue the art, Amodei takes a larger view and advises fans that, if they are ”lucky enough to find your passion at any age, don't be afraid to pursue it!”
Such generosity of spirit is another element of Amodei’s shows that draw people in and leave them enrapt and overjoyed but always wanting more.
As his show was designed for high-class hotels instead of strip-side juggernauts, Amodei has had to craft his tricks and his entire performance to a demanding, well-heeled clientele.
“I wanted to create an experience for their guests,,” he says about the Four Seasons show he created four years ago, “not just a show. Something that brought people to another world- elegant, sophisticated mysterious but something the whole family could enjoy.”
And enjoy they have! So much so that, as he will in Boston, Amodei often performs three times a day! “The audience keeps it fresh,” he says, “since so much of the show relies on them and their interaction. It's fun!”
Amodei is such a fan of magic that he has also written extensively about it. “I deeply love this art,” he says, “and I think we can learn from those that have come before us. I think it is important find our own way to leave our unique fingerprint to the art. Writing books, working constantly as a live performer all of it leaves something for future generations.”
In addition to leaving something for future magicians (and leaving his audiences’ mouths open), Amodei also tries to leave everyone with positive messages. “Magic is an art form that highlights what we don't see, what we are not sure we want to believe in,” he suggests, “but those that do, see it everywhere and can do great things. It's really about believing in yourself.”
May 29, 2013
Magic Roadshow 11 Questions
Ivan Amodei (e-von ah-moe-day) is an award-winning, world class performer on schedule to perform his 400th show at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on famed Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
His show, "Intimate Illusions", evokes feelings of intimacy and glamour, with a candle-lit Venetian setting and a star-studded audience that often includes the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Nicholas Cage, Jim Carrey, and Ashton Kutcher. Ivan's magic, both intimate and illusions, includes thought provoking messages of hope and values. He is a master of storytelling and drawing the audience into the magic, helped by his dynamic personality and artistry.
Aside from being the resident headliner at the Beverly Wilshire, Ivan frequently tours the country, selling out recent venues in both Chicago and San Francisco. Recently honored by the Mayor of Beverly Hills for his contributions to the world of Magic and Illusion, his show is currently ranked #1 on Tripadvisor for attractions in Beverly Hills.
Rick – Hi Ivan.
Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions for our wonderful readers. Tell us first what led Ivan Amodei to magic's doors. Who were your early inspirations and did you have a mentor (or mentors)?
Ivan – When I was 5 years old, I saw a friend of the family do some magic while guests were on the way. I was hooked and my journey began. I worked at local magic shop (didn't get paid though) and learned all the tricks and was demonstrating magic within a few weeks to the customers. I read all the books and by age 11 I was doing some hefty sleight-of-hand. I knew this was something for me to dig deeper into, even at 11. I really do not have direct mentors, but was able to watch Doug Henning and David Copperfield and knew there was a future in this field.
Rick – I can't say enough about your amazing show, Intimate Illusions, brought to life at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, best described on your site as located at.. "the most fashionable intersection in the world: Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Blvd." How did you come about securing one of the most desirable magic 'gigs' in all of magic?
Ivan – I had some connections to the Four Seasons company and I guess the rest is history. I told them I wanted something unique, upper scale and unlike anything a guest (that might have an opinion about a magic show) has every experienced. So it began and it continues on now into its THIRD year.
Rick – With two shows on both Friday and Saturday nights, it would be so easy to imply that working two days a week and off five must be a blessing.. but we know that performing in and sustaining a show that is on the verge of it's 400th performance is a full-time job.. not to mention that you also perform 'on the road'. How does a typical week look.. or is there such a thing?
Ivan – YES, I breathe eat and sleep my career. I actually need more hours in the day to finish everything. It never stops as far as scheduling tours, dealing with advertising, talking to contacts etc. But I also keep my show fresh by designing new illusions at least one a month. My show has considerably changed since it first opened. I'd say almost every illusion, structure, music and choreography is completely different. It's really full time job plus another full time job all into one. During the day, I take care of the business side along with my manager, publicist requests, interviews, etc. At night I work on all the creative and design new pieces for the show, including research, creating prototypes and rehearsal.
Rick – For the benefit of my readers who are not familiar with your show; it's performed in a lavish setting, yet very intimate, with candlelit tables, and guests dressed as if attending a Hollywood exclusive after-party. With no stage, you are free to interact with your audience. How does this show differ from your shows in larger venues, such as the Fairmont in San Francisco or The Ritz Carlton in Chicago?
Ivan – In San Fran we had larger audiences. 300-400 per show. The material changed to accommodate that. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, the shows were 150 guests and therefore, more material was moved in and out. No matter the setting, the show adapts and I customize as much as I can. What audiences love the most is all the audience participation and how they determine the direction of the show. Though many comments are that I use stooges because things like this could not happen, but I take that as a compliment, because it is to seem impossible. I have never used a stooge.
Rick – With celebrities in the audience, do you have a 'celebrity story' to tell?
Ivan – Some celebrities have BOUGHT OUT the show, therefore, the general public is not admitted, for obvious reasons. They bring their family and friends and have a private viewing of the show. I can't name who they are, but very famous people. Most are very gracious, polite and kind. We always have a great time.
Rick – I understand you perform an effect using 'pins' that is unique to your performance. Can you describe for my readers the basic premise? Can you also tell my readers a little something about the type of magic you perform.. (close-up, parlor, stage, mentalism…)
Ivan – My Houdini's Escape illusion is based on Houdini's ability to escape from any constraint one placed him in. He swallowed a steel lock pick and brought it back up when locked inside jail cells. I demonstrate his ability to swallow steel and bring it back up, but my version is with a shot glass full (75) of 2" tailor pins with colored heads on them. I bring the pins back up in color order that the spectators name out loud and then proceed to bring up the balance of the 75 pins that leads to a shocking ending.
The magic I perform in the show is palour and stage mixed together. It plays very big and does not always require you to see it. You can hear my magic and also each illusion has a storyline that demonstrates the story I'm telling and incorporates humanity and a deeper message in it.
Rick – What is your favorite effect and which effect consistently gets the best response from the audience?
Ivan – One Illusion called the Miracle Worker:
I talk about a man who walked the earth over 2000 years ago performing miracles. You witness a large glass of water change to wine before your eyes and then back to water. I then talk about the greatest miracle of all is not water to wine, but the miracle of…LIFE. I blow soap bubbles into the air and catch each one. As I drop the bubbles into the large water glass, they turn into LIFE – large Goldfish. More and more bubbles are blown into the air and I eventually fill the glass with over 30 goldfish from catching bubbles and placing them into the glass. Storyline and all it always get great reactions.
Rick – I really look forward to seeing it. Sounds amazing! I don't think some magicians understand the importance of storytelling and/or a compelling story line to compliment their effects. Time-wise, how much of your time is devoted to storyline development as opposed to mastering an effect? Are you strict about maintaining your performance or is it subject to change?
Ivan – Storyline is huge. My show is 90 minutes. It's not a 10 min act where you can come on belt out tons of visual stuff and then go. It's as long as most movies and it's just me and my cellist, so a storyline keeps everyone interested and waiting to see what is going to happen next. Techniques and mastery of the moves comes with rehearsal, but a great compelling story that makes the illusion come to life is much more difficult to find. It cannot be just tricks, the illusions must have meaning, depth, humanity and be presented entertainingly.
Rick – An article on your website details the 'Top Ten Secrets to Hosting a Great Event'. Without getting into great detail.. you list Entertaining, Add Music, Location, Attire, Trust the Experts, Expression, The Party, Consistency, Lighting, and Have Fun as the top ten secrets, along with the explanations of each, as most important. I see how each has influenced your show, with great success. But how about the 'average' performer who is performing at a local restaurant or school and doesn't feel that they have 'control' over the event? Can he, or should he, up his game and try to make each performance an 'Event' of it's own?
Ivan – If you are doing a restaurant gig, private party, corp show, etc the chances that you will have lighting, sound and all the items you need to make an experience for the guest will be rare. It doesn't mean you should not take the event. Experience doing the bad ones, the tough scenarios and the difficult situations make for a better, well rounded performer. You will learn more from the bad performances than the good ones. You need a place to be bad, but continue to never be satisfied and always try on the "NEXT" performance to be 10-20% better than previous times. It takes thought, work, persistence, patience and most of all passion.
Rick – Your book, 'Magic's Most Amazing Stories' could have been 'Reports from the Road'.. with stories from dozens and dozens of magicians about problems at the airport, hecklers, fires, animal horror stories, technical problems, lost props and moving testimonies from performers we all know.. Care to share a little sample of one of your favorite stories..?
Ivan – Possibly Houdini’s most famous feat was his jump from the Belle Isle Bridge into the Detroit River. As the story accounts, on November 27, 1906 Harry Houdini, after being locked into two sets of handcuffs, jumped off the bridge and into a hole that had been cut in the ice. He did not resurface. Panic spread through the crowd. Houdini’s assistants knew that he couldn’t hold his breath for more than three and a half minutes. the ending is classic Houdini in which I won't give away, but is amazing in itself.
Rick – One last question. I can't get tickets to see Celine Dion, much less employ her cellist, the beautiful Irina Chirkova, to add accompaniment and grace to your performances. How did you arrange this partnership? Do you find having Irina as part of the show a distinct advantage to 'assistants' as employed by other leading illusionists.?
Ivan – I met Irina through my wife as we were looking for a cellist for the show years ago. We have become good friends and she is a talented cellist. She can basically read my mind and see something coming and prepare. I love the idea of the live music and the cello, with its deep sounds to its high pitch noises, fits the show perfectly and audiences really love it. Irina is a huge asset to the show. I do not know of any other show of this type that has this and this adds to a more special experience.
Rick – I sincerely Thank You for taking time to answer these questions for Roadshow readers. I could easily send fifty more questions, but I know your time is precious. My wife and I are looking forward to attending your show on a trip West later this year, even if I do have to pick up a tux..
Ivan – Thanks Rick. and I appreciate the interview.
Read interview on Magic Roadshow Site.