Doug McKenzie, Magician.
Since mastering his first trick at the age of 6, Doug McKenzie has carved out a niche for himself as one of the world’s most in-demand magicians, performing around the world for everyone from Harrison Ford and Lenny Kravitz to royalty and Silicon Valley billionaires. There’s no such thing as a typical day for this sleight-of-hand master, who, in addition to his for-hire gigs, regularly consults as a producer for television shows and live performances featuring some of the biggest names in his field, including David Blaine and Dynamo. When he’s not working on a concept he dubs Magic 2.0 with tricks involving social media platforms and cutting-edge technology (Apple Watch, drones), McKenzie can be found skydiving out of planes and hot air balloons—and thinking of ways to incorporate magic into his jumps while he’s at it. Here, the illusionist shares what’s up his sleeve. dougmckenzie.com; @dougmckenzie.
What are some of your signature effects? A person leaves the room with a deck of cards, shuffles them, and places any card they like into their pocket without looking at it. When they return, they receive a text message from someone who is hundreds of miles away that reveals the name of their card, despite not having seen it themselves or showing it to anyone else. On a larger scale, I have an effect where I’m able to change the New York City skyline. I once performed it on a whim whilst sitting at a red light for a cabdriver in the car next to me. The stoplight changed for him to go and he just sat there in disbelief, blocking traffic.
Is there a favorite piece of magic you like to perform? I have a lot of magic where I reveal very personal pieces of information that people are merely thinking of; sometimes it’s their ATM PIN code, the name of a friend they haven’t thought of in years, or even a secret that they have never told anybody. When the magic is as personal as that, you really get a sense of how powerful it can be.
What are you currently working on? I have a keen interest in drones and have a lot of magical ideas with them. For my purposes, the technology isn’t quite there yet, but drones are here to stay and I like to be ahead of the curve.
What’s an easy trick to impress the ladies? If magic was easy, it wouldn’t be that impressive. If, however, you’re looking for a cheap trick, then puppies, roses and ice cream are always a good place to start.
Any advice for magicians starting out? Stop practicing in front of the mirror, and go out and perform. You’ll learn a lot more about your magic and yourself that way.
Has anyone ever fooled you? I was once in London at a members’ club called Tramp. The guy who ran the place had this amazing ability to create a knocking sensation on my toe despite standing on the other side of the room, well out of reach. To this day, I have no idea how he did it.
Who is your personal magic hero, and why? There was an amazing mentalist named Chan Canasta who was very active during the 1950s and ’60s in the United Kingdom. He once convinced his BBC television audience that he could remotely turn off all of the television sets around the U.K., and then proceeded to do so. Viewers from all around the country called the channel to complain the next day and Chan Canasta made national headlines. I love that! At the end of his career he became an artist in the more traditional sense and took up painting. I have tracked down a number of his pieces and they hang on my wall for daily inspiration.
I never leave home without… A deck of cards in my left pocket and my iPhone in my right.
What do you love most about your job? Unlike most other art forms, magic can be performed anytime, anywhere, and can be easily appreciated by people of all ages and backgrounds, even if they don’t speak the same language. I have always used that to my advantage.
Is there such a thing as magic? Absolutely. Magic lives in the mind. You can create true magical moments for people that cannot be explained in any other way.
WRITTEN BY LINDSAY KINDELON and DANIELLE DIMEGLIO.