by Maria Thomas Staff Writer
Some students at Manhattan College consider being a Jasper a magical thing. The pride that fills our campus unites us in a way so mysterious and consuming that it feels unearthly. For one Jasper in particular, however, every day involves magic.
Freshman Mike Ficaro, often referred to by his peers as “Magic Mike”, has been practicing magic since the age of nine years old. He was first introduced to the hobby by his uncle. “He showed me a magic trick and I thought, that was the craziest thing I’d ever seen in my whole life. I taught myself how to do that trick, and then I learned another one, and another one, and here we are. “
His nickname, “Magic Mike”, began to spread in his freshman year of highschool. At first, Ficaro didn’t appreciate the title.
“I didn’t really like it at first, because I thought it was annoying and corny, but then it just grew on me. I think it could end up being my stage name, or maybe I’d just put ‘Magic’ before my first and last name.”
One of the most difficult aspects of practicing magic is the development of new tricks. While some magicians learn their material from books and video tutorials, those who make a professional career out of magic are expected to develop their own tricks. Ficaro says he incorporates a mixture of stuff he has learned from others and stuff he has created into his performances.
“I’m mostly self-taught. I read a lot of books that I got from a magic store here in New York City. Youtube is also a great platform. A great recommendation would be the book Expert at the Card Table. It’s basically regarded as the magic bible. Once I showed interest in magic I was gifted that book from a family member” Ficaro said.
Along with inspiring books and Youtube videos, certain performers have made a lasting impact of Ficaro.
“I saw Penn and Teller live in Las Vegas when i was about ten years old , and that to me was an amazing feat of magic and performance and I thought it was very interesting. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this could actually be fun’, and it just kind of snowballed from there into something way bigger. “
As with any profession, there are definitely pros and cons to being a magician. Ficaro said, “On one hand, it’s definitely a good icebreaker and a really good way to meet new people. To share that experience with others is amazing. As far as cons go, sometimes it’s difficult because I perform a lot of close up magic to people, and sometimes you get those spectators that try to make it about themselves rather than the performer. People will say stuff like ‘I saw how you did that, I know what you were doing, this is lame let’s get out of here’”.
While being a street performer has its ups and downs, Ficaro says he has experienced some of his best times whilst doing magic. Ficaro recalled one of his favorite memories.
“We were at the Millford Mall in Conneticut, performing magic for people, and the group we were performing to actually got so large that the security guards had to come over and tell us to disband whatever was going on, because it was literally blocking the entire walkway, from one store to the other. There had to be about thirty or fourty people in that group, all huddled in staring and our little hands performing card tricks. That is part of the joy of what I do.”