Magician Andrew Mayne likes to baffle people with his tricks, but his wish is to be able to teleport.
American magician Andrew Mayne’s interest in magic was ignited as a little boy when his grandfather showed him a trick that involved making a coin disappear.
“He was able to spin it on a table, snap his fingers and make the coin vanish. It would then re-appear, sometimes in my shoes, or I would look up my shirt and it would fall out of my belly button,” the 41-year-old bachelor says. “I was just amazed by that and I wanted to know how to do that.”
As a teenager, he worked behind the scenes for a David Copperfield TV special. After high school, the Alabama-born magician started working on a cruiseship, performing an illusion show. He later headlined shows in resorts and casinos around the world.
Some other big-name magicians he has worked with behind the scenes are David Blaine and Penn & Teller. He has also written mystery and thriller books. One of his books, Angel Killer, which involves a female FBI agent with a background in magic, was the sixth best-selling Kindle Direct Publishing book in Britain in 2012.
Writing books and performing magic may seem unrelated, but Mayne says that they are both about storytelling.
“As a magician, I want to tell you a story. I want to create some sort of conflict and resolve it. If I borrow a bill from you and tear it up, I create a problem and then solve it,” he says. “In a story, I have a character whom you relate to, who goes through certain conflicts and then has to resolve them.”
Creating conflict is also something he does on his show, Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, premiering on April 1 on Lifetime. He pulls pranks on unsuspecting people on the streets, such as putting their identity cards into a fire extinguisher box through the glass. The people then have to smash through the glass to retrieve their cards.
He also doles out revenge for people, for example, a woman whose husband bought a motorcycle even after he promised never to ride bikes again after they got married. She seeks Mayne’s help to teach her husband a lesson for not keeping his promise.
The magician proceeds to put the bike in a helium-inflated ball, levitate the ball in front of her husband’s eyes, before shooting an arrow at it. When the ball pops, the bike disappears.
Mayne is not new to TV productions as he independently produced Wizard School in 2004, a programme aired on Public Television in America that teaches magic and science to children. He is also a partner in Jaras/Mayne Productions, which produced G4 Undergound, a cable TV news magazine series, in 2009 and 2010.
While he did not attend college, he admits he loves science and says it helps to be good at science as a magic creator. He also talks about science on his podcasts, Weird Things. He says: “A magic trick is a cleverly disguised scientific principle.”
Are the people on the show clued in on the trick or are they strangers you approach?
They don’t know that I’m a magician. We go out on the streets to find people. Sometimes, we take out advertisements online, asking people to participate in surveys. I try any way I can to get somebody to participate and not have him know what I am up to and what we would do. The important thing is that they do not know what is going to happen because then, it’s not fun for me.
Does anyone get offended or mad at your tricks on the show?
I like to tease people a bit but I don’t want to be mean to anybody. I never want anybody to meet me and have a bad experience. So I watch for that and am very careful that I can tease them a little bit, but they are going to have fun. The rule is, I want somebody to walk away and tell his friends about the awesome thing that happened and how fun it was. Like in any good prank, you go “they really had me” but you are glad you participated.
If you could make any of your tricks or illusions real, which one would it be?
Being able to teleport would be great. You can then travel anywhere you want instantly and not have jetlag.
Were there any situations in your life where you wished you could disappear?
Yes (laughs). I think usually at the end of any relationship. When the conversation gets awkward, I would like to vanish in the car or at the dinner table. That would be very helpful.
Some people do not like the smell of durians. Is there a magic trick that can make this fruit smell good?
There’s really fun stuff in magic in trying to play with other senses. There are magic tricks designed to work for blind people.
I used to do a trick related to smell, where I would pour shots of what you thought was vodka.
You smell them, they seem like vodka, and I would drink them and I would be fine. So I’d love to try to make durian smell good. It would be a good challenge.
Do you think stage magic is passe and that people prefer street magic to stage magic?
No, I think there’s a place for magic on stage. It just has to evolve. I see new stuff all the time. I think when people remember it’s theatre, they can make it really good. Theatre can feel dated or it can feel very contemporary.
Magicians are always pushing boundaries. Do you think these boundaries ever get pushed too far?
It depends. Magic has a lot of different directions that you can take. Blaine has done a great job in pushing boundaries and he has gone into a place that I could never go. I think it all depends on whether there’s an audience who wants to see it and if the person wants to do it, then that’s fine.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as still being alive. I would like to live forever. I would like to be remembered as making somebody smile or happy, that would be great, making somebody’s life just a measurable amount better because he had a good experience instead of a bad one when he met me. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network
Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne premieres on April 1 at 10.10pm on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709). Subsequent episodes will be aired at 9.40pm.