Monday, March 1, 2010

An Interview With Rocco

By Greg Koren

The Ham Sandwich Theory is just one of the things world-renowned magician Rocco Silano will discuss during his March 5th lecture at The Magic Warehouse.

“I ain’t going to hold back nothing,” Rocco said recently from his home in Paterson, N.J. “If I can help someone to grow an inch, I will.”

The master manipulator will share his secrets of sleeving, a technique for making objects appear and disappear that thumbs its nose at the nothing-up-my-sleeve cliché, as well as other skills he’s acquired from his more than thirty years of on-stage experience.

“I want to leave a legacy for myself,” he said of his lecture tours. “I want to be remembered as one of the world’s greatest magicians. Not THE greatest—one of them.”

That’s been Rocco’s goal since he was 19, when he first became interested in magic and befriended sleight-of-hand man Bill Wisch, a protégé of Slydini’s who later introduced Rocco to the legendary conjurer.

Their first meeting was a bit—excuse the pun—rocky.

“I did a coin trick,” Rocco remembered, “and he [Slydini] said, ‘No, no.’ And I said, what do you mean, no? And he said, ‘Magic has to come from the soul.’”

This was a revelation to the teen-ager, who saw magic not only as a means of achieving fame and fortune, but also of getting girls.

“Right then I knew I had to get serious,” Rocco said.

Thirty-one years later, he continues to carry on Slydini’s soulful legacy. Watch him work with water, fruit, ice cream and other foodstuff, and you’ll see a man who brings the magic to his tricks.

Rocco is the only American to win two awards from the prestigious International Federation of Magic Societies, or FISM.

While accepting the second in 2006, for most original close-up act, he was surprised to learn of his own legacy. That year, Helder Guimaraes won FISM’s World Championship for close-up with cards.

Rocco said the Portugal native, who was then 19, reminded him of himself at that age. When he mentioned this to Guimaraes, the teen credited him with being his inspiration.

That’s what Rocco strives for in his lectures: to inspire others to find themselves in their magic.

“It’s the space between the notes that makes the music,” he said. “In the space between the tricks is your personality. That’s the real magic. You have to bring it out.”

Rocco works with food, coins, cigarettes and other ordinary objects precisely because they are ordinary. He looks for their logical transformations: water to ice, wine to grapes, oil to olives.

If those transformations don’t present themselves, he helps them along. Which is where his Ham Sandwich Theory comes in.

“Wouldn’t it be great if somebody asked you for a ham sandwich and you produced one, just like that?” he said.

You could go about it in a couple of ways, he said. One would be to walk around with a ham sandwich up your sleeve and hope somebody is hungry. The other would be to create the circumstances for hunger.

Once Rocco fast-talked a woman into saying her name was Joy just so he could produce an Almond Joy candy bar for her.

From Joy to Almond Joy, it’s the type of logical transformation people respond to instinctively, he said. “It leaves them touched with wonderment.”

After his appearance at The Magic Warehouse, Rocco will play a role on America’s Got Talent (don’t ask, he can’t talk about it), and his influence will be felt on the March 18th episode of Marriage Ref, when the best-selling trick he co-created with Roger Mayfarth, D’Lite, will play an as-yet-undisclosed role (don’t ask, he doesn’t know).

What is known is that Rocco Silano—ONE of the world’s greatest magicians—has achieved his goal of fame and fortune.

He even plans to marry in a couple of years.

But first, he laughed, “I’ve got to find the girl.”

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