NEW ORLEANS —I have always been fascinated with magic tricks. I’ve tried a few of my own but sadly, I’ve never been able to pull a rabbit out of a hat, if you get my drift. So this this time for “Camille Knows NOLA,” I wanted to speak to a local magician.
I have a ton of questions: How long does it take to learn a trick? How does it make you feel to see people get amused by your work?
Poof! Just like magic, I find a Canadian dog owner bachelor, and yes, a magician. He looks like a normal guy, nice smile and playful eyes — all things expected in a man, right?
His name is Dave, but in the French Quarter he’s known as D’artagnan.
Since December, Dave has been in New Orleans making believers in magic. Thousands of people pass by him every day. In fact, you may have seen him in the Quarter. It’s been more than a year since he started performing magic shows as a street performer.
How did D’artagnan get started? At the age of 39, he said, he started a bit late, he followed his hobby. He said it’s been a fascination of his from years ago.
“My dad was a very big practical joker. In order to get even with him, I learned a few magic tricks of my own and I fell in love with it,” he said. “I wanted to get back at him.”
Although he is somewhat new to street performing, he has been a magician for almost 11 years. Before that, he wowed crowds at private shows, including cocktail parties and private engagements.
“While I was having a good time, people were enjoying it and I was making good money, I noticed at some point you’re only performing for the wealthy 1 percent” he said.
With the influence of a friend, and a change of heart, he began performing for free.
“The first time I worked the street, one of the immediate things I noticed was the demographic of the people of the audience,” he said.
That was one of the main things he liked was being able to perform for people who may not have been able to see a real magician before. His eyes sparkled when he described this.
“If I had not become a magician, I don’t think I would have ever seen a magician perform live,” He said.
That’s one main reason why he enjoys doing it. He especially enjoys seeing children smile and laugh when the unknown happens with a clever move or trick.
And for Dave, it’s not all about the money. In fact it’s much more. This, Dave said, is his way of making a difference in the world.
“I want people to be able to press pause on their life for a second, enjoy something they don’t have to worry about, particularly people who aren’t having a great day, month or year,” he said.
He wishes that people will see the magic in a show and that it will resonate or provide hope in their life. Helping others, and making someone’s day a bit better energizes him to continue to provide magic in the Quarter, and other parts of the country.
He also does it for himself and for freedom.
“I wanted to unhinge myself from working for somebody else,” he said.
He said its good money — more than he was making at a regular job. On top of that, he meets so many unique people that he wouldn’t meet at a regular job.
He said someone once told him, “If you’re working for someone else you’re working toward making their dream come true and not your own,” and that is why he said a lot of street performers choose the street.
So, what’s a day in the life for people like Dave? He shared exactly what life is like away from his workplace.
He lives Uptown with a few friends and has a dog.
He usually wakes up around 7 a.m. and eats breakfast. After that, he walks his dog, Olive.
“I get all that regular people stuff out the way,” he said with a half-cocked smile. Then he makes his way to the Quarter on his bike, which he loves.
He tries to arrive in the Quarter around 10 a.m., but he rarely ever meets that time.
The time you come depends on where you want to work.
“It’s really a first-come, first-serve kind of thing,” he said. A lot of the street performers are all friends, he said, so they usually share spots and take turns performing.
He usually performs in front the St. Louis Cathedral, where he said most of the bigger acts perform.
“Yeah, most of the magicians work here between the garbage cans,” he said sarcastically. He works with other magicians, tarot card readers, musicians and the one guy that does a strait-jacket show and some juggling.
Who’s the man behind the Magic?
Dave tells us he is originally from Canada, but his family spent more time living in Georgia as he grew up.
He went to college in Canada but he didn’t really like it and didn’t really know what he wanted to do at the time. But entertainment was always in the back of his mind. He said he needed a creative outlet. So, ultimately, he decided to become a magician.
Outside of magic, Dave works as a copywriter.
As I mentioned earlier, yes ladies, Dave is a bachelor. As of late, it’s been Dave and Olive, so ladies you know where to find him. He said, “Spread the word, people.”
So why did he choose to come to New Orleans where street performers are plentiful?
“It’s a popular destination,” he said.
He also likes it because of the weather, particularly in months where it’s usually snowing up north. It’s sunny, which is ideal for street performers.
So how long will we have the pleasure of seeing coins fall upwards instead of down? How many card tricks does he have left to perform? How many “oohhhs” and “ahhhs” will he solicit from the crowds before, poof in a cloud of smoke, he’s gone and on to the next city? But it’s magic, so, will he be gone, or will he still be here?
“We go where the sun goes and where the people go,” he said.
Street performers usually spend three to six months in one location. As for the next location, “I’m not really sure what next is,” he said looking off into the distance toward the mighty Mississippi River.
There are places he has in mind, like Africa and Australia.
“There is a huge world out there,” he said, and through street performing he could do that.
When following his dreams he said he goes by something a wise person once told him — “Someday is not a day of the week. So if you want to follow your dreams, you should start yesterday.” There is no better time to follow your dreams but immediately.
I like Dave and find myself periodically glancing at his fingers and ears waiting for a coin or something to appear. I never did until the end when we shook hands and a nickel was left in my palm. I giggled like a schoolgirl because I still believe in magic just like I did when I was a kid. Do you believe?
Read more on WDSU’s website.