UI alum, magician records documentary

BY EVAN CLARK | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Nate Staniforth has an impressive résumé.

Since the magician began practicing the craft at the age of 10, he has performed illusions at bars and parties throughout his time as a student the University of Iowa, and he now spends half the year touring the country while using the other half developing more illusions in his basement.

But a certain phone call from one of his idols helped him truly comprehend how far he’s come.

“I had just got done doing a show, and I get this phone call from some weird number,” Staniforth said. “And it turned out to be David Blaine. At first I thought it was one of my friends messing with me, but it really was him telling me that he wanted to use one of my illusions for his upcoming special. He was one of my heroes growing up, so it was quite an experience.”

Staniforth will display his Blaine-envied performance at the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., at 8 p.m. Friday. Admission is $15 for the general public, $8 for students.

“Everybody knows that I don’t have magic powers,” he said. “It’s not about convincing people that I have powers, it’s not about telling jokes, and it’s not about special effects. As far as I’m concerned, go see Avatar for special effects. I love feeling amazed by things, and I like that I get to see how other people experience the show.”

Friday isn’t just a routine stop in Iowa City for him. He’ll be accompanied by 12 cameramen who are filming the event as part of the magician’s upcoming documentary. The camera crew has been following Staniforth on his tour for the past eight months, but he is putting all the pressure on this one last show.

“I’ve been on tour since August, and the camera crew has been filming all the shows,” he said. “We’re ending the documentary Friday night at the Englert. I want to give the show of my life because it will either be a smash success or the most expensive YouTube video of all time.”

UI senior Matt Peters — who caught Staniforth’s previous show at the Englert in 2007 — said he admired the uniqueness of the performance compared with other magicians’ work.

“He wasn’t like any other magicians I had seen before,” Peters said. “There wasn’t anything fake or cheesy about him. He just went up there and amazed the crowd. Each of his illusions brought something new to the table, and I was impressed.”

Though Staniforth has practiced magic for years, he said he thinks the only thing that fascinates himself more than mastering the craft is the look on people’s faces after witnessing something they’ve probably never seen before.

“What I love about magic is that in every instance where people communicate, magic strips all of that away,” Staniforth said. “When you are confronted by something you know is impossible, you sort of forget to be cool. It’s this completely unguarded and open reaction, and I love how it’s people being at their most honest.”

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