Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: When were you first introduced to magic, and what was it about the art form that appealed to you?
Mike Pisciotta: Like most kids growing up, I saw the average birthday party magicians; however, when I was 14 my parents took me to see David Copperfield when he came to my hometown of Pueblo, Colorado. I remember not knowing what to expect when they said we were going to a magic show, and I pictured those birthday party magicians I had seen throughout my childhood. As I sat there, I remember thinking I had never seen anything like this before, and it was far better than I expected. I remember being in awe as he performed amazing, grand-scale illusions with boxes and floating women. Then, in the middle of all that, he sat down on the stage and did a card trick. Little did I know, that would become a defining moment in my life. It was that card trick that I remembered most from the show.
MP: I had no idea how you would go about learning something like that, but about a year later I found a magic kit for sale in a bookstore. I thought maybe I could figure out how he did that card trick. Later, I found out that about 50 miles from my parents' house was a magic shop. I didn't even know such places existed. It was there that I was fortunate enough to make the right friends early on. Ten years later, I was moving to Los Angeles to be near The Magic Castle.
BD: What is your preferred area (or areas) of magic, and, for those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe your speciality?
MP: I specialize in close-up magic and, lately, specifically bar magic; however, it has always been card tricks in particular that held the greatest appeal for me. No matter what else I got into throughout my life, I always have a deck of cards nearby.
BD: You currently work at The World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA, which is the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts. When did you become a member of the Academy, and what do you remember about your interview for membership?
MP: I actually became an out-of-state member of The Academy of Magical Arts before I moved to Los Angeles. Because of that, I didn't do the normal audition process that most magician members have to do. I had some members of The Magic Castle sponsor me, and then I had to audition for the president of a magic club in Colorado. He wrote a letter to the membership committee for me.
BD: Given that The Magic Castle is a members-only clubhouse, what is a typical evening like for members and invited guests?
MP: If you are invited by a member to come into The Magic Castle, your evening would start with dinner in the dining room followed by shows. There are close-up, parlour, and stage shows every night of the week. The clubhouse also has five different bars and a slew of other interesting things including a "resident ghost" who plays the piano.
BD: What has been the most challenging aspect of being a working magician? And, the most rewarding?
MP: The most challenging aspect of being a working magician is getting work as a magician. I moved to Los Angeles to be near The Magic Castle and so did a lot of other magicians. Because of this, LA isn't really representative of the typical market.
The most rewarding part is getting paid to do something I love. My job tends to make other people happy, and that's an amazing feeling. Also, watching people's jaws hit the floor.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek,” would you care to geek out with us about your favorite magicians?
MP: I am a huge geek when it comes to magic (and many other things like comics, movies, and science). One of the best parts about being around The Magic Castle is that a lot of the guys whose work I grew up studying also spend time there, whether they live here or just come out for a week or two a year to work the rooms. I'm fortunate enough to be able to spend time with and make friends with those guys. Magic is a very closed community, but if you can make it in, that's one of the best parts. If you're into rock guitar, odds are you're not going to be hanging out with Eddie Van Halen on the weekends. That's one of the ways magic is special.
BD: Can you give us the inside scoop on any upcoming events during which you will be performing?
MP: Most of the work I do now is for private engagements; however, you can catch me almost every weekend behind the Hat & Hare Pub at the Castle. Bar magic has always had a special appeal for me. A lot of the guys I looked up to growing up were bar magicians. It's one of my favorite things.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to our readers who aspire to become magicians?
MP: Read books. Too many young magicians today learn things only from YouTube or DVDs, and because of this end up learning from people who have no business teaching these techniques in the first place. Next, try to find somebody who can teach you personally.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for Fanboy Comics’ fans to find out more information about your work?
MP: My website, MikePisciotta.com, is currently undergoing a much needed renovation. You can also follow me on Twitter at @Mike_Pisciotta.