An Interview with Leon Etienne
Alex's review of the show: “It was certainly a great performance, with mind bending tricks. It seemed that the world suddenly changed before my eyes.”
Was being a magician your very first choice as a kid?
Being a Magician was probably my 3rd or 4th choice as a kid. I grew up around sports, so initially I wanted to be an athlete. I played baseball, ice hockey, American football, and basketball. I also had interest in being a firefighter at one point. I started doing magic shows at 12 years old but kept very busy with other activities and sports. Magic took over around the time when I was 16. I started seriously considering it as a career when I turned 17.
Is magic a hard hobby?
Not at all. Magic is so much fun to pursue as a hobby. Everyone should know a good magic trick or two. There are some very simple, very impressive magic tricks people can learn and perform at any social gathering or at work. There are magic clubs and organizations all over the world, like the International Brotherhood of Magician’s. Most of its members are hobbyists. That being said, there are many different levels of magic and skill sets that separate most hobbyists from professionals. I have also met some pretty amazing hobbyists that are better than some professionals.
If anyone wants to learn some simple magic tricks, go to the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library here on Saipan. Check out the new magic books they just received that I recommended.
What are the most important qualities to be a magician?
There is a long list, but one of the most important is the discipline to practice a certain trick or secret slight of hand move over and over until it is perfect. Public speaking skills are a must, unless your doing a silent act, but even then you need a strong personality and stage presence. Having a strong presentation to go with your tricks is another one of the biggest things. Most people get so caught up in the secrets of the tricks, but what really matters is what you do with those secrets. In the big picture, the secrets really don’t matter. They are just a means to an end.
What is your most prized magic trick?
I have several props and mementos from some of my mentors who have passed away. Some of which we built with our own hands and spent weeks or months working on to get just right. Those are near and dear to my heart. I have several old magic tricks that are very valuable and have a fantastic history connected with them. Like everything else these days, they just don’t make stuff the way they used to.
How often do you tell others the basis of your magic?
Like reveling secrets? Never! It’s the number one rule of magic. Never reveal your secrets. That being said, I teach beginner magic classes all the time. It’s the only way to help ensure the there will be another generation of magicians to perform when I am dead and gone. To keep the art alive. We will be doing more magic camps at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library this March. Once I teach someone basic magic and I see they have a real interest in magic and respect the art form, then I provide more resources like better tricks, advice, performance suggestions, etc.
What trick are you practicing right now?
Currently I’m not practicing any particular trick. I am attempting to perfect a technique that will allow me to perform lots of tricks. That is more my focus these days. When you first get into magic, justifiably so, you are excited about all the special gimmicks that make tricks work. Then you realize to do the really awesome stuff and be a well-rounded performer you need to develop certain skills and techniques that will allow you to do anything you want. Most of the toys and gimmicks get left behind.
Do you currently have any apprentices?
Just like people did for me, I have been lucky enough to help out several young performers over the last few years. On island I’m currently working with an extremely talented young man named Neil Fama. We recently put an act together in December that won him the 2017 CNMI’s Got Talent. He won the entire competition and the Governors choice award!
Are young generations really into magic?
Due to the recent explosion of magic shows on TV, the internet and social media, I think the art of magic is experiencing one of its most popular times in its entire history. Everyone is exposed to magic, young and old. What you should know is no matter how much magic you watch on TV, Youtube, Facebook or Instagram nothing replaces seeing a live magic show in person! Nothing! Magic is an art form that is meant to be experienced live in person with the magic happening right in front of your face.
How long will you be displaying your magic?
Magic has been my only job. It has been 21 years since my first show. It is all I have ever done and all I ever want to do. It has been an amazing 21 years. Lets see how the next 21 years go.
Do you believe in Magic?
I do believe in Magic! Magic is all around us every single day of our lives. Just look out a window here on Saipan or pull over on Beach Road during sunset and you’ll see the magic. Life is magic! Magic Rocks, Life Rocks!