An Old School Magician!

Carlos Barragan has been a magician for more years than he cares to remember, third generation magician with so much wisdom and a fantastic career behind and ahead of him! We were lucky enough to have a little of his time!

Hi Carlos, thank you for your time today! As usual we like to go back to the beginning, so how old were you when you first got into magic? What inspired you to learn magic?

I was born in Buenos Aires. Argentina. As some people say to me when I travel: “that’s far, far away.” I came into the world of magic in my very early childhood. Or better said, the world of magic came into me because I am a third-generation magician! I performed for the first time when I was 3 years old. I did the old and well known Chameleon silk trick in front of a large audience.

When I was 9, along with the studies that a young boy normally carries out, I started my formal education as a magician at the mythical FU-MANCHU school. The Bamberg dynasty captivated me as I began to learn their technique, style, and the spirit of their art.  I am an old school magician because at the time I learned magic, it was taught together with other artistic disciplines, such as theatre, music, singing, dance, and painting, scenography, and all of the visual arts related to putting a show on stage. This kind of 360-degrees training makes you a well round artist and opens your horizons as a performer.

I am very grateful to have had the chance to receive this “old fashion” education because it made me not only a magician but also an artist. The principles and the variety of disciplines I was taught gave me the foundation and tools to constantly keep incorporating new styles and create new tendencies.

As part of my early education, I was able and lucky enough to attend lectures of some of the greatest geniuses of the world of magic that came to Argentina, like Juan Tamariz and Tony Slydini. When I was 8, I began to help my father in his shows, and by the age of 13, I had participated in my first competition. From that moment on, I started performing my own shows for children.

I guess that my way to say thank you for all that I have received is by mentoring other magicians and coaching multiple shows for theater, television, and cinema for the last 20 years.

Do you have a favourite magic trick to perform? Perhaps due to my background, I find most fascinating the tricks that have an incredible complexity and result in something seemingly simple. The floating objects are the quintessential of this kind of tricks. That is why I included my own version of the Okito´s floating ball in my winner FISM´97 act. In all of my shows something always flies, even in the ones I made online during this pandemic.

What is your most complex trick? In my opinion, the complexity of “an act of magic” doesn’t lie in the trick itself. The trick can be complex, but that problem can be addressed by studying the technique and rehearsing very very hard, sometimes.   The most difficult part of creating magical moments is the intangible: the timing, feeling the audience and knowing what it wants, the acting, creating the right emotion. All these skills that you need to master cannot be rehashed in preparation for the show. They are the real challenge and the result of years in the making.

What’s the worse botch up in front of an audience how did you handle it? The worst botch up of my career happened at the worst possible event. I was performing in a big theatre.

The house was full with 1,200 people, most of them magicians

It was quite an event, a performance in which I was being recognized and awarded for my career and contributions to Ibero-American magic.

The artists were finishing their performances; the big moment was coming to me.

The show began with an introductory video counting my long career, my successes, some anecdote, and explaining how I had devoted a great number of years in my career to the study and performance of floating objects. At the end of the video, I made my “great presentation”. The end of my show began, all of them wanted to see me alone, without all paraphernalia, alone with my magic ball.   The mirrored ball begun to spin in the air and the audience burst into applause.

After I have made the ball go up, down, turn around me, fly along a 14-meter-long stage, I made the ball to slowly start returning towards me. The ball was slowly coming a several meters (just a couple of meters) away. I was in a grandiose pose preparing to receive it in my hands. In that most splendid moment, with the music preparing the grand finale, and the audience getting ready to give me a standing ovation … with only 6 seconds to finish my presentation, the ball collapsed on the ground…

For 2 eternal seconds I did not know what to do. I never thought that so many things could happen in just 2 seconds. My heart stopped. My makeup ran. I couldn’t hide my face of disgust and dismay. A river of sweat ran down my back. The shame paralyzed me. When I could finally move, I ran to the ball, grabbed it, heard an applause, and waved as gracefully as I could. The act ended in a video that went viral…

As you can imagine, I was mortified for a while. But once I overcame that emotion, I shacked myself up and studied meticulously what caused that error from every possible angle, even from a biochemical standpoint. I learned more from that mistake than from any other class I have ever taken, and I ended up giving a worldwide lecture about it.

Now, when I think of this botch up, I laugh out loud.

What’s the best thing about being a magician? Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about being a magician is that it makes me wonder that sometimes what your eyes see is not the truth. It is to know that the senses can trick you, and knowing how to use that illusion to provoke wonder and happiness in the hearts of the public.

And the worst? I don’t know what the worst of magic is. This profession is the closest thing I’ve found to real life. The mere fact of being alive is magic, it’s astonishing, it’s marvellous.

If you could perform anywhere in the world where would it be? Although I’ve performed all around the world, including Asia, where there are cities that today are considered the Avant-guard of the world entertainment, my heart is set in Las Vegas, Broadway, and London. I would really like that my next show could be in one of these iconic places.

Who’s your favourite magician of all time? It’s very difficult to pick only one.  From every fellow magician there is always something to learn, share, and admire. I am especially grateful to my godparents Siegfried & Roy, to whom I worshiped all my life. But should I have to choose one or two, I would probably say that Howard Thurston and Doug Henning are at the top of my list. Not only because of their comprehensive knowledge in all the fields of showmanship, but also for their philosophy of life.

Do you enjoy watching others performing and what goes through your mind when you watch magic? Every time I go to see a magic show, I feel like a child again. I buy my ticket, anxiously wait in the hall, then I sit in my chair and when the lights go off I say “It’s Showtime”. And from that moment on I forget I am a magician and let myself be amazed and surprised. Only after the show, when something caught my eye, I think like a magician again.

This is very different than when I am a juror. To be in a jury is a difficult task. To judge a show in all its dimensions I have to be able to look at, with the eyes of an audience, to see if it is amazing and entertaining. On the other hand, and simultaneously, I have to look at it with the eyes of the trained professional to be able to grade it.

What’s your preferred size audience to perform for? Do you prefer intimate or large-scale events? During my career I’ve performed from small children’s parties to a big stadium with more than 52,000 people. But perhaps the intimacy of performing in a theatre or venue, which normally has an audience between 200 and 400 people, is comfortable. When you perform for a medium audience you can feel on the surface its astonishment, and almost the warmth of each person in the house. The big audience is like a tsunami who lovingly embraces you.

Most rewarding career moment? The most rewarding moments of my career is when my idols, the magicians I worship since I was a kid became my friends.

A very moving moment was at the FISM’97 awards ceremony, when Jim Steinmeyer said that the magic world has today a historic land marked, the illusions 5-10 years ago, were  certain kinds of illusions, certain kinds of tricks or presentations, and all of this changed in this FISM. All this changed remarkably in this competition, and from this moment on the magic has a different concept due to this remarkable work. After this, clearly everything changed.

I think that, in my career, wow! This is a great moment and professional achievement.

How diverse do you see the magic industry? This question has a twofold answer. From the technical point of view the industry is more and more diversified every day.

From the experiential viewpoint, one could say that there is as many ways of doing magic as there are people making magic. And this is what really thrives the industry and keeps it continuously changing and steaming. And this, make me so happy! I enjoy it and guess the public also does.

Please tell us about any new projects you have coming up.

The last 2020, maybe has given us an extra time to think.

As President of Argentine Magic Circle, in the last months of the 2020, we started to get the union of several Spanish-speaking societies to carry out a new way to be communicated and together work in the new problematic items about those new times. We are already more than 23 societies that just begun.

Personally, beyond the “new normal” in shows, mentoring and some lectures, together with my team, we are writing a very ambitious project. I would love honoring in a big Thank You to some Masters Magicians who inspired my life, and the audience who feed my heart.

I am working on a show full of mystery that leads the viewer to feel that inner magic that each one of them possesses. Mixing in this gratitude, with those great moments that marked different times, in a modern, technological, and current 21st century fairy tale, that makes the five senses throb.

Thank you for this interview. It is an honor to be part of Abracadabra Blow interview cycle around the world. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to earn my living doing what I love the most: magic.

I love what I do. This career gave me the possibility to make wonderful friends all around the world. And I love my audience. I am grateful to all these people that come to see me every show.

Well thank you so much Carlos, its fantastic to learn from you and hear about your journey!

Please reader check out Carlo’s social media and website!

www.barraganlamagia.com.ar

Instagram: carlosbarraganlamagia

Facebook  : Carlos Barragan – barraganlamagia

Carol Cooper

Carol Cooper

Married to Antony, Mum to our children. Full time working in media for over 20 years, part time writer and assistant to Antony, which I guess makes me a magicians assistant :-)

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