Confessions of a professional magician: He's got the magic touch
Celebrated Australian magician Cosentino shares why he hopes that he never stops feeling nervous for his shows
One would imagine that professional magician Cosentino, who conjures helicopters out of thin air and narrowly escapes sharp axes that fall from the ceiling, surely has some kind of mystic ritual before each show.
But the 34-year-old Australian offers The New Paper an unexpected answer.
Cosentino, whose real name is Paul Cosentino, said matter-of-factly: "Socks and jocks. I always put on the same kind of sock and underwear before each show. It is a kind of ritual that I've done since I started (more than a decade ago). Don't worry, they're always clean."
Cosentino is a winner of various Merlin Awards, considered by many to be the Oscars of magic.
Presented by Base Entertainment Asia, the illusionist-escapologist will be in town to perform 90-minute shows at the Sands Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands from Aug 17 to 27.
Although many have touted him as a magician in the same league as David Copperfield, Criss Angel and even Harry Houdini, Cosentino shrugs at the comparisons and humbly admitted that he still has more to learn and improve on.
"It is always about the magic and entertaining people. I constantly ask myself, what can I do to make it more 'wow', make it faster, bigger, more amazing. It is important to constantly improve," he said.
Magic cast its spell on Cosentino at a young age. Growing up, he had an assortment of learning difficulties - spelling, reading and writing were all challenging for him and this caused him to recede into himself, making him shy and introverted.
When he was 12, he chanced upon a book about vaudevillian magicians at the school library and borrowed it, asking his mother to read it out aloud to him at home.
Said Cosentino, as he fiddled with a deck of cards attached to a utility belt: "At the back of the book, there were all these tricks that I wanted to learn.
"These were hard tricks, meant for adults, but I kept on trying and trying, eventually learning how to do them. I had no intention to learn about magic. It found me, I guess."
He developed the interest from there, relishing the feeling he got whenever he managed to pull a trick and amaze someone. That kind of "control" provided Cosentino with material to build up his confidence.
"There are no shortcuts to magic really. It is true that practice makes perfect, and you just have to keep at it," he said.
Eventually he picked up the courage to start performing and, contrary to his timid personality, realised he enjoyed entertaining people.
Cosentino has now been performing for more than 10 years, and his shows mix magic with dance, pyrotechnics and narrative storytelling, which he said is testament to the multi-faceted performer that he is.
The magic he performs is a mix of simple, intimate card tricks and death-defying spectacles, like when he escapes being submerged underwater amid a series of locks or when he evades a series of razor-sharp knives that are thrown at him.
But, demonstrating that introverted vulnerability, Cosentino said that nothing is scarier than failing to fulfil potential.
Anyone can learn magic tricks on YouTube now, but to be a great magician, you need to practise and learn how to put on the best show you possibly can.Cosentino
"Whether it is for a crowd of 50 or 5,000 people, I'll always get nervous. It is a good thing. I get nervous because I care about what I do, and I hope I never stop being nervous for my shows," he said.
So what is the magic cure for those butterflies in his stomach?
Cosentino answered instinctively: "Practice. Anyone can learn magic tricks on YouTube now, but to be a great magician, you need to practise and learn how to put on the best show you possibly can."
He added with a smirk: "Trust me, when you manage to wow someone with a trick, be it making someone levitate, sawing someone in half or even just guessing the card they chose, it's worth it."