Chit Chat: Ilan Smith

2012-02-17 08:16

In 2010 Ilan Smith famously predicted the winner of the Soccer World Cup.

Last year, he went back on air with 702’s John Robbie to do a series of magic tricks on the Rugby World Cup that left listeners slack-jawed.

This week he brings his brand of mind-bending magic and illusion to the Joburg Theatre.

How did you come by your first bag of tricks?
I produced it out of a hat. No, my dad bought my first magic effect at a flea market when I was a young boy on holiday in Durban.

What is the trick most people ask you to perform as a personal favour?

Can you make my wife disappear? And, of course, can I make money out of paper – which I can, by the way. The most favourite magic effect that people enjoy: levitation of a banknote.

Are you good at guessing what people are thinking, or is there a little more to it than that?
I’m pretty good at it, but my wife is fantastic. I hate it. However, there is a little more to it.

This branch of magic is called mentalism. I’m more of an illusionist than a mentalist, but I do use a few strong routines that feature mind-oriented magic.

How does one go about joining a magic society? Is there a secret handshake? Is there a curse if you give away the trick?
It depends on the society. There are beginner clubs that you can join by paying a fee, but for your top-class societies you have to be signed in by two other ­top-standing members and do a badge performance for the board.

What can people who have never seen your act expect to see?
They can expect the unexpected. It is a world-class show. The show is structured to encourage my audience to think about the possibilities all around us.

It is 80 minutes of dreaming and believing the impossible. Mind-boggling illusions, beautiful experiences and entertainment you’ve never dreamed possible.

What do you most want your audiences to take home from their experience of your show?
What the F...?; Wow, he is hot!; Do you think he is single?; Ilan for president. As well as dreamlike, childlike wonder.

Does it take a long time to set up some of your illusions, and does a show like yours require a lot of equipment?
Luckily, not too much equipment. My illusions are more sophisticated, so you won’t find me sawing a lady in half.

Now that I think of it, it’s my balloon-swallowing act that has most people stunned and asking where that balloon went.

The total set-up does take some time because the stage and theatre are left in quite a mess after I’m done. I have illusions that involve everyone and require preparation.

Do you have a day job, or do you make your living entirely from sleight of hand?
This is my life and livelihood. I perform both close-up sleight of hand and stage shows with illusions.

The shows are structured around the company’s products, slogans or ideas that they need to get across to their clients or employees.

I create illusions around the company’s brand, highlighting their message, brand or product at product launches, events and conferences. I call this infotainment.

» Imagine is playing at The Fringe at the Joburg Theatre from Wednesday to March 4. To book call 0861?670?670 or book online at

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