NEW YORK (AP) — The magic super group "The Illusionists" has reappeared on Broadway this fall and three new acts are among the seven performers. Here's a look at them:
Nickname: "The Daredevil"
From: Pembrokeshire, Wales.
What he does: Spectacular stunts like hanging by his teeth and escaping from a flaming straight jacket while upside down. Who sets him on fire? "My wife."
Big influence. Harry Houdini. "He was a real-life superhero. And I guess like any kid, I was enchanted with the character of the superhero, but he actually lived and breathed it. Once I realized that was something you could do for a living, I kind of grabbed onto it. My parents at that point didn't dissuade because they didn't think it would ever develop into something. Now every time they see me, they ask me if I'm going to get a proper job."
Before fame: Telephone sales. "I lasted for about 2½ days. It cost me money to do the job. I was on commission and I left at lunch time and I never came back."
Magic skills insight: "I think that it is almost entirely psychological. I don't consider myself peculiarly special at all. The only thing that I have is I'm quite bull-headed. If I set myself a challenge, then I just naturally assume I'm going to be able to do it."
Influence of the Internet: "The popularity of magic live has seen a renaissance because it's so easy for anybody with a camera and a computer to create a video where they can seemingly do anything. But people now would rather go and see something live that they know isn't a camera trick and they know is happening in front of you. People in the first five rows can feel the heat from the flames in my show. You know it's not a trick.
Nickname: "The Unusualist"
From: Adelaide, Australia
What he does: Shadow puppetry, ventriloquism and mime. "They're archaic but that's why they work. They wouldn't have lasted as long if they didn't tap into something."
Why it works: "The less is shown, the more people see. The shows are quite primitive but the mind has to work to fill in the spaces. It's like watching mime: When you see the objects, you get a delight and a reward."
Influence of Internet: "It's an interesting time for magic because with the Internet you can learn magic without having someone show it to you directly. When I learned magic, I only had the history books to learn from. The next generation doesn't necessarily know or care where the information came from. I realized I had become those old books."
Before fame: Used to fix telephone answering machines and photocopiers.
What he does when he's not performing: "I get to watch the audience watching the magic. And it's like watching children."
Nickname: "The Deceptionist."
From: Bournemouth, England.
What he does: Lies horizontally on a sword and it goes through him, and escapes from flaming spikes.
Breakthrough moment: "I made my first trick out of a shoe box. It was rubbish. It was terrible. I entered it in a school talent show when I was 8. The adults wanted to know how I did the trick and made a big fuss over it. So I think, as an 8-year-old, that's a really powerful thing: getting one over on the adults. Every kid wants to do that."
Why sawing someone in half always thrills: "There are only a certain amount of things that we can do as a magician: We can divide something. We can make something appear. We can make something vanish. We can levitate something. We can penetrate. We can read minds. There are only a certain amount of things we can do. I think that limits us. We have to create around these principles."
Any injuries: A gash on the leg in Panama that required 15 stitches. Burned eyelashes off. A broken finger. "Ultimately, we're artists and we're trying to create and push the limits of what we can achieve. Sometimes these things haven't been tried before. So we're the first people to try it."
Why is magic big again: "I don't know if this is true, but apparently whenever a recession hits, magic booms. It is something that takes people away from their everyday stresses. And I think people like to believe that there is this other world."
Follow Mark Kennedy at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mark-kennedy