So, what’s your story? UNF Student and magician Magic Mike performs tricks, amazes spectators

Jason Howard

Photo by Keri Weiland

Those who take the Magician’s Oath promise to not reveal their tricks’ secrets to anyone but other trusted magicians.

Mike Kies, known by his stage name, Magic Mike, is a UNF psychology senior who’s well aware of the Magician’s Oath. He’s been performing illusions for several years, so he knows not to talk about the tricks of his trade.

Kies first got into magic when his grandmother brought him a magic kit when he was 6.

“It was one of those simple ones with a ball [and] cup thing,” he said. “I practiced it for a week, then performed it for my family.”

Now, cards are more of his expertise.

Kies said he tends to stick to street magic — a close up, interactive format that plays best with small groups of people. It is a style akin to magicians such as Chris Angel or David Blane.

He said it can be difficult to do some of his tricks on stage when people are farther away.

“You have to make bigger motions and have a big final effect to catch their attention,” he said.

The largest group Kies has performed for was at a camp in Colorado, where he did a show for over 200 campers and staff.

“It was pretty stressful because I only had two days to come up with a 20 minute routine,” he said.

Kies said sometimes students will approach him and recommend certain tricks or bigger productions.

“They ask why I haven’t cut a girl in half or made someone disappear,” he said.

He said constructing the equipment for illusions takes money and space. Since he lives on campus in the Osprey Fountains, he does not have the kind of space he would need for bigger productions.

Kies said he enjoys watching some of the bigger players in the magic world, such as Chris Angel.

“I’ve seen his show in Vegas before and really enjoyed it,” he said. “I got to talk to him about it as well.”

Osprey Productions has brought some magicians to perform on campus, and Kies does not lose the opportunity to learn from the weathered professionals.

He said when OP brought in McVicar the Trickster, Kies got his contact information after the show and was able to chat with him.

“We had a long conversation about some small things to improve my show. No illusions, just presentation,” he said.

In order to maintain a convincing and properly performed sequence of illusions, Kies practices each show more than once.

“If I’m performing a show [with] six tricks each lasting five minutes, I’ll repeat the entire show three times,” he said.

The practice seems to pay off — Kies said he receives compliments on his show each time he performs.

“I really value people’s reactions and feedback from the audience,” he said. “I can be working on a show for hours and hours, sometimes an entire day — it’s how I know if it’s worth it.”

Lisa Parnell, a UNF Coastal Biology junior, said she enjoyed one of Kies’ shows earlier this year.

“It was at the Open Mic Night, so it was a little hard to see — but I thought it was fun,” she said.

When it comes to the recent film Magic Mike, which featured male strippers, Kies said he enjoys the attention that sharing a name with the film has brought.

“I heard about it from a friend way back when it was still in production, so I knew about it for a long time,” he said. “Although I am a little annoyed by it, I like the publicity and it’s good for jokes.”

Kies said he will not be changing his stage name any time soon.

Email Jason Howard at [email protected]