Anti-conjuror Dan Sperry on pushing the boundaries of the grotesque

Without giving anything away, what goes into creating a trick or an illusion?

It's kind of different all the time -- sometimes you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, but you don't know how to get there. Or you have something you feel would be a good trick to do, but it might not fit your particular style. So then I have to think about how I would make it my own.

With the Lifesaver trick, I remember being really young and watching Reservoir Dogs and seeing the scene where Michael Madsen cuts off the police officer's ear and dances around to the Stealer's Wheel song. I didn't know what the word dichotomy was at the time, but I just knew I liked that sort of yin and yang of what was going on and it stuck with me. I felt like, what if I did stuff like that with magic -- not literally cut off an ear -- but how could I take magic and make that feeling?

That's how the Lifesaver trick came to be, ten years later -- it came from a constant seeking out of how do I create that "want to look away but can't look away, it's innocent but it's not" combination.

When you talk about pushing boundaries of fascinating and grotesque, do you draw a line with things you won't do or perform?

It's about creating magic and wonder; it's not a competition of "look what I can do and what you can't figure out." It's not that for me, but it is creating a moment of maybe disbelief. The problem I do ride is, well, with the Lifesaver trick, it can be grotesque for people. But I don't want anything too disturbing or too far out there to where (the audience) isn't reacting to magic, they're reacting because they're too far outside of a comfort zone.

It's more of an assist for me to stir more emotion and can also be used as a distraction tool; your brain sometimes takes over so much of that emotion, it allows me to accomplish some of the secret stuff -- because you're too distracted.

I never want to go too far -- then it just becomes stupid performance art. It's not magic. In the end, it always has to be magical.

Dan Sperry performs this Friday, April 26, and Saturday, April 27 at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock. Tickets are $22.50 and can be reserved by calling 303-660-6799; for more information, visit the Theatre of Dreams's website.

Location Info

Baron Deli & Bakery

5075 Leetsdale Drive, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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