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The illusionist

The illusionist
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If not an 'illusionist' then what would Nicolai had been?
To comfort my parents I went to university and studied law. So I became a lawyer. My mother thinks I learned something serious. Others say finally becoming a magician means I changed from one deceptive art to anotherSo I would probably have stayed to be a lawyer but maybe would have been specialised to solve impossible cases.

How do you think people receive magic/illusions these days? Assuming people are so skeptical and cynical...
As far as the performance of a magician is concerned I do not believe in real magic myself and I do not want people to believe I have supernatural powers. So if people are skeptical and cynical I see it as a challenge to turn their eyes into the eyes of a child again so they simply forget to try to figure out how it`s done and just enjoy the show. This is my goal!

What is the toughest thing you had to do on stage?
It is always tough if something unforeseen happens and you have to improvise. Yes this can even happen to a world class mentalist who has predicted the outcome of the Worldcup. Also if you really rely on psychological principles there is always a risk of failure. Sometimes you are only slightly off so it is still impressive to the audience and sometimes you can secretly switch to plan B so nobody will notice the mistake. Most of the time this works well. However I also have painful memories of a trick where I had to find a sharp nail that was straight up hidden under one of five paper cups. I had to smash my hand down onto four of them and unfortunately it was hidden under the third one so I ended up in the hospital after this stunt. Luckily I fully recovered and I even dare to perform this effect again.
 
Tell us about some highs and lows...
It has always been a big challenge for me to stay within the time limit of 10 minutes when performing at a competition. Especially as a Mentalist who has to interact with audience members on stage this is very difficult. So once I got disqualified because my act was too long, that was quite depressing because the audience had enjoyed my performance. However I intensively trained myself to finally cope with this time limit. So winning an award at the world championships of magic was truly one of the biggest highlights of my career.
 
Tell us about one defining moment in your career.

In 1998 I won the prestigious Siegfried & Roy Sarmoti award in Las Vegas which was a great honor for me at that time. After that I performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood where I was seen by one of the magic consultants of master illusionist David Copperfield. I was performing my Mona Lisa effect and he told Copperfield about it so I got an invitation to one of his next shows in Germany. I was asked to come backstage after the show and David handed me a business card and asked me to send him a video of me performing this trick. Few weeks later my mobile rang, he was on the phone and told me he wants to buy the US TV exclusive rights. This was a huge surprise and a great honor for me, probably one of the most defining moments of my career because this was also a great marketing tool for me.
 
What advice would you have for a budding magician?
Try to find your style and personality. Be yourself on stage and try to create some new effects that serve as signature pieces for you.  Don´t try to start with mental magic right away. The sleight of hand skills and the knowledge of a good close up magician are a good foundation and serve me well till today.
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