Magician Edward Ruiz takes a classic approach to magic from the illusions he performs on stage to his physical appearance. It's no accident that he looks exactly like one of caped madmen straight from the pages of an old kids' magic book.
"As a kid, I wanted to be that old man artist," Ruiz said. "When you look in the magic books, it was always this older looking guy. Well, I'm kind of there now, not that I'm a grey-haired man, but I'm old enough to grow a mustache."
Ruiz has won praise as an artist and magician under the moniker Confetti Eddie, a name he picked up from his stage and lighting work loading and firing the confetti cannon for Ruby Revue burlesque shows, where he later appeared as a magician. He's a variety act now, but his dream is to create a place where people can see magic as their main form of entertainment, not as a bonus act in another kind of live stage show.
Like all magicians, he started playing with tricks as a kid and later as a bartender where he found that making things disappear in a puff of fire or floating a dollar bill in front of his customers could earn him bigger tips. He eventually founded his own art studio on Exposition Avenue and put the magic aside for awhile until an audition gave him a chance to perform again.
"I had quite a nice run doing that and I still do that," he said. "Recently, I got the performance bug in me and I thought I'd give it a shot."
The Ruby Revue wanted to add some variety to their roster of dancers and a magic act fit nicely into the lineup. He started with smaller tricks "like close-up, funny magic or what you might call parlor magic" but he's graduated to bigger illusions that are running the chronological gamut of magic's history including a "Mismade Lady" trick -- a sword in the basket routine with a funny burlesque twist -- and even a straightjacket escape with the help of his assistant The Lovely Karleena.
Every six months, he likes to change up the tricks with bigger and better illusions. Ruiz said he's working his way up to something that incorporates video and even a new element of danger with a "sideshow illusion where you put a woman in the box and actually vanish her head and the swords are just dangling there."
"I'm taking my time with the magic thing and diving into different areas," he said. "Now I'm sort of into the classic magic area combining it with the naughtiness of the burlesque show. I'm just having fun with the nostalgia of magic."
His work on the burlesque circuit garnered him some attention outside of DFW at places like the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, a show that earned him an invitation to the London Burlesque Festival. The real trick for Ruiz is finding ways to tweak his tricks for his audiences and for himself as a signature that he can call his own, Ruiz said.
"All these illusions, we do our own sort of twist to them," he said. "We try to do something different with each one of the acts."
He may not be the star attraction but he sees burlesque as a vital vehicle to building a foundation for magic's big comeback as a standalone art form.
"We're a surprise to a burlesque audience," he said. "They are genuinely surprised when they get a good magic act."
Las Vegas has proven that magic shows can stand on their own stage, and Ruiz said his hope is that he and performers like him will have a place to fool their audiences outside the context of a comedy club or a burlesque show.
"You might be able to catch some magic at a comedy house," he said. "That's where they're performing these days. The Addison Improv, for instance, has magic, but they are forced to perform on the same stage as comedians and comedians' stages are very minimal. So they're having to scale down their acts on these stages and they're not able to really bust out. That's what I'm seeing and I'm hoping to have a magic house of our own, to get out from underneath the burlesque and get away from the comedy stuff and have magic be its own exciting thing."