David Magee promises he won’t read your mind. But no doubt, he will blow it. On an entertaining and sometimes eerie September Saturday night in Fort Worth, the long-time DFW mentalist downsized his grand Las Vegas show into an intimate experience and pulled off his niftiest trick yet: He made people forget about the pandemic.
“We’ve got to keep our sanity,” says Magee, who has been dazzling folks with his mentalism and sleight of hand for 25 years. “It’s good for our mental health to laugh and to wonder and to be entertained.”
In a ballroom at The Fort Worth Club filled with folks — including popular KISS-FM morning show host Kellie Rasberry — who didn’t care about the virus or even the Dallas Stars’ Stanley Cup Final game, Magee dazzled with an array of “effects” that included card tricks, singing Etta James at the piano and correctly predicting in a sealed envelope that his audience would choose to spend exactly $24 on exactly Oct. 5, 2020, on a souvenir shell during a mythical vacation to Bora Bora.
He also, within five minutes of meeting her, nailed the breed and name of a Dallas real estate agent’s childhood pet. (“Chrissy,” a Basset Hound.)
“I’m blown away,” says Rachelle Wigginton. “How could he possibly know that?!”
His show, “The Experience,” begins its fall run at The Adolphus Hotel on Oct. 23 (Tickets are $75 at DavidMagee.com). Customized to fit around COVID-19 safety measures, the interactive performance requires its audience, limited to 50 people, to wear masks and keep social distance.
Like everyone, Magee was blindsided by the pandemic. He was shuttling between Las Vegas ballrooms filled with 3,100 people and regular stints at Winstar Casino in Oklahoma when the virus closed the curtain on his show.
While for six months we sat at home in our sweats Zooming happy hours, Magee put his powerful mind to work on another project.
“I had two options,” he says. “Retire to Cancun and just work the resorts every now and then, or quit whining and design a small, safe, COVID-19 compliant show. So here we are.”
During The Experience, Magee will seemingly read minds, do magic and drop jaws by unveiling behind framed glass the exact coloring pattern drawn by a woman randomly selected from the audience. Magee must be a psychic.
“No,” he bristles, “not a psychic.”
All right, then, he’s a magician.
“Everybody knows there’s no such thing as real magic,” he says.
“I’m intuitive, but I can’t read minds one drop,” Magee says. “If mind-reading was possible, every Gomer Pyle would be doing it. Now, there is sleight of hand. There is engaging. There is mapping.
"Remember, 87 percent of our communication is non-verbal; I’m very in touch with that and have practiced that art for 25 years.”
There is something that feels normal about witnessing Magee being abnormal. During the show he asks a woman to look at, focus, and then remember any word of her choosing from a 400-page book. Magee momentarily struggles.
“You keep going to the last letter,” he urges her. “Try to focus on the first letter.”
The woman’s bewilderment isn’t merely that Magee correctly determined her word ("apartment"), it was that it seemed he actually was inside her head.
“Because,” she says, “I’m dyslexic.”