Have you been at a local charity event, or maybe dinner at Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, and had a magician approach you with a very impressive card trick? Chances are you encountered Orlando’s very own master of magic Kostya Kimlat, who recently performed for the famous magic duo Penn & Teller on their television show, Fool Us.
It’s possible Kostya’s best trick has been turning his knack for magic into a full-blown business. His company See Magic Live trains and books magicians for events across the country, serves as the official magicians of the Orlando Magic, and teaches magic classes for kids and adults at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Add in his long-running regular performances at Christner’s and countless appearances at events, plus his work as a keynote speaker (which has earned him the moniker, “the business magician”), and maybe you’re thinking he’s mastered the trick of being in multiple places at once.
In advance of his appearance on tonight’s episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us (CW at 8pm), we asked Kostya five questions about his magical life:
What was the first magic trick you ever learned?
I learned my very first magic trick when I was 7 years old: the ball and vase. A 500+ year old secret, it’s now a standard trick that comes in every magic set. However I didn’t pursue my interest in magic until I was 11, when I saw a TV special called “World’s Greatest Magic.”
You aren’t just an entertainer, but a motivational and keynote speaker. Can you give us a hint as to how each of us might benefit from thinking like a magician?
In my world as a magician, perception is everything. Perception influences the way we see, think and act — towards ourselves and others. I speak to companies and organizations about the psychology of magic and how it applies to their everyday lives. I teach them how to “Think Like A Magician,” so they can recognize the limits of their perception. I share with them the fundamental principles of interpersonal communication so they can be more aware of how people around them feel, think and act, whether it’s their children, spouse, co-workers, bosses or customers. I’ve shared these secrets with nurses at Florida Hospital, teachers at Orange County Public Schools, engineers at Siemens, advisers at Morgan Stanley, lawyers at NASCAR, and rocket scientists at NASA. No matter who you are, if perception plays a role in your life or business, then understanding how to “Think Like A Magician” can expand your ability to connect and communicate with anyone you interact with.
Which magician do you look up to the most?
Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, a 19th century magician from Austria, known as the father of card magic.
How long does it take to develop and perfect an original trick like the one you performed for Penn & Teller?
New ideas can materialize in a matter of moments. Developing them can take anywhere from several weeks to many years. I’ve developed a particular way to perfect the material I am working on so it is ready for showtime. I use two sides of my brain that we’ll call the “Penn” and “Teller” brain. I’ll spend a few months working on an idea in complete silence, perfecting the technique and analyzing every angle, emulating Teller. Once I feel comfortable with that, I’ll spend the next few months working on the talking part, the presentation and blocking – that’s the Penn part! Eventually I can merge the two and master the complete performance over several dozen to one hundred shows. At the end, nothing is perfected. I’m always learning, tinkering and improving. In magic, one is always a student.
Central Florida is home to a few types of “magic” – did going to high school and college here have any influence or provide unique opportunities for you coming up as a magician?
Between the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and the Orlando Magic, Orlando is a happening place for all kinds of magic. The biggest positive that has come from working in Orlando is that the people who come here are ready to be entertained. They expect a fun, friendly, positive experience and are quite excited when they have the opportunity to interact with a magician one-on-one. I’ve also performed at hundreds of business conferences hosted at the Orange County Convention Center and the nearby hotels. After all, when the convention theme is “magic,” it makes it easy to hire a magician as your keynote speaker or entertainer.
Penn & Teller’s one-hour competition series invites aspiring magicians to perform their best trick to try to fool one of magic’s most famous pairs. None of the competing magicians get to perform the trick more than once, and there are no camera tricks, secret edits or helpful camera cuts. Anyone who succeeds wins the right to perform with Penn & Teller in their celebrated show at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
On the Monday night episode (August 17, 2015), Kimlat performs an original card trick he developed when he was 19 years old. No spoilers here! You’ll have to tune in to see how Penn & Teller reacted to Kostya’s performance.
Watch Orlando magician Kostya Kimlat tonight on Penn & Teller: Fool Us on the CW at 8pm.
Follow Kostya’s adventures on Twitter @KostyaMagician and visit www.kostyakimlat.com.
(Photo credit, featured image: Penn & Teller: Fool Us — “Penn’s Favorite Card Trick” — Pictured: Kostya Kimlat — Photo: Jacob Kepler/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)