Pick a card, any card.
Mine is the two of clubs.
Put it back in the deck anywhere, he says.
He shuffles and pulls a card from the deck. I put my hand over it.
After a few more steps I get to look at the card under my hand. It’s my two of clubs — with my name written on it.
The card maneuver is just one of many in Elliott Hofferth’s bag of tricks. The 13-year-old Anacortes magician marvels audiences with his sleight of hand manipulations using cards, rings and billiard balls.
Elliott discovered magic in second grade and got his first magic set — changing nickels to dimes — shortly after. At one point he set magic aside but later picked it up and hasn’t looked back.
He’s performed for church, school and at talent shows for more than six years. He’s also added fundraisers to his list of events. His 90-minute benefit magic show “IMAGINE” is 7 p.m. Friday, April 20 at Brodniak Hall. It raises money for his Boy Scout Troop 4081’s summer trek to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
His most recent show raised more than $400 for Anacortes Middle School.
To see a video of some of his magic tricks — and learn how to do a trick of your own — click here.
Elliott started out teaching himself sleight of hand tricks, learning from DVDs and books.
“It makes you expand out and try things. It’s a good place to start,” he said.
But the books and videos could only get him so far.
“It got to a point where I wasn’t going to get better teaching myself,” he said.
Earlier this year he attended a three-day seminar in Las Vegas, Nev., with master magicians Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger. The youngest student there, Elliott spent the time working magic with the small class.
“In Las Vegas they taught us the Internet is not a place to get resources,” he said. “There’s a lot of fake stuff out there.”
He hopes to take more classes and can use Skype to contact teachers for help with a trick.
“Magic is very secretive, but if you show you’re committed they’re willing to teach you,” he said.
(Mom Beth pointed out he mows lawns and does magic shows to earn money to support his hobby.)
Elliott said there’s a process when he’s learning a new trick. He gets the concept down and practices for weeks before showing his parents. Then there’s more practice before he’s ready to perform it.
Nathan McCartney helps him with music and movement in his acts. He’s also gotten support from Rebecca Launius-Brown at Anacortes Community Theatre.
Elliott said he likes performing and public speaking. McCartney and Tim Brown have helped him get even better.
“They’ve taught me how to do anything on stage with confidence,” Elliott said.
He works on adding variety to his performances with music, talking and humor.
It’s rare for him to see a magic trick performed by someone else and not know how it’s done.
“Magic builds on itself like math,” he said. “The most advanced magic builds on the basic.”
A magic show is about more than the tricks.
“It’s not the trick that matters, it’s about the performance,” he said.
The best way to build a new routine is to watch others.
“It’s OK to use someone else’s routine as long as down the road you modify it,” Elliott said.
Elliott said he is impressed with Burger’s ability to use comedy to cover mistakes.
In case something doesn’t open right or breaks, Elliott keeps a box of emergency props on stage.
“They can keep the show moving if something breaks,” he said. “You have to cover it up and act like nothing happened.”
His favorite magicians, who also do sleight of hand, are McBride and Whatcom County magician Sterling Dietz. Elliott said their shows are high-energy and inspiring.
He keeps a notebook of tricks. He’s even designed some of his own, though they don’t always work. Once he learns a trick it’s pretty well ingrained.
“Practicing over and over again burns it in your mind,” he said.
Elliott said he may expand to bigger illusions in the future, but he plans to keep up with sleight of hand magic.
Magic is something he’d like to continue — ideally making a career out of it.
For me, I got to keep the two of clubs.
Magic show fundraiser
Youth magician Elliott Hofferth will perform a 90-minute benefit magic show “IMAGINE” 7 p.m. Friday, April 20 at Brodniak Hall. The show benefits his Boy Scout Troop 4081 summer trek to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
The show is his largest undertaking since returning from a three-day special training session with master magician Jeff McBride of Las Vegas.
Tickets, $5, are available at Watermark Book Co., Read Me A Story or at the door. For more information, visit elliotthofferth.com.
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