They say it’s all done with smoke and mirrors, maybe so, but the art of illusion and magic have dazzled audiences for centuries with its audacious sleight of hand, transformations, and trickery. The magician/illusionist we know as Cosentino came into the greater public eye through his appearances on Australia’s Got Talent, where he wowed the judges and Australian audiences with his amazing show. To watch him perform, it is difficult to imagine that this amazing showman grew up as a shy, unremarkable child but for Australia’s own ‘International Magician of The Year’, the greatest illusion of all has been a rather personal one for Paul Cosentino.
Cosentino adopted the art of magic to overcome learning difficulties and extreme shyness through the help of his school principal mother, who would use borrowed library books on magic to try and teach him to read. He quite openly discussed this with Glam Adelaide ahead of his ‘Twisted Reality’ tour, which kicks off April 10 in Melbourne.
“ I was a very shy, introverted kid and mum was the local school principal who took me to visit the public library a lot. I went into the ‘Magic Books’ section and remember seeing posters in the books from the 1900’s of Harry Houdini etc, so mum took the books and read them to me because I didn’t want to. She broke down the words in simple terms like ‘put this finger here, right finger there etc’ and also showed me the pictures describing the tricks to make it easier for me to read. This was at 12 years old and I’m way behind in learning already, but mum’s teaching helped me to learn through doing magic. So to cut it short, I didn’t get into magic because I was particularly fascinated with it, or wanted to ‘do tricks to pick up chicks’ (laughs), but it really pulled me out of a learning difficulty and gave me confidence.”
It’s easy to feel the enthusiasm Cosentino has for the art which has made him a household name, as he speaks with such passion about it and has immense gratitude for its impact on his life. “Magic has made me who I am today, it has made me confident, to be able to communicate, to get out of my shell…it’s made me feel special and unique- it created me!”
Cosentino’s shows are jaw droppingly spectacular and he’s quite simply one of the best magicians on the planet! It’s not just the death defying escapes, mind boggling stage illusions, and street magic that will have you mystified, but it’s also his commanding stage presence and brilliant performance that has given him legend status. “ I’m a pretty theatrical guy and think some of that has been stripped back from magic in general, but I love being an all round entertainer. My shows have dance, music, lighting; it’s a total production. That showmanship is what makes it all happen. There’s a saying that a magician is an actor playing the art of a magician, and I really believe that.” Much like Cirque Du Soleil has changed the circus industry, Cosentino represents a new breed of magician who are revolutionizing this brand of entertainment. Magic has evolved significantly since the days of Houdini, and Cosentino agrees wholeheartedly. “People are smarter and harder to fool these days, so whereas Houdini could get away with doing an escape behind a curtain, things have changed so we have to do the underwater escape, for example, in full view. It’s the new kind of reality, people consume information so much differently.”
We further discuss magic and venture into how technology has made its way into performances, and how magicians like Cosentino are constantly pushing the boundaries even further. It’s here where I really feel his passion for his art spilling over, and can’t help but to admire him even more knowing that he has overcome so many obstacles to get where he is yet has remained a down to earth, genuine, and likeable guy with no massive ego to be found at all. He talks about his idols such as David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and David Blaine as industry trailblazers whom he looks up to as influences rather than seeing them as competition. “As an artist I can appreciate other forms of art whether painting, sculptures, and of course other magicians like these guys. They’re amazing! Criss Angel is a good friend and we speak often”
Of course, I had to ask the question about how he responds to figuring out how other magicians perform illusions. “When I know how an illusion or trick is done, I don’t dismiss it but appreciate the presentation of it if it’s done smoothly. I watch it from a presentation point of view and let me tell you, it’s great to be fooled as a magician!”
This is the whole point! Not only with magic, but also with entertainment in general, it is a way for us to escape and to be distracted artistically to make us feel better. Cosentino agrees.
We all know that magicians don’t really saw women in half or levitate (don’t we?), but it’s the whole performance with all the smoke and mirrors that makes magic one of those ancient crafts that continue to amaze. Cosentino’s show is definitely no exception, and given the personal journey he’s travelled to get there he has effectively become his own greatest illusion!
Presto! That a shy, slow learner can transform himself into an internationally renowned performer is truly a most amazing feat. Cosentino is a success story in more ways than one, and there’s nothing up the sleeves with this guy. He’s the genuine product, a true gentleman, and a great entertainer who’s unlikely to perform a disappearing act anytime soon.
The ‘Twisted Reality’ tour begins on April 11 and will be in Adelaide April 15.
By Darren Hassan
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
PALMS AT CROWN, MELBOURNE SATURDAY APRIL 11 + **NEW SHOW SUN APR 12**
FESTIVAL THEATRE, ADELAIDE WEDNESDAY APRIL 15
THE STAR, SYDNEY SATURDAY APRIL 18 +**NEW SHOW SUNDAY APRIL 19**
JUPITERS HOTEL & CASINO, GOLD COAST THURSDAY APRIL 23
QPAC LYRIC THEATRE, BRISBANE FRIDAY APRIL 24
THE EMPIRE THEATRE, TOOWOOMBA SUNDAY APRIL 26
REGAL THEATRE, PERTH SATURDAY MAY 2* + **NEW SHOW FRIDAY APRIL 1**
*Matinee show also available
** New Shows added