FARMINGTON — Magical Michael’s philosophy includes a love of doing magic and finding ways to help people see it.

After a few years away from the “vanishing art,” magician Michael Smilek of Farmington is returning with a performance called The Show of Wonder.

While he intends to earn a living by performing at a variety of functions, he also plans to use his talent to perform locally for community fundraisers and charity events at no cost, he said Wednesday.

Part of his philosophy, to bring it to the people, includes making it affordable by cutting his rates for birthday parties, fairs and festivals, restaurants and other special occasions. Another special part is offering free performances to help nonprofits and groups as a community service as they raise funds or hold special events. He’s scheduled to perform for volunteers of a local nursing home. They deserve the entertainment for volunteering, he said.

The retired postal worker, originally from Austin, Texas, became fascinated when a magician performed at his junior high school some 40-plus years ago.

“He performed an effect called What’s Next, and I became really intrigued,” Smilek said.

Smilek prefers calling the magical sleight of hand acts effects, rather than tricks.

He joined a magic club and then the International Brotherhood of Magicians and started performing at birthday parties and other events. He also performed street magic near the University of Texas in Austin, he said.

College, the start of a family and work delayed his performances until the mid-1990s when he began performing again for fairs, corporate shows and grand openings. He moved to Maine to raise his children, he said.

The performances stopped around 2002 but now at age 55, he has reclaimed his passion for magic.

He hired an agent and with the help of a friend, Mark Stofan, of Farmington, has developed a website and is making an attempt to market a retired effect.

Smilek searched for the block-and-rope-escape effect but was told it hasn’t been available for about 20 years.

People are in awe as they watch him tie the rope around a colorfully painted block of wood after looping it through a hole in the middle. An audience member is asked to pull on the block, which magically releases from its rope hold, rope intact.

Another friend, Austin Kendall of New Sharon, has helped plane the wood to create the blocks, which he hopes to market to other magicians. 

Smilek has four original effects he also hopes to market soon.

Some of Smilek’s experience developed from his own interest and initiative. Effects were learned from talking with other magicians who love to take a novice under their wings, he said. Some was gained from reading now replaced by electronic media such as DVDs, he said. Magic shops also offer information to help budding magicians.

Health issues sometimes create a challenge for the local magician as does the “patter” or verbal portions of the performance, he said. Sharing information about Houdini as part of the patter for the block and rope escape effect, Smilek doesn’t appear challenged in the least.

Smilek custom tailors each show for the occasion providing “enchanting feats of mirth, merriment and magical entertainment.”

He’s now ready for people to know he’s willing to share his talent to help others and to also create a living.

For more information, contact Smilek at 860-2578 or visit his website by typing to a browser, he said.

NOTE: This story has been modified since publication to include the website address.

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