If only finding a magician to perform at your child's birthday party could be as simple as yelling, "Abracadabra." But it takes more than a little wand waving to find the act that fits your needs. This list of a few Long Island magicians, along with their specialty or signature tricks, can get you started.
LOU JOHNSON THE MAGICAL JUGGLER
Valley Stream's Lewis Johnson does a mini-variety show that includes visual and sleight-of-hand magic, plate spinning, yo-yo tricks, balancing and a magical hula-hoop routine. His specialty is juggling; he uses balls, clubs and rings.
Specialty: The toddler set
Price: $225 for one hour, $275 for 90 minutes
"I've always been a kid magnet," Massapequa's Sherry Joy Bieder says. "I get down on the floor with them." Bieder's magic for the little ones usually involves a story line with things appearing and disappearing. She's one of the few women magicians.
Specialty: Saw children in half
Price: $200 to $2,000, depending on the length and type of material
Lindenhurst's Julian Dean, which is his stage name, will saw a child in half. "I get one of the children out of the audience. I cut him in half with a real saw. It's done funny, it's not done scary," Dean says. He'll also make live doves appear from silks and flowers, and he has a rabbit in his act. He'll do fire-breathing, but he doesn't like to because he doesn't want children to try it at home.
UNCLE MAJIC, THE HIP HOP MAGICIAN
Specialty: Hip-hop with magic
Price: $800 to $1,000
"I take Mr. Rogers, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and David Blaine, and that forms Uncle Majic, the Hip Hop Magician," says Bronx-based Uncle Majic, whose real name is Nakia DeJon. His show lasts 45 minutes to an hour.
THE MAGIC OF MARK AND KYM
Specialty: Straitjacket escape
Price: $350 to $750
This married Moriches couple's act has a dog, doves, duck, python and rabbit, all incorporated in the shows; for instance, the doves will disappear, and a Pomeranian will appear in their place. For higher-priced shows, Mark and Kym Schussmann will perform a Houdini-like escape from a packing crate and a straitjacket escape. They'll also levitate the birthday child.
Specialty: Magician to the stars
Price: $750 on Long Island
You can have the same magician who's entertained the offspring of celebs Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Robert De Niro and others, as long as you're willing to pay the price. " 'You're like the Rolls-Royce of magicians,' " Syosset's Al Garber says he's been told.
Specialty: Has a white rabbit
Price: $275 to $500 for an hourlong show, depending on the location, time and day of the week
Want the traditional rabbit-pulled-from-a-hat style magician? Westbury's David FunN - "Double the N for double the fun" - will make sure his live, white rabbit winds up in your birthday child's hands during his show. Dressed in his black tuxedo, David Rosenberg, his real name, also does balloons and mind reading during performances, which can be geared from age 3 to teenager.
THE SILLY MAGICIAN
Specialty: Draws an Elvis Presley that then sings
Price: $250 to $350, depending on performance location and duration
East Northport's Mike Maione's 45-minute show is geared to children ages 3 to 10 and includes the audience in every other trick. "Kids today have seen so many fast-paced television shows that they have to be completely entertained the entire show," he says. One of Maione's specialties: He draws Elvis Presley, who then comes to life and starts singing, "Hound Dog." He also presents the guest of honor with an official magician T-shirt that is a size 0, then has the child put it in a pan and use an increasingly bigger magic wand until the T-shirt grows to the right size. Maione also brings a live, white rabbit for the show's finale. "We invite all the kids up to pet the rabbit when the show is over," he says.
Specialty: Another magician of the stars
Price: $300 to $350
On the East End, Stony Brook's Jeff Miller has also performed for high-profile clients. "I've done Kelly Ripa's parties," he says. "The magic is actually secondary. Primary is entertaining and making kids laugh," he says. The kids remember you because you were funny, not because you made the piece of rope turn into three pieces, he says.
Specialty: He'll levitate a child
For the finale of his 45-minute show, Syosset's Harry Mandel brings out two chairs, puts a board on the chairs, brings up the birthday child, wraps him or her in a blanket from the neck down, then pulls out one chair and the pulls out the board. He usually only recommends for 6 years old or older. "When they're under 5, they get a little scared," he says.
MAGIC BY BELDINI
Specialty: Makes things vanish and reappear
Joe Lobue of Plainview does a one-hour show; he's been performing for 25 years. He came up with the name Beldini because it sounds like Houdini, he says. He wears a traditional magician's black tuxedo.
THE MAGIC OF AMORE
Specialty: Will teach your kids a trick
Price: Starts at $300 to $350
Stony Brook's James Lazzarini gears his shows to the age group. While he primarily does shows for children 4 years old and older, he has done shows for 1-year-olds. "I would love to know what's going through their minds," he says. For the older kids, "I really make it seem like they're doing the magic. I make them the stars of the show," he says. If they're 6 or older, he teaches them a trick they can take home with them.
Specialty: Draws a face that then moves
Price: $300 to $350 depending on location
Bill White of Seaford has been performing for more than 30 years. He's been president of the International Brotherhood of Musicians of Long Island four times. He does rope tricks, and calls a child up to draw a face - eyes, mouth and nose - and suddenly the eyes will move back and forth. "They go nuts," he says of the kids.
THEATRICKS BY PHIL
Specialty: Chops off a hand
Price: $300 to $500
East Northport's Phil Levy does illusions; for instance, he has a wooden tiger's head whose mouth is a guillotine. During the comic trick a child puts his hand in Levy does a spoof about cutting it off, assigning another kid to call 911 and another to catch the hand. He wears a tuxedo, or sometimes a sequined vest.
Specialty: Also owns the magic story "Tricky Business"
Price: $300 to $450
Specialty: Dresses kids up
Price: $275 to $325
Anthony Sousa of Port Washington tailors his show to the age group and he does tricks to music. He will dress kids up as a magician or as a chicken during the act.
Specialty: Child will make live rabbit appear
Price: $225 to $250 depending on location
Joseph Ciaravino of Merrick, otherwise known as Prestino, wears a bright red shirt and a tie with playing cards on it during his family oriented performances. He will turn the guest of honor into a magician, dressing him up in a magic hat that is first too big and flops over his head, then too small and needs oil to make it slip on. He'll give him a wand and have him make Beans the rabbit appear.
Specialty: Eats an apple while juggling fruit
Price: $275 to $500 depending on technical needs
A live rabbit will magically appear on the table during Brian McGovern's hourlong act. McGovern, who is based in Rockaway Beach and Garden City, also eats an apple while juggling fruit such as oranges and even a kumquat. McGovern, whose stage name is Hijinx, also does balloon art.
Specialty: Will saw a child in half
Price: $300 to $600 depending on illusions and size of party
Plainview's Robert Austin will saw a child in half and float a child in the air. Austin wears a black tuxedo during his 45- to 60-minute show.
Specialty: Cups and balls tricks
Price: $200 to $500 depending on type of tricks and size of group
East Moriches' Robert Carasiti can do strolling magic where he uses everyday objects and a deck of cards to approach guests at a party; his stand-up show uses small props such as cups and balls and disappearing crayons. He'll also do mind-reading for children.
Specialty: Scarfs change colors
Price: $175 to $250
"I probably get 15, 18, 20 kids involved as assistants with me," says Tom Dillon, aka Tom Foolery, calling them magicians in training. For instance, the Carle Place magician will have an assistant put two scarves in a bag and pull them out and they're a different color. He'll also do balloon animals, hats and swords.
The Great Vindini
631-603-4779, Facebook: Vincent Ohrnberger
Riverhead's Vincent Ohrnberger does a 45-minute to one-hour show. Ohrnberger makes goldfish appear in an empty globe of water and also does educational and interactive tricks.
Specialty: Does some tricks to music
Price: $250 to $350, depending on location
Syosset's Charles Muschiatti, otherwise known as Charlie Magic, does about 10 to 15 minutes of vanishing, appearances and color changing to music; the balance is interacting with the audience.
Price: $150 to $275 depending on location and length of party
"I use Christian because it's my middle name, and it flows better with 'Don Christian Magician'," says Ronkonkoma's Don Schaefer. Schaefer does a routine with a puppet rabbit in a hat. Every child at the party receives a fortune-telling fish and a coloring page of Schaefer with a rabbit pulling him out of a hat.
Specialty: Makes a birthday pie
Melville's Terry Oberman is a weekend magician; during the week he works in automotive sales for Newsday. His finale is making a birthday pie using funny ingredients such as a raw egg with the shells, a real flower instead of flour - and then in a flash of fire he turns it into the real birthday cake, complete with candle.
CHRIS THE MAGICIAN
Specialty: Makes an empty pan fill with candy
Price: average $275
Bellmore's Chris Cerverizzo, or Chris the Magician, will turn a scarf into a magic wand; he'll show an empty pan, kids will throw magic dust and the pan will be filled with candy; he'll put magic dice in a box and they'll disappear and appear somewhere else. He also does juggling and balloon animals.
Specialty: Has done celebrity parties
Price: $350 to $750 depending on time, location and show content
Specialty: Will make a child float
Price: about $300
"I will use virtually every child in the audience as a volunteer," says Eric Greenberg of Medford, who is the Amazing Schmendrick. The birthday child gets a magic wand and participates in several tricks. For the finale, he makes the birthday child float.
Specialty: Works your child's favorite characters into show
"I keep my prices in the real world," says John Lepre, a Massapequa Park resident. He changes the magic words in his show to use the birthday child's name, and personalizes a theme to the child's favorite TV character, for instance, SpongeBob or superheros. Lepre also teaches a magic class for adults at Nassau Community College.
RONJO THE MAGICIAN
Specialty: Also owns Ronjo's Magic and Costumes
Price: $250 to $1,500, depending on location, size of audience, and illusions
"We make the birthday child the star of the show," says Port Jefferson Station's Ron Diamond, or Ronjo the Magician. He's been doing magic for more than 35 years and has performed in Honolulu, Acapulco, Florida and England.
Specialty: Uses a guillotine
Price: $250 to $500, depending on the location
For a little excitement, Merrick's Pat Darienzo will choose a child and chop off his head. "They put their head in the guillotine and we drop the blade. It's less frightening than it is a lot of fun," Darienzo says.