On Wednesday, we featured a video of AGT’s favorite magician Mat Franco performing at our Newport, RI store! Using charms and bangles from our collections, Franco wowed shoppers and bartenders alike with his fun sense of humor and mind-blowing illusions. We had the opportunity to talk with him after the act and are now completely enamored by his talent and positive energy. We’ll be supporting Mat Franco when America gets the chance to vote next Tuesday and after getting to know him here, we’re sure you will, too! Read on for the first half of our interview with Franco and stay tuned for more on his experience on America’s Got Talent.
When were you first introduced to magic and what intrigued you about it?
I saw magic the first time on TV when I was 4 and became obsessed with the visual aspect of it. There was something visual that couldn’t be explained and that was something that stuck with me.
Do you get inspired by other magicians? Current or famous magicians in history?
I’ve been influenced by a bunch of magicians over the years. That’s how I learned magic. Growing up I would record all the shows on VHS tapes and put them in slow motion to figure out the tricks. I’d watch these TV specials with up to twenty different magicians on them so there was a lot to be inspired by. I find inspiration outside of magic too. I’m inspired by comedians, people that I meet and daily interactions. You never know when ideas are going to come to you to create magic for people. I’m also inspired by my audiences. People often think that I don’t have a boss, but I do. My audience is my boss and I need to listen to them. Often, something spontaneous will happen in a show that the audience loves so I will try to recreate it for future audiences to enjoy as well.
What’s your favorite trick to perform and why?
That changes on a day-to-day basis to be honest, but my favorite type of magic is simple magic; tricks that can be done without props and in everyday life. During some shows I’ll borrow peoples cell phones and do tricks with those. Like the tricks I did using Alex and Ani charms and bangles! When I can borrow items from people without having to carry anything on me at all and just make magic moments naturally without anything special – that’s my favorite type of magic! It makes it impromptu, makes it feel real and relatable. That’s the most important part of magic, engagement and connecting with people.
You’re on America’s Got Talent, what other interesting opportunities has magic provided you?
Aside from AGT, which is a crazy experience that I’m going through right now, I get to travel about half the year. Going different places, meeting different people and connecting with them – that’s one of the most fun parts of what I do! I enjoy the travel aspect of it. I mostly travel to colleges and universities within the United States. For someone who grew up in Rhode Island, it’s a crazy experience to have been to almost all 50 states!
What’s the most rewarding aspect about performing in front of a live audience? What do you hope the audience takes away from your show?
I enjoy people’s reactions to my tricks. When they see magic it can make them feel good which in turn makes me happy. I just want people to laugh and have a good time. What I don’t want is for people to feel like I’m pulling the wool over their eyes. Sometimes there’s a misconception about what magic should be and sometimes people feel like they’re being tricked or fooled and I don’t want them to feel that way. I just want my audience to laugh and have a fun time along with me.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get started practicing magic or other less traditional hobbies/careers?
Magic certainly is a less traditional hobby and career! Whether it is magic or something else that you enjoy doing, I would just say to do it until it stops being fun! There’s no reason to stop doing what you love, just stick with it and pursue what you want to do. I’ve said since I was a kid that I will always do magic. I would do magic even if people didn’t watch. It’s therapeutic for me. I enjoy it! I enjoy the practice of magic, I enjoy watching magic and I enjoy being a part of it. The magic doesn’t happen in my hands, it happens in people’s minds. What I’m doing are just tricks and how people perceive them, that is the special moment and the real magic. That’s what I love. It’s about doing what you love to do and not letting anything stop you.