Michael Grandinetti makes a living defying the laws of gravity through magic. Here, we learn what it takes to be a successful master illusionist, and an all around nice guy who thrills audiences everywhere.
Tell us where you’re from and what drew you to pursue a career as an illusionist?
I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania although I now reside in Los Angeles. Like many kids growing up, I was given a magic set for Christmas, when I was five, and I was immediately hooked. When I saw that under the tree, it was like everything else in the room disappeared. It was that gift that set me on my path to becoming a magician. I feel very lucky that I found my passion so early in life.
Why do you think people are so fascinated by what you do?
Magic gives you that sense of fantasy that we all felt as children, makes you feel like anything is possible, and it is one of the best ways to excite a person’s imagination.
With my show, I try to make it an uplifting experience that hopefully, after its over, makes the audience walk away feeling happy and positive. Seeing people come to our show after a long day of school or work, and leave feeling reinvigorated is a big motivator for me to continue doing what I do.
What’s the greatest lesson that you like to teach people through what you do?
Someone told me a long time ago, “don’t know what you can’t do.” Meaning, don’t put limitations on what you think you can do and anything will become possible. My goal has always been to go after what seems impossible. For example, when we were developing our stadium shows, we had to create illusions that could be performed in front of 70,000 people, with a 360o view at all times, outdoors and under bright lights. We knew it would be quite a challenge. When I levitated a girl above a float as it moved down Constitution Avenue in this year’s 4th of July Parade in Washington DC, there were 250,000 people lining the streets and this was the first time magic had ever been performed in that parade. On the NBC special “The World’s Most Dangerous Magic”, I had 60 seconds to escape from chains holding me between walls of flaming steel spikes. But, I was determined to make each of these projects work (and in the case of the NBC special, survive). I absolutely love the process of bringing new magic to life and taking it to new places. That is one of my big thrills in life.
The message I’d like to convey to people through overcoming these kinds of challenges is; if we can levitate somebody outdoors under bright lights or escape from between spikes, then, you can bring what seems impossible to life too.
Where does one start if they want to be a master illusionist?
I think one of the best places to start learning is through books. I know we have the internet and DVD’s, and technology is a great tool to use, but I would suggest that people not just watch what other people do and try to emulate that. The best way to really learn it is to read and study magic through books and to put your own personal spin on the magic. Make the magic a reflection of how you think and who you are.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my local library just reading books on magic. It gave me a very good foundation and I was able to use my imagination and try to make it my own. There are also great magic stores in towns all over the country. My father would take me to the magic store in Pittsburgh regularly when I was growing up and it was a great way to learn as well. It was also always a lot of fun.
Once you start developing your foundation in magic, I would then suggest that you get familiar with other parts of performing; for example: public speaking, acting, stage movement, choreography, and lighting. All of these things play a crucial part in a magic show. It’s more than just getting up and performing a trick. All of the theatrical elements come together to make the entire magic show a theatrical experience helpful possibility to consider.