Showcase: That Magic Touch
From kids’ parties and low-paying gigs to corporate entertainment and beyond, it’s been quite a ride so far
Meet the amazing Bobby Motta, magician, mentalist and mind reader.
Magic was always toyed with at family gatherings when I was young. My uncle was quite the joker, and when his practical jokes started to make my family go mad, he decided to learn magic. It was his outlet. It gave him the chance to be a joker, but this time everyone could enjoy it.
I don’t know if it was his first trick I ever saw or if it’s the only one I can remember, but all I recall is what I called the “Chiclet Trick.” He had a false tooth, which was unknown to me at the time. The trick was simply him pulling back his tooth and pretending to pull it out, revealing the Chiclet, which I thought was the actual tooth. I would look up, see the dark hole where the tooth used to be, and then suddenly the tooth reappeared. I was hooked. I needed to know how that was done and how I could do it, too!
And so began my crazy journey through the world of magic and all that lies under its umbrella. For the first ten or so years of my adult life, I had no idea magic could ever make you money. I worked in the car business for many years, eventually owning a subprime lease company and small dealership. The hours and work were killing me: 12-hour days, six days a week—i was miserable. I knew there had to be something more, but I was too exhausted to even explore what that might be. With the support of my wife, I sold the dealership and took a one-year hiatus to regroup.
I always knew I had a creative side, but I really didn’t know what area to tap into. My first venture was a multimedia company. I had two partners and we ran the place well, but I just knew it still wasn’t what I was looking for. A year later, while in Vegas, I guess you could say I rediscovered magic. It sounds corny, but it was right after that trip that I realized I actually really enjoyed performing and that’s what I wanted to do. Not long afterward, I got my first paid gig—a stag party. Talk about an interesting start along a new career path! But oddly enough, from there, the inquiries started to come.
It definitely wasn’t easy and, at the beginning, I would take almost any paying gig just to have more opportunities to practice my material with a live audience. All week I would read and watch videos and practice. And all weekend I would suffer through heckling kids and not-so-great-paying gigs. Many times I would come home and tell my wife how humiliating my shows were. I remember one night in particular, I was doing a walk-around piece of magic in a restaurant, and just as I finished my effect, a
boy of about six threw a ketchup-soaked French fry at my head, and it stuck. That was my closer. Many times I asked myself what I was doing allowing myself to be humiliated and sometimes treated like a clown, but then I put the kids’ magic case away and decided it was time to move up on the ladder.
As soon as I began to bill myself as a corporate mentalist, everything changed. I had found my niche and my audience. And so here I am. My growth as a corporate entertainer has given me the tools to shine in my weekly dinner theatre show, “Cryptic,” at Dave and Buster’s in Vaughn, Ont., where I now spend much of my time. Looking into the future, I am eager to focus on a full-scale theatrical production. My ultimate goal is to connect with audiences on a level that goes beyond performance and becomes a shared experience—a fantasy ride into the unknown.
Canada is a great place to grow and perform. Thanks to trailblazers like Doug Henning, there’s a path for newcomers to follow. I’m fortunate some of Canada’s most influential magicians live just a block away from me, including David Ben, Chris Mayhew, Jay Sankey, Bill Abbott and David Peck. These amazing performers and creators are just a few among the many Canadians who have added so much to magic and mentalism, and are making their mark all over the world in the process.
Also, Canadians appreciate arts and culture and that gives performers here more of an audience. I can travel to any province and receive an amazing response to my art, and I hear the same from my peers. I would love to see Canada become a bigger hub for magic—a more recognized breeding ground for the art form—because our country truly has what it takes. ■
Visit www.bobbymotta.com for more details.
In addition to corporate events, Bobby performs weekly at Dave and Buster’s in Vaughn, Ont. Margaret Atwood (above right) is a fan, as is former baseball star Carlos Delgado (far right).