Young magician gives back through hobby
An accidental hobby has turned into a fun way to give back to the community for 15-year-old Adrian Steelman.
The teen has spent the last six years honing his magic skills which he uses throughout the community to bring joy to others. But it wasn’t something he originally set out to learn years ago.
“It’s a funny story, actually,” he said. “Basically, my dad wanted me to learn how to deal in poker, so I went to YouTube. I looked up some shuffling and dealing videos, and then in the suggested column, I saw a magic tutorial for beginners. I thought ‘Why not?’ and I learned a magic trick. And then two, and then three, and it kind of spiraled from there.
“After a while, I stopped doing YouTube because YouTube can only get you so much. So I started buying books and DVDs and really getting into it. I found this magic shop in Little Rock called Mr. Magic’s, but now it’s closed.” According to his father, Terry Steelman, the hobby was unexpected. “It was a real surprise to me and Mom; we’re not performers and seeing him just take it to a whole new level has really been interesting,” he said. “His sister was a little disappointed in the family vacation that it was all about magic. We went out to Las Vegas — drove there — and spent a few days. Then we went out to California and went to the Magic Castle.”
That first trick Adrian learned was a section of The Ambitious Card, which is still one of his favorites to perform for others.
In fifth grade, he performed in his first talent show at Hot Springs School District before moving to Lakeside. In sixth grade, he won his middle school talent show and has since won several school shows, as well as Garland County’s Got Talent.
Currently, he’s working on an act that combines his passions for magic and playing trombone. This act has won him a few talent shows already.
“The basis is I’ll play a little music and then maybe I’ll make something appear out of the bell or something like that,” he said.
Adrian is a member of Ring 29 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians — the local chapter of the worldwide club. Every year, the organization holds a convention, which he was able to attend in 2017, but the local chapter meets the first Thursday of every month in Little Rock.
“We get together and talk about magic, share some new tricks that we’ve learned and then Jim, the previous owner of the magic shop, still has a lot of inventory so he’ll sell some stuff,” he said. “There’s me and my friend Carlos in it, and we’re both 15. We’re the youngest.”
His icons include magicians who utilize other elements of entertainment into their acts, he said.
“I like Matt King and his comedy,” Adrian said. “And then Lance Burton — he’s more serious magic so I like to incorporate that into my stage and then incorporate more comedy into my close-up.”
The young magician’s father said at least once a month his son goes to nursing homes or performs street magic downtown, as well as other performances.
“Me and Mom are really proud and we can’t believe he does such a wonderful job with it,” Terry Steelman said. “Also performing his trombone, he’s quite accomplished.”
In addition, Adrian makes a point to visit his Pre- K teacher, Carol Gibbs’ class to perform for the students. Gibbs said Adrian is a wonderful entertainer.
“From a young age, you could tell that Adrian was a very curi- ous student,” she said. “He always wanted to know more about why and how things worked. He enjoyed challenging himself and was always the student who would try to build the tallest tower or tell the best story.
“He has always easily drawn in an audience. When he visits our classroom, my students immediately connect with him because he’s so warm and funny. They all want hugs at the end of his performances because they can feel the love and passion from him that he has for his talent and for this community.”
Gibbs said she loves that her former student is not afraid to work on improving his talent.
“He learns new magic tricks all the time to incorporate, or he is committed to improving his current tricks,” she said. “I never miss an opportunity to invite him to my classroom at Langston. I have included him in other community events as well, including a senior citizens dinner last year. He doesn’t meet an audience that he can’t engage with. He left that group as happy and intrigued as he does our Langston students.”
Adrian said he hopes to continue performing through college at children’s birthdays and wherever else he can.
“I like to do a lot of card magic because that’s where I started and it’s still a strong point of mine,” he said. “But then I do a lot of coin magic, Rubik’s Cube magic. And then away from close-up, I’m working on my trombone magic and then a lot of kids magic. I do a lot of kids shows.
“If I can get a kid to laugh, that’s the greatest.”
For any budding hobbyist, Adrian said practice really is the key to success regardless of what one’s trying to accomplish.
“You’ve got to like what you’re doing and you’ve got to work at it,” he said. “The easiest thing is to give up and the hardest thing is to keep persevering and getting better. Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect — the saying is there for a reason.”