The Magic Magic Show Show is so nice they named it twice. Really, they should name it thrice. Still, it would not emphasize enough the fantastical, unexplainable, mind-blowing feat that is the magic of Bradmagic and Andrew Evans.
Inspired by classic tricks and illusions from an era gone by, the two San Francisco magicians add their distinct touch to a craft that has a rich mystical history born centuries ago. Their style is magic by design, with both men designers by trade.
“Magic is about creating impossible moments for an audience to witness on stage. Design is about creating new, previously impossible, experiences for people to engage with in the world. Similar underlying principle, different outputs,” Evans said.
Bradmagic (aka Brad Aldridge) and Evans create wonder from the ordinary, reminding onlookers to question reality and to see the amazement in common things. They present a spellbinding experience with a hearty dose of comedy and bring the audience in to help set up the tricks.
“I prefer to work on creating theater using magic that leaves an audience thinking more about the world, more about how mysterious and wonderful it is,” Bradmagic said. “How in our marvelous age of technology, even simple curious things can still wow us.”
During a recent sold-out show at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco, the magicians served themselves shots that they made appear from brown paper bags. They made a beer bottle move from one paper bag to the other and back again. They predicted words that audience members selected at random from various books. Bradmagic had already drawn the picture of a tree before a man revealed he selected the word tree.
“When you have a deck of 52 cards, the odds are just one in 52. It seems amazing but it is not actually statistically that impressive versus when you think of a book,” Evans told the crowd. “Literally there are millions of different words and incredibly different odds when you are dealing with words, so if we were to pick words instead of cards it is a whole different ballgame.”
In a solo spot, Evans performed a sleight-of-hand rope trick and guessed a series of cards selected by people in the crowd. Evans borrowed a dollar bill from a man then transported it first into a lemon and then into an egg.
“I thought we would put it here, into these large local chicken eggs. It’s going to be fun,” Evans said. “In the process, the entire egg has been completely hardboiled,” he continued before gently cracking the egg and pulling out the dollar bill. He held up the dollar to show that it had “Alexandra” marked on it. This was the name of the spectator who just moments before had written her name on it in large black letters.
In his solo spot, Bradmagic also performed a rope trick and correctly predicted the famous character a viewer had selected by cutting out the likeness of Indiana Jones from paper.
Then came the needle trick. Stephanie, an audience member, examined needles to make sure they were stiff, pointy and sharp. She fed a couple to Bradmagic before he grabbed a fistful and swallowed those too. With a flashlight illuminating his mouth and throat, Stephanie confirmed the needles, in fact, had been swallowed.
“Do you know where this trick is going? A long night in the bathroom,” Bradmagic joked, before swallowing some thread. “It’s just like spaghetti, just like mom used to make.”
He then began slowly pulling the thread from his mouth, revealing threaded needle after needle after needle as the crowd gasped, laughed, groaned, then burst into applause.
Bradmagic, 32, is a visual designer at Google, having recently left the Butchershop Creative design agency. He studied art practice and theatrical design at the University of California, Berkeley. He contributes to magic’s oldest journal Genii, The Conjurors’ Magazine and performs with a variety show called the Velvet Variety.
Evans, 29, is a product designer at IDEO. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown University and a master’s degree in product design from Stanford University. He produced the immersive theater experience, “Art Behind Bars” on Alcatraz Island. Evans recently created the Magic Patio, a pop-up, invite-only magic theater and bar in San Francisco.
Both men have spoken extensively about the intersection of magic and design. They spoke of their interest in this topic during the Magic Magic Show Show to introduce a spectacle of tricks.
“I am a physical product design guy, things you can hold and drop. Experiences, services, things in the physical realm,” Evans said.
“I am more in branding and marketing and screens and surfaces,” Bradmagic said.
“There is a lot of similarity and overlap there, even though our outputs are maybe a little different,” Evans explained. “We both are thinking a lot about, not just the things we are creating, but about the people who are using them and it really comes down to perception.”
“It is a lot about the steps you take along the journey and right here, this is a design experience to come to Doc’s Lab. The show was a design experience,” Bradmagic said.
The duo was setting up to perform a trick specific to this group of people at this particular venue.
“Thinking about perception, thinking about creativity, thinking about design, we wanted to do a collaborative piece of art here with the audience at Doc’s Lab tonight,” Evans said.
Using a black marker on white paper, Bradmagic had already drawn a picture of a cartoonish boy wearing a cap, shirt, shorts, suspenders, and socks. Evans walked among the audience with colored markers asking people to randomly select one and color in the boy’s clothes. The result? A purple cap, blue shirt, green shorts, red suspenders, and yellow socks.
“We went shopping,” the duo exclaimed. They grabbed a shopping bag and pulled out blue shirt after blue shirt, green shorts after green shorts, and many yellow socks, purple caps and so on. The items were piece for piece exactly as the audience had colored in minutes prior.
At the start of the show, the magicians asked attendee Dori to hold a package wrapped in brown paper at her table. At this later point in the show, they retrieved the package from Dori and brought it onstage. They unwrapped it to reveal a framed photo under glass of the two magicians themselves wearing purple caps, blue shirts, green shorts, red suspenders, and yellow socks. Again, they predicted exactly what the audience had colored in minutes prior.
It was a mystifying trick by design that Bradmagic and Evans crafted right there in collaboration with the Doc’s Lab audience that night. Judging from the whooping reaction, it had the magicians’ desired effect — creating awe and astonishment with common items in the routine world.