Katie Traxton discovers why Buckinghamshire magician Harry De Cruz will blow your mind (while reading it too)
Last October, I met Buckinghamshire born and raised Harry De Cruz for the first time. It’s hard to know what to expect from a 27-year-old world-class magician. I’d been told he could hold both individuals and theatres captive with the slightest gesture. I knew he’d been accepted into the Magic Circle aged only 18 and subsequently an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle, the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon a magician by examination. I knew he became Dynamo’s lead consultant on magic while still a teenager, including for a 200-date arena tour, but I had to retain a healthy scepticism. After all, how awe-inspiring can a bit of magic really be?
After I and a room of focused spectators had watched him make a glass wine bottle disappear through a solid wooden table, our minds were even further blown when he started reading our thoughts as if they were scrawled across our foreheads. Needless to say, I was duly impressed. How does he do it? I don’t know and I don’t want to. It’s my firm belief that Harry De Cruz is magic and I’m sticking with that. What I did know was that I wanted to find out more, so I caught up with him to learn a little bit about his story.
Made to love magic
“I first knew I wanted to be a magician when I saw someone called Colonel Custard – I’m sure lots of your readers will have heard of him. Watching him perform miracles in front my eyes and making me laugh uncontrollably until my belly and face hurt, meant that at eight-years-old he became my favourite person on the planet. And you know what? He’s still my favourite person to this day, because through him I found my greatest passion.
“I was never a football kid, I was always the practical joker. Growing up in Aylesbury, I went to The Grange School, where I (regrettably) wasn’t the best-behaved student. I was a bit overactive and cheeky, juggling my scones in food technology classes. I enjoyed being silly and provoking reactions in people. Level that up and you get the feeling of pure wonder that a well-performed magic trick provides. That in itself is magic to me.
“As a magician you actually sacrifice your greatest love to share it with others. The more you learn, the less you’re fooled so the less you feel that sense of amazement when you witness even the best magic – but it’s all worth it when you see the same wonder you used to feel in your audience’s eyes.”
“Alright, I’ll come clean, as long as you keep it a secret and don’t tell anyone, or publish it in a magazine… The road to becoming a magician isn’t as simple as one wave of a magic wand and you’re made. Tricks do sometimes go wrong, but that’s usually because I’m experimenting or trying something new. And, luckily, with most tricks, the audience don’t know what’s meant to happen, so I have time to fix and recover, or even change the trick, before the ending.
“I thrive on live performance, the anticipation, the adrenaline, the risk, but the specific feeling I get when a trick works evolves the more I perform it. When it’s new, I’m just relieved it’s worked. As I hone the trick and embed it in my muscle memory, it becomes second nature. Then I can be present with the audience, enjoying it and laughing with them. That’s when it’s truly enjoyable. Basically, my job is to show up, have fun doing what I love most and laugh with people. Best job in the world.”
Into the unknown
“The unknown is always scary, but you have to trust in yourself and your abilities. Even when situations are daunting, there’s an opportunity to seize. There’s an old saying about reframing nerves as excitement. That does the trick (no pun intended) for me. I’m usually bouncing around backstage to increase my energy, which the audience feels and reflects back.
“That excitement was even there when the time came to see if I had what it took to become part of the Magic Circle, ‘the world’s most prestigious magic society’. The Magic Circle is kind of like an invite-only member’s club that you can only gain access to after being interviewed and passing an examination. I was fortunate enough to join at just 18-years-old, the youngest age allowed. Since then, I’m honoured to have been promoted and selected as one of the small number of examiners. I guess in that summary I make it sound simple, but it takes a lot of hard work. It may not feel like work if you love magic as much as I do, but you have to be focused, dedicated and have a relentless appetite for the processes of creation and practice. That never changes either.
“I was recently in an international touring magic show called Champions of Magic, in which I attempted to perform my version of the world’s deadliest magic trick, The Bullet Catch. The magician has to catch a bullet signed by an audience member that’s been fired directly at them. Note – I’m not brave enough to do it with a real gun, in my version we used a paintball gun. I was left with a fair few bruises from rehearsals and I could easily have been put off – it’s new, it’s dangerous, it didn’t work first time out, but I had to dig deep and have confidence. Fortunately, I caught that signed bullet every show.”
Let me entertain you
“Whilst I didn’t enjoy school, I’ve always been fascinated with learning. Anything I saw that impressed me, I wanted to try and learn. Which meant over the years I learned to juggle, unicycle and even breathe fire.
“For me entertainment is entertainment, so I like to mix my performance skills in both expected and unexpected ways. A couple of years ago I wrote a one man show mixing comedy and magic and took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’d love to perform that show again, maybe even take it to London’s West End, that would be a dream come true.
“While a magician never reveals his tricks, I do believe I have a duty to keep magic and that sense of wonder, amazement and entertainment alive. I was involved in creating Dynamo’s magic kit and his ‘Book of Secrets’ for new magicians, which ignited a passion for encouraging the next wave of young magicians, so I’m currently looking at more ways to meet, teach and inspire the next generation.
“Those early moments when you’re first introduced to magic are some of the best memories you can have. Many of mine were in Buckinghamshire. Now when I pass church halls or certain houses, I think about some of my early shows. It sounds crazy, but I retired from doing children’s parties at the ripe old age of 13! The Queens Park Arts Centre will always hold a special place in my heart, as that’s where I won my first award in their talent contest, aged 10. It was all the boost I needed to be sure this was the career for me!
Find out more about Harry De Cruz by following him on Instagram @harrydecruz, or to add a touch of magic to your dinner party or corporate event you can book him via [email protected]
Katie Traxton is the founder of Good Vibes Only Talent, all images of Harry De Cruz by Andrew Hone, director of Photography at Good Vibes Only Talent
goodvibesonlytalent.com, IG: @goodvibesonlytalent