WHILE illusion is a key part of being a magician, being a natural performer can also cast a spell on the audience.
Billy Kidd’s previous experience as a professional actor and classically-trained musician informs her career in magic.
“I saw a magician perform at a street festival and I was instantly hooked. I didn’t know how it was done, but I knew I wanted to do it,” she says.
In 2008, Kidd left Canada for Britain, where she was mentored by the legendary street magician, Gazzo. Did she find it hard to break into the male-dominated world of magic?
“Because I got into magic late in life, and had no experience, I really didn’t know that barrier was there, that female magicians weren’t the norm.
“When I started doing it, I got a lot of attention, so then I realised why. I guess it was a positive thing, but there aren’t many girls in magic. You have to prove yourself a little bit more,” she said.
Kidd took the traditional route into magic, learning from books.
“The magician I saw gave me some great advice, and told me to go and find certain books of magic. That’s the first thing I did. I went to a second-hand shop and found a book he told me about. I studied from there. Magic’s such an old profession. The secrets are out there, but it requires a lot of dedication.”
Does Kidd believe there are special skills required to become a magician?
“To be a good magician requires study and constant practice for the rest of your life. You have to be a little bit obsessive-compulsive. I want to say that anyone can learn, but to do it well, only a few people have that drive and passion.”
Given the nature of their work, magicians are seen as secretive, but Kidd says they do help each other out.
“The magic community is tight; we stick together. Most of the magic practised today was invented thousands of years ago. There are just new effects, but magicians do share secrets with each other in a private kind of way.”
Kidd says she is noticing that more girls are now becoming interested in magic.
“It used to be a thing that you wouldn’t think of giving a little girl a magic kit, but I think that’s changing now, because magic is a little more popular than it used to be in mainstream pop culture.”
Kidd’s act is a mix of comedy and magic and she says her escape act, inspired by Houdini, always gets a good reaction.
“The best magic makes the audience go ‘wow’,” she says.
Kidd regularly performs on television, and has appeared on shows including Wizard Wars, on Syfy, and the ITV show, The Next Great Magician. How is performing magic on television different?
“It’s good, because you get more than one chance to do the performance, to do the best one, so that’s always useful. You don’t get that live. But TV is also a completely different medium, and it doesn’t necessarily help the magician to think of how people watching the TV consider the trick. They’re thinking of camera tricks, and so on.”
Kidd says she is looking forward to performing in Dublin and Cork. “I don’t know what it is, perhaps it’s the sense of humour, but I find Irish audiences so much fun to perform for. They’re not afraid to interact.”
Billy Kidd will be performing at the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular at Merrion Square, Dublin, July 7-9, and Fitzgerald Park, Cork, on July 15 and 16.
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