Genevieve Vieira
2 minute read
28 Nov 2013
6:00 am

Mischief and magic with Ben Hanlin

Genevieve Vieira

One look at Ben Hanlin and there's no doubt he has some tricks up his sleeve. Young and innocent, with a mischievous smile, he has a special charm that makes anything he says seem plausible.

MYSTERIOUS. Magicians Ben Hanlin, left, and Billy Kidd in a Breaking Magic hidden camera shoot. Pictures: Supplied.

Still, anyone who’s seen a magician in action will never truly trust one – and Hanlin is no exception.

Chosen as one of Discovery Channel’s “Leading Men” for 2014, Hanlin “swallows” several needles before pulling them out of his mouth, equally spread out on a piece of thread. When questioned about the trick, he assures his audience that he genuinely swallowed all of the needles. And, what more could we expect? Magicians never divulge their secrets.

Being denied an explanation of the phenomena you see taking place in front of you can be a little frustrating. It does, however, make you more aware of the mystery of magic and of course, if everyone knew how all the tricks were done, there would be nothing entertaining about the process.

Hanlin explains, “In this show (Magic Of Science), me and the other three magicians were conscious that we didn’t want to be a part of a ‘magic revealed’ show. It is not acceptable to give away magic tricks. For us, magic is our bread and butter.”

Discovered on YouTube, Hanlin started practicing magic when he was 15, quietly sitting at the back of the classroom experimenting, rather than studying. Starting out with a basic how-to book, Hanlin began learning more and more advanced tricks, proud to say that it is now his profession.

“When I first got into magic, I was fooled all the time by magicians and I loved it. It makes you believe that person has a genuine special power,” he says.

“As I got older, I should have probably grown out of it but I just kept on going and now it’s my job. I once read a saying: ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’ – I haven’t worked for years!”

Over the past decade, close-up magic has become evidently more popular, with the rise of television shows about the subject a major contributor. Specialising in close-up magic, Hanlin explains, “Magic is one of those things that people tend not to believe unless they see it up close. Street magic allows people to see something impossible right in front of their eyes. This can often be so much stronger than seeing something on stage. David Blaine first brought street magic to the masses in the late Nineties and more recently magicians like Dynamo have helped in its resurgence.

“I have spent over 10 years performing in front of crowds that are standing right in front of me. I don’t have big illusions or assistants. This allows me to talk right to the person that is watching what I’m doing.”

In Magic Of Science, things work a little differently though.

“We wanted to create a show in which science was used to look like magic,” explains Hanlin.

“Magicians very rarely use science when they perform as they have an entirely different set of skills.”