Illusionist Lucas Wilson will make his first appearance at the Tillsonburg Fair on Friday, August 14th.
Canada's only three-time World Guinness Record holder is scheduled to perform Friday at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wilson, who has been featured on the TV show Dragon's Den, will return Sunday, August 16th for an encore fair performance at 1 p.m., followed by a special VIP meet and greet session, which includes free magic lessons. VIP members can purchase a pass for $10 with half the proceeds going to McMaster Sick Children's Hospital. The rest of his shows are free with general fair admission.
The 25-year-old illusionist, who hails from Port Dover, has been doing 'magic' since he was 4.
"I saw a magic show when I was a little kid and said that's what I want to do when I grow up," said Wilson. "I think most kids who go through that 'magic phase' grow out of it – I just never grew out of my magic phase."
It didn't take long before he 'turned pro.' He's been a professional illusionist for about 10 years.
"But I was getting paid for birthday party shows since I was 12. Somewhere around there, 10-12, I was paid $50 to do a 30-minute magic show at someone's birthday party... which was a lot of money to a 12-year-old is a lot of money," he added with a laugh.
From that first party, he has taken his show across North America.
"The biggest crowd we had... we did Nathan Phillips Square a few years ago for the Toronto Zombie Walk. We did a show for 10,000 zombies! Gave new meaning to a dead crowd," he quipped. "No – they were very lively for dead zombies."
He's been on Canada's Got Talent (Top 20 in the Toronto auditions), and more recently CBC Dragon's Den.
"It's skyrocketed since then. They call it the Dragon Den effect and it truly is. We went from doing 20 shows a year to 200 shows a year, and Dragon's Den only made it even bigger. Our website crashed that night because of Dragon's Den. And to this day, we'll go somewhere and people will say, 'weren't you on Dragon's Den?"
Wilson had pitched a Guinness Book of World Record attempt, which he got.
"They loved the idea."
Wilson is also active promoting his business on social media, which has taken it to a new level. It's what illusionists have to do, he said, in public relations.
"You look at the giants who came before – Houdini, he was a master of self promotion. He'd go into town and hang upside down to promote his show. Can you imagine Houdini on Facebook? It'd be nuts."
Wilson won't be hanging upside down on Broadway this week – he's in Vegas – but you can see his 'floating' photo on many Tillsonburg Fair promotion posters.
"He's performing three times Friday night (August 17) – three half-hour shows," said Michelle Babcock, from the Tillsonburg Fair board. "And a one-hour show Sunday with a 30-minute VIP for 30 people who buy the VIP passes."
"It's important to mention that it's not just a meet and greet," noted Wilson. "What we're going to do is teach you magic tricks. You get to learn the secrets of magic. Because that's the biggest question I get after shows. How did you do that? Can you teach me magic? So we're going to give people the opportunity to hang out with us after the show, and we're going to teach you magic tricks that you can do – just like that. For all ages. Kids, adults, anyone can walk away with a magic trick they can go home and perform."
Sunday's show will be different from Friday night, he noted.
"If you like what you see on Friday, we're asking you to come back Sunday – see both shows – with some new and bigger illusions, and of course that amazing VIP opportunity.
"We like to say we bring a little slice of Las Vegas to wherever we go. It's not 'card tricks' in this show... it's the bigger illusions – it's big tricks."
"Oh yeah," Babcock smiled, recalling a show in March. "It's like... 'how the heck did he just do that?!'"
"We like to surprise people, but you can expect to somebody disappear," said Wilson. "There might be a levitation. Somebody might get sawn in half and of course one of my famous straight jacket escapes, for sure."