“Magic is art and it is hard to judge yourself”
Text: Martina Hošková and M. Zisso; Photo: Archive
Tomáš Podzimek is an example of what may happen when your child gets a magic kit for his 9th birthday. Now, he is 18, finishing high school, and at the same time performing at places such as the Dubai Expo and the Four Seasons, Prague. He talks to us about his school, family, best friend, and of course magic… especially about magic. He also recommends a popular trick to learn: “Making money appear is generally a good thing. Everybody can make it disappear.”
Dear Tomáš, can you please tell us about yourself?
I’m 18 years old. I started doing magic when I was 9. Since then, I’ve been practising and performing magic. I’ve discovered my passion for card magic, and nowadays I also like to perform on stage. I study electrical engineering and automation in Jičín. In February 2022, I performed at the Dubai Expo 2020, at the Czech Pavilion, and also did an interview for the Dubai national television, Dubai One. Later that year, I had a show at the Four Seasons hotel in Prague. Currently, I perform mostly at company events and team buildings, but also at conferences, celebrations, and weddings.
What made you become a magician?
When I was 9 years old, I got a magic kit as a Christmas gift from my aunt. I immediately opened it and started practicing the first tricks, and I performed them later that day. This was the day that sparked my passion for magic.
I will remember it for the rest of my life. After this, my long magical journey had begun.
You are 18 years old and still a high school student. How do you manage your student obligations along with your shows?
In elementary school I always managed to have good marks, and in high school as well. My dad likes to say, as a joke, that I got good logical thinking skills from him. When I need to perform magic after school, that is okay. But a small problem can come up when the magic show takes place at a time when I have my school classes (sadly every weekday from 8am until 2pm). It wasn’t a problem in the past though – I used to only miss a few school days a year due to magic shows. This year, however, is a bit different because I’m in the fourth year of high school, and in May I’ll have my final exams. On top of that, I’ve got more shows now. But I know that I can always go and communicate that to my school. I am really lucky to have great teachers. Also, studying electrical engineering helps, especially in magic.
Do your family, friends, and colleagues support you?
Yes, they have always been there for me. I’m so grateful to have very supportive family and friends. When I started with magic, I needed to get to magic conventions somehow. My granddad and grandmother were always taking me to these conventions and lectures, they enjoyed them, and they saw my progress in magic. Dad drove me to my shows. Sometimes it was in the next village, other times it was far from home. That was a huge help, without which it would have been so difficult to improve in magic.
Nowadays, I can drive a car, so I usually travel to shows with my amazing girlfriend. Luckily, I also have amazing friends – for example, my best friend Leopold Novák. He is kind, helpful, and supportive anytime I need advice. That’s because he is an amazing card magician, so he understands magic too, and we can help each other. Overall, that is a crucial thing in every industry – to have somebody who you can discuss your projects and share successes and failures with, and also learn from them together.
What was the first magic trick you ever learned?
The first trick that I learned was something simple, with a small piece of rope. It was the one from the magic kit.
I remember it wasn’t that good, although it was good for magic beginners. When I performed it for my first audience, my family, they liked it. When somebody asks me for a simple trick for beginners, I usually suggest card tricks. That ́s because basic card tricks are usually easy to learn, yet they are pretty effective. There is just one problem with card tricks – you need to carry cards with you all the time. So maybe, especially in the case of little kids wanting to start with magic, my suggestion would be a simple coin trick, like, for example, ‘vanish’ – people usually carry one or more coins with them. Making money appear is generally a good thing too. Everybody can make it disappear.
When did you perform your first magic show?
My first magic show, in public, took place in a magic competition in Jičín. Luckily, Jičín was just 20 kilometres from my home so my granddad didn’t have a problem driving me there. I was eleven and was pretty nervous. I had never performed in public or in front of other magicians before.
I prepared four card tricks, and competed with them. I came in 3rd in the juniors’ competition. Fortunately, the magicians there were so generous, and they gave me suggestions afterwards on how I could improve my magic. So, I’ve been doing magic for 9 years, and have been performing it in public since 2015. I was always a diligent student of magic, but had always taken it as a hobby. At the beginning of 2020, I flew to London for a magic convention because, as a young magician, I got free entry. The only thing I had to do to get (my free entry) was to perform in a charity show, which I did in Jičín again. This London event was one of the biggest magic conventions in Europe. Besides me, there were, I think, 10 other magicians from the Czech Republic, and, in total, around 700 magicians from all parts of the world. It was a full 3 days of magic performances, talks, and lectures. I never saw anything like that before, the atmosphere was so great. There, I realized that I’d love to do magic full-time, as a professional magician. From then on, I’ve been practising for many hours a day, every day.
What is your favourite magic trick, and why?
I’m gonna talk about two if that’s okay. The first one is for my stage show. In this trick, everybody in the audience gets four different cards. They shuffle the cards and throw one card away at a time. In the end, everybody is holding just one card. And the card is the same for everyone. I love this trick the most because everybody in the audience takes part in it. The only downside is that if I have a show for 500 people, then I would need 2,000 cards. On the other hand, the more people do this trick, the more powerful the trick is. Imagine seeing all the people with one card that matches yours – that is just a wonderful moment, which you rarely see in magic tricks. When you watch a magic show you usually don’t get involved in the magic trick, so it’s nice to have something like that.
Another favourite trick of mine is great for just a small group, or perhaps one person. I borrow their phones and make them disappear. No, just kidding, people don’t like it when you make their phones disappear. I borrow their phones and find a celebrity in them. Then they are asked to think of any celebrity. I correctly guess which celebrity it is, and voila! It is in their phone, which I haven’t touched from the beginning. Since nowadays we use our phones for many hours a day, magic with smartphones is very popular, and I try to incorporate and invent tricks with phones more, and include them into my magic.
What is magic? Is it science, art, a trick, or reality?
That is a difficult question. The answer may depend on the way each magician perceives magic. In my opinion, magic is art. That is because you aren’t just inventing a secret – how the trick is done – but also, which is more important, (you invent) how to present the trick to the audience. If I want to include a new trick in my show, I first must think about the presentation, so that it fits nicely into the show. I then must think about the effect and how to achieve it – the secret of the trick. Or, a company might want me to invent a custom magic trick, for example, like the appearance of their new product for product launch. I can’t only think of the secret and how to make it appear, but also need to think of the presentation so that it is engaging and memorable for the audience. And yes, some people do perceive magic as reality, as something that I can do. This happens very occasionally, but those people exist. It is hard to convince them that I don’t have any magical power, any gift from God. In the past, doing magic tricks meant just one thing, that you are a witch.
Do you consider yourself to be a good magician? What is it that makes a good magician?
I’d consider myself a good magician nowadays. If you’d asked me a year or two ago, I’d have probably said no. The biggest leap for me has come this year. Generally, it is hard to judge yourself, especially in the field of magic. If you are, for example, a programmer, then you are good when you write code fast and efficiently, and the code works great and with no bugs. In magic, there are many different aspects of being good. If the spectators laugh, are amazed, clap, if you have many shows, repetitive bookings, if people like your magic, and many more. After the show, I usually sit in a quiet place with a cup of coffee and try to think about what went fantastically that night, if there were any mistakes, and what things I could improve for the next show. I always put 100% of my energy into my show, sometimes 110%. Taking all those aspects into consideration, I’d consider myself a good magician, who, of course, has a lot of space for improvement.
Who do you consider to be the greatest magician in the world?
There are a lot of magicians that I like and admire. The greatest magician in the world for me would be David Copperfield. He is very well known all over the world because of his TV performances and specials. Nowadays, he performs almost every day in his theatre in Las Vegas. He is 66 years old, and has around 600 shows each year. That means two or three shows per day. And still, he invents new tricks, and improves his show all the time. Of course, he wouldn’t have to do as many shows as he does, but this tells you one thing – that he really loves magic art. Besides that, he collects magic, and has the biggest museum of magic history. His museum is a private one, but if you get lucky, you can visit. One day, when I get to Vegas, I’d really love to see his show. I believe it’s the greatest one in the world.
Can you share just one magician’s secret with us?
I never reveal any (magic) secrets. Or, actually, I do have a little secret. If you want something, dream it, and go for it. This secret is behind the greatest tricks of all time. There was an idea, at the beginning, a dream. Through a lot of effort, it was possible to form it into reality. Sometimes, it is impossible to reach it alone, or you might need help to achieve it. I once dreamt about having a show in the Four Seasons hotel in Prague. And after a few months of planning, it happened. The secret of magic for me is that anything is possible when you know the right way.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years, at the age of 28?
Celebrating my 28th birthday! No, really, that is a difficult question. But I’ve got one idea on my mind. I’d love to do a big stage show, not just for theatres, but also for big arenas. The show would be magical in every sense, a true experience. Suitable for people who speak English, as well as those who don’t. Generally, I think that a show like this could do well. This would of course take a lot of work, maybe even a big team. This idea might take more years than 10, or maybe less, I’m gonna see.
In the coming years, my goal is to perform more all around the world. For example, in the summer, I’d like to entertain hotel guests at different hotels. I’ve already been to Dubai, London, and Prague of course, and I’m very much looking forward to where the magic could take me next!