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Nothing is Cooler than a Magician at your Restaurant Table

» Posted by on Jan 20, 2011 in In the News | Comments Off on Nothing is Cooler than a Magician at your Restaurant Table

Sunday, November 16, 2003

By Tom Rademacher
The Grand Rapids Press

Our family was enjoying a rare night out to dinner when a friendly face came into view, introduced himself and proceeded to turn mere eating into an event.

His name is Russ Niedzwiecki, and today, months later, I think I’ve finally figured out why our planets were in alignment that evening. What Russ Niedzwiecki does is “cool,” and now that Grand Rapids is looking for ways to be just that, I submit that what River City needs is an “Official Town Magician.”

Niedzwiecki is hardly the only master of hocus-pocus in the area, so I’m not going to directly lobby for him in the starring role.

But what he does — the sheer joy he brings to a group of people — is exactly the sort of thing needed by a city still feeling its way.

 

 

“I’m just a normal guy,” says Russ, “except that I try to incorporate magic into a lot of the ordinary things I do.”

His everyday job, for instance, is to serve as a corporate trainer for Morrison Industrial Equipment Co. in Grand Rapids. But unlike the presenter who drones on into tomorrow, Russ rolls up his sleeves and does “close-up” magic to win over an audience.

When he approached us that evening at Pietro’s, he had our mouths open in awe — and not so we could crowd in more pasta. He does things with a deck of cards that will keep you up at night. And the tricks he can do with the stuff of junk drawers — pencils, rubber bands and the occasional bill — will cause you to question the laws of physics and nature.

The fun, of course, is in not comprehending how the trick is done, and Russ is well aware of magic’s draw.

“This is one of the few things that adults have in their life to enjoy,” he says, “It’s a feeling that magic bestows.”

Russ is 40, but has only been seriously practicing his craft for about 10 years. He discovered early in his budding, part-time career that magic can be a big hit at restaurants and private parties. And he’s not bashful about admitting that it would be fun to work his prognostication on conventioneers crowding downtown venues, anything from pubs to the new convention center itself.

Russ is not a mere practitioner; he actually has invented tricks of his own. They’re so good, in fact, that he’s drawn the attention of internationally renowned magician David Copperfield, with whom Russ says he continues to enjoy a working relationship.

Three of Russ’ tricks are actually for sale via the Internet, by logging onto www.magicbuzz.net.

He demonstrated all three for me, and while each is incredible in its own way, the one he has dubbed “Pinnacle” left me utterly flabbergasted. You would be, too, if you were to see Russ take an ordinary wedding ring, and watch as he slips it onto both strands of a rubber band — while it’s stretched between his thumb and forefinger.

He’s subtitled that trick “The Crown Jewel of Impromptu Rubber Band Effects,” and it’s no overstatement.

“It doesn’t just happen,” says Russ, emphasizing that the best tricks in his repertoire are practiced in private for a long time before he takes them to an audience.

“It all depends on the trick,” he says. “Some take years to perfect.”

Give Russ a deck of cards, and he’ll leave you breathless. One of his favorites is to have you put your signature on a card, and then produce it moments later — 40 feet away.

Another amazing trick is to watch as Russ has you focus on a card he holds in his hands — and transforms it into the ace of spades, right before your eyes.

When I thought I couldn’t handle any more, he produced two small foam balls and laid one into the palm of his hand and the other into mine.

We both made fists to hide the contents, and after he waved his hand over mine, Russ told me to open up. Out rolled both foam balls. And in his own fist? Nothing but air.

Now that’s cool.


Tom Rademacher’s columns run Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday. A version also airs during the 7 a.m. and evening newscast each Sunday on WOOD-TV 8


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