By Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez
Herald de Paris
Alex Ramon has mesmerized millions around the world with his innovative magic. Just ten years after receiving his first magic book, Alex redefined the role of a magician and made history.
His sleight-of-hand skill and presentation of illusions are world-class and have earned him top honors from his peers. This remarkable young showman has perfected his craft, making him a modern master of magic.
Ramon has been at the center of multi-million dollar productions that have taken him across the globe where he has mystified people from all walks of life.
Raised in Richmond, California, Ramon developed a deep connection with magic when he was just 13 years old. His father’s colleague, a magician, often showed Alex card tricks and Alex began dedicating hours to learning and perfecting his technique.
Alex’s father took notice of his son’s growing passion and natural talent for magic and bought him a 370-page magic book for Christmas allowing Alex to take his talent to the next level.
After two years of practice, Alex finally performed his first magic show at a family gathering. Friends of the family quickly began requesting the young magician for their parties where he earned an impressive $20 per show. Soon after, he was hired at a local restaurant to perform close-up magic for guests.
Ramon continued to refine his skills as an entertainer, gained confidence in his abilities, and entered his first competition at the age of 16. Alex (one of the youngest competitors) won second place and began to make a name for himself as a talented magician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Seen as a popular and acclaimed magician, Ramon was asked to be the spokesperson for a popular, statewide library showcase. Alex could not turn this opportunity down as he had a strong connection with books; he learned the art of magic by reading.
The admired teenage magician traveled across the state of California and performed more than 250 magic shows a year. Still in his teens, Alex became a true principal of his craft, earning many top awards and honors for his phenomenal magic, including San Francisco Bay Area’s Best Stage Magician, the coveted Lance Burton Award, and was named National Stage Magic Champion by the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas.
When Alex returned to Las Vegas in 2005, he auditioned for Disney LIVE! ® presents “Mickey’s Magic Show” and skillfully won a spot as a professional illusionist alongside Master Magician Mickey Mouse. Alex traveled the globe with the world’s most famous mouse for two and a half years, seeing 14 countries, four continents, 658 shows and entertained more than a million people.
Alex’s talent and dedication put him top of mind when producers Kenneth Feld and Nicole Feld of Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus imagined a magical circus – one in which an elephant disappears and a man turns into a tiger. With over a decade of magic experience, Alex brought an unexpected twist to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents Zing Zang Zoom.
At age 23 Alex became the first magician and the second youngest Ringmaster in the 139-year history of The Greatest Show on Earth® starring as the magical “Zingmaster.” During his two-year tour, Alex Ramon crisscrossed America performing in the largest arenas in the world such as Madison Square Garden and The Staples Center. He brought smiles and wonder to people 10,000 at a time.
When Alex’s circus adventure came to an end he put his efforts into a new project, creating his own full magic and illusion show. ‘Illusion Fusion’ opened in January 2012 and quickly became the number one attraction in Lake Tahoe. Alex Ramon performs his show ‘Illusion Fusion’ six nights a week at the Horizon Casino Resort in South Lake Tahoe, NV.
Herald de Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez and his wife Alba were amazed by Ramon’s Illusion Fusion show during a recent trip to Lake Tahoe. Herald De Paris is confident that Alex Ramon will someday headline Las Vegas.
Tell us about growing up in Richmond. Your dad is a truck driver and your mother a teacher. What do you remember from your early years that inspired you to become a performer?
AR: Actually, I never wanted to perform. My sister Leah was the performer in our family. I wasn’t shy; I just didn’t like getting up in front of people. So the fact that I am now an entertainer is quite funny to me and my family.
You come from a Hispanic background. As you look back, how did that empower or inhibit your success? Why do you think there are so few Latino magicians?
AR: I think recently it has empowered me by knowing Latinos are supporting one of their own to achieve success in a field that we don’t have a major impact in. There are no mainstream Latino magicians so perhaps aspiring Latino magicians have no one they can look up to. I hope to change that.
Have you encountered any cultural stigma, as some Latinos believe that magic is “evil?”
AR: No, not at all. I think they all realize what I am doing is a form of entertainment and is purely to entertain and amaze.
Tell us about your dad’s friend who was a magician doing card tricks. How did that change your life?
AR: I had never seen a magic trick until this man changed the color of a playing card right in front of my face. I was speechless. Witnessing something so simple changed the course of my life. I had to know how that happened and I never looked back.
At a time when kids want to be baseball players, what attracted you to magic?
AR: I liked that it was a secret. No one else knew about it. At first I didn’t tell my friends that I was interested in magic. It was my secret and I didn’t want anyone else to know about it. I thought if I told them about it they would start liking it too and slowly everyone would begin doing magic tricks. It would no longer be special.
I’m told you developed a deep connection with magic at the age of 13.
AR: I was 13 when my dad’s friend/co-worker showed me the card trick. And that Christmas my dad bought me my first magic book.
Tell us about the book your dad bought you. Do you still have it? What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were starting out?
AR: Yes I still have it and I still go through it to learn. Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic. There isn’t anything I wish I knew beforehand because learning is part of the process, part of the journey.
You say that you always had new tricks for your mom. How important was it for you to have your parents’ support?
AR: It was and is everything! I had the support and approval of my entire family to pursue a career that is not the norm. I have always said my greatest advantage is the support of my family.
Tell us about your very first magic show for your family. How did that change you? Do you think that your boy-band model looks helped you draw a following?
AR: I have that first show videotaped. Pretty embarrassing actually. I was horrible but my family clapped in all the right places because they loved me. Thank you for the compliment and I am sure my looks helped people stand watching me since I wasn’t very good at magic during my first shows. jajajajajajaja!
In school did kids think you were weird because you wanted to do magic tricks? Who were your detractors (player haters)?
AR: When kids in school finally found out about me doing magic (they found out because I was in the paper) they thought it was cool. Thankfully, I never dealt with anyone who was trying to bash me.
You soon started to get booked at family gatherings making 20 dollars per show. Was money a motivation? Did you become enamored with the limelight?
AR: Money was a motivation to perform more shows only because that was the money I would spend to buy more magic books, videos and tricks. At that point being in the spotlight wasn’t really driving me.
Soon you were doing your shows at local restaurants. What was your first non-family gig like? How much time per day did you spend learning your craft? And now?
AR: My first show for non-family was kind of terrifying. My hands were shaking the entire time. I practiced for hours; so much that my finger tips turned blue from the color of the backs of the cards rubbing off on them. Before this interview I practiced a new routine for about two hours. I perform six, sometimes seven days, each week so performance helps keep me in practice as well.
Tell us about your first competition at 16. What did you do to win? How did it feel to win? Did you ever have a back up vocation in case magic didn’t pan out?
AR: I was 17 when I won my first magic competition and I actually was sick and had a 102 temperature. I practiced daily, for a couple months to prepare. I never had a back-up plan because I was told, “If you have a backup plan B you will always take it.”
What unique skillset do you need in order to be good magician? Best and worst part about being a magician? Best and worst gig?
AR: Great question, you need perfect timing! Best about being a magician I get to create wonder in people’s lives everyday. Worst, can’t think of anything. Best gig, I’ve enjoyed all of them but I really loved Ringling Bros. Circus and my own show here in Tahoe. Worst gig, I was about 19 and had an ear infection and couldn’t hear; needless to say my timing with the music was off.
You are very funny on stage and the audiences love you. Do you write your own comedic material?
AR: I have actually said one of the best illusions in the show is people leave thinking I’m funny, because I don’t think I am. I work with a writer who helps come up with some of my scripting. But honestly, the audience sometimes gives me funny things to say. I am happy the audience is able to laugh during my show.
You became a spokesman for libraries so as a teenager you were doing 250 gigs a year. Is that a Latino work-ethic thing?
AR: I was performing over 200 shows per year my junior year of high school and over 250 my senior year. Mostly for libraries across California, and they are still some of my favorite shows. Definitely, I have a strong work ethic instilled in me from my parents and grandparents.
Tell us about winning the Lance Burton award and the National Stage Magic Championship in Las Vegas.
AR: I became National Magic Champion when I was 18. I competed against eleven other magicians from around the world and was on cloud 9 for weeks. This was a big first step early in my career.
Tell us what you did with Disney Live. Where in the world have you performed and to how many people?
AR: I was the magician in a show called Disney Live Mickey’s Magic Show. I performed in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, UAE, Egypt, and Spain. I have performed live to over 5 million people around the world.
How did you become the second youngest ringmaster in the 139 history of Ringling Bros circus? What was that like?
AR: The producers of Ringling knew me from Disney and approached me with the idea of doing the first magic themed circus in Ringling Bros. history. I had never seen a circus before but loved the idea of being a part of history.
At 23 I was the first magician to be the star of a Ringling Bros. circus and the second youngest ringmaster in history. An amazing opportunity!
You amaze people by making elephants disappear and you levitate audience members. Where do your illusions come from?
AR: I work very closely with a magic and illusion consultant. He comes up with concepts and we bounce ideas off one another for new illusions.
Why did you decide to go out on your own after the circus experience and what was the game plan?
AR: Yes, that was the game plan. I received the experience and knowledge of performing, showmanship, and show business as a whole on Disney and Ringling. It was the natural next step for me to do my own show.
Who are your favorite magicians? Whom would you like to model your career after?
AR: Favorite magicians: Slydini, Shimada, Doug Henning, no one is better than David Copperfield. I think each magician has their own story that defines their career. I am writing mine, which will be different than everyone else.
How do you define magic in the context of what you do?
AR: Wow, great question. Magic is the wonder and mystery in life. During my show my audience gets to experience an emotion that today we rarely get to share … the sense of wonder. We live in the 21st century and can find the answer to any question in seconds on the internet but magic promotes that mystery and wonder in our lives again.
How has high-tech gadgetry affected the way modern magicians enhance their performance?
AR: I strive to keep my show current and relevant with today’s high-tech world. This is why I perform magic with pads and use cell phones for magic tricks during my shows. At the same time, I make an effort to pay homage to magic done at the turn of the century when there was no such thing as electronics. But with current technology I definitely need to be aware that today’s audience, kids especially, are much more tech-savvy than yesterday's.
What kinds of new and exciting illusions you would like to do?
AR: I am currently working on an illusion that blends optical illusions with sound and music. More senses will be engaged in this routine, thus creating a more memorable magic experience. The current title of this routine is “Listening to Magic.”
Why do you think there are so few, if any, Hispanic magicians? What makes you so unique?
AR: I think there are no mainstream Hispanic magicians to help inspire young aspiring Latino magicians. No one is at the top of the game showing them that they can do it. What makes me unique is I am able to meld different performance elements and theatricality to my magic.
I fuse dance, humor, choreography, costuming, and audience interaction into my show to create a unique magic experience.
It is very possible that in the near future you will be the most famous Hispanic magician in America. What do you think about that?
AR: That would be an honor and a dream come true. I am striving for that goal every day and I hope to continue my journey and become an inspiration to those who may want to follow in my footsteps.
For those who have seen me or heard about me, please continue to spread the word and we will go to the top together.
What would be the ideal platform for you to do your thing? Las Vegas? A road show? TV?
AR: I want to do everything! jajajajaja. I would like to focus on television and a project close to my heart called “More than Magic” that uses magic to help those in need. All the while touring with my live show.
What is your ultimate goal? What do you think the ultimate illusion would be?
AR: Ultimate goal is for every person who sees my show to love and enjoy it as much as I love performing for them. The ultimate illusion would be… well that’s a secret! jajajaja!
How can people contact you and get their minds blown at one of your performances?
AR: My website is http://www.alexramonmagic.com/ and you can find all the info about my tour dates and live shows. But connect with me on Instagram: @alexramon and Twitter: @alexramonmagic and Facebook: Facebook.com/alexramonmagic
Edited by Susan Aceves