By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Guests at SkyPark at Santa’s Village during their fall Pumpkins in the Pines event will have the opportunity to see The Wacko Show three times on Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 10 through Nov. 1.
Each of those three shows, Wacko said, will be different. One will be his classic show, one a mentalism show and one full of illusions.
“I have so much new magic,” Wacko said. “I want to have something for adults, too.”
In one new trick, he will introduce a lie-detecting chicken that squawks loudly when someone is prevaricating. Tell a big whopper and just watch what happens!
The last time he did a mentalism show, Wacko noted, was about 20 years ago. He has been working on reading people’s thoughts for the past five months. There will be no secrets!
Wacko first became interested in magic when he was about 8. “I saw my first show at Knott’s Berry Farm,” he said. “I was blown away by it and needed to learn.” The following year he got not one but two magic kits – one from his parents and one from his aunt. That was the start of his career and the beginning of his combining tricks from one set into another, something he does to this day. “Other magicians see I mix several tricks into one,” Wacko said.
By 14 he had gotten good enough that he started charging for his shows. “I didn’t have a suitcase for my tricks but I had a Lego case,” he joked. “I put my magic toys in there.”
With the money he earned, Wacko started purchasing more tricks from the Hollywood Magic Shop which, he noted sadly, is no longer there. “I would be in there for hours. Finally, someone would ask me if I was ever going to buy something. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to buy,” he said.
When he was 15, he started performing as Wacko the Clown. “I figured it would be easier if I messed up a trick because I was a clown,” he said.
That led to his being contacted by a performing group of clowns. He taught them magic, they taught him clowning. By then, Wacko said, he was a “full-blown clown. I was doing face painting, balloon sculpting and clown magic.
“That was my disguise for many years. Finally, I became Wacko the Magician, which transformed into The Wacko Show.” He incorporated other friends – clowns and magicians – into the show, which they performed at lots of birthday parties.
In fact, Wacko said there is nary a photo of him as himself in his high school yearbook. “I’m always a clown,” he said.
With the money he earned, he paid cash for his first two years of college and helped his parents buy their first home.
Asked whether some people have a natural aptitude for magic, Wacko said that some comics believe you have it or you don’t. “They think that, if you have to take a class, you won’t be one. But I believe anything can be learned.”
Some magicians let the props do all the work in their shows. “When I first started out, I was doing that but I like talking a lot.” Eventually, Wacko noted, “you find your personality and stop doing other people’s material. Not everyone has the entertaining side of it down pat. Some do magic straight, others do it with comedy.”
As for a magician he admires, Wacko immediately named David Copperfield. When Wacko was just 14 or 15, he bought himself a ticket for a David Copperfield show, sitting in the front row. “Once the show started, I started to cry because I was seeing him live. I remember every trick.”
Fast forward to last year: Wacko had just done a show in Boulder City, Nev. Rather than drive straight back home, he stopped in Las Vegas to catch David Copperfield’s show. His plan was to sit in the back row but an usher identified him as a magician, based on the costume he was still wearing, and escorted him down to the front row. Throughout the show, Copperfield looked at Wacko, acknowledging him. He even said to him, off mike, “You’re going to love this” before creating the illusion of a huge dinosaur that floated out over the audience.
Copperfield’s personal assistant took Wacko backstage after the show; the two magicians had a long chat. “He treated me like a real magician,” Wacko said. “I know I’m a real magician but I finally felt like one. That was the highlight of my life.”
David Copperfield, Wacko added, “has taken magic to a whole other level. He loves to entertain people. He can create and do anything he wants. He inspired me to create more things – routines and props no one else has.
“I really want to wow people,” Wacko said. “I want to make people feel the way David Copperfield made me feel.”
Just wait until he performs one of his other new tricks, where a guest will give him some numbers and…. The rest will be revealed at the show! Let it be said that Wacko had to pause for five minutes for the audience to calm down after he performed this trick at a safe-distancing show. “I love doing this trick!” he said.
SkyPark, Wacko said, “feels like home – my real home. They treat me so well. The owners are great. I love hanging out with everyone. It’s the people that make that place magical. And it’s such a beautiful setting. To be part of that, to be part of history – I’m super grateful.”
Everyone connects with SkyPark differently, he added. When he walks around doing magic, he talks with the guests. Some, Wacko said, have old memories of Santa’s Village. Others want to create new memories.
“There’s something appealing to everyone,” Wacko said.
Pumpkins in the Pines – which will also include pumpkin painting, puppet shows and a haunted hike – will take place on Oct. 10 and 11, Oct. 17 and 18, Oct. 24 and 25, and Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. For more information or to make reservations, visit https://skyparksantasvillage.com/.