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The Millionaires' Magician

Dicembre 2005
Non tutti si possono permettere i suoi show: Steve Cohen, l’illusionista dei miliardari, non si muove per meno di 10.000 dollari a sera. Ma il motivo c’é: le sue magie sono davvero straordinarie. Ce le racconta lui stesso.

di Lorenza Cerbini

File audio:

Steve Cohen
Steve Cohen

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Steve Cohen is known as the Millionaires’ Magician. Every week he performs in front of a small audience of rich and famous guests at New York’s exclusive Waldorf Towers Hotel. Celebrities who have witnessed his skills include mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael J. Fox, astronomer Carl Sagan and – “before she got into trouble” – magazine publisher Martha Stewart.  
Cohen receives between $10,000 and $25,000 per show. When he met with Speak Up we asked what exactly the audience were paying for:

Steve Cohen (Standard American accent):

The things that are a constant in my show are things like mind-reading.
I read people’s minds, apparently, where they open up a book and they read a paragraph from the book and I start telling them things that they read, even though I was nowhere near them. I have someone from the audience think of their best friend’s name from elementary school, and I could tell them the name of that person. Another person might take out their cell phone, their mobile phone, and I’ve never met this person before, but then I take out my mobile phone and I dial a random phone number on it and suddenly their phone, the audience member’s phone, starts to ring because I magically dialled their number. So these are some really weird kind of mental magic.


I do a bunch of sleight of hand tricks also. Some of them are card tricks, which are, you know, you may think you’ve seen card tricks before, but I do a boomerang card trick, where I shoot a card up into the air, about 15 feet and it flies around three-and-a-half somersaults and it lands back in the centre of the deck, right next to any card that you name, so while the card is up in the air, you name a card and then the card that’s flying lands in the deck, right next to the one that you’ve just named, with perfect accuracy.
So that’s something that stays in the show and also one of the things that’s probably one of the most disturbing tricks that I do is I stop my own heart.
I actually become like a zombie on stage, while people are watching and I have a nurse come up and take my pulse and my carotid artery on my neck. My pulse actually stops and she confirms it to the rest of the audience.
And then I come back to life. It’s pretty amazing stuff: life and death!


Steve Cohen seems to like hotels. His career took off in Tokyo, performing at the Park Hyatt, which was to provide the setting for the film, Lost in Translation. In actual fact he speaks fluent Japanese. He also has a degree in psychology which, he says, helps him read people’s minds. Certainly, he has come a long way since he started learning magic tricks from his uncle at the age of 6.  When Steve Cohen was 10 he performed his first show, for the princely sum of $25:

Steve Cohen:

I was really a shy child, I was actually very shy. I didn’t want to meet with people and talk to them, and look them in the eye, but magic gave me a good excuse to be able to do that, suddenly I was in control, I was able to talk to adults, and I had their attention and their interest and they were fascinated by a little boy, like by me. So you can imagine why you’d want to continue with that, it’s like... a drug, it’s like a rush you get, you know, when someone pays attention to you and they love interacting with you, so you want to get more of that and I think that’s why I continued on with magic at first because it was a great thrill to be able to make adults pay attention.

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who have witnessed his skills - che hanno assistito ai suoi giochi di abilità.

mayor - sindaco.

before she got into trouble - prima che si mettesse nei guai.

mind-reading - lettura del pensiero.

I have someone from the audience think... - chiedo a qualcuno del pubblico di pensare a...

I dial a random phone number - compongo un numero di telefono a caso.

weird kind - strano tipo.

I do a bunch of sleight of hand tricks also - faccio anche un po' di giochi di prestigio.

I shoot a card up into the air - faccio volare una carta in aria.

15 feet - circa 4 metri e mezzo.

it flies around three-and-a-half somer­saults - si rigira tre volte e mezza su se stessa.

deck - mazzo (di carte).

nurse - infermiera.

amazing stuff - roba da lasciare di sasso.

took off - decollo.

princely - principesca.

shy - timido.

rush - scarica di adrenalina.

a great thrill - una grande emozione.