Out magician Michael Carbonaro is returning for his third season on The Carbonaro Effect for truTV. This time the hidden camera show is filmed in Chicago. Past pranks have included a car disappearing into thin air and a puppy appearing from a tuft of hair.
He was featured on Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central, and played Andy Wilson on Another Gay Movie before having his own show.
Windy City Times: Hey, Michael. Where in the world are calling from?
Michael Carbonaro: I am on tour and driving. I am heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
WCT: Where are you from, originally?
MC: Long Island. I went to NYU and lived in Queens for a little while. I then took the big jump out to LA.
WCT: Were you always into magic growing up?
MC: Yeah, but I was into special effects more. I wanted to be a makeup artist. I used to buy makeup supplies and special effect stuff at a magic shop. That is how I found magic. I saw people performing magic behind the counter.
Through magic I found myself as a performer.
WCT: When did you start performing magic?
MC: I started when I was eight or nine. I did my first professional show when I was 13 years old. I did birthday parties. I dressed as a clown. My neighbor had Big Bird come to his party and dance around $200. My mom suggested I do magic at parties. It was really successful. I had a really fun time and I learned a lot.
I put myself through NYU with money I made doing private party magic.
WCT: Is that a tough gig?
MC: You make your own hours, but working weekends and holidays were my only complaint. I owned my own company so it was nice.
WCT: Did you look up to magicians like David Copperfield?
MC: YesPenn & Teller, also. My first magic book was by Tom Savini, who did makeup for [the movie] Friday the 13th.
WCT: Tell people about your truTV series.
MC: The Carbonaro Effect is a hidden camera magic TV show. I get myself in situations with the public that don't know they are about to be in an encounter with a magician.
WCT: So a Candid Camera-type show?
MC: That's right. Candid Camera meets magic.
WCT: Has this been done before?
MC: It actually has. There have been hidden cameras with magic but this one is cool because it is in the spirit of Candid Camera. It is really playful, light-hearted and fun.
I will do things in the series where someone would walk into a shipping store and see a full size bowling ball pop out of a really flat box in a way that it could not have been out of there. I will convince them that there is a new a way of shipping that allows us to reverse the air and make packages flat. They will really believe it!
This season we go crazy where we have the bits happen to the person. Someone will believe that they have telekinesis or they are invisible. There is one bit where someone is cursed into the fiery pits of Hell.
WCT: How was filming in Chicago?
MC: Really fun. It is a great city. I had done hidden camera shows in LA and shot two Effects in Atlanta so coming to Chicago was cool. The people were tougher like where I grew up. It's not that people were mean or anything but there was a freshness and a briskness that was really fun.
WCT: How long were you here filming?
MC: We were there for 10 weeks. It was great because we were outside in the parks and over by the Bean. We shot one section in a train station. I was able to convince someone that they teleported from one track to another.
WCT: Did you hit the gay bars while in town?
MC: No, I did not. We were working the whole time.
WCT: I know you toured to Chicago last year. What do you like more the big live shows or up close camera tricks?
MC: I really like performing live. There is nothing like it. There is such an energy from the audience and having constant contact with them.
The TV show is a more grueling procedure.
WCT: Do you come up with all these tricks yourself or do you have a team?
MC: Oh, I have a secret magic team. Doesn't everybody?
WCT: Is there a trick that you have wanted to do but haven't?
MC: No, I have done them all. This season I get to do many tricks. I have always wanted to make someone feel they are invisible and I get to do that this time.
WCT: Is there a particular trick that you are most proud of?
MC: When I made someone feel a moment of genuine deja vu. Something shattered but when they turned around it wasn't shattered anymore. They thought we went back in time. People really believed that.
WCT: Does anyone get angry because there mind has been messed with?
MC: Not really because when I reveal what happened they are so relieved. You have to reveal to them right before they go off the deep end.
WCT: Where do you see you act going in the future?
MC: I could see myself having a residency one day like Copperfield or Penn & Teller. I want to keep on continuing this. It is fun!
WCT: So you could be like Britney Spears in Vegas?
MC: Yep, I am about into my shaved head Britney phase right now.
WCT: What are you doing the rest of the year?
MC: I am finishing the tour. I will have the next run of shows for the second half of the season.
I will finally have the chance to pet my two adorable kittens at home.
WCT: What are their names?
MC: Chance and Quinn.
WCT: So you are cat guy. I guess that goes with the magic act.
MC: I know, right? My husband and I are total horror-movie geeks. We have magic around the house, Freddie Krueger's gloves, Gremlins and cats!
Trick or treat for more at michaelcarbonaro.com and catch Carbonaro Wednesdays at 9 p.m. CT on truTV.