Magician enjoys connecting with audience

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Robert Smith of Albuquerque performs his “Robert Magic Presents Street Magic Live” Thursday night at the Curry County Fair. Smith has six more shows for the remainder of the fair — at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Sharna Johnson

Sure, there are tricks and flair involved, but according to Robert Smith, the true magic at the heart of his performance is the connection he makes with his audience.

Gathering a group of spectators around him, he performs his act close up, drawing in members of the audience to participate with him.

“It’s a great way for people to see magic up close, because pretty much all they get to see any more is on TV,” he said. “We trade fun back and forth and everybody’s having a good time.”

Card and coin tricks and the popular “balls and cups” shell game are all part of an ever changing 25-minute routine the 32-year-old Albuquerque resident has performed at fairs around the country.

This week Smith is scheduled to perform 18 of his street magic shows — at 6, 7 and 8:30 p.m. daily — at the Curry County Fair.

At the half-way point Thursday, Smith said his fair experience has been one of the best he’s had.

“Every show, the audience has been absolutely amazing,” he said.

“Every show … I’ve had at least 40, and that is very unusual for any fair… and the energy here’s really good every night.”

Smith said he likes to entertain all ages, but gets the greatest reward from families.

“If you can make the kids laugh and giggle then you can make the parents happy,” he said.

While at many fairs Smith said he often sees parents drop off their children and let them wander the fair by themselves, he said the Curry County Fair seems to have more parents enjoying the activities with their children.

“I really see a lot of parents that are staying with their kids. It makes for a much better show and everybody having a good time,” he said.

Starting his tricks at 14, Smith said he is a self-taught magician.

Though he has a degree in communications from Eastern New Mexico University, Smith said a two-year stint in broadcast news showed him he wanted something different for himself.

“After two years with the Fox affiliate in Albuquerque, I decided I had a soul, (and) I got into a (career) where I could act do what I wanted and make people laugh and have a good time,” he said.

Lexie Meyers of Snelling Staffing said her company sponsored a group of 460 special needs individuals and their caregivers for a day at the fair Thursday.

The group got to spend two hours in the carnival where they were treated to complimentary rides and cotton candy, she said, then during their lunch hour, the group was entertained by Smith.

“They were all clapping and cheering and he left a lot of smiles there,” Meyers said. “He was very personable and he took time for each and every person out there.”