Freshman’s hobby turns into a job

By Emily Beuter, Opinion Editor — Deceiving the human eye is not an easy task, but 15 year old freshman Nick Popa can do it on the fly. In fact, he does it every week. He even profits from it. One may ask how he does it, but the answer is simple-it’s magic.

“It’s a lot of fun to perform magic tricks,” Nick said. “If I’m in a bad mood it brings me to a happy place. It brightens my day whenever I perform.”

Nick, who dreams one day of becoming a professional magician, first became interested in magic after receiving a magic kit he had asked for from his parents that was advertised on television.

“I didn’t think it would be as big of an impact as it was. I thought it was probably going to be a fad but then he just ran with it,” mother Carol Popa said.

It soon became apparent that it was more than just a fad. The more Nick learned, the more he became interested. He taught himself tricks by reading books and watching instructional DVDs. Nick‘s first performance was at a Halloween party for the Lady Elks when he was 10 years old. It started off as a hobby, but now Nick takes it serious and makes money from his talent. He is no newcomer to the magic world. He has twice attended a camp and several magic conventions. Nick attended Battle of the Magians and Magifest, which is run by alumni Josh Jay. He has twice attended Sorcerers Safari, a magic camp in Canada.

“I learned a lot of performance arts tips and how to personify your magic to different groups of spectators,” Nick said.

At the Battle of the Magicians, Nick placed third out of ten, eight of whom were adults. When he is older, he hopes to attend conventions across America such as Magic Live, a famous convention held in Las Vegas. He is also a member of two magic clubs; International Brotherhood of Magicians and Fellowship of Christian Magicians. Through these clubs he is able to learn tricks and can get critiqued from others.

“They’re a great place to learn magic and meet other magicians,” Nick said.

Nick advertises himself by passing out business cards and putting flyers around the local area. He performs with his younger brother for birthday parties and get togethers. Notable places he has performed include the old Rafter’s Bar and Grill, a church festival at St. George and every Thursday night from 6-8 p.m. at Roosters. He goes around to tables asking if they would like to see a magic trick and works off tips.

“When people want to see a trick they think ‘oh it’s going to be something cute’ but then I do something that they have never seen before and it blows their mind,” Nick said.

Aside from performances, Nick also makes money by selling his own magic tricks he created online. He makes videos of himself teaching tricks and then uploads them to a website called Penguinmagic. People can watch a demo video of the trick and if they are interested they can purchase the full length video to learn how to create the effect. He has sold a total of five tricks so far. This is the only way one will see how Nick does his magic tricks. He does not even share his secrets with his parents.

“Nick does not show us how he does his tricks unless we start to figure them out,” Carol said. “We don’t ask either because it’s part of the intrigue.”

The same website company is also professionally producing an instructional DVD that Nick submitted to them, featuring rubber bands magic. It will be released in the near future and would be his biggest magic release for the public so far.

“I feel like I was naturally born to perform because along with magic I do a lot singing and I have sung since I was young,” Nick said. “I have never really been afraid to perform to people and when I got into magic it helped me if I was a little nervous to talk to people because I use magic as a second language. I speak through the magic and it helps me build my confidence.”

Nick also runs a YouTube series in the which is released every Friday in the summer called “It’s a Magic Thing”. He compares it to a smaller version of the big time magic series on YouTube where he performs different magic tricks. He has also gotten feedback on his works from his inspiration, magician Criss Angel. Nick has submitted videos into Angel’s YouTube Q&A sessions along with him doing a magic trick. He made encouraging comments to Nick’s video in one of his web shows.

“I’ve got some good competition coming up,” Angel posted in a web show referring to Nick. “He’s gonna be great.”

Nick always carries a few tricks in his wallet. He specializes in magic tricks working with rubberbands, cards, coins and rings. He is able to make these objects disappear, reappear, break then put back together, and change it into different forms of that same object. Popa can also work with random objects.

“If I’m not learning anything new I generally create something for myself,” Nick said. “I usually just look around my room and see what the most random objects I can find and create a trick with it. Basically just creating magic with everyday objects.”

For example, Nick may find a rubberband on the floor and see what different possibilities he can do with it. He will try to make it break and then restore it or melt it through his fingers.

Nick says he is not interested in working with bigger props because he likes to be able to do magic anywhere. He also feels he does not have the showmanship for a big stage allusion.

“It’s easier for me to perform up close because that’s what I’ve been doing for so long,” Nick said. “I like being able to have a personal relationship with the spectator I’m performing with. I can get them involved easier, whereas a stage allusion you may need your own personal assistants you’ve hired. I feel it gives more of a genuine reaction whereas if you have your own personal assistants, it’s like ‘oh they’re in on it’. When someone’s not in it, it just blows everyone’s mind.”

Nick gives a lot of credit to his family and siblings for always supporting him, giving him rides to performances and taking him to conventions and camps. He says his parents love to see his magic tricks and always are there to help him improve. His parents though claim it is all him and his own hard work.

“His drive, determination, passion and creativity distinguish him from others in the area of his age,” Carol said.

Nick hopes to continue to work with magic and to pursue it as a career in the future.

“I love performing magic tricks,” Nick said. “The most rewarding thing about doing magic is just making someone’s day.

[Updated Aug. 8, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]