Bad boy magician
World Buskers Festival
Vicki Anderson talks to bad boy magician Paul Nathan about his I Hate Children Children's Show.
One of the world's most critically acclaimed magicians, the award-winning American Paul Nathan, is here for the World Buskers Festival to perform his I Hate Children Children's Show and his An Hour of Magic show at the Casino's Mashina Lounge.
Nathan is in demand all over the world, with performances each year in Las Vegas, London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles and New York City. Eddie Murphy himself says: "You gotta see this guy." He's performed for royalty, heads of state and appeared in various TV shows and films.
Do you really hate children?
"What sort of asshole do you think I am? I don't hate children, I hate children's shows and children's performers that don't respect the kids. Five years ago I lost a bet with a friend of mine who was trying to produce a show for Edinburgh, the payoff of the bet was I would go there and do a children's show for him. If you've seen children's shows, they're mind numbing and, a lot of them, they're insulting to the children and really pandering. Children are smart. Kids are way smarter than that. I found it offensive and that turned into the title."
How does the show work?
"For this festival I'm joined by Christchurch guitarist Tyson Smith, he's excellent. It's a fun show with lots of magic. I've created a show that I wanted to see when I was 10 years old. That's part of the problem with typical children's shows, they are boring and mind-numbing . . . they're pablum, there's nothing there, you don't walk away with anything. With this show each child, if they want to, comes on stage with me and does magic and we respect the children. They will remember it. I insult every single child but it's a personal insult about them."
A personal insult? Er, that doesn't sound like much fun.
"Bring your children. I'll insult them and then you'll understand. Children understand and enjoy sarcasm. We don't give them enough credit."
How did you meet Eddie Murphy?
"He used to come into a nightclub I performed in, there were lots of celebrities from Prince - he's shorter than you imagine - to Boy George - he's taller than you imagine and has the thickest wrists of anyone I've ever seen. That nightclub gig got me lots of extra roles on shows. On Star Trek Voyager I was an evil clown. Unlike most of the extras . . . I made it to the end of the show without being killed off. I've been in music videos, lots of Primus videos. Last year I was in a music video for MTV that had over 60 million views."
Tell me about your An Hour of Magic show. Is it different from your Devil in the Deck show?
"The festival wanted the Devil in the Deck show but I couldn't bring it here, it wouldn't have worked. I'm really looking forward to the Hour of Magic, it really is an hour of magic. As the casino has those screens all the way around it will allow me to do a lot of close-up tricks. "I'll show you how much chance you have of winning that by the end of the show you'll never want to gamble again."
At the end of the interview Nathan handed me a piece of paper, scrunched it up and flattened it so I could see it was dead flat and set it on fire in a move he called "pyrogami".
Out of the puff of smoke a small chocolate dropped onto the table.
I Hate Children Children's Show is on at 3pm daily in the Tea Cup Tent, Busker Park, North Hagley Park, until January 26.
Best suited to children 8 years and above.
$5/$10 donation (recommended) per seat. Seats also available from 11am on the day from the Buskers Booking Booth in Busker Park, North Hagley Park.
An Hour of Magic is on at 7.30pm nightly at the Mashina Lounge, Christchurch Casino, until January 25.
- © Fairfax NZ News