by Joey Phoenix
When Anton Andresen was named the Official Magician of Salem in 2017, he was already a longstanding figure in the North Shore magic community. Having performed publicly since he was 13 years old, including a spot on SATV, he stepped into this new role with gusto, and now uses his title to not just perform magic to any and all who want to see it, but to give back a bit too.
“Becoming the Official Magician of Salem is like having a dream come true for me,” Anton said. “The best thing I can do [with this title] is to help other people discover their own personal magic and help them share it with the world.”
Anton first learned magic at the dinner table with his dad, a talented amateur magician who would perform tricks for friends and family on special occasions. Although Anton’s father never got a chance to pursue a career in magic professionally, choosing instead to go into the family moving business, he always dreamed that one of his sons would choose a life of performance.
Anton recalls how growing up his dad would buy him magic tricks for his birthday or Christmas then, once Anton opened it, he would perform the trick for everyone in the room. Then, he would take Anton aside and show him how the trick was done.
“Magic goes back on record 5 or 6,000 years and was always handed down from one magician to another,” Anton explained. “I always found it very cool that is how I got started was him passing it down to me.”
Yet, despite the best efforts of many parents, sometimes their aspirations for their children just don’t stick, but in Anton’s case, it absolutely did.
After a few years of home-brewed magical education, and trying out his tricks for his classmates in school, Anton got his first-ever professional gig performing for a town fair when he was just 13.
He remembers being equally excited and nervous on the day of the event. “Every time you perform you never know what’s going to happen,” he recalled. His role for this gig was to entertain people waiting in line for rides or snacks, and after he performed for the first group of people, his nerves settled and he was able to just enjoy himself.
“I had this opportunity to do something I love, get paid for it, and bring joy to other people. I remember thinking: what could be better than that?”
This gig led to another gig and before he knew it, Anton was scheduled to perform on Leo Jodoin’s show on SATV. Not only was it going to be a live performance, Anton’s first-ever standup routine, but he would also be filling in for professional magician Le Grand David, founder of Le Grand David and His Spectacular Magic Company, the longest consecutively running stage magic show in the world in its time.
“LeGrand David’s magic show was the first large-scale magic show that I had ever seen, so the prospect of filling in for him was rather intimidating.”
Another nerve-wracking factor was the unblinking eye of the camera. While most magicians rely on their hand being faster than most human eyes, Anton knew that there was no real way to outsmart a camera, which would undoubtedly see everything. So, with about two weeks to prepare, he practiced, and practiced again, and kept practicing.
“I worked out my routines and practiced and when the red light of that camera turned on and they told me it was my time to go, I went on and had a great time.”
Apparently, everyone in the audience did too because Leo asked him to come back, and he’s been performing on the show for the past 20 years.
Over the next few years, Anton continued to hone his craft and learn new tricks and flourishes, and before going off to college, his dad presented him with something incredibly special. “He called me aside and told me he had a surprise for me,” Anton remembered. “He pulled out a trunk, and the trunk was full of all of the magic that he had collected when he was a kid.”
With a trunk full of treasures and a mind full of magic, Anton went to college at Suffolk University where he pursued a degree in Marketing. He had considered studying a creative trade, but he ultimately decided that marketing would be far more useful.
“I’ve always seen magic and marketing as being very closely associated,” he explained. “When we look at back at figures like Harry Houdini and some of the greatest magicians of the golden era, they weren’t just great magicians, they were also incredible marketers.”
The Official Magician of Salem
When Anton was named the Official Magician of Salem in 2017, it wasn’t just a dream come true for him, but a solidification of all the things he had seen, experienced, and learned since his early days of magic.
It felt like coming home.
“Having been born in Salem, it’s a great honor for me,” he said. “It felt more like a calling to come back to the area and to use what I’ve learned throughout my life to bring joy and wonder to the city to the best of my ability as an individual.”
In the last two years, he’s not only continued to perform regionally and locally – continuing his work with Leo Jodoin on SATV, performing regularly at The Hotel Salem, where he has created his own Salem Magic Theater, along with many other events – but he’s also been giving back a bit too.
Recently, he’s been doing some work with Root in Salem, an organization that provides youth, ages 16 to 24, with a pathway to employment and financial independence through developing life and work readiness skills. More specifically, they teach everyone who comes through the program culinary skills alongside life skills.
“I think the idea that they’re teaching these kids a craft is going to shape their life, whether they go on to become professional chefs or not, is certainly opening that door for them, what they learn there, they’re going to carry with them for the rest of their life regardless of where they go with it,” Anton said.
For the last few cohorts, Anton’s been going to the site to talk to the kids at the start of the program.
“I show up every time they have a new group, and of course, I do some magic, but what I’m really there for is to talk to the kids about what it means to master a craft and all the great things that can come from that.”
Being the Official Magician of Salem has opened up doors for Anton, certainly, but it’s a title that means more to him than just the performance aspect.
“Of course I want to entertain the citizens of the city, tourists and things of that nature, and at the end of the day, that’s a big part of it, but I like to be involved in giving back to the city I love so much, and that’s a special thing for me.”
Performances and Bookings
Anton will be performing tomorrow morning, July 24, from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm as part of the Northshore Mall Children’s Free Entertainment Series in Peabody. Click here to reserve tickets.
For a full list of performance dates and to learn more about the Official Magician of Salem, check out his website at OfficialMagicianofSalem.com. For info about his residency at the Hotel Salem, head to SalemMagicTheater.com
Anton also offers Corporate Event Services, teaching the trade secrets he’s learned from the past 20 years to companies that want to have that same impact with their product, service, or experience. You can find more details are on his site at AntonPresents.com
Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org