In a bright, trendy cafe on Fairfax Avenue, Siegfried Tieber shows a card – it’s a Seven of Hearts but he doesn’t yet know that – to a tiny red toy car.
Yes, a toy car.
“Got it,” Tieber whispers to the car.
He then nods to the reporter who picked the random card from a deck and says, “He got it.”
Tieber is demonstrating his sleight of hand magic, and it’s as offbeat as the 30-year-old Ecuadorian magician who stands out at Hyperslow in his Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles on a recent morning with his curly head of hair, a flower pinned to his lapel and thick accent. And it’s just the sort of trick people can expect to experience at “See/Saw,” an immersive magic event that revolves around the art of close-up card magic. The show opens Thursday, Sept. 14 for a month-long residency at the Civic Center Studios in Los Angeles, through Oct. 8.
During the performance, Tieber sits at a large table surrounded by what he likes to call “active participants,” inviting them to take a closer look at the art of conjuring with playing cards.
“The idea is to have people watch me closely,” says Tieber, precisely enunciating every word, so he’s understood. “There are certain bad angles to magic, but we hope to give people a view from all angles.”
To demonstrate what he means, Tieber takes the Seven of Hearts and loses it among five cards that he lays face down on the table.
His sleeves are rolled up.
“I have no idea which card you selected, but he does,” he says, pointing at the car. “Put one finger on top of him and gently, slowly make him go forward.”
In mid-roll, the car suddenly stops at the fourth card.
“He seems to think that this is your card,” Tieber says, flipping it over to reveal the Seven of Hearts.
A latecomer to magic, Tieber had just started college as a mechanical engineering major when he discovered sleight of hand. After graduating with his degree now tucked away in a drawer somewhere, he set out to pursue a career in magic. And he’s had the good fortune to do just that first in Ecuador and now in the U.S.
Since moving to L.A. six years ago, Tieber joined the Magic Castle/Academy of Magical Arts where he workshops, perfects and polishes material. It’s also where he met sleight-of-hand artist Jon Armstrong who directs “See/Saw” with set design by Angie Lister and production by Atlas Obscura.
If it weren’t enough to have a show, the magician recently got to perform for Penn Jillette and Teller on an episode of the competition series “Penn and Teller: Fool Us,” and it earned him high praise.
“It was just wonderful, every moment of that,” Jillette told Tieber. “It was funny, entertaining, amazing. I absolutely love you and your whole style.”
For Tieber, magic is a means of expression.
“In the back of our minds, we know card tricks are tricks,” he says. “It’s not witchcraft or magic. In the same way we read fiction or watch a film, we know what we’re seeing is not real. Intellectually we know that, but emotionally we suspend that belief.”
When: Opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 and runs select dates through Oct. 8.
Where: Civic Center Studios, 207 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.
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