Dubai-based Scherson is Stealing Away Hearts with a Dash of Magic
A crowd of almost twenty encircles him and watches intently as he takes a lady’s emerald ring and within a fraction of a second it appears in a sealed envelope from his pocket. Jaws drop in admiration.
He compliments another lady’s watch. Within a few seconds the watch is on his wrist, when lo and behold, in a few seconds it is back on the lady’s. Jaws drop again.
“Maharani,” he calls out to a wedding guest, “That’s a beautiful sari, may I please hold the edge of your pallu.” The lady obliges. He asks a gentleman for a cigarette, lights it and puts it through the fabric. An anguished cry follows as the lady watches him put the burning cigarette through her exquisite wedding wear. The cigarette emerges from the other side leaving not even the hint of a scar. Jaws once again drop in appreciation.
Dash of Magic
For 39-year-old Felipe Scherson, this is his greatest high. “I love it when jaws drop,” says the Dubai-based close-up magician. For him this is accolade for a job well done. “Astonishment is an emotion triggered by a contradiction between the two hemispheres of the brain,” he points out.
While his wife Paula and their three children are used to things disappearing and re-appearing at home, it is a treat for their friends who drop by.
Felipe, who prefers interacting with smaller groups than a stage performance, is a huge hit at Indian weddings in exotic destinations from Bali to Abu Dhabi. Having been invited to entertain guests at hundreds of weddings out of which 30 have been Indian weddings, Felipe is truly fascinated by the grand Indian wedding, “It is one of a kind. India is the only country in the world where a wedding is over multiple days. Mostly everywhere it is a one-day event. The whole attention to details is fascinating from food, decor, guests, dress codes different ambience for each event, gifts, there are big budgets.”
As long as Felipe can add that dash of magic, he is not complaining.
Charging between 5000 to 6000 USD a day plus all expenses, Felipe has been a successful illusionist for close to 17 years. He has travelled to Kazakhstan 80 times and performed for the President thrice besides shows in the Middle East, US, Africa, Europe and Russia.
Born and raised in Chile, Felipe is a qualified industrial engineer. A passion for magic steered him towards the study of the mind. “Basically there is a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. The conscious mind cannot multi-task. So if I ask you a question, how much is 13 times 17, I am sure you will be able to go through the process and find the answer, now if I ask you what was your address in the house where you were brought up, you go back into files to search for that answer and you retrieve that information. While the conscious mind is busy doing that, no other thought process can be analysed at that stage,” he says.
The subconscious mind works differently. Once we have learnt a task, we are on auto-pilot mode, like driving for example. If we have learnt how to drive, we could be speaking about any random subject with our co-passengers and still take crucial decisions while driving. “That is your sub-conscious mind driving. It knows the task through repetition. So if I am able to keep your conscious mind busy then I can fool you. There is a lot of stuff that is going around you even within your visual field that you will not be able to process because your conscious mind is busy,” he elaborates.
Magic is not Supernatural
Magic has different connotations in different cultures, points out Felipe, “In Haiti magic is associated with voodoo and black magic. It has evil connotations. If you are a magician, people get really freaked out and scared. Whereas in Las Vegas, if we speak about magic, it is all about show business. In the Middle East people think of magic and genies.”
Felipe tries to explain to people that magic is not supernatural. It is a matter of understanding how the brain works, “We have to just predict behaviour and read people’s behaviour. That’s it.”
Does he have a favourite trick?
At conventions of magicians and at world championships the routines that usually win rarely succeed in the real world as much as the more commercial ones. What I enjoy the most is doing pickpockets. Stealing stuff is a challenge. Every victim is different, every watch has a slightly different strap, every pocket has a slightly different touch. It requires a lot of body language, misdirection and communication. You have to invade what they call the inner space to move the stuff from the victims’ without them noticing.Magician Felipe Scherson
The audience enjoys these tricks besides of course those associated with mentalism and object levitation.
“I use magic as a form of misdirection so I distract you and I steal your watch. When I am on the tube if I am not performing it would be very hard for me to steal. Usually professional pickpockets on the street do collective pick pocketing so a couple will misdirect the victim and a third one does the stealing. The biggest mistake that authorities make is to put the sign ‘Beware of Pickpockets’ because when you read the sign you touch your chest or hip pocket and you are basically giving away where your valuable possessions are,” he cautions.
Felipe adds that he was raised honest so stays honest in real life. “I could steal a lot of stuff,” the master magician adds with an endearing smile.
For the moment he is just quietly stealing the show at destination weddings.
(Payal Mohanka is a Kolkata-based senior journalist)
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