(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's possible that the next David Copperfield is in St. Joseph right now. That's because this week St. Joseph is the epicenter of the world of magic and prestidigitators from across the country and even around the world are here to fine tune their powers of illusion.
"This is known all over the world as being a premiere place to learn magic and see amazing magicians," said Joshua Jay, a magician who has taken his act to 59 different countries.
Jay is one of the lecturers at the conference, giving seminars to the more than 150 magicians who have come to St. Joseph to learn tricks of the trade and get tips from the masters.
"It's like a lab in high school," said David Sandy, a worldwide magician himself, who has coordinated the conference. "In chemistry lab, you're actually working with the chemicals. In the workshop, you're working with the props and the professionals are teaching you. They might say, 'No, you need to hold the cards like this and position your hands. It's a much better way of learning.
Jay is one of the lecturers at the conference, who got his career started in St. Joseph, having attended one of the magician conferences when he was a teen.
"It's the circle of life. I'm 36 now and I see 15 year old kids like when I was 15," Jay said.
There were a number of young aspiring magicians at this year's conference. Elias Arbuckle, 11, from Des Moines came with his grandfather. Arbuckle said he was impressed by what he saw and says he'd like to take what he's learning at the conference to build on his talents.
"I started out with a lot of card magic and close-up magic," he said. "Now that I've gotten older I really like doing stage magic and bigger objects. I've done like corporate picnics. I've done strolling around in restaurants from table to table."
All of the magicians at the conference agree that their hard work is worth it for the payoff they get at the end of a good trick.
"That's the best part for me, seeing the faces for sure and seeing how it's affecting them because I feel magic is real," said Mike Pisciotta, a magician from Los Angeles who came to be a lecturer at the conference.
The conference will wrap up Saturday night with the International Superstars of Magic and Comedy Show Saturday night at the Missouri Theater. It will start at 8 p.m.