Cerio sets aside the red deck and asks me the suit color of the card I thought of. “Red.” He removes the blue deck from its box and fans out the cards. One card is face up. “Was your card the four of hearts,” Cerio asked. “Yep,” I said, as amazed at that trick at age 25 as I would be at age 7.
“Not only that, but the four of hearts is the only red card in the deck,” Cerio replied as he flips the card over, and, sure enough, it’s the only card in the deck with a red back.
“It’s magic,” I said.
“It’s magic,” he replied.
Crystal ball: Ray Cerio, of The Wizard’s Magic Shop, gives a visual hint about the legerdemain involved in one of his magic tricks. MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTO
What’s most interesting about our meeting is that Cerio, who has practiced magic for 60 years, recently learned that trick. “There’s stuff every day that’s brand new,” he noted. “Some tricks I’ve been performing for more than 50 years.” That’s why it is fitting for Cerio to emcee the 2008 Jack Miller CNY Magic Fest, Saturday, Nov. 8, at Manlius Pebble Hill School, 5300 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, where more than a dozen magicians will perform.
John Wolfson, a 19-year-old theater major at SUNY Oswego, is one of the featured magicians. Wolfson said he was first paid to perform magic at age 9. “A lot of kids pick up a magic kit at 5 or 6 and lose interest after a month,” he said. “For me, I just never put it down.”
Since learning the basics, Wolfson, who sometimes spends upward of 20 hours a week practicing, said he tries to always keep his performance fresh. “I’m looking forward to incorporating something new into my routine,” he explained about attending the Magic Fest. “You’re always working in a new joke, new lines, new angles.”
Cerio said he has a lot of kids interested in magic come into his shop, but often they need to first learn patience. “Most kids come in and want to learn a trick right away,” he said. “They see something on TV, like Chris Angel or David Blaine, and they learn a few tricks and they come here. I tell the kids they need to practice, learn misdirection. Most tricks are simple, but it’s the presentation that makes it mystifying.”
Cerio ensures all budding magicians leave his store happy. “They might buy something on TV and be disappointed,” he said. “But if they come here, they can see the trick and I’ll teach it to them so they can do it right.”
On Sundays, Cerio teaches a magic class and enjoys inspiring youth the way he was inspired as a teenager. In 1948, at age 15, Cerio began practicing magic when he was a student at Onondaga Valley Academy. “We had a magician come to our school every year, and that got me interested in magic,” he noted. Cerio is a founding member of Ring No. 74 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in January. The Magic Fest started in 1969 and although it has been organized by different groups over the decades, Cerio is a founding member.
Cerio’s son Jordan, 20, followed in his footsteps. While Jordan isn’t as enthusiastic about magic as his father, he does perform the “world’s deadliest trick,” according to Cerio. The trick involves sticking a dagger up through one of a series of slots in a table. All of the slots are covered with a Styrofoam cup, and the magician smashes his hand down on all of the cups except for the one covering the knife. When asked if his son ever screwed up the trick, Cerio responded, “No, but I did!”
Saturday’s Jack Miller CNY Magic Fest runs from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $45, which includes a lunch and gourmet dinner. For more information, contact Ray Cerio at 469-6965 or visit www.saltcitymagic.com.