Christopher Wiehl, grad student at SUNY Oswego, is a magician who uses magic as a way to entertain others.
“It’s fun,” Wiehl said. “It’s a way to get to know people and it’s a way to make people smile.”
Wiehl, a Camden native, became interested in magic at a very young age when his grandmother gave him a book that contained magic tricks.
“My grandma took a trip to New Orleans for a little vacation,” Wiehl said. “She went to a magic shop and checked out all of their stuff and the guy at the store gave her some books, so she brought them back up with her she showed us little magic tricks here and there that she learned from these books. I still have them, actually.”
Wiehl said after that, he tried to do the card tricks his grandmother showed him but he couldn’t do them because he couldn’t understand how they were done.
“I also became interested in magic when my dad did little tricks himself back when I was four or five,” Wiehl said. “Just little things that dads would do, like pull a coin from my ear. And I would always think, ‘Wow, how did he do that?’”
Wiehl then participated in a talent show in third grade alongside his sister, who was in fifth grade. They both put on a magic show for the crowd.
“Our parents went to a magic shop and we learned how to do a few different things using props,” he said. “We did a nice little five minute show on stage. We did those tricks a couple more times for the library and for summer programs. That kind of further pushed my interest, but I still didn’t know how to do the card tricks and things like that.”
Wiehl later returned to that interest in his senior year of high school, when a friend showed him a magic trick.
“He showed me a couple of really cool card tricks,” Wiehl said. “He taught me how to do them and everything changed from there.”
Wiehl attended Buffalo State, where he continued to practice card tricks and other magic tricks alongside Tom Kashiwagi, a friend he met during orientation. They put on shows for their fellow peers at parties and social gatherings.
“My early practice was definitely college students,” he said. “I did a lot of spot-on shows on the sidewalks on campus.”
Wiehl and Kashiwagi then filmed a special with cameraman Brent Scott for Student Association TV.
During the summers, Wiehl performed card tricks at a restaurant where he worked.
“I went up to tables who were waiting for their food and just did some card tricks,” Wiehl said. “People seemed to enjoy it, so I kept doing it.”
Wiehl continued to work on magic tricks that went past card tricks. He studied books published by other magicians, siting John Guastaferro as one of his biggest influences.
“Magicians learn through magicians,” Wiehl said. “I was able to meet John at one point, which was really cool.”
Wiehl then experimented with other objects such as making coins disappear and trapping objects inside plastic bottles right in front of spectators’ eyes.
Now, Wiehl is a successful magician who performs at big events such as at weddings, birthday parties, private restaurant gatherings and more. He carries a small 8-by-4 box that contains everything he needs to amaze his audience.
“I don’t need big props or anything like that,” Wiehl said. “The most space I take up is myself. Otherwise, I carry around this small box that has everything I really need for my shows.”
Wiehl prefers it this way because he enjoys a more intimate setting rather than a lavish display.
“There are magicians who have personas on stage, but I’m just not into that,” Wiehl said. “I like doing things in front of a group. It’s more close-up, hands-on and interactive. This gives people a chance to appreciate the technique more.”
Wiehl currently has three DVDs available for purchase on his website, www.christopherwiehl.com, where he showcases tricks he has performed for previous audiences.
Wiehl’s passion and enjoyment for magic allowed him to find yet another passion: working with children.
“Doing magic threw me into the situation where I now have to work with kids,” Wiehl said. “I’m currently earning my masters in school psychology. I’d like to work with kids and help kids express themselves.”
In the meantime, Wiehl is excited to continue to share his passion with others.
“I want people to have a good time,” he said. “I want to give them an opportunity to see this art that’s been around for thousands of years. I want them to enjoy it too.”
Wiehl is always happy to perform at events for any audience. He can be contacted at (315) 297-2016 or via email at [email protected].