This week, magician Chris Michael begins a roughly yearlong residency at The Graham Hotel in Georgetown, every Monday and Tuesday at 8 pm
WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews magician Chris Michael’s show in Georgetown (Part 1)
You can call him a magician if you want, but the better title is mind-bending showman.
This week, Chris Michael begins a roughly yearlong residency in the nation’s capital at The Graham Hotel in Georgetown, every Monday and Tuesday at 8 pm
“There’s going to be everything from levitations, to looking someone in the eyes and telling them one of their deepest memories they’ve never shared, to making a cocktail appear in the hand of somebody who comes up and joins us on stage,” Michael told WTOP.
The 75-minute show is called “Affinity,” combining magic, comedy and mentalism.
“We want to blow people’s minds with weird coincidences in their lives [that] they have with other people,” Michael said. “We try to show people how similar ideas and interests connect us all, but in a way that’s almost too serendipitous to be real… We break it down and show you some of the statistics of why everyone is meant to be in that room at that time.”
Raised in Long Island, New York, Michael discovered his love of magic when he saw a flyer on the wall while attending Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
“I noticed this flyer for this show called ‘Magic & Jazz,'” Michael said. “I went and it was just a bunch of college students having the time of their lives with live jazz music and people doing magic silently to the music that was playing. I ran into this guy backstage [Zachary Gartrell] who tells me about a magic shop in Richmond called Divine Magic and Novelties.”
So, Michael took a drive out to Divine Magic and Novelties one Saturday to check it out.
“I expected to see card tricks hanging on the wall, thumb tips and silks — there was none of that,” Michael said. “There were candles, leather-bound notebooks and, it sounds like I’m making it up, but there was a potions section! … I met the guy behind the counter named Hun Woo. … He hands me a coin and says, ‘Put this in your hand. Make it vanish.”’”
He tried for hours, getting whacked on the hand with a chopstick every time he failed.
“He said, ‘Watch this,’” Michael said.
“He puts the coin in his hand, he opens it up and with a burst of fire it turned into a giant three-inch red ruby gem. I was blown away. He said, ‘I’ll show you how to do that, but you need to put that coin in your hand correctly. I will give you one week. Come back next Saturday, and if you have it correct, I’ll show you.”
It took him four more weeks to get it right, but from there, his magic career was born.
“I went to a Comic Con convention with some of the guys I met at that magic shop, just performing at their booth,” Michael said. “I did this one trick where I changed $1 into $100. This guy said, ‘You’re amazing!’ … The guy I did the trick for was Bob Gale who wrote ‘Back to the Future!’ So, I printed business cards with his quotes immediately there.”
He leveraged that compliment to land corporate clients like Amazon, Kaiser Permanente, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, CertainTeed, Fox TV Network and Georgetown University.
Michael said his most educational gig was at the home of the owner of the Blue Man Group.
“I was like a kid in a candy shop at his house, just asking him all of these questions: ‘What is the one thing that made the Blue Man Group stand out?’” Michael said. He said, ‘Well, it’s not the blue makeup, it’s wasn’t the weird instruments, it’s the use of negative space. All of the laughs, all of the big moments that happened when nothing was happening.””
He applied this lesson to his shows, including a private party in Potomac, Maryland.
After the show, a group of guys come up asking, ‘Do you know Dan White of the NoMad Hotel in New York? … I’d like to talk to you about having a residency at the hotel,” Michael said. “So, I scrambled to write a show and reached out to one of my favorite writers who worked on that show ‘Magic for Humans’ on Netflix.'”
That show is “Affinity,” which is now playing every Monday and Tuesday at The Graham Hotel in DC
“Just come with an open mind and expect to see something you’ve never seen before,” Michael said. “I definitely want it to be something where you bring an open mindset and you’re ready to notice some change around you. … This is one of those shows that, if you see it multiple times, it will pay off. You’re not going to notice everything the first time.”
Seating is limited for each show, so register online for the ticket lottery here.
WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews magician Chris Michael’s show in Georgetown (Part 2)
Listen to our full conversation here.