Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants — or so say the Naked Magicians, a pair of 32-year-old Australian best friends and magic-makers who have made a career of literally baring it all on stage while performing intricate tricks overflowing with innuendo.
The duo — Christopher Wayne and Mike Tyler — are touring Canada and the U.S. (they also performed a similar stateside tour last year), which includes two shows at the Burton Cummings Theatre tonight. The second show in Winnipeg was an unplanned addition to the tour, but strong presale ticket sales cemented the decision to add another performance.
The Naked Magicians have felt similar support in many of the other cities on this tour — when Wayne hopped on the phone with the Free Press from their tour stop in Durham, N.C., last month, they were getting ready to play an 1,800-seat theatre that was almost sold out.
"We’ve got a fanbase here which we love and are thankful for and every day feels like a bloody dream," says Wayne.
"The reason we have a growing fanbase is just because, and this is going to sound slightly big of me, but we have a show that’s legitimately like nothing else in the world. Every night on stage, Mike and I give everything we have inside of us to do our best show and there is nothing like it. People are just having the most outrageous time and we supply the naughtiest, funniest magic ever... this is the only show in the world that does the kind of crazy shit that we do."
The show itself is about 90 minutes long and took Wayne and Tyler nearly 13 months to put together. They’ve been touring it for three years, presenting 150 shows a year, and they still tweak and polish tricks and get notes from their producer after every performance.
"We have a really serious work ethic. Mike and I aren’t two guys that got cast in someone’s show. We put our blood, sweat and tears into this from Day 1 and we don’t want to stop, we don’t want to become complacent, we just want to make the best entertainment. We want to create an experience that you literally can’t get anywhere else on planet Earth."
The idea to create a nude magic show developed after the movie Magic Mike was released (a film about a group of male strippers) and people started to refer to Tyler as "magic Mike," asking if he could make his clothes disappear. The pair then started searching the archives of the Internet to see if anyone had previously created a naughty magic show, but it seemed they had stumbled upon a completely unique idea.
"We were like, ‘Why has no one done this? This is either going to be the best idea or the worst idea,’" says Wayne, laughing. "But we’re bloody glad we did it."
But the nudity, while an integral part of the pitch, isn’t just there for shock value and giggles. Wayne and Tyler use it as a way to make a larger point about the way many people perceive the idea of magic and magicians; as something tacky that comes with top hats, capes and magic wands.
"Magic is the second oldest profession in history and it’s gone through, like any other industry... magic was famous for a long time, and then in like early ’90s it faded out after David Copperfield, and then there was this rebirth with people like Criss Angel and David Blaine, who kind of thrust magic back into popular culture," says Wayne.
"But there are two thing magicians are really bad at; one is coming up with original material, like a magician’s tricks are very famous, cut the girl in half or the handkerchief bit, and the other thing magicians are bad at — and I’m not talking for all of them, I’m speaking very broadly — is fashion... we wanted to reinvent the wheel, or more so strip away those stereotypes both in the types of tricks that you can expect to see in the show and what you expect a magician to wear, and obviously we do that literally in our show and take all of our clothes off.
For those planning to partake in the fun, the Naked Magicians promise three things: "It’ll be the funniest comedy, it’ll be the most amazing magic you ever see, and we promise two guys from Australia wearing nothing but their smiles by the end of the show," says Wayne.
"All I want to do is make people laugh and make people forget about everything else for an hour-and-a-half. That’s my favourite thing in the world to do... there’s something really special about going to a theatre and not checking your phone, not worrying about anything else and just having a really f---ing good, naughty laugh, and magic allows for that," he says. "It allows you to be amazed by things that aren’t possible, and it just so happens we deliver it in a way that might make you a little horny in the process."