Union City’s Mike Gomez is no stranger to hard knocks. He’s worked and scrimped and saved his whole life making a living for himself and his children and family, torn through careers broken and built by a fluctuating economy, made and broken several life partnerships.
Twelve years ago, Gomez’s oldest son Sebastian died in a car accident. This was not his first loss. In 1982, his 6-month-old son Alexis died.
Gomez, also known as “Micky Magic,” took the otherwise debilitating tragedy and turned it into a life mission: to bring the wonders of magic to children and seniors, and in doing so, bring it back into his own life.
“Shortly after my Sebastian died I had a radical change of life,” Gomez said. “A few months later, my son Marc was born, and 13 months after that Jon-Paul was born. These boys came to save my life, and I talk about it on my website in ‘The Magic in You’ section.”
“Every time I leave an audience whom I know I’ve touched, I think to myself, ‘I can’t believe I got paid for that.’ ” – Mike Gomez (a.k.a. Micky Magic)
Sometimes, he said, when you’ve lost more than you could have ever imagined, you have little left to lose, and therefore, everything to gain.
When Gomez was 9, a magician came to his grammar school in the Bronx, and he was floored by what he saw.
“I was flabbergasted, knocked out for a loop,” he said, “So I chased the guy down and demanded to know how he did what he’d just done.”
Gomez thought he’d wrangle himself a mentor in the craft, but what he got instead was a command to go to the library, read everything he could on magic, and practice, practice, practice.
“I was deflated. The library?” Gomez gasped. “Now I know the man did me the greatest favor in the world. I fell in love with magic and learning at the same time.”
This lesson would later inform his own magical acts.
After leaving Lincoln High School in Jersey City in the early ’70s as something of a bohemian, he said, Gomez rekindled his love of magic during his hours spent in Central Park – or, “the mecca for young, hip people” as he called it – to watch the performers of various ilk.
Of course, his favorites were the magicians; specifically Jeff McBride, who is now his teacher. While the bohemian life may have inspired him to get back into magic, magic as a career was not to be.
“I started going to magic stores, learning it, but it was a hobby and I was an enthusiast,” Gomez explained. “I had a girlfriend, she got pregnant, we got married, and life got in the way.”
From hobby to career
Gomez was a full-time family man and self-employed retailer for many years. When the recession hit in the ’80s, his dreams of becoming a magician by trade receded further into an impossible dream.
“I looked at magic, but from afar,” he said. “But every time I saw a magician live or on television, it moved me again to try to figure out how to make it a career.”
After 6-month-old Alexis died, his relationship fell apart, as did his business, and, he thought, his life.
But that’s when magic entered.
“It came into my brain like a revelation,” Gomez said, “And my new partner and I started Clown Around Productions,” though the company was all about magic and not about clowns.
People, he said, oftentimes mix up the two, especially when working with children. Parents expect clowns and balloons and facepainting to go along with the illusion.
Gomez has figured out a good balance.
“I’m not a clown,” Gomez said. “I wear suspenders with clown buttons to appease the families who need the clown look, but underneath is all classic black magician clothing with pockets prepared for the creation of the illusion. It’s necessary to compromise, because after all, this isn’t ‘show show;’ it’s ‘show business.’”
Recently, Gomez was performing for Union City’s senior residents, and one woman in the audience (named Ruby) was clearly in fragile condition. She wore a hat that hid a substantial amount of hair loss, he said. Gomez immediately engaged her in his routine.
After the show, the senior administrator asked Gomez to come into his office where Ruby was sitting.
“Micky,” she smiled, “I haven’t laughed in months. But right now, my side hurts from laughing so hard. Thank you.”
This is what Gomez loves most, he said.
“Each time I perform, I try to give a blatant, inspirational, motivational presentation so that my audience gets more than just a show,” he said. “And every time I leave an audience whom I know I’ve touched, I think to myself, ‘I can’t believe I got paid for that.’ The trick is to do what you love and to love what you do.”
For more information on Gomez’s magical career, visit www.mickymagic.com.
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org