From the time he was a 9-year-old boy in Vieques, a small island off Puerto Rico where he lived with his parents, brother, and two sisters, Eric Lindsey knew he was “born to make people smile.”
His fascination with escape artist/magician Harry Houdini and a work ethic inherited from his dad have afforded him the luxury of making children and grown-ups smile for a living.
When asked why he idolizes Houdini, who died in 1926, Lindsey recalls, “I read a biography” and “90 out of 100 people named Houdini as the most famous magician they knew.” However, he credits Doug Henning as a model of how to be personable and “yourself.” Conversely, he recalled an encounter with David Copperfield during which Copperfield “didn’t seem comfortable being a regular person.”
Lindsey’s Puerto Rican mother and Irish father were influential and supportive of his passion for magic from the beginning.
“My dad owned a bar and worked hard. That’s why I work hard at what I do.” When asked about the support his father gave him, he smiled, and responded, “My dad was supportive from the beginning. Even if I got another job, he would make sure I stuck with magic.”
After reading more books about Houdini, Lindsey began to learn escape tricks. When asked from whom he learned the tricks which began his career in magic, he said, “In Vieques everything is self-taught.”
Right at home in WNY
Twelve years ago he moved to Guttenberg, where he lived for two years before settling in West New York, where he currently resides. When asked about the impact living in West New York has had on his career, he cited its closeness to New York City, where he often performs, and also referenced the Spanish restaurants and cultural diversity of the town.
“I feel like I’m part of a community,” he said.
It was apparent Lindsey is a fixture in his community when he was greeted as a regular at The Green Kitchen restaurant on Boulevard East. He went on to say, “I love the people here. They are good people, and hard working.”
Lindsey recalled occasions when he practiced his tricks on the streets of West New York, and in neighborhood businesses. He believes those performances birthed his career as a paid artist. But for Lindsey, who performs up to six shows per week, magic is about more than dollars and cents. “I want to entertain. I don’t worry about money.”
“I believe in doing more than I’m paid for, and that’s why I’m hired often.” – Eric Lindsey
At times, some of those good shows are performed free of cost, like in nursing homes in which Lindsey has entertained residents. “I love to make the elderly smile like they were children again,” he said. His every answer was accompanied by a smile that reflects his passion for his craft. “I also believe in doing more than I’m paid for, and that’s why I’m hired often.”
Lindsey performs most of his shows in the metropolitan area, although he has performed as far away as Cincinnati. He performs for adults at private parties and occasional weddings. Lindsey notes a favorite trick among adult audiences is “The Invisible Deck of Cards.”
However, his greatest joy is performing for children. “I love performing for kids,” he said. “I love their laughter and I want them to have fun, even if they don’t remember the tricks.”
Meet his partner
Lindsey humbly admits that the real star of his show is his rabbit, whose name he pronounces, Robbeet, telling the children it’s the rabbit’s name in Spanish. The rabbit, Lindsey’s real-life pet, is an appropriate star considering his love for performing at the family-friendly Easter parade that takes place annually on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
“There really is nothing to the parade except a lot of nice people in big, funny hats. I can set up on the sidewalk with my rabbit, and next thing I know, there’s a hundred people surrounding me,” he said. Lindsey proudly added that his act is “clean,” and “for everyone.” His fixed smile and easy-going manner were not part of his act, but were his natural personality.
When asked how he keeps his performances fresh, Lindsey stated he “likes to push myself” and frequently adds to his repertoire. He has incorporated Tarot Card readings, hypnosis and palm readings during which he will “skip over the bad stuff.”
“I want it to be fun for people, not something for them to be afraid of,” he said. When asked how he views himself as a magician, he humbly answered, “I’m still not good.”
Does he feel masked magicians who reveal the secrets behind many classic tricks have hurt the magic industry? “I love those guys,” he said. “They make me want to learn how to do tricks in a different way, and they even taught me how to do certain tricks.”
Lindsey views himself as a magician for life, but more importantly, as “a person who connects with people.”
But would he ever consider giving up magic for a living?
He answered with his signature smile: “I’ll stop when the people stop smiling.”
Eric Lindsey can be reached at (201) 898-4233, or at www.ericlindsey.net.