July 24th, 2024

Magician making a living as a ‘professional liar’

By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 20, 2024.

Herald photo by Theodroa MacLeod Lethbridge born magician and mentalist, Ben Price stands with his normal everyday deck of cards. Price has conjured a successful career out of performing his craft.

Ben Price is a professional liar.

In his own words.

On paper the 30-year-old Lethbridge native is an entertainer, a magician, and a mentalist, but he jokes that really, he’s just a liar.

Price has what he calls the ‘classic’ magicians origin story: it started with a kit under the Christmas tree that included prop aided tricks like balls in cups and mysteriously connecting rings, the type of magic that he quickly mastered before turning to instructional books and videos.

But he says there is more to magic than what can be taught by instructional resources. “You can’t really be taught misdirection. You can be taught sleight of hand, but misdirection is the biggest thing.” He explains that it’s something that comes with performing for people.

To date, he has performed for thousands of people, from staff at Google, L’Oréal, and Monster Energy to guests on cruise ships. He recently dazzled the crowd in his hometown at the Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish fundraiser.

Born and raised in southern Alberta, he currently resides in Calgary but vividly recalls the challenges growing up as a kid interested in magic and eventually theatre in Lethbridge, but he doesn’t believe it hindered his career at all.

While the International Brotherhood of Magicians, of which Price is a member, places a high emphasis on preventing ‘exposure’-others learning the key behind the tricks- social media and YouTube have shifted the landscape for magicians. “There’s thousands of magicians out there that have never performed for a live audience, and that to me is way more sad than exposure is, because magic is supposed to be real life in front of you.”

He explains though, that ‘exposure’ isn’t always a bad thing.

“Social media and YouTube did hurt the industry a little bit, but it also made it so much better because now everyone knows how to cut an assistant in half, so we can’t do that anymore, we have to invent something new.” 

According to Price there are two schools on thought in the magician community; the traditionalists who favour the long-standing and traditional tricks, often found dressed in top hats and coat tails. And the mentalists, who have moved beyond the cards and instead amaze with their mind-reading capabilities. Price likes to combine a little bit of both. “I’m just here to give everyone a good time,” he explains, though quick to clarify that he still loves a good card trick.

“When people see mentalism it’s far more engaging and impressive for them as an audience because it happened with their thoughts and their feelings, but I use the same methods as I did for the card trick, you just don’t remember it that way. A large part of mentalism is just engaging the audience more personally because you’re using personal information.”

That engagement, however, can come with risks. Especially when audience members misinterpret his ability to guess correctly as something more spiritual.

“I don’t believe in ghosts, and I don’t believe in all these supernatural things, I’m a debunker at heart, so I try to layout that I am not performing supernatural magic when I tell you your grandfather’s name who’s been gone for years and years and years and what kind of soup, he liked to eat on Saturday night. It’s a trick.”

In an era where television mediums have been making a name for themselves, he says it’s not uncommon for audience members to assume his gifts go beyond entertaining.

Despite saying he is rather shy off-stage, Price performs with enthusiasm and attitude. “Little sass, little magic, little mentalism,” he jokes, describing his show.

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