Correction to This Article
A June 4 Sunday Source byline misspelled the name of Marisa Torrieri, who wrote the Tipsheet article on local magicians.

Five Local Magicians Who Don't Miss a Trick

By Marisa Torreri
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 4, 2006

In ancient times, societies revered magicians for their supernatural powers. Today, we're onto their tricks, but we still love magic makers for their ability to create optical illusions and execute sophisticated maneuvers that enchant and bewilder. For Washingtonians, the good news is that the area is oozing with spellbinding performers, from card masters to dexterous manipulators to bar-dwelling pranksters. The bad news is that these magicians can be hard to find -- the more skilled the magician, the more likely it is they make their dough at top-dollar private functions -- not public appearances. Luckily, we found five local talents you can see with your very own eyes. A bonus: You can catch their acts without seeing too many of your hard-earned dollars disappear like a rabbit into a hat.

Brian Curry

If there's ever a guy you wanted to interrupt your breakfast, it's Brian Curry.

Bright-eyed Curry, 25, has a good-natured demeanor that works magic with kids and adults alike. He has an impressive repertoire of close-up tricks, using cellphones, card decks and business cards to delight new customers and the longtime fans. (He wowed me by making fuzzy red balls appear from nowhere underneath my shoulder pad.)

Another favorite: turning $10 bills into foreign currency. First, a diner selects a country, and Curry launches into a story about that country while folding a $10 bill until it is die-sized. Then the greenback is transformed into a red Canadian bill before -- voila! -- it's Honduran currency.

"If they're laughing, then they don't mind if you fool them," says Curry, of Alexandria, who began developing his craft as a kid living overseas in Japan.

Curry enjoys entertaining skeptics by getting them to pick seven random cards out of a deck, having them call that number on their cellphone, and then asking the recipient of that call (Curry himself!) to verify that, yes, "Brian Curry is the greatest magician in Northern Virginia."

Curry performs most Sunday brunches (from about 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) at Clyde's of Tysons Corner, 8332 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, 703-734-1901, . He's also one of three rotating magicians (with Mark Phillips and Bob Sheets) Saturdays from 6-9 p.m. at Finemondo, 1319 F St. NW, free, 202-737-3100, . .

Alain Nu

He can use his special powers to predict the age you'll be when you travel to Rome. And he can make a plastic bug appear on the bottom side of your fist.

But Alain Nu, 40, doesn't call himself a magician. He prefers the term "mentalist," a magic maker who relies on physics, psychology and probability -- coupled with manual dexterity -- to perform tricks.

Nu, of Forest Glen, has done some unbelievable stunts, including driving down San Francisco's crooked Lombard Street blindfolded.

He regularly bends ordinary spoons into limp, hanging noodles -- as he did at a recent National Theatre gig. First, Nu picked an audience member to verify that the utensils were, indeed, solid spoons. Then, he waved one hand furiously over the other holding the spoon -- creating what he described as "neuromuscular energy" -- and the spoons slowly, slowly bent over until -- two minutes later -- they were just strands of silver, wrung out over his finger.

"I create the spectacle of what appears to be an effortless energy," Nu says.

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