Simon Pierro presented an Oscar for a new category: best reaction to a magician pulling an actual golden statuette from an iPad.
Pierro, who travels the world as the iPad magician, capitalized on the buzz leading up to Sunday’s Academy Awards by strolling the Walk of Fame performing tricks for dumbfounded onlookers.
Ever since the introduction of the iPad, the German magician has used it to stand out from other magic acts. He seamlessly moves his sleight of hand between the real and virtual worlds, pulling scarves, cards, and other items out of the screen.
Last week, he traveled to Hollywood to combine old-fashioned street hustle with 21st-century tech hardware. He started with pulling up an image of the Academy Awards statue on his screen. He held a hand in front of it so that it could instantly appear in his grip.
Pierro also seemed to set his iPad on fire for one trick and when a woman complimented him on his shoes, one suddenly appeared on the screen. Pierro revealed the actual shoe by turning the iPad over. He then put it back on his foot.
You can see these and other tricks below in the two-and-a-half minute video he posted to his YouTube channel.
Pierro describes his act as old-school magic with a twist. The iPad helps him innovate past clichés and stereotypes to build a truly unique act that puts him in front of large audiences for as many as 100 shows a year.
He stubbornly holds on to one timeless tradition – a magician never reveals a trick’s secret. The mandatory coyness also goes to any question about apps.
” ‘It’s magic!’ might not be satisfying to hear,” Pierro told Cult of Mac. “Most of the time, I am combining traditional magic with my new approach, trying to take the best from both worlds. I am trying to make magic more relevant again for many people who think about magic in clichés.”
Pierro grew up in southern Germany but it was a family trip to New York City when he was 15 that introduced him to magic. It was the best $20 he ever lost.
A monte hustler working a street corner pulled Pierro in with the shell game and preceded to coax him to bet that he could outfox the kid. Money saved to go towards a portable CD player was gone, but to make him feel better, his sister bought him a magic book so that he could understand how he lost.
From it, he learned his first card trick and developed an obsession for magic. He practiced his growing index of tricks on anyone who would watch, entering and winning magic competitions.
He received engineering and business administration degrees from the University of a Karlsruhe, but with regular appearances on German television, Pierro was making a decent living off of his tricks.
But the real trick was finding an act that would make him stand out. He tinkered with tech, using projection screens to create some tricks. Other magicians before him had used screens as well.
It was when he created an act for a German television show using a television in an electronics store that laid the groundwork for his iPad success.
Anyone following Pierro’s career could see the foundation he built on that show, showing the TV screen as if the other side was a parallel universe he could reach into and manipulate. He used a straw to seemingly suck soda out of a glass, reached into the TV to grab a broom from himself, presumably from a pre-recorded video, and pulled a chair out from under a character on screen. In this case, the customers gathered could see his hand reach into the picture from the side with the very chair that was on-screen physically appear with no lapse in timing.
This was two years before the release of the iPad. In 2010, Pierro was glad to use the iPad instead of televisions because an iPad is significantly lighter to travel with.
To grow his following and attract more bookings, Pierro began using YouTube to show off his iPad tricks. His first YouTube video landed him a guest spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“If you do something unique you will get attention,” he said. “If you do something unique with one of the hottest gadgets to be released in a decade, everything is possible.”