Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Blink Eric Jones Brings the Wonder to Opening of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Liberty Magic

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Blink Eric Jones Brings the Wonder to Opening of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Liberty Magic

Article excerpt

Go ahead, fool us.

When Liberty Magic, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's new intimate magic space, takes its opening bow Wednesday, the fun is in the details.

"One of the really cool things in magic is the challenge factor," said Philadelphia illusionist Eric Jones, who will begin a six-week residency there.

"In certain countries, like Spain, when someone asks you to do a magic trick the translation is 'play me a trick' because they think of it like a game, like cat and mouse.

"The audience is trying to figure out how it works, and you're trying to keep them from figuring out how it works."

Patrons will have a close-up view of Mr. Jones at work. The new venue at 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown, was built specifically for this, transforming an old storefront. With only 68 seats, it's easy for anyone to see - and be part of - the act.

Mr. Jones, 37, is talented in both intimate and grand illusions; in 2017 he was a semifinalist on "America's Got Talent" and triumphed on Penn and Teller's CW show, "Fool Us." The challenge every time involves getting the audience to fall for misdirection, he said.

Of course, he's wickedly talented. Mr. Jones grew up in rural Buckingham County, Va., where "our idea of a big Saturday night was, you put on your 'good' clothes and sit in the parking lot of the Walmart."

Which, he added, was a good 45-minute drive from his house. It was that rural.

He chose to attend Cornell University because upstate New York reminded him of home, and he was studying structural engineering when at 19, he witnessed something unbelievable.

"I met a man who borrowed a quarter from me. He held it up to his lips, and he bit so hard, he ripped a chunk of the quarter off. Then he showed it to me and the others, and there was a small piece of it still on his tongue.

"He spit that piece back onto the quarter and restored it."

Mr. Jones said he began searching through the public library until he came upon a book of special effects that seemed to explain the quarter trick. …

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