You know the kid. You can pick him out in a room full of SYMers. He’s not the one that is there just to learn the secrets. He’s the one who walks around the room taking in all that is offered to him. He asks a lot of real questions and makes you show him a move over and over. When he goes to bed he is the type who is not under the covers with a flashlight reading comic books. Instead, he is reading Houdini biographies or pouring through the latest magic magazine for the umpteenth time absorbing the contents of each page like a sponge. He’s the teen who was always paying late fees for not returning magic books on time to the library. This was Mat Franco.
Back when he was 15 years old, I interviewed him for the Magic SYMbol because I felt that this was an exceptional magic student who one day could be working conventions and more. He kept winning the local magic contests and took some master classes with Jeff McBride. When I introduced him to Stars of Tomorrow producer, Andy Dallas, he booked him for the Very popular SYM convention show at the S.A.M. Convention in Las Vegas.
Mat continued his magic performing throughout his college years while he majored in Marketing and minored in Communications. After graduation, he took on magic full time and has been performing the college circuit. Then last February, his friends suggested that he try out for America’s Got Talent.
By now, the name Mat Franco is known by laymen as the winner of AGT. Overnight, he became famous. Local comedian Nick Albanese joked that “Half of Rhode Island actually knows Mat Franco and the other half will claim they do!”
Each year, while magicians appeared on the show doing large stage illusions, the judges dismissed the magicians as lower class acts and kept telling them they had to do something “bigger, more dangerous, and flashier.” Much like David Blaine, who went in the opposite direction during an era of stage magicians with dancing girls and sequins, Mat took the unexpected route of performing close up magic in big theaters and connecting with the audience by showing off his warm personality. His persona on stage, his looks, and his skill won over judges Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Howard Stern, and Mel B stating that “he makes magic sexy.” The audiences responded by voting for him over the other finalists – four musical acts.
One week after the win, I got the chance to speak to him on the phone. He was preparing for the America’s Got Talent Live Las Vegas Show and was still trying to process his new found fame. He was so excited, each sentence could have been typed out with exclamation points. As the first magician to win America’s Got Talent, I pointed out two facts about his win:
He is the first Stars of Tomorrow performer to become a “star” amongst the general public. Second, in one night, Mat has been seen by more people than Houdini had in his lifetime.
Read Bruce Kalver’s interview with Mat Franco in the November MUM by Clicking HERE
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