Many Angelenos would call LA a magical city, but the actual culture of magic has a ravenous fan base in the city of Angels. Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães' two-man show at the Geffen Playhouse, "Nothing To Hide," illustrates this point to a tee. Directed by Neil Patrick Harris, the show has taken the city by storm, selling out night after night and receiving an extra 9-week extension.
DelGaudio, 28, was born in Huntington Beach, Calif. but grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. Guimarães, 30, sports a fantastic accent from his hometown of Porto, Portugal. They are both magicians at the height of their careers, performing top shows at LA's Magic Castle and other venues all around the world. Neil Patrick Harris saw the two perform together at the Castle (he's te President of the Board) and immediately reached out to get them to do a show at the Geffen Playhouse. Turns out he has quite an eye for talent -- the show has received rave reviews from practically every news outlet and some patrons are even returning to experience the show for a second time.
Many of us at The Huffington Post have now seen the show and HuffPost LA wanted to make sure we grabbed these two before they slipped through our fingers -- or worse -- vanished entirely.
The Huffington Post: I saw "Nothing To Hide" and jokingly titled my review of it "I Don't Like Magic." What do you think are some of the biggest stereotypes about magic that keep some people from engaging in it?
Derek DelGaudio: I am never surprised when I hear someone say, “I don’t like magic.” However, I have come to realize, in most cases, what they actually mean is, “I don’t like magicians.” Magic suffers from its practitioners. If someone doesn’t like magic, it almost certainly stems from seeing a bad magician, which there are plenty.
Helder Guimarães: I think most people think magic is cheesy or antiquated. It is very difficult to convince them to abandon the misconception that magic is about fooling them. When someone goes to a magic show to find how the magician does what he does, they are missing the point of being in the room.
Tell me about each of your first experiences at The Magic Castle.
DelGaudio: I was 15 years old. I sat out front while my older friends went in and hung out. After a few hours, they came out and gave me a bowl of chili. Then they went back in and I waited some more.
Guimarães: I was invited to perform there in 2007. As a kid, back in Portugal, I was always thinking about one day being able to perform there so I was thrilled when I received the invitation. Since that moment, the Castle as always been a special place for me.
What were you both like as children?
DelGaudio: Shy, but outspoken. Friends with many, but didn’t belong to a particular group. A daydreamer and a chronic underachiever.
Guimarães: As a child, I wasn't a child at all. I started doing magic when I was four and that says it all. I was shy and always felt more comfortable on the stage. At one point in my childhood I wanted to be a dentist, but after age eleven, I've always wanted to be a magician.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a magician?
DelGaudio: The moment I learned “magician” has more than one meaning.
Guimarães: I don't remember myself not being a magician. The moment I realized I wanted to only do magic was when I was eleven years old and saw Juan Tamariz, still today my favorite magician, perform live. He did an hour show with just a deck of cards and that for me was the purest experience of magic I've ever felt.
What was toughest about working on a two-man show?
DelGaudio: The biggest challenge with collaborating like we have is finding the balance between two artistic visions. Ironically, this balance is often what makes the work better.
Guimarães: It's always a challenge to work with someone else, even if the goals are similar, because it's always a compromise between two visions. I would say that we both believe in magic, but in different ways.
I personally believe in it as a concept that can be seen and experienced in very different ways but, as a craft, I like magic to be the combination of an intellectual deception and an emotional deception joined to create a unique moment.
Tell us about your daily lives. What is your creative process? Give us a crash course on the life of a magician. When do you get your best ideas?
DelGaudio: My days basically consist of a nonstop series of questions I ask myself, followed by my failed attempts to answer those questions. Occasionally (mostly late at night), I’ll answer half of one part of one question. Those days are the very good days.
Guimarães: There is no crash course to be a magician. Each one is different and everyone has probably a different method. I like to read, listen to talks in a variety of subjects that appeal to me and see movies and live shows. I like philosophy and try to make sure that all the projects I embrace have meaning and make up a part of who I am.
What music do you put on to get pumped up before a show?
DelGaudio: I didn’t know that was a thing. I will try that.
Guimarães: I wouldn't say "pumped" is the word, and I rarely listen to music before I go on stage. I actually prefer a few minutes of silence. But my favorite bands are Radiohead and a Portuguese band called Ornatos Violeta, and a project called Foge Foge Bandido.
Favorite meal at an LA restaurant?
DelGaudio: Kazu Sushi.
Guimarães: I have not been here time enough to make that call. Too much pressure.
Do you have a key to the Magic Castle? Is it like summer camp? Do you all hang out and have late night dinners there with goblets of wine?
DelGaudio: I think you’re thinking of Medieval Times.
Guimarães: I don't have the key because I lost it. Damn it!
What are some of the most important qualities a magician can possess?
DelGaudio: The best magicians I know are passionately, relentlessly, shamefully, desperately, brutally honest.
Guimarães: Knowledge, commitment and learning how to listen to others including fellow magicians, other performing artists and audiences.
Magic has a very strong community in Los Angeles. Why do you think that is? Where is your number one favorite place in the world to perform?
DelGaudio: The Castle certainly has a lot to do with that, but LA is pretty great, so it’s not surprising there is a sea of talent here. The Geffen is my favorite place to perform, as of now.
Guimarães: I think the Castle has a lot to do with that gathering of people interested in magic. I love to perform in the United States, Spain, Argentina and Japan. Very different audiences from each, but very fun ones overall. But if I had to pick a favorite place, it would still be the place I started performing regularity in. It's called Tertúlia Castelense, near my hometown Porto.
Do you have significant others, and if so, are you always playing tricks on them?
DelGaudio: Yes. No.
Guimarães: I do, but we leave magic out of the equation for most of the time.
"Nothing To Hide" has been extended for nine extra weeks. Do you have any theories about why this show has been so wildly popular? People are flocking to it!
DelGaudio: I think it’s very simple: People love magic, deeply. This show reminds them.
Guimarães: I believe that when people see real magic they really like it. It's an experience that differs from any other thing you can see and experience. I think that's the feeling people get after seeing our show.
We've heard that celebrities like Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes were seen trying to get a spot at the 50-seat theater for your joint show at The Magic Castle. Who makes you star-struck in LA?
DelGaudio: Hmm … I’m not sure I would be “star-struck” as much there are folks I’d love to sit down and chat with. Steve Martin. Artist Chris Burden. JJ Abrams. Quentin Tarantino. Louis C.K.
Guimarães: We had a common friend call them and say, "You have to see this or we are not friends anymore!" They came and they loved it. When you like magic, you like magic. Doesn't matter if you are famous or not. Maria Sharapova came to see our show and at the end asked us to take a picture with her. It sounds ridiculous but, if you think about it, it's not.
There is such a sense of wonder in your show -– I'm sure you hear it every day, but I just could not believe my eyes. What brings out that sense of wonder in you?
DelGaudio: Good art often blows me away. A great live show can really do it for me. "Absinthe" in Vegas kicked my ass. Also, "The Book of Mormon" rocked my world.
Guimarães: Absolutely. There are so many great things about the world we live in that is a shame that they are so covered in bullshit and uninteresting content. But now, in an era where information circulates at the speed of light, we can search for the information we are interested in and enjoy it.
Let’s just say it: you are considered two of the world's most gifted sleight-of-hand artists. When did you know you had made it?
DelGaudio: “Made it?” Not even close. Hell, I’m just getting warmed up.
Guimarães: I think of my life as a process, that's still in the middle. So, I would answer those questions in the future.
What is next for both of you?
DelGaudio: “Nothing to Hide” will most likely be going to New York and I have a few projects I am very excited to begin.
This interview has been edited for length. "Nothing To Hide" runs until March 10, 2013 at the Geffen Playhouse.
My LA is a series of Q&A profiles with our favorite Angelenos. To see others, be sure to check out My LA.