Person of Interest: Multitalented Magician Naathan Phan

Some can sing opera’s stirring “Nessun Dorma.” Some can escape a straitjacket. Anaheim’s Naathan Phan can do both—at the same time.
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

What sparked your interest in magic?

My grandfather. He loved practical jokes and magic. He knew only two tricks, but that’s all it took. I knew whatever I ended up doing, I’d be performing in some way. So far I’ve been on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “Masters of Illusion.” I’m grateful for the many incredible things that have happened to me.

Favorite way to pay it forward?

I usually have a deck of cards in my pocket; it’s standard for magicians. I’ll be sitting somewhere—maybe at the airport, shuffling or practicing—and someone will come up and ask me if I’m a magician. Then it’s like, here we go. It’s fun when people gather round and look so amazed, especially the kids. With great power comes great responsibility, right? Or with great personal skills comes a great need to show off at all times!  

What other talents do you have up your sleeve?

Singing, acting, writing—I majored in creative writing at the Orange County School of the Arts. I’ve also done stand-up comedy and improv. It’s important to practice in front of live audiences as much as possible—more stage time, more time to get the feeling of the words in your mouth, to feel the timing of it. The more you do it, the more bulletproof the act gets. 

Advice for would-be wizards?

Any magician will tell you that there are only eight kinds of magic tricks. At the end of the day, you have to find a way to make it original, make it yours. We already have a David Copperfield. We already have a Lance Burton. But what we don’t have is you.

See him!

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