One Magic Moment
Boston Magician Pulls Off a Hat Trick

by Dana Bisbee

Magicians are always making things materialize. But one local illusionist's feat has left his colleagues agog.

In the past 15 months, George Saterial has three prestigious conjuring awards in the magic world's equivalent of the Oscars, the Emmys and the Olympics.

Last summer, Saterial won gold medals from both the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. The two groups have awarded a combined total of just seven gold medals in the past 20 years. Saterial is the only magician to win both.

In July, he scored his Olympic medal - a third-place finish at the World Congress of Magic in Portugal. Held every three years, the contest hosts more than 2,500 international illusionists.

``I was just competing to get myself and the act up to a certain caliber,'' said Saterial, one of 10 magicians performing in Boston on Saturday night at ``Magicale.'' The performances will cap a daylong magic expo at the Copley Theater in the New England Life building.

``I just tried to do my best,'' he said. ``I was numb after winning the gold medals. I felt the same way at the World Congress. I just want to do my best. Winning awards is the icing on the cake.''

The particular cake being iced is Saterial's signature routine, a 7-minute performance he calls ``The Clock Act.'' He has spent 12 years perfecting it.

``Performers are often known by one thing they do,'' he said. ``I want people to say, `You're the guy with the clock.' ''

The timepiece in question is a large grandfather clock he built to give the act a unique context. As described in ``Genii,'' a professional magician's magazine, the Clock Act involves appearing and disappearing doves as well as strange goings-on with the clock.

``When I started, it was a generic bird act,'' he said. ``So, when the curtain opened and there was a bird cage onstage, everybody knew what I was going to do. I wanted something unique.''
Saterial, 38, has been a professional magician since age 10.

``Like most kids, I did magic as a hobby,'' he said. ``My folks had a summer home in Wolfeboro (N.H.) and the woman across the street hired me to perform at her grandchild's birthday. She paid me $10 and said, `You're a professional magician now.' ''

He worked his way through college performing magic at restaurants and weekend parties. He graduated from the University of Lowell with a mechanical engineering degree.

But the mechanics he really wanted to engineer were magical. He and his wife, Holly, worked for five years on cruise ships. Now, his stage act is seen on land-based stages worldwide.

``I'm doing better in magic than I would at engineering,'' he said.

The names of the magicians who inspire him are not well-known.

``The magicians I liked growing up were Richard Ross, Shamada from Japan and Norm Neilsen,'' he said. ``They do an act similar to mine. Not big, flashy illusions, but they focus more on the performer and silent acts.''

Saterial advises aspiring magicians to learn more than illusions.

``Learn all you can about performing in general,'' he said. ``A big problem is that everyone focuses on tricks. But you also need performance skills. It's the same as an actor, because it is theater.''

In the end, the audience's desire to believe is the magician's best ally.

``People,'' Saterial said, ``find magic fascinating.''


The Boston Herald
Lifestyles Section

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