A magician never reveals his secrets. But lucky for us, local king of the birthday party magic circuit, Douglas Flaherty, is ready to spill the beans on how to achieve the perfect balance of creepy and approachable. I headed to a backyard near me to get to the bottom of what makes a birthday party magician just the right amount of creepy.
With a twirl of his waxed mustache and the swish of his Party City cape, Douglas revealed the true secret to achieving his perfectly curated vibes. “So, I start from a place of looking hungover, even if I’m not. I usually am, which helps. But then I get some eyeliner, in the color Jet Black, and apply just enough so that you’re thinking, ‘is that guy wearing eyeliner?’ Just enough of a smudge that you’re drawn into my crystal blue orbs.”
Douglas proceeded to reveal the complex steps of the emotional journey required to delve into such a controversial character in the American birthday party landscape. “I picture Henry Houdini, dying preventably from an untreated ruptured appendix. I channel that anger. That rage. That fear. And then I channel a happy clown. But not a good one. Like, one with a really cheap wig. And it’s in the melding of those two identities that I find the perfect amalgamation of disturbing and entertaining. Disturb-tainment, I call it. Don’t copy that, it’s mine.”
Douglas took a cigarette out of his polyester jacket pocket and lit the wrong end. He did not comment, nor did he react when he put his mouth on the hot part. At this point in the interview, I had stopped asking questions and was instead waiting for his impromptu dialogue. He did not disappoint.
“Yeah, sometimes I scare children. But can I help it if my Criss Angel: Mindfreak vibe is a little intense? No. And housewives love it. What they don’t talk about at magician’s workshops and conventions is that only half the job is appealing to kids; the other half is appealing to moms and gay dads. And let me tell you: I can do both. Oh, I can do both.”
At this time, Douglas took out his cracked iPhone 5s and did a voice command search for Criss Angel, and made me scroll through Google Images for about three minutes.
“I guess I’d say the fine line between creepy and not creepy lies in the amount of eye contact you make while performing sleight of hand. A lot of eye contact? Too much. But some eye contact? There’s the money. Yeah, I don’t have any regrets except for letting my sister die in that house fire. But other than that. I am the perfect birthday party magician.”
That you are, Doug. That you are.