"I saw the coin melt into the glass’s base, fall inside its stem, and hit the table top beneath it. The magician let me examine everything. I knew then that magic was something that was always going to be with me. I wanted to make other people feel the awe I was experiencing.”
Peter practiced his illusions in front of a three-way mirror he had set up in an unused storage room in his house. When he felt he was good enough, he started giving public performances. The difference between practicing for the mirror and performing for audiences?
"Mirrors don’t applaud,” says Peter.
He continues: “Another important difference is that by performing before people I learned that entertaining them is as important as amazing them. Audiences want to have a good time as much as they want to be astonished.”
Peter’s public performances also provided him with an unexpected benefit: “I went from being a shy fat kid to being an outgoing fat kid. Magic made me popular, and that bolstered my confidence. Even adults listened to what I had to say.”
Word about his talent spread to the magic community. Peter was invited to perform for, and learn from, some of magic’s most venerable insiders, including Dai Vernon, Ed Marlo, and Roger Klause. He also contributed illusions to The Necromancer - an underground newsletter that has since achieved legendary status.
Throughout his teenage years, Peter built up his act. One addition was humor. He added the kind of wit to his performances that would eventually turn him a headliner in major comedy clubs, like The Improv, and land him on network TV shows, like ABC’s America’s Funniest People.
As Peter’s magic skills continued to develop, he received a degree in International Business from the University of Texas, and began a career in industrial sales - first in the automotive industry, then in computers. Was what he learned in school and on the job helpful to him?
“My education and sales career gave me a tremendous business foundation,” he says. “I learned how money works on a grand societal scale, and how it works when you’re belly-to-belly with a prospect. I still use those principles to win jobs today. What’s more, I teach many of those same principles to corporations when they hire me to deliver a speech.”
In his mid-twenties, Peter decided to devote his life exclusively to magic. He quit his sales career, and became in-house magician at Houston’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Was he a strong performer?
Sharon Middleton, a hi-tech businessperson who later become a regular client, described one of his miracles this way:
“He asked me to think of a number from 1 to 1000. Then, he pulled out an envelope and dropped it on the table. He said, ‘Last night I had a dream I’d meet you here tonight. In the dream, I heard you call out a number. I wrote that number on a card and stuck it inside this envelope. Let’s see if I was right.’ I pulled out the card. It was my number! I’d never seen anything like that.”
Peter developed a following. He performed for Secretary of State James Baker, the President of OPEC, and, in Peter’s words, “most of the millionaires, billionaires, and country-club members in Texas.” He even did magic for Muhammad Ali, who remembered seeing Peter’s performance fifteen years later.
When Peter was thirty, he moved to Dallas to become an in-house magician at the prestigious Anatole Hotel. While in Dallas, he also became an accomplished trade show performer, representing companies like Exxon, Frito-Lay, IBM, Pepsi, Tandy, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol-Myers-Squibb. Peter and his magic built crowds, created buzz, and secured prospects for his clients.
Is performing at a trade show different from performing in more intimate settings? “At a trade show,” says Peter, “you need to be louder, more energetic. But the performance still needs to center on people. In this case, the prospects visiting the show.
“What I do is make them laugh. If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy.
“People laugh when they see old things in new ways. It’s like these Truths open up for them.
“So, when I’m at a trade show, or when I sell, or give a speech, or facilitate at a meeting, I always try to get people laughing. If they’re laughing, they’re thinking and connecting. If they’re laughing, they feel good about themselves, me, and the company I’m representing.”
Peter continues doing corporate work, but also finds himself in demand as a society performer. Recently, he entertained at private parties along with Robin Williams and The Rolling Stones.
How does Peter describe his party performances? “I call myself ‘the Ultimate Ice Breaker." You have me at a party, and you can relax. It’s going to be a success. The more sophisticated the crowd, the better.
“Magic is a unique bonding experience for guests. They form into groups to watch sleight of hand. They see illusions with cards, coins, and borrowed objects. Mostly, though, they laugh and have fun. Isn’t that what a party is all about, no matter how upscale?”
Peter is a member of the Academy of Magical Arts, and has twice been nominated for “Magician of the Year” for his performances at Hollywood’s legendary private club, The Magic Castle.
Peter moved his company from Dallas to Las Vegas in 2002. He has been a consultant to several of the headline acts working the Strip, and has himself performed at most of the city’s major casinos, hotels, and trade show venues.