Reporter Amy Steele, The
Mike Norden's two Chihuahuas are named after famous magicians, Carter the Great and Alexander the Man Who Knows, and he got married on Houdini's birthday.
Those are just a couple indications of how central magic is to Norden's life. The Maple Ridge resident has been making a living at it for the past five years, predominantly as a children's magician.
He describes himself as a "late bloomer" who didn't get into magic until he was 24. During a trip to Disneyland he decided to spend a day in a magic shop. At the end of the day he'd bought a magic kit and was hooked.
He started doing magic for his nieces and nephews and one of them told a teacher they had an uncle who was a magician. He was invited to come to the school to perform some tricks. Norden didn't know anything but card tricks at that time so he had to go and buy some props for children.
After that his career was launched through word of mouth.
"It just spiraled. It just went crazy," said Norden. "Everybody's always put children's entertainment at the low end of the magic rung but it consistently gives me work throughout the year and it's what I love to do."
He knows he could make more money doing magic for adults on stage or at corporate events but he loves working with kids.
"They're there to believe. They believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny so when I do a trick they believe," he said.
However, he also acknowledges that some bratty kids can sometimes be challenging to work with.
He's been kicked and had things thrown at him. The worst situation was when a kid knocked all of his props into a pool.
"That made the rest of the show difficult and of course what do you want to do? You want to take the kid and throw him into the pool too. You can't do that mind you," joked Norden.
"Usually when you have a party you have 20 kids and I'd say eight out of 10 times I perform at a party and everything is beautiful and wonderful," he said.
There are memorable moments when he really connects with a kid. His favourite story is how he bonded with a kid with a stutter. One of the shticks in his shows is that he can't pronounce the word balloon. The kid with the stutter approached him afterwards and taught him how to say it properly. His mother then came up in tears because she told Norden that her son didn't usually participate or communicate in public because he was embarrassed by his stutter.
Norden's work week tends to be busiest on the weekends when he does children's parties. He also performs at schools and daycares during the week.
He runs an anti-bullying program in schools and a literary program at libraries, which he incorporates magic into. Norden also does magic at weddings and does a gospel magic show at churches with a friend.
He has several websites, including his own and the Vancouver Magic Circle's. He estimates he spends a couple hours on weeknights working on marketing.
Magic is wound into most aspects of his life, including vacations. He and his wife usually go on working vacations such as magic conventions in places like Vegas or a cruise to Mexico.
He admits there can be slow months when there's not much money coming in but says making a living as a magician is entirely feasible.
"It's the greatest job in the world," said Norden.
Norden dreams of being the inspiration for even one kid to become a professional magician in the future.
Norden has won numerous awards for his magic! he can be reached at 604-916-9879 or visit his website at www.magicshows.ca