COSENTINO has always been thought of as an entertaining and extremely talented illusionist and magician within our family. He is after all, arguably Australia’s best.

I remember watching Cosentino in awe when he first came to Mildura, many years ago.

It was before his appearance on Australia’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, before he made any shows on television, before he released his children’s books, before he travelled the globe.

Compared to now, he was relatively unknown, and with the world at his feet.

Costentino’s first TV Series – The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness, produced, starring and written by Cosentino, was a hit with ratings, and the four, one hour episodes averaged a audience of 1.3 million people.

It’s been broadcast in over 40 countries, including China, India and Spain and right across Latin America and South East Asia.

He also has partnered with Scholastic for an eight book deal, with the series targeting eight to 12-year-olds and called “The Mysterious World of Cosentino”.

Cosentino’s award winning live shows are considered an entertainment spectacular and he has received rave reviews and performed to full houses in Australia, Indonesia, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

And notable lastly, but not least, is that Cosentino has been awarded numerous awards, including The Brand Laureate Award, recognising his contribution to the world of illusion, The Levante Award, acknowledging his achievements in both Australia and overseas and The Merlin Award, which he has received numerous times, recognising him as the “most original magician”, “International Magician of the Year” and “International Escape Artist of the Year”.

Although they haven’t been able to see a live show yet, my children, Bohdi and Lucas, have spent hours scrolling through his performances and YouTube clips online.

So when I approached Cosentino’s management and asked if I could interview the magician before his performance in Mildura in May, and they agreed, I had a feeling I might be challenged for interviewing rights.

And sure enough, a few weeks later, I handed over the note pad and recorder to my son, Lucas, who dabbles in magic tricks himself and let him do the talking.

Here’s his interview with the international illusionist, magician and performer – through the eyes of a nine-year-old and the youngest person to ever interview Cosentino.

– ZOEY ANDREWS

Lucas: At what age did you discover magic and how did it happen?

Cos: I became interested, or involved with magic when I was 12.
Believe it or not, I was actually a very shy kid as I had a lot of difficulties learning.
I didn’t learn to read until I was 12.
My mother, was a principal at a school, so you can imagine how challenging that must have been.
She took me to all these specialists who said: ‘Maybe he can’t read because he can’t see properly’, ‘Maybe he can’t read because he can’t hear properly’, but it was nothing to do with that.
My mother took me to the local library, which of course is the last place a kid who can’t read wants to be and I’m looking at books with pictures.
I came across a book with these beautiful pictures of old school magicians and their magic shows, and to me, they looked like comic books.
My mother sees me looking, with this book open, so we take it home and she reads me these adventures, these stories of these great magicians, which was fascinating.
And in the back of the book there was magic tricks.
There was no Google, no YouTube then, so my mother would read these tricks to me, and I would teach myself.
And slowly but surely, through breaking down each word and repetition, through that process I learned to read.
And learning to read led to spelling and writing.
That led to confidence, and in the process of this I learned a very unique skill, which of course was magic. I had no intention of being a magician, I had never seen one on television.
I had no idea what magic was.
I just wanted to learn to read.

Lucas: Can you recall what the first magic trick you did was and who did you do it for?

Cos: My first magic trick was for my father.
He was a structural engineer, he’d make bridges and structures stand up using complicated mathematics.
As a 12 year old boy, he was an absolute genius to me, I didn’t know how he did what he did, and I made a coin vanish, it’s called the French Drop, and my father had never seen magic.
He didn’t know that his son could perform magic.
So the coin vanished and he said to me: ‘How did you do it?’ and I didn’t tell him.
But you can imagine how powerful that felt to a kid who was very shy, would sit up the back of the classroom, who would avoid being asked questions, who couldn’t read.
I made this coin vanish, and my Dad, the genius said: ‘How did you do it?’ – all of a sudden there is a transfer of power because I could do something my father could not.
And that is where the obsession started.

Lucas: What do you like most about being a magician?

Cos: There’s so many things.
As a child, I liked the fact it made me feel confident.
It made me feel powerful.
It allowed me to do things that appeared to be super human.
As an adult now, it’s about seeing the wonder on people’s faces.
The joy it brings.
When you see an audience member gasp, and there are literally gasps from the audience in the show when people are appearing and disappearing, when I borrow people’s wedding bands, when magical things happen.
You hear them gasp, and it is a very powerful thing.
That’s why I enjoy live shows.
I also enjoy the creative process, coming up with new ideas, new tricks and being able to bring whatever I dream up, whatever crazy idea or fantasy I have in my head, I can bring it to fruition, to life.

Lucas: In your early years of magic, did you ever imagine you would be travelling the world with it, doing what you love?

Cos: Once I started to get into magic, when I started to be inspired by and research other magicians, there were ones like David Copperfield, and they all had their own television shows.
So I decided one day I wanted to have my own television show.
It was very difficult because there was not one Australian magician prior to me that did.
That’s like me telling you you are the youngest journalist to interview me, that’s just mind boggling.
To me, the dream just seemed too far fetched, too wild.
So my dream was to have my own TV show, and that came true, multiple times.
That is what I was focused on.
I was never focused on travelling the world, but that was a result of those shows.
I never thought I would be travelling the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, so that’s a huge reward.

Lucas: What can the audience expect from one of your shows?

Cos: It’s roller-coaster ride. I try and write the show like a blockbuster film.
In a really good film you would have action, you’d have a little bit of comedy, a little bit of romance, some humour, nice visuals, so I try and see my show in the same manner.
There are people appearing and disappearing, levitating, then there is the close up magic projected on a screen.
A child comes up on stage and I saw them in half.
There’s crazy death defying escapes where I really put myself in some pretty difficult positions.
It’s a jam packed show where the 90 minutes goes very quickly and you have no time to think, you will say to yourself: ‘How did he do that?’ and by the time you analyse that I am onto the next thing.
People can expect a very fast paced, family friendly show.

Lucas: We see the finished product, but how many hours, and how much work goes into your magic?

Cos: Each illusion takes about three months preparation.
Each escape takes six months.
You have to come up with the idea, you have to draw it up.
If it’s an escape you have to fabricate it, build an apparatus or contraption, and then you practice with it and it doesn’t work, so you rebuild it again.
Once it is working you have a prototype and you have to rehearse it.
You have to add your acting, your costumes, your lights, your sound, the showmanship.
Then you put it in front of an audience.
If I’m holding my breath, I need to train for that.
Just like an athlete. I need to get really fit, I have to get in shape.
And then you have to take all the individual escapes, or illusions and tricks and put them into a 90 minute show, and it needs to be balanced.

Lucas: What is the hardest tick you have done and why was it hard?

Cos: It was an escaped called “Dropped” and it was for my third TV special.
It was inside a perspex bubble and I was handcuffed, chained and locked up and I was dropped inside a drain, 10 metres deep.
On the night before the special, I was practicing it and I went down and I went down to quickly.
I actually blew, ruptured my right ear drum.
So I was under the water, chained and locked up and no-one could get to me.
There wasn’t enough room for any divers in the drain.
When you blow your ear drum you get disorientated, nausea, and after I managed to escape I swum to the top, you could see the blood coming out of my ear.
We cancelled the escape and that was meant to be the ending of the TV show and it never happened.
I went back later, after about seven months of training and did it live, which was even more silly.
But guess what?
I managed to pull it off that time.

Lucas: I’ve watched some of your magic, and especially with the one with you picking locks in water, it worries me that you are going to be alright, are you ever worried?

Cos: No, because if I think about things going wrong it takes your attention and your focus away.
So you practice and you train.
For example, someone who parachutes out of a plane, they don’t think about the parachute not opening.
If they did focus on that they probably wouldn’t jump from the plane.
I don’t focus on it going wrong, I focus on it going right.
However, when it does go wrong, it brings you back to reality and it is very scary.
With lots of practice and training you get caught up in things like: ‘I’m going to hold my breath longer, I’m going to go deeper, I’m going to add more chains and locks’ and then a little thing happens, there might be a little bit of rust and you can’t open a lock, or you might get a little bump on your head, and all of a sudden it brings you back to earth and you think: ‘Oh my gosh, this is really dangerous’.

Lucas: What would you say your biggest achievement as a magician is?

Cos: For me, personally, my TV shows, because no Australian magician had done that before.
It was breaking new ground.
If you ask my mother, the school principal, she would say writing four children’s books for reluctant readers.
She would say that is probably my biggest achievement because as a child I couldn’t read, and then I discovered a a magic book.
Not only did it teach me to read, it gave me my career, my passion and now I have come full circle and am writing books, for children who are also struggling to read.

Lucas: To little people like myself, who are interested in magic, what advice would you have for them to keep practicing?

Cos: It’s not about being the best, or about being fantastic, even impressing people.
It’s about do you enjoy it? Do you enjoy entertaining people?
Do you enjoy practice?
And as a magician, number one – you have to enjoy practice, because it requires a lot of work, and number two – you have to enjoy performing for people, which is the fun part.
Enjoy the process.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be good.
With an art form like magic, it’s about enjoying the process, of entertaining and learning and still to this day, you can probably still hear in my voice, I love what I do, I am very passionate about it.
It’s about finding that joy.
That love.
It’s not about fame, it’s not about money.
It’s about enjoying what you love.

– INTERVIEW BY LUCAS ANDREWS