Dear friends, family, & city I love,
I have worked and dreamed about this day for the past 20 years but now that it’s here I have never been more nervous. Just like the first time I walked out on stage I had butterflies and today I have that same feeling. For the past 4 months I have been working on something that happens to be the one thing I have been dreaming about every day since I was twelve years old... but I have a very personal story to tell you first.
I grew up in Lincoln Place, a part of Pittsburgh nobody ever talks about and most have never heard of. I was raised by two working class parents that made sacrifices every day so that they could give my sister and I a better future. They are the real magicians in my family. Mom & Dad told us growing up to be kind to others, value education, work hard and most importantly… to dream. I remember my mom telling me all the time “Lee if you put your mind to it anything is possible." I believed her.
I saw my first magic show when I was 8 years old at the local Moose Lodge holiday party in Hays and remember watching that amazing magician do trick after trick and thinking I want to learn how to do that. I choose to keep that idea to myself that day but it would come back in a very big way. I thought about that magician constantly for the next few months and wished I could go back in time like Marty McFly and watch his show again and again. It was the first time I witnessed magic in real life. I loved that feeling we all feel when we see something we can't explain… every magician becomes obsessed with it and it's why we do what we do.
Christmas two years later is when everything changed… I found out that not only did I have a distant cousin named Robin who was coming to Pittsburgh for the holidays, but that he was also big shot magician from New York City. Best Christmas present ever! Cousin Robin didn’t disappoint, he did a full magic show in our living room, gave me my first magic book, taught me my first card trick and told me the same thing my mom did, that anything is possible. Game. Set. Match. I wanted to be a magician! Thank you Robin.
The next few years were filled with weekend trips with my parents to the Carnegie Library in Homestead to check out every magic book I could get my hands on. (I still have a few of them.. oops) I then discovered The Cuckoo’s Nest magic shop on the South Side and would drop every nickel I had on new magic tricks there each week… it became my second home. Mom would take me to Bloomfield once a month to hang out with other local magicians in Pittsburgh. I could not believe this world was real… It was like a real life Hogwarts but for yinzers. I got to learn from some of the best in Pittsburgh including superstar magician Paul Gertner… who, without knowing it at the time, helped keep a confused sixteen year old’s dream alive. Thank you for all your guidance Paul.
Early on, I performed at the local Pizza Hut in Lincoln Place, did the neighborhood birthday parties, entertained at sports banquets and almost every day at lunch at Baldwin high school. I don't think I ever once turned down an opportunity to perform. I was asked to perform at my own High School prom... and I actually considered it. I used my new talent to make friends and was never ashamed to stand up to people who called me names for being a magician. It gave a shy city kid confidence and over the course of the next 20 years, I would go on to perform thousands of shows in Pittsburgh and around the country for corporations, universities and organizations. I self-produced headlining shows around the city almost every year at various theaters and comedy clubs and people actually came to see me. Magic helped put me through Robert Morris University where I was studying the real meaning to the words “Show-Business”
I guess life has a funny way of coming full circle because just a few miles from where it all began is where I get to start my next chapter. That dream I had when I was twelve was to headline my own Pittsburgh show every weekend someday, and that’s what has now has become a reality.
I have partnered with Toronto based production company Trick Theatre and have officially started my new residency at the Dave & Buster’s Theater at The Waterfront in Homestead. I will be performing my one-man show “Bamboozled” every Friday & Saturday night, two shows a night (8:00 & 10:00 PM), in the 150-seat theater. I get to be home, performing what I love for the people I love in the city that I love… and it doesn’t get better n'at.
Finally, the first magician I ever saw when I was eight years old at that magic show at the Hays Moose Lodge was Pittsburgh’s own Tom Jay. I wanted to extend my sincere gratitude to Tom and his wife Linda, the owners of The Cuckoo’s Nest magic shop, from the bottom of my heart. Your dedication to the art of magic in this city helped me find meaning in my life and the lives of so many other magicians as well. You gave us a home and Tom, you had a profound effect on a skinny 8 year old kid from Lincoln Place who watched you in awe and dreamed about the day I could return the favor to the next generation.
Thank you, all of you, for reading, believing in magic, and believing in me. I hope to see you at a show soon!
Opening night is April 29 and ticketing and links will be available very very soon.
The Pittsburgh Magician