We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Cohen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Connection. It’s hard to care about something without a connection, and connection allows endless opportunities. As a magician, I not only love magic and performing magic, but I love the opportunities for connection. One of the biggest reasons I perform close-up magic versus stage magic or other types of magic is because I love connecting with people in intimate settings, and learning more about what makes each person unique. If I invest time in getting to know people, they generally invest time in me, allowing me the opportunity to share my magic with them. The reciprocal relationship allows for connection, new and impossible moments, and a true bond. I’m not in magic to have the spotlight on myself, but rather I choose to take on the responsibility of being the facilitator who sets up the conditions for others to experience their own magical moments.
Social impact: how does your business help the community or the world?
One of the many reasons I love having another career on top of magic is having the financial stability to oftentimes perform magic for causes I believe in, either pro-bono, or for a lot less than my normal rates. Some of the causes and organizations I’ve performed for are the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), the Down Syndrome Association, WriteGirl, Girl Scouts, and Miller Children’s Hospital. Sharing my magic with others allows people to escape reality for a few minutes and enter a world of impossibility and astonishment.
One of the biggest risks for me is balancing two careers. My full-time job needs to have an amazing work-life balance so that if I commit to performing on a given evening or need to practice, my other job doesn’t get in the way. When people work a lot, they tend to sacrifice other elements of their lives such as spending time with family and friends, and so balancing two careers is a risk in the sense of maintaining a work-life balance overall versus having just a work-work life. Thankfully I have a very supportive network of friends and family.
Why do you do what you do?
I am a magician, and I perform tricks, but without meaning, there is no magic. Magic in the literal sense– card tricks, sawing a person in half, or levitating objects, has helped me appreciate magic in the figurative sense– the connection two people share, a beautiful sunset, an emotional snapshot, or a moment in time. These are all magical even without the tricks, because they’re meaningful. For me, performing magic is not about deception, but rather it is about the power to make others feel. It is the power to inspire, stretch the imagination, create meaning, and cause wonder. Though everything has a logical explanation, we label things we don’t understand as magic. What makes them magical is the meaning behind them.
I became a magician because of the meaning behind magic and the childlike wonder associated with experiencing the impossible. I love creating connections with people and I love helping others smile. I’m in magic because I enjoy being part of something that has no bounds, something that is spread among people from different ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, countries, languages, heritages, etc. Magic is something that brings people together and I cherish having a role in that. Being a magician helps me give this experience to others, and is about helping others feel something they haven’t necessarily felt before. When I perform, I’m on the side of the spectators. It’s not me vs. them, but rather it’s me with them. We experience the magic together and share so much laughter and fun in the process.
There are so many different areas of magic magicians can focus on: stage, parlour, closeup, mentalism, childrens’ magic… just to name a few. The way I like to explain the different types of magic are in terms of genres. A sci-fi writer doesn’t necessarily aspire to be a romantic novelist, and a history writer doesn’t always dream of becoming a self-help author. Different genres in books and film, are similar to different categories of magic. They’re different from one another, and one isn’t better or worse than another. People ask me why I chose Closeup Magic and the answer is simple to me: Closeup magic involves interacting intimately with people, and since each person is so unique, I never know how he/she/they will react to something. Even if I perform the same set of tricks 200 times in a row to different groups of people, no two performances are the same – people, environments, and moods all differ from performance to performance… and I LOVE that. People fascinate me, and I love having moments with people, where I learn just a little bit more about them. Surface-level relationships are hard for me; I crave connection. In regards to props, there’s also something really beautiful about making magic with simple, everyday objects: cards, coins, rubber bands, etc. Magic is about making the impossible happen, and when people are familiar with objects, and then something unique and impossible happens, it warps whatever information they have in their brain for how something is “supposed to work.” I enjoy helping people think differently. Those moments, connections, and feelings are a few of the reasons why I absolutely love and perform closeup magic.
The most important factor behind my success are my spectators. Without them, I’d be performing magic just for myself, which is something I already do a lot of while I’m practicing. With my spectators being the most important factor behind my success, it’s crucial to treat them with respect, something a lot of performers don’t do. Something I think a lot about is this: Before a performance, I know that I’m about to perform and am prepared to do so, however before an event where I’m performing, people typically don’t know that they could be helping a magician by participating. It’s extremely nerve-wracking to be put on the spot, so it’s imperative for me to make sure whoever is assisting me feels extremely confident and supported. My job is to make them look good.
Because I perform magic for the love of it, and not just for the money, I know to keep going as long as I’m happy and enjoying what I’m doing. If I started to not like it or if it was detrimental in any way, I wouldn’t necessarily give up completely, but I’d definitely put it on the back burner.
Balance is incredibly important and is something I haven’t always had nor always understood. With balance, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is giving yourself grace. It’s common to believe that you’re not doing enough with x or that you could be trying harder with y, but understanding that life and the encompassing responsibilities ebb and flow is extremely important. For example, I used to feel extremely guilty watching tv, when I could be reading a magic book or practicing instead, but I’ve come to realize that having downtime is crucial for me. If I’m constantly going at a million miles per minute, when it comes time to perform, I start the event feeling drained, which is never a good feeling. It’s also extremely hard to think creatively if I don’t give myself space to think. Giving myself downtime ends up being more beneficial in the long run and helps me feel energized and innovigorated.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Southern California is amazing. You can drive a couple hours or less and you can be at the beach, in the desert, in the mountains, in wine country, etc. I believe it’s important for people to experience things like concerts, outdoor movies, shopping, and good food in the city as well as elements such as nature outside the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my friends and family who are incredibly supportive.
Other: TikTok – www.TikTok.com/@MagicLauren.com
Daniel Severino, Ann Ferguson