Magician and mentalist Steve Cohen has made a name for himself entertaining some of the wealthiest, most well-known people on the planet, from Warren Buffett to Woody Allen. The 43-year-old parlor magician has performed his show, Chamber Magic, at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan for the past 14 years. But the Chappaqua native started his career on a much smaller stage when he began performing at age 10 throughout Westchester County at birthday parties, libraries, and Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquets.
Q: Do you ever get star-struck while performing?
The only time I was rattled was when Woody Allen came to the show. I grew up watching his movies and couldn’t believe he was in my audience! I was thrilled when he gave me a stamp of approval afterward—he wrote in the guestbook that seeing me perform was ‘like a religious experience.’
Q: You describe your style of magic as a thinking man’s magic, but have you ever been tempted to cross over into the flashy side of magic?
Big, flashy magic certainly surprises you in the moment, but it rarely lingers with you after the performance. When I designed my show, I wanted to create seemingly impossible moments that guests would talk about for years afterward.
Q: You have also been called a gifted mentalist. Do you find yourself constantly reading your friends and family, or are you able to turn it off?
I don’t read the minds of people sitting at the next table at Starbucks. But given the right conditions, I can reveal the hidden thoughts of a single person or an entire room of guests.
Q: What is your signature trick?
‘Think-A-Drink.’ I show the audience a silver teapot and ask audience members to call out their favorite drinks. One by one, I pour each beverage out of the same teapot. People have asked for drinks from places like India and Brazil, and I have yet to be stumped.