In a world where David Copperfield makes the Statue of Liberty disappear and David Blaine survives being entombed in a block of ice, Steve Cohen is just a man in a nice suit. But that’s all he needs to make magic happen.
For 16 years, Cohen — also known as the Millionaires' Magician — performed his show Chamber Magic inside a 35th-floor suite at the Waldorf Astoria (which had a magician in residence since 1902). He doesn’t advertise, but about half a million people have seen his act, including Warren Buffett and Stephen Sondheim. Now that the hotel is closed, he’s moving to the Lotte New York Palace beginning this weekend.
Cohen may have gone to sleep-away magic camp with Blaine, but his act is all about involving the audience, modeled after the illusionists who entertained wealthy European socialites back in the 19th century. It’s intimate, with fewer than 50 people (required to dress in their cocktail party best) seated just feet away from Cohen; by the end of the 90 minute-show, nearly everyone is called on to assist somehow. His tricks focus on sleight of hand and mentalism — what most of us call "mind reading."
Sound too simple? Try not to be impressed when two decks of cards, shuffled by audience members, turn out to be in identical order. Or when Cohen pinpoints a continental U.S. city that a random audience member is thinking of. (How do I know it was random? I chose him.) Or when he tells an audience member her blood type, or how another once swam through a pool of mac ‘n cheese. What accounts for fusing together three rings by simply swirling them in a glass? (“It’s scary,” said a woman in the audience shown her diamond ring linked with another man’s wedding band.)