By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Michael Carbonaro amazed Atlantans season one with his cool surprise magic tricks season one on TruTV's "Carbonaro Effect," mostly inside the Perimeter at places such as Pancho's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina on Buford Highway and the Georgian Terrace.
For season two, debuting tonight at 10, he had to go further out to seek fresh territory and fresh marks.
"We dug around and we found some terrific new places," said Carbonaro, a boyish 33 year old Long Island native, in a phone interview earlier this month. "We made it out to Lake Lanier. We did something at a golf course even though I had never hit a golf ball in my life!" He also visited Stone Mountain Park and the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville.
More outdoor shoots meant greater challenges: "It's hard trying to hide cameras outside."
Over 13 episodes he shot over 12 weeks earlier this year, he said he and his staff (including some childhood friends and fellow magicians) came up with 136 different effects to make everything look right. He retooled his existing bag of tricks with brand new ones. He even has a special laboratory (actually, a hotel room) to try illusions out before he hits the road.
It's not exactly like James Bond's gadget laboratory. "It's more like my grandpa's shed," Carbonaro said. "It's a disorganized disaster!"
He is old school in one sense: he jots fresh ideas on index cards and organizes them on a big wall, like the FBI piecing together a big crime.
As for the tricks and his wacky explanations behind them, "we really try to push the envelope. How far can we get someone to believe something and take them for a ride?"
And now that people are starting to recognize Carbonaro, he's begun wearing more elaborate disguises. "It's bizarre," he said. "One week, everyone knows who I am. Then the next week, I get away home free!"
Here's a teaser from the first episode about an everlasting juicer and he's in a wig and a hat.
At a Fry's Electronics, he said he wore a blonde wig and as he was doing a trick, one woman actually asked him if he had ever seen "The Carbonaro Effect" because this reminded her of that show. He acted like he had never heard of the show.
Carbonaro has such a winning, easygoing everyman's persona, he easily comes across as that approachable employee at any retail store. "Even before I started 'Carbonaro Effect,' people would come up to me and ask a question and I'd have to say, 'I don't work here,' " he said.
Credit: Rodney Ho
Fan boy of David Copperfield: He has been a magician since he was a child, admiring the likes of Copperfield. And much to his delight, "Copperfield is a fan. He's really sweet. And his magic is so precise. He's mastered the art of stage magic on television."
His favorite first season trick: Convincing customers that special beetles can unscrew bolts. "It had a really cool myth, that they can do this like spiders can spin webs," he said. "We had this most darling man who came in and was so engaged and excited. He started skeptical but by the end, he turned into a seven year old, mouth open, eyes bright. He was in shock, like a kid seeing a balloon for the first time. It was beautiful!"
"The Carbonaro Effect," 10 p.m. Wednesdays, starting July 29, TruTV
About the Author
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.