Sleight-of-hand man: MetroWest resident lives a life of magic
A simple coin trick from his grandfather was an early inspiration for Michael Matson’s lifelong career in magic.
| 4:01 p.m. June 19, 2019
When Michael Matson was about 3 year old, his grandfather used to astonish him by pulling coins out of his ear.
“I was tricked into (magic) by my grandpa,” he said. “He started me off on the whole magic thing. When I was very young, he would do things like pull quarters from my ear, which I immediately saw as, ‘You can make money doing that?’ That got me hooked.”
That simple, sleight-of-hand trick ended up being his earliest inspiration to pursue a career of illusions and entertainment. Today, Matson makes his living through the many different forms of magic. From card tricks and close-up magic to full-scale stage illusions, Matson proudly calls himself a “general practitioner” of magic. He performs in a number of events and private shows, and even has a weekly performance Fridays at Terramia Italian Ristorante & Wine Bar in Altamonte Springs.
Originally from southern New Jersey, Matson, 36, moved to the area in 2012. The MetroWest resident worked at the magic shop in Universal Studios for about three years before it was moved out of the theme park. Prior to working at Universal, Matson worked his magic at the largest Toys “R” Us store in Times Square in New York City. He held that post working under Geoffrey the Giraffe for about six years before moving to the area.
“We realized it’s way too cold in New York, so we moved here where all the fun and entertainment is,” Matson said. “My wife got a job at Disney, and I got a job at Universal Studios. … Of course, the cost of living is always increasing and Toys “R” Us closed two years after we got here, so it was a good time to move. (We moved here) for the entertainment and for the weather.”
Although he was first introduced to magic at age 3, Matson didn’t start honing his craft until he was 5. At that time, his father was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he took to magic to help him cope with his father’s illness.
“When you’re very young, and you’re confronted with mortality and death and somebody close to you having an illness that could be fatal, you have to find some sort of escape,” Matson said. “I naturally gravitated towards magic, and I just found that magic was a really great escape with what was happening in that part of my life. I also found it to be really inspiring that things that seem impossible could actually be possible — it’s just a matter of perspective and how you look at it.”
Fortunately, his father pulled through and beat the cancer. His father later taught him how to shuffle a deck of cards, which led him to try card tricks. Then, Matson began what would become a lifelong career in magic. He frequently visited his local library and voraciously studied every single book about magic he could find.
“I read so many books that my library basically went, ‘Nobody else is taking these (books) out. Why don’t we just give these to you?’” Matson said. “So they gave to me about six or seven magic books, because, apparently I was the only one who was taking them out for about a five-year period.”
Eventually, Matson found a mentor who helped him take his magic to a new level. He began his magic business as a teenager by performing in birthday parties for children. He still does his magic at birthday parties today, but those aren’t the only places he performs, and he’s also a mentor himself. When he’s not performing magic, he acts as a consultant for all things related to magic.
“It got to a point where I was knowledgeable enough to make up my own magic tricks and consult for other magicians,” he said. “It’s the only thing I know. … It just naturally gravitated to a business for me.”