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Cosentino - The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness: Interview with WeekendNotes

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He was handcuffed, shackled to a concrete block, and thrown into the Melbourne Aquarium in 2010, but illusionist Cosentino (real name Paul Cosentino) says that performing without a 'safety net' on Dancing With the Stars was far more terrifying.

"I'm used to performing and I do really dangerous stuff with magic," Cosentino told Weekend Notes, "but that's what I do, it's in my bones. Dancing, I have no idea what I'm doing!"

With no previous dance training, save for "imitating Michael Jackson [by] sliding across the tiles in my socks as a kid", Cosentino is out of his comfort zone on the dance show, where he has three or four days to learn a routine before performing it live.

"I'm in control with my [magic] shows but on Dancing With the Stars I'm watching it all unfold with you guys," Cosentino said. "I'm not really 'performing', I'm just trying to get the routine right!"

Dancing With the Stars is just one of Cosentino's television engagements this year. Following the success of The Magic, The Mystery, the Madness: Part One (which was the highest rating show on the night when it aired in August), part two will air on Wednesday, 9 October.

Cosentino says that audiences can expect a 'build' on the previous episode.

"The escapes are more dangerous, the stage illusions are more magical, and the street magic is more baffling," Cosentino said. "[But] we're still working on the same aspects from the first episode. My brothers are still involved and we'll still have the behind the scenes [footage]."

Another new addition will be stunt car driving with V8 supercar driver Rick Kelly.

The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness will then hit the road for a national tour beginning at the end of October.

Cosentino says that the live format and audience participation will make the magic more real.

"When I disappear in front of your eyes and show up in the audience, that's hard to diminish," Cosentino said. "You really start to understand the danger [when] I bring you up on the stage and say, 'Look, there's 18 kitchen knives, they're real and I'm going to stick my head in them.' People are genuinely scared, cause it's genuinely scary."

With the help of events company Live Nation, who have staged performances for Pink, Beyonce and Britney Spears, The Mystery, The Magic, The Madness will hit the road with two semi-trailers.

"This is huge," Cosentino says. "As a kid I always dreamt of having a really large magic show that would tour around the country and because of my fans, my dream has come true."

The entirely self-taught magician discovered the scene when, aged 12, he stumbled upon a book about magic in the library. His first show was making a 20 cent coin disappear for his father, a structural engineer.

"I remember him asking, 'How did you do that?'" Cosentino said. "I wasn't expecting that! I thought, 'I can do something my dad can't!'"

After that he became an 'all consuming monster' obsessed with magic.

"I borrowed as many books about magic as possible and when I'd read everything at the library, I went to other libraries," he said. "There was no Google, no DVDs. People say I'm intense and that's why. I had to do everything myself."

Between Dancing With the Stars and his own shows, Cosentino has also produced a magic kit that will be released at the end of October. Available from Australian Geographic, Toyworld, Toys R Us, and online, Cosentino oversaw the project to ensure that the kits would provide 'the first step for good magic teaching'.

Though he's been compared to Criss Angel and David Blaine, Cosentino's success closely emulates that of his two biggest idols.

"Harry Houdini created the whole hysteria," Cosentino said. "This was before The Beatles, Elvis Presely, Frank Sinatra. There were no rock stars. [Houdini] did that. He was an absolute mega star and an inspiration [for me] as a kid and an adult."

Cosentino was also influenced by David Copperfield, who he saw live about a year after he got into magic.

"He came out with this rock show and I thought, 'Okay, so this is what it's supposed to be,'" Cosentino said.

Dancing With the Stars airs on Seven on Tuesday nights at 7.30pm.

The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness: Part Two airs on Wednesday, 9 October, at 7.30pm.

The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness Australian Tour kicks off in Wollongong on Saturday, 12 October. Tickets can be purchased on Live Nation.
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Why? Amazing escapes, death defying stunts... and the cha cha
Your Comment
fantastic article really enjoyed reading it
by Anne Dignam (score: 2|870) 2778 days ago
Magical conversation. Good on Cosentino for achieving all that he has.
by Happy Mom (score: 2|548) 2781 days ago
An illuminating interview - nice one!
by Jasmine Crittenden (score: 2|144) 2782 days ago
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