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Small Business:
Illusions Magic Bar
Spencer Horsman
Interview Date:
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"I was raised as an entertainer. My parents were both clowns who utilized a number of different skills to entertain. It didn't matter if they were doing a magic trick, if they were juggling, if they were doing acrobatics…they were all tools to entertain and provide escapism for people from their everyday thoughts and lives. 

I grew up in a small business family. Both of my parents were self-employed the majority of their lives. When my parents left the circus, they moved here to Baltimore and my dad was picked up by McDonald's to become Ronald McDonald. That lasted for about 22 years but during that time he opened up a magic store and hosted birthday parties here. This was before Party City and Chuck-E-Cheese. So, I started by performing at birthday parties with my dad when I was 6… and now I'm 34."

"When I was old enough, my father and I became business partners and we decided to turn the magic shop into a bar-theater. We designed everything from scratch and built 80% of this place ourselves."

"It’s important to us that our magic show is more than just trick after trick after trick. You learn about us and our history. I even get raw at the end and talk about my father dying from cancer. There's stuff like that that you don't expect to experience during a magic show.

For the last eight years I have done some form of water escape, which is the most dangerous type of escape you can do, anywhere from two to ten times a week. At this point, it's fairly smooth sailing. My wife is the one who has my life in her hands when she locks me in the water tank. But still, something can always go wrong. I’ve had accidents before; I’ve blacked out under water.

I had never successfully performed the water escape that I did for America’s Got Talent: The Champions in January."

"The one that aired was the first successful attempt. The day before, I injured myself and had to get staples in my head. Then the next day, we did a dress run before filming that night and something happened that wasn’t supposed to, and it freaked everyone out, but I recovered from it. It still wasn’t smooth sailing when it was time to film. That’s definitely not ideal. I would have wanted it successfully under my belt a number of times before filming.

I’ve never been a thrill seeker, I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I don’t even drive. I do this because it’s a form of entertainment and, to provide escapism for people, just as my parents trained me. If you do anything dangerous enough times, you're bound to hurt yourself. Even a simple thing like stepping off of a curb, you can break your ankle even though you've done it a thousand times, it’s the same idea."

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Illusions Magic Bar
Founded in 2007 by magician Spencer Horsman and his late father Kenneth Horsman, Illusions is Baltimore’s longest running magic bar and theater. Together they created a unique experience and entertainment venue to surprise and delight visiting audiences year round.
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