Student magician dazzles the crowds on and off campus

Magician and Pierce College student John Accardo lets his deck fly by the mall of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., Photo: Nicolas Heredia
Magician and Pierce College student John Accardo lets his deck fly by the mall of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., Photo: Nicolas Heredia

It has been said that all one needs is a bit of magic, and this Pierce College student makes the magic happen.

John Accardo, a 20-year-old history major and junior magician, is performing in the Close-Up Gallery of The Magic Castle at the end of May.

“My dad had an interest in magic,” Accardo said. “He had about 10 books and DVD’S so when I got into this I had a whole library in my house I could go to. That’s how I kept growing until I found out about the Junior Program at The Magic Castle.”

While continuing to practice his craft in hopes of joining the Junior Program, Accardo began to frequent magic shops where he found a postcard of magician Shoot Ogawa advertising lessons.

“If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have got into the Junior Program,” Accardo said. “It was all him.”

Accardo grew to see Ogawa as a mentor and was invited to Ogawa’s home country of Japan in 2011 to compete in the Magic Masters Open where he won the junior competition.

“He is very talented and such a good person,” Ogawa said. “We need young talent that can show passion and have influence. I’m really happy because he’s a student of mine and we recognized him early on.”

That passion translates to every day life for Accardo and he is excited to share his talents everywhere, even on the Pierce College Mall. He performed a brief card trick for students Naama Abraham, 22, and Paniz Chavol, 20.

The trick involved Abraham writing her name on a card which was then folded into quarters, while Accardo wrote his on another. As she held her card in her clamped hands, Accardo turned his card face down and tapped it against her hands, and poof: they had switched.

He now had her signed card in his hand and in her hands she held his card folded up.

“That was so good. I have no how idea how he did that,” Abraham said. “That was amazing.”

Audience reactions like that is one of the many reasons Accardo loves to perform. He wants to share that thrilling feeling with as many people as possible.

“Magic is so unusual,” Accardo said. “I think that feeling you get when you see a truly amazing effect that just completely baffles you, just an incredible effect, is unlike any other feeling in the world. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

The Academy of Magical Arts recognized Accardo’s talent as a performer at The Orpheum in Los Angeles April 13 where he and three fellow junior magicians were given the Junior Achievement Award.

“This year is his last year in the program and he was being recognized for being an exceptional junior magician,” said Donna Accardo, chair of the English Department and John’s mother. “He takes so much joy in performing and has such a fascination with magic.”

Last year Accardo performed at The Magic Castle for seven days, a rare feat considering evening performers have to be 21 and at the time he was only 19. The Magic Castle has once again invited him to perform another engagement at the age of 20, from May 29 through June 1.

He has been asked to be a performer in the “early early” show in the Close-Up Gallery from 5 – 7 p.m Thursday through Sunday, the four most crowded days.

While preparing for his stint in the Up-Close Gallery, Accardo is also preparing his stage act to be filmed by the ABC late night news program Nightline, for an upcoming segment on The Magic Castle. They will be filming to showcase Accardo’s transition from close-up to the stage.

“The focus is going to be on auditioning for, instead of the Close-Up Gallery, the stage route in The Palace of Mystery. So I came up with a whole new act,” Accardo said. “On Tuesday they’re going to film my audition and talk to me.”