Richie Magic: A Dedicated Magician and Local Legend


Christopher Zedano

Sophia Van Beek, Copy Editor

One of my first memories in America, having just moved from my 10-year home of Singapore, was walking into the Hocus Pocus Magic Shop where I met Richie Magic. My dad and I, attempting to subdue the loneliness of our first few months in America, would walk into downtown Dobbs Ferry, poking into any store we found interesting.

We always referred to him as “Richie Magic”, for “Richie” was too mundane, too empty. 

Originally a Westchester County Corrections Officer, he quit after 26 years to pursue his life-long passion for magic. He had even legally changed his last name to fit the job description. Despite relying on his act as a source of income, magic was never arduous for him – it was more than just a way to make money.

I remember thinking that the most remarkable thing about him was not that he “performed magic at Beyonce’s birthday”, but that the thin facial hair on his chin was tied into a tight braid. His tricks, although brilliant, were not what distinguished him. Richie, himself, was magical. Behind all the tricks and illusions, was a quirky, truly kind man, doing what he loved.

He showed me card tricks, told me I was smart and made a lot of jokes I could only pretend to understand.  My dad still says that the first time I genuinely smiled since leaving my home was when I met Richie Magic.

Soon after meeting him, he told me about how he recently quit his 40-year smoking habit, because he noticed that people looked up to him. Richie wanted to send the right message to the kids, like myself, who saw him as a role model. He set a world record by snuffing out 200 lit cigarettes in his mouth to make a point. In 2009, outside his Elmhurst magic shop, he performed the impressive feat in front of awed onlookers. He said, according to the New York Daily News, “I want [teens] to know that if you smoke, your mouth will look, feel and smell like a human ashtray”. 

Last summer, on June 21, 2018, he passed away. I didn’t find out until over a year later; I had stopped going to his shop as I got older. But, nearly five years after my first visit, I decided to visit Barbara Magic, his widow. Just as eccentric as her late husband, she wore her bright blond curls and smiled with pride. Barbara possessed the kind of unique beauty that only truly curious, gentle people have. 

I spoke with her for no more than five minutes, and mentioned how meaningful my few interactions with her husband had been. She held back tears and said, “Hearing little stories like the one you just told me helps me get through my hardest days.  Remember to appreciate life because it could change in an instant.” 

Richie Magic didn’t just perform his fantastical illusions and ridiculous stunts because of he could; rather, he was preserving a piece of his youth and inspiring wonder in others. He “fell in love” with magic at a young age, and eventually found his way back to it. “I know that Richie is in heaven–he’s doing magic, he’s hanging out with Houdini,” she said. Richie Magic was a storyteller and his magic was a gift to the community.