Nick Ivory (not his real name) slinks up to unsuspecting victims at some of San Diego’s classier night spots. After ingratiating himself with a smile and a wink (or two), he proceeds to prey on inebriated minds.
He uses psychological illusion. Persuasion techniques. And perceptual manipulation. Meet Nick Ivory, barroom magician. His Serbian given name is Nenad Plavsic. But it sounds more appropriate to have you mind freaked by a suave sophisticate named Nick Ivory. The 29-year-old also happens to be a classical pianist, and the “Ivory” name came straight off the piano keys.
I was mind-freaked by Ivory on a Wednesday night at Syrah Wine Parlor. After introducing himself at the bar, this conjurer proceeded to change $1 bills into $20s right in front of my eyes. He caused a woman with no discernible paranormal powers to bend a (real) quarter. Somehow, he shook a playing card hard enough to change it from a four to a six of diamonds. And I can’t figure out how he got a card with “Marc” written on it folded and into his own mouth, while we stood dumbfounded just two feet away.
Ivory moved to San Diego from Las Vegas a year ago. “I got jobs in Vegas, but the market is saturated there,” he said. “There aren’t as many magicians working in San Diego.”
Besides scattered corporate gigs (including a July 18 performance at the Playboy Mansion) Ivory is regularly at Stingaree (Friday and Saturday nights) and Hard Rock Hotel’s Intervention Sunday pool party.
He says it’s definitely easier to fool people who’ve had a few drinks. “You can pretend to pull off your finger and people go, ‘Whoa!,’” he said. “But even when I’m at professional events, people in suits act like kids when you do magic…And, yes, I definitely like to mess with peoples’ minds.”
And, no, he won’t tell me how he got the quarter to bend.
Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.