Living Illusion: Article
Cutting edge, exciting, high energy, and on the edge of your seat entertainment are words that can be used to describe the magic act of the husband and wife team of Living Illusions. Their show combines illusion, comedy, and escapes all wrapped into an unforgettable message. Kristen Johnson is considered one of North Americas' premier escape artists. They have appeared on Discovery Channel, CBS, Fox and the Travel Channel.
I had the opportunity to sit down with them when they brought their act to my church to help a group of young people raise funds for a youth rally. The youth rally is the creation of Elisabeth Welesko. At the age of 15, she and her friend Rene decided to offer youth in the South Hills of Pittsburgh a weekend of fun entertainment and an encouragement to young people to give their all to Christ. The event, Rock Solid Youth Rally, takes place in the winter when there is little for youth to do. Elizabeth had seen Living Illusions at Creation East in 2004. She told me that she had seen their act and was so impressed and needed a fund raiser for Rock Solid, so she asked them to come and do two shows in mid November of this year. I asked her how long she plans on putting on the Rock Solid Youth Rally and she told me that she will do it as long as the Lord calls her to do it.
I was not only impressed with Living Illusions' act, it was also fun, high energy and exciting. In fact, they gave me a private sample of their work. They had me bind Kristen in chains and padlocks. I was told to put Smith and Wesson handcuffs, the same brand that the police use, on her hands. When she was chained up and couldn't get out, she sat in a metal box. Kevin shut the door and also put a combination lock on the door. I was told that Kristen would get out of the box on her own with no help. I didn't believe that it was possible because the chains that I put on her were so heavy and I knew that they were on securely because I put them on myself. Well, a few minutes later she made her way out of the box and had no chains on her at all. She even opened the combination lock without seeing it. I was amazed. I asked, "How did you do that?" Their response was that the first rule of magicians is to never share their secrets with anyone. So, I didn't get any pointers from them, but I did have an enjoyable time talking to these magicians for Jesus.
I found a couple that have a heart to reach people and touch their lives with the love of Jesus. When they do a show for a church or group, even secular groups, they spend time with the people and get to know them. They do not have the desire to be treated as celebrities, but they want to be known as approachable real people to their audience. They do shows for all types of people and situations, from church shows to fund raisers for public schools. They have even done shows for corporate clients. They have been to Australia during the Olympics in Sydney, where they did street acts. They were married during that trip. They had met so many people during that trip and all wanted to join them for their nuptials, but they decided on a private, intimate wedding. I can see why everyone wanted to join them, these people are very likable.They told me a story that showed me the character of these magicians and that showed me that people are very important to them. They like to use a lot of audience participation during their act, but as Kevin explained when you do that you sometimes open yourself up to some interesting situations. They were doing a show and asked for someone with a $20.00 bill and Kevin chose a man that he described as special. Now for this act they are playing a game show and eventually at the end of the act the person who gave the $20.00 bill gets it back from a very unexpected place. During this act he walked up the steps to the stage with this man and asked the man for the bill. The man had the mentality of a child and Kevin found that he was joking around and didn't have a $20.00 bill. So Kevin sent the man back into the audience to find someone with a $20.00 bill and he went and got someone and comes back on stage with them. Kevin had actually expected the man to go and get someone from the audience and not come back but since the man came back on stage, Kevin included the special man in the act by letting him hold a card, which he was too excited to keep a secret from the audience. The act was all but ruined, but when it was all over the audience showed Kevin how much they appreciated the respect and honor that he had given the man.
This is how these people treat everyone. They will often times, when their schedule permits, spend extra time before and the day after a show to hang with the people that they are doing the show with. They have found that the time that they spend with people that is not on stage is where the bulk of their ministry takes place. In fact, a woman with the Salvation Army told them that they pay for the ministry time before and after the show and that the show is just the icing on the cake. Their goal is to become known as the people who are fun and easy to work with. They truly have a servant's heart and have humbled themselves to help people as they travel. After one show a man got his car stuck in the mud and they stayed to help the man out of the predicament.
When I asked them how they deal with their fame, Kristen surprisingly responded, "We aren't famous?" They are humble and have a heart to reach young people. They said that they were looking for a way to reach young people and through open and closed doors they just sort of morphed into Living Illusions. Kevin had gone to a magic convention with Kristen and her mother and came home deciding to pursue magic and since that day he has done that. These people answer every email that they receive.
Check out their web site at www.livingillusions.com. They can be booked for corporate events, fund raising for the public and private sector, churches and more. They are fun and would be a draw for any event. To book The Living Illusions show for 2005 you'll need to hurry. Their schedule is filling fast.
Photos © Living Illusions or the respective owner.
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