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Vanish Magazine November 2021

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knights at the magic castle




No one will probably ever attempt to imitate the force of nature that is John Kippen, who also recently performed in the Close-Up Gallery. John is one of those rare performers who immediately makes audiences feel comfortable, as we can sense that, no matter what unexpected events are thrown John’s way, he’ll be able to handle them.


I told John, after watching his show, that even with the obnoxious drunk in the front row and a volunteer that seemingly broke one of John’s props, I felt worried about him and that, as an audience member witnessing potentially show-stopping circumstances, I was so grateful for that feeling of comforting confidence. As expected, John summed up how he got to this level with two simple words: flight time.

Owning an IT consulting business for the past 31 years, John has the luxury of being his own boss, but he doesn’t take this benefit for granted. On the contrary, John uses it to his advantage, spending almost every spare moment performing for guests at impromptu tables at The Magic Castle. He is literally at the club almost every night.


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“Magic literally saved my life,” John has often said. In 2002, during a surgical procedure to remove a brain tumor, John’s face was paralyzed on the left side. “It was devastating. I became a total recluse and introvert with intense and extreme depression,” John told me. “Magic was the only way I could interact with people and get myself out of the house.” John first joined the AMA as an associate member before successfully auditioning to become a magician member, and then began busting his chops for every kind of guest at The Castle. He was finally booked in the Close-Up Gallery a few years ago, where he now is regularly scheduled twice a year.


Be warned, John is always paying attention to everyone and everything and has the patience to wait for extraordinary lengths of time before finally using it to create an unforgettable, magical moment. When you see John, ask him about the months he held onto a piece of trivia before incorporating it into a trick that fooled AMA Entertainment Director Jack Goldfinger, or ask John about the unbelievable lengths he went to make a card appear in a fast-food bag down the street.


When I inquired how John prepares for unexpected circumstances, I learned that he has taken classes outside of magic. “Being trained in acting and improv has definitely helped me. My routines, while totally scripted, don’t sound like it, and because I know my scripts backward and forward, I can play with my audience, confident that I can handle any potential surprises.


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