“The closer you are, the less you’ll actually see.” –Daniel Atlas
Pick a card. Look at it, but don’t show me. Okay now, remember it, and put it back in the deck. (Your card is the Jack of Diamonds.) Shuffle it, as many times as you want. Now I’m going to draw your card on my arm with a sharpie.
Is your card the Ace of Hearts?
Now wait, wait, wait, I’m not finished with my drawing. You know that trick where the magician makes a card rise out of the deck? Now I’m going to draw a deck out of that Ace of Hearts card so it looks like one of those 3D boxes you used to always doodle back in elementary school. And then I’m going to shake my arm until…
Until your Jack of Diamonds rises out of the deck of cards.
Who is this guy?
Meet Rexford Pham, or just Rex. He has a day job as a nuclear electrician for the US Navy, but he has a special hobby: magic.
“This was a really hard trick. It was supposed to be a finisher, but the circumstances required me to do it now.” He still got us though.
Rex’s hobby began in 2008 when he was still in high school. His friend introduced him to magic tricks, and just like how you feel right now, he was hooked.
“I asked him if he could teach me, and he just straight up said no,” Rex recalls. “I had to prove myself first.” It’s not unusual that when you see your first private magic show, you’re probably going to ask the magician to teach you how to do that single trick, but magic is more than just one trick: it’s a sacrifice. It’s part of the “Magician’s Code.” If you prove that you’re really serious about learning magic (as in not just as an attempt to look cool), and you can actually put on a promising show, then you’re in.
“I started learning off of YouTube by practicing how to dribble and spin a box of cards just like a basketball.” Ever since he began, Rex has mastered around 30 tricks. “The next trick I’m going to learn is going to involve levitation.”
This next trick involves fire.
“Pick a card,” he says. (Your card is the King of Spades.) “Do you know how to light a lighter?” I didn’t, so he pulled out a lighter and lit it for me.
“Sometimes, you have to burn yourself to find your card.” Then all of a sudden, he began pinching the fire with his bare fingers. “Your card was a spade,” he says, then holds up his thumb. On it is a tiny imprint of that spade. “And,” he continues. “Your card was also a King.”
His fingers are fine, by the way.
“Sometimes when people are feeling down, they ask me for a magic trick,” he says. “It always makes them smile in the end, and that makes me feel happy.”
But believe it or not, Rex doesn’t always have a trick up his sleeve. “Whenever I ask a question, people always think I’m about to do a trick. I’d be asking ‘Where’s my phone guys?’ and they’d be like ‘Wait, is this a magic trick?’ But I just want my phone!”
Rex is just a regular guy. He likes to party and sometimes even gets drunk. “One time, I was at this Halloween party and I almost had a magic battle with this guy named Steven the Magician.” It never happened, but Rex admits that he can still perform magic tricks when he’s drunk. “Only drunk and sober though, never in between.”
Here’s a quick list of fun facts about him:
Favorite trick to perform: A trick that involves taking out a random word (selected by an audience member) out of a book and making it appear on their arm.
First trick ever learned: Making an audience member pick a card out of a deck, look at it, put it back, and have them shuffle it as many times as they want. Then Rex waits to see how long it will take for them to notice that their card is actually hanging out of his mouth (you’d be surprised.)
Finishing trick: Either the book one, or the rising card on his arm.
“What I really want to do is light up someone’s cigarette with a fireball,” he adds.
But unfortunately, as of Feb. 26, Rex will be moving to Japan and staying there for four years. We’ll be sad to see him go. “At least when I come back, I’ll have a lot of new tricks and hopefully be better at it.”
You can find Rex sneaking in some short magic clips on his Instagram: @rexyford. He doesn’t have a magician name yet though. “I’m still working on it,” he says. Any suggestions?