In My Mind – Virtual Magic Show
A Benefit Show for Stop AAPI Hate
Spotlight with Dennis Kim
Presented by UMass Amherst – Xi Chapter – Pi Delta Psi Fraternity
The brothers of UMass Amherst – Xi Chapter – Pi Delta Psi Fraternity are joining with alumnus brother Dennis Kim to put on a #VirtualMagicShow to benefit #StopAAPIHate to raise awareness regarding the rise of hate crime against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this country. 75% of all proceeds will go towards the non-profit Stop AAPI Hate. There are 250 tickets to each of the three 1-hour long shows.
Sun, April 25th @ 7:45PM ET
Sun, May 2nd @ 7:45PM ET
Sun, May 3rd @ 7:45PM ET
Price: $25 per household, $20 with student ID
Brother Spotlight – Dennis Kim:
Tell us about your background:
I’m a 26-year old Korean-American born and raised in New York. I lived here my entire life except for when I went to school at UMass Amherst. I always loved performing magic, ever since I was just 10 years old, but knew pursuing it as a career was a mere fantasy. So, I studied nutrition in hopes to become a dietitian. However, I had a gut feeling that I would not be satisfied pursuing it only a few weeks away from graduating. So, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my heart’s calling to become a professional magician.
What can viewers expect at the upcoming show?
It’s understandable that viewers may not know what to expect. A full-production virtual magic show is rare to come by in public form, as most of them are for private corporate events and the likes.
Viewers at home can expect to enjoy the show as they would a movie – but some audience members will be called upon to participate to be the determining factors to how the illusions in the show go! It’s a live, interactive performance over Zoom that examines the art of magic through my perspective. Don’t be fooled – this is not your run-of-the-mill magic show that you may picture in your head of a sort of stuntman at a circus with bright red curtains. The illusions presented will go deep and introduce viewers to the impossible, illusory nature of reality.
I’ve always wanted to capture exactly what I find so beautiful about the fooling nature of magic, and the astonishment that deception can bring when used for entertainment. With a show built upon the premise of my audience peering into my mind to see its inner workings on my craft, I feel confident to say I’ve satisfied that endeavor and am excited to deliver my best work yet.
Why is this issue important to you?
This issue is important to me because this is the first time in my life where I feel uncomfortable in my own existence as an Asian. I’ve admittedly grown up in privilege to be at a school district that was very culturally and ethnically diverse. I never experienced adverse discrimination as a kid, which I’ve understood to be an uncommon, fortunate circumstance.
It’s sad to hear of so many incidents of hate crimes against Asians in this country. This doesn’t just affect those families we hear about and see on social media – it affects our very own too. My mother is afraid. I fear for her wellbeing too. She worries for her sons as well. The fact that my brothers and I were born in America, yet are susceptible to being treated like we don’t belong here speaks volumes about how this country is not yet ready to be actualized in its ideal form – to live and thrive among diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.
The silver lining, I suppose, is this whole situation has allowed me to further empathize and, dare I say, better understand how African-Americans feel and have felt under their oppression in this country.
Though this country is far from truly moving past systemic racism and ethnic hate, the only way we can move forwards is to take part in making an impact to create a platform in raising awareness and creating resources for our communities. I’m proud that Asian-Americans today are more vocal and stand their ground, contrary to the stereotype that we are weak, docile, submissive, soft-spoken people.
I think of it this way – our immigrant-generation parents have borne the burden of sacrificing themselves to secure our futures, and many of us who are first-generation Asian-Americans now bear the burden of withstanding the increasingly-apparent societal inequality we are faced with. Perhaps this sort of trend of bearing different burdens is inevitable among different generations of people in a country, and so we need to set an example for future generations to come, so that they may do the same when it’s time for them to step up.
Tell us some of your favorite memories of Pi Delta Psi:
There isn’t one particular memory that sticks out as a favorite – it’s more of the feeling of nostalgia I get when I revisit them in my mind! I loved being an active in college because it opened up the ability to meet so many people that I could not only laugh with, but also find deeper connections with in sharing the common struggles growing up as a first generation Asian-American. I’ve been grateful to be able to network with not only people in Massachusetts, but also New York.
That’s what was and is so special about being a part of the fraternity – it opens us up to the possibility of networking with people that may change our entire life. Heck, it led me to meet my now-girlfriend who is a sister of Sigma Psi Zeta at the University of Buffalo, who I met because she hired me to teach magic to students at a summer camp she was running. Without that happening, I probably never would have pursued magic as a career. The world works in mysterious ways!
Why did you join Pi Delta Psi?
I joined Pi Delta Psi because I wanted to find belonging to a community. I looked up to my big bro who served to be a huge role model for me. I saw the potential of not only fun and memories that could be made with a lasting brotherhood and friendship, but also a catalyst to personal growth in being able to lift each other up to become the best versions of ourselves.
Tell us about your journey into the magic entertainment business:
My untimely realization of not wanting to pursue what I studied all throughout college was met with the fortunate opportunity in June 2017 to be a part-time magic teacher at a summer program in Flushing, New York. I figured that I needed this time to figure my life out upon graduating, and came to find that everyone loved my magic. When that program was over, I was once again met with the realization that this wasn’t a viable career choice. I took an insurance job so as to start a realistic career and, thus, enter adulthood.
That was one of the most unhappiest times of my life. I was met with my own contemplations about what pursuing magic could really look like. All I knew was that as the weeks went by, my creativity was not being utilized and was being sapped away by the burnout of hating what I did. Within just under a year of working that job, I quit to go back to the summer program to teach magic in June 2018. I utilized almost every waking hour outside of that part-time job to grind on practicing my material, putting out social media content, and marketing myself to open as many doors of opportunity as possible.
In September 2018, I was contacted to be a featured performer for a magic-themed pop-up attraction in Manhattan. Although it was a small gig every Friday for just one month, I treated it like it was the most important thing ever. One Friday, an audience member suggested that I reach out to the newly opened Museum of Illusions downtown. I jumped on that and was the first to show up. I performed a set for the branch owner, which landed me a recurring gig in October as a head entertainer every weekend for a few hours at a time. There, I performed for literally hundreds of people every weekend and attracted a line of people that literally wrapped around 14th St. and 8th Ave. I continued to grind and network with others to learn more about the entertainment industry. I had my friends film videos of me performing to put on social media.
All of that grinding paid off in March 2019 when I was noticed and brought onto a team to consult and assist on “The Magician at the Nomad Hotel Starring Dan White” in conjunction with Theory11, one of the most in-demand shows in all of New York City. I had already known about everyone on the team because they were all established figures in the magic industry that I grew up looking up to. This was an absolute dream to me.
I took this consulting work as a sort of apprenticeship to learn about the best magic in the world. I was working with a team of people who have worked with David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Dynamo. Surely, if I was going to make it, the secrets to do so were right in front of me.
We did six – sometimes seven – shows a week, every week. Moreover, I flew with my team to do various events, including for multi-billionaire client GFP Foundation in Illinois in October, and for American Express at CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January 2020. I eventually consulted on Dan White’s 12th appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in March.
Throughout 2019, I also continued to book private events to perform at, and some consulting opportunities for other magician friends of mine, including for a private performance at Vaynermedia, Gary Vaynerchuk’s main headquarters.
The Nomad show ran just over 1100 shows before COVID-19 shut everything down. Since November, we started running “The Magician Online” with the same team at Theory11 and created the uncontested #1 virtual magic show, and one of the best virtual entertainment options worldwide, attracting viewers such as former President Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, current Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Kendall Jenner, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Chris Rock, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, 2Chainz, Paula Abdul, Jesse Eisenberg, Reese Witherspoon, James Corden, Michael Buble…the list goes on. Since we started the virtual show, we already performed over 100 successful shows and plan to continue doing so until we can open up our live show again.
I’ve become great friends with everyone on my team and continue to seek their mentorship. I’m absolutely grateful to already have solid connections with figures that are and have been at the top of the magic industry in just the first few years of my career as a magician, but I know that this was by no mistake.