#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Tony Steward (left)

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Tony Steward (left)

#humansofyachting

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Tony is a professional close-up magician who regularly performs on superyachts.

By Dominique Afacan | 12 March 2020

“My father used to do magic for me and my brothers and sisters on Sunday evenings when we were young. That really stuck with me and as I grew up I started teaching myself and doing shows and other bits and pieces. That progressed to weddings and corporate events and then eventually, through word of mouth, I got into the world of VIPs and superyachts. It was a progression that took place over 20 or 30 years.

Today, about 75% of all my work is on superyachts, so I am travelling all the time. I have a team in London who organise all the logistics, so I could be performing on a yacht, then look at my phone and find I have a tender waiting to take me to my next event. One New Year’s Eve, for example, I was in St Barths and did three performances on three different yachts over the course of the night.

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

Most superyacht clients are very fun and relaxed. I work out their needs and preferences beforehand so that they get a totally bespoke show. If they have a particular interest in jewellery or cars, I can incorporate that into the performance. Quite often, I’ll hand a client a balloon for their birthday and when it bursts there’s a bottle of champagne inside. I know how these tricks made me feel the first time I saw them, so every single job I do gives me pleasure as I see people’s reactions when they are seeing it for the first time.

I perform for families too. Teenage kids can sometimes be reluctant and will sit ignoring the performance, looking at their iPhone. I’ll ask to borrow it and within about ten seconds their jaws are on the floor because a miracle has been performed with their own phone. They suddenly want to get involved, which is nice. You can bring them into the group with the adults and it becomes one big, fun, family thing.

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

#humansofyachting – Tony Steward

Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

Before I even get on board, I am in frequent contact with the captain and the pursers. We ask lots of questions to make sure all sorts of sensitivities are taken into account and we’ll have meetings to double-check everything. There’s so much that people don’t see to create a mindblowing situation for whoever has hired me. People have different preferences and I pay attention to that – there’s no point serving a world-class steak to a vegetarian – the same goes for magic! I wear normal clothes when I perform so that I can fit in quite naturally to any environment. If I turned up on a superyacht in a cloak and top hat, I am not sure it would work. Everything that I do is about being calm and relaxing. A lot of my time is spent researching new tricks and effects; there are always new ideas coming in because technology is moving so fast.

I became a member of the Magic Circle about 14 years ago. It is the most prestigious magic club in the world and to get in, you have to sit an exam in front of 30 or 40 magicians. I think I practiced every day for nine or ten months before I took mine. That’s entry level; since then, I have been awarded entry into a smaller group of magicians, within the circle, honoured with the title AIMC (Associate of the Inner Magic Circle). At that level, it’s not so much about the tricks that you do, but the way that you perform them. If there’s a group of five, for example, I’m working out who doesn’t really want to be there. My challenge is to get them desperate to pick a card by the end of it. Seventy-five percent of the time I get that result. There’s a lot of psychology to magic.”

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