Middle Village's Rene Clement was named 2017 Magician of the Year by the Society of American Magicians for his work mentoring kids aged 7-17 years old. The prestigious organization was once helmed by Harry Houdini. Rene is best known for combining comedy with his card tricks. We got the opportunity to chat with him recently.
Q. Did you grow up in the area?
Yes, I grew up in Middle Village. I moved away for a few years to Valley Stream but then moved back. My sister also lives in Middle Village a few blocks from me. My daughter lives on Long Island where she teaches the deaf.
Q. What schools did you attend?
My elementary school was St. John's Lutheran on Myrtle Ave in Glendale. I attended Newtown High School and then LIU Brooklyn where I majored in economics.
Q. How did you get into magic?
I enjoyed watching it on TV as a kid and I had magic kits. It wasn't until later in life that I got interested in card magic, learning to manipulate them and using sleight of hand. My interest grew by watching other magicians.
Q. How often and where do you perform?
I mostly do private parties and events now although I did do a large public event with the Society of American Magicians at the New York Public Library.
Q: Do you perform for children or adults?
I used to entertain children, but now I mainly perform for adults at parties, charity events and at business functions.
Q: What was the biggest audience you ever entertained?
At the old Felt Forum I performed before 400-500 people, but nowadays it's generally about 100 people. I usually approach 4-5 people at a time at parties and do close up magic with them.
Q. Do you have a career outside of magic?
I retired from banking at JP Morgan in 2002 at the age of 50. My division moved to Tampa and I returned briefly when the organization asked me to fly down there to set up the system for standby letters of credit. In 2008 I went to work for Royal Bank of Canada and I was there for 7 years before retiring for good.
Q: What is your favorite trick to perform?
I call it the international 6 card trick ‒ a trick every magician in the world does. I count off cards but they don't disappear. Part of my routine is to do it in different languages. It's my most requested trick.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
I have many whose names you likely will not recognize. But one that sticks out is memory expert Harry Lorayne who wrote several #1 best sellers. He was a card magician that I hung out with. He's now 91 years old. He taught me the art of entertaining people.
Q: Congratulations on being named Magician of the Year by the Society of American Magicians. What did that mean to you?
It was a big surprise and an honor for me. Over the years I watched some big names like David Copperfield and Harry Blackstone, Jr. get the award. The first ceremony I attended was in 1971 when Milbourne Christopher was honored. I got to watch magicians performing in the lobby and I became more interested in learning the craft.
Alakazam, abracadabra, hocus pocus, and the rest is history!
To reach Rene Clement, please write to RC4mag@aol.com.