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Magic Man

It was 2011 when Cosentino cast his spell upon the country, bursting onto our television screens for Australia’s Got Talent with his unique style, high energy moves and trickery.

Despite challenges he faced as a child, a self-confessed introvert that suffered at the hands of bullies, Cos, as he likes to be called, defied the odds and the naysayers to become Australia's most celebrated illusionist. Tierney Seccull caught up with him for a chat.

By Tierney Seccull

Thanks for chatting with me, Cos. Can you tell us a little bit about your show, Decennium? 
It’s very exciting. It’s the greatest hits tour, so it’s the best of my best all put together into one 90-minute spectacular. And it’s also a decade, taking the best material from my first television special in 2012 and international TV shows. It’s really difficult to try and pick ... you’ve got to have this beautiful kind of equilibrium and balance in order to keep the audience entertained, so it was quite challenging to decide what made the cut.

I think the dream for many an artist is to be able to have a greatest hits tour, so huge congrats on that!
[laughs] Oh, thank you!

CosentinoAnd I bet you had your work cut out for you? How did you choose? 
Yeah, I went through all my tours that I’d done in the past … For me, obviously I create the magic and the art, but what brings it to life is having an audience. The reason I’m saying this is, in order to be a great magician, you've got to be a great listener. You’ve got to listen to your audience.

Based on that, over the years, I’ve been able to work out what hits for me and what doesn’t, and therefore what produces the best result, whatever it may be, so that’s how I came up with what I was putting in the show.

Well, we’re very grateful that you are coming to visit us.
Oh, we love Darwin. We’ve been there a number of times in the past, and the audiences are always so responsive and appreciative, it's a lot of fun.

You’re right, Cos, we're a very yes crowd in the NT, happy to give anything a crack!
[laughs] It is! I started regional touring in 2005 … and stopped around 2010 to tour nationally, which is the five major capitals. I said to management at the time it didn’t feel like a national tour, it just felt like I went to five major capitals. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to tour, and you’re touring the country, that you get out there and you tour the country. You bring it to people!

Absolutely. I’m keen to know what drew you to magic in the first place? How the heck did this all happen?
I know, I know. Shy kid, really introverted believe it or not, low self-esteem, learning difficulties, I didn’t learn to read ‘til I was 12. My mum was a school principal and thought her kid was “really bright”, but people said “nah, he’s actually not, he’s not that bright”.

She’d take me to the library and I’d always pick the picture books because I couldn't read. I came across this book that had these old Vaudevillian pictures and posters … They pre-date comic books but are hand-illustrated, so they look like comic books. I’m just intrigued, all these magical things happening in the posters, goblins and skulls.

My mum saw me with the book and came over, and I pointed to a picture of this guy with handcuffs and chains, he was just staring down the barrel of the camera. I asked, "who’s that?” and Mum said “that’s Houdini” … We borrowed the book, and she read all these stories of great magicians to me.

But, in the book, there were magic tricks. This predates [social media], so to learn tricks, you had to learn through a book. And that required discipline, my mother sitting with me, analysing each word and breaking it down, and looking at the illustrations. Through this process I learned to read, but I also gained a unique skill – magic.

For a kid where the world was problematic, where you’re bullied and picked on, and you’re considered dumb ... I grasped onto things like making a coin appear out of thin air, I learned how to eat fire, my mother let me do all these things! That empowers a child, and that’s how it started.

As an adult, it’s not about that anymore, it’s about the audience and how they feel … But I hope people come away from the show feeling inspired.

Wow. The impact of that self-belief for a kid is huge. I guess you’ve kind of flipped the bird to the naysayers in the grandest yet gracious way. Have you got anything planned while you’re in the Top End?
Ah, it’s such a shame. We come in the day before, bump into the theatre, we spend the whole day in the theatre and do the show, and the next day, you know what I’ll get to do? I’ll get to have breakfast! It’s such a tight ship.

Ah, that is a shame, because we have The Cage of Death up here which I think has your name on it!
I know, I know – every time I’ve been, I haven’t had the chance. But I still can’t wait to be in Darwin!

Cosentino: Decennium - The Greatest Hits Tour
WHEN THU 14 & FRI 15 DEC | 8PM
COST $65-$190

Photos: James Geer

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