Magician Derrick Burts is
profiled for his magic and great heart.
Wednesday morning, Mr. Burts heads out on a nation-wide tour entertaining and
raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Mr. Burts hits all the right chords with us. The Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society is an outstanding organization and we know from personal experience how
supportive and essential the Society can be. Magic is, well, magic for us.
The young man — he is a mere lad of 19 years — became addicted to Magic at
the age of seven. A shop-owner rubbed his a nickel into thin air and produced it
from Mr. Burts' ear.
He decided to go professional and received advice from one who knows.
Burts' initial surge of interest waned somewhat after awhile. He
started performing tricks again for his friends in middle school again, but the
real turning point came in high school. He watched magician David Blaine on a TV
special called “David Blaine’s Street Magic.”
“I was mind-blown,” Burts remembers. “It was in-your-face magic.”
He watched Blaine walk around the streets and go up to small groups . He bit
quarters in half and put them back together. He levitated. He performed
ambitious card tricks and even resurrected dead flies pluck off windshields.
“I recorded it and watched it over and over,” Burts said.
Suddenly, he was hooked again and interested in learning more. He tried to
get Blaine’s phone number and struck out, so he decided to e-mail Blaine and ask
him for advice. He checked his e-mail every day until Blaine finally
“He told me ‘You can’t get into magic — magic gets into you’,” Burts
Burts never deleted the e-mail.
Mr. Burts' tour will bring him to cities throughout the Pacific Northwest and
then onto New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
Magic proved an effective medium for meeting and influencing perfect
He purchased an expensive David Blaine magic set and learned to
“slam a salt shaker through the table”, to levitate and an assortment of coin,
rubber band and card tricks. Excited, he started to perform, David Blaine-style
“My high school (Hemet High School) was my battle field — I was so pumped
up,” he said. “I went up to students at lunch.”
He spent all his free time learning new illusions, then went to Las Vegas
with his family on vacation. The trip took his illusionist training to warp
speeds. As he walked down Fremont Street, a Mecca for jugglers, painters and
musicians, he walked up to a group of Japanese tourists and started performing
He took a piece of thread, 15 inches long, and tore it into little pieces,
then crumpled it into a tiny ball. As he grabbed an end and pulled, it came out
one long thread.
“They freaked,” he said.
Before long, pedestrians had gathered round him. Looking out at the crowd, he
suddenly was struck by the eclectic group of people gathered. Magic, he
surmised, had actually brought these people together.
“There was a skater punk standing next to a guy in business suit, Hindu next
to a Muslim — they were laughing and talking together,” he said. “It was like
the world paused.”
Mr. Burts studied with Jeff McBride in Vegas and took his performances to the
next level. Upon his return home, he offered his entertainment services to help
fundraisers, like a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society “Pennies for Patients”
benefit that raised $15,000.
It was during the his work with the Society that he began the journey he'll
continue Wednesday with his national tour.
During the benefit, a 13-year-old cancer patient named Joel poured
his heart out.
“Everyone in the theater was in tears,” he said. “It was heart-touching.”
Burts was hooked on magic for a cause.
Since then he has performed at fundraisers for churches, service clubs and
other outreaches to help charities and build his portfolio. He performs at other
venues as well. His current tour is his most ambitious venture yet.
It is a two-part tour. The first trip is simply to raise $20,000 in pledges
from businesses to finance the show. Burts and others will actually perform on
the second trip in towns where funds were raised. Donated proceeds from
performances will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
You can read an article from our January 2004 edition of Quinlan's Inside Magic. We were impressed then and even more so now.