Nova Scotia·Video

How a Halifax man ended up reading minds on magic's biggest stage this week

A Halifax magician appeared on one of the most famous magic stages in the world this week.

Magician Vincenzo Ravina was featured on Penn & Teller: Fool Us

Vincenzo Ravina tries to read actor Alyson Hannigan's mind on Penn & Teller's TV show in Las Vegas. (YouTube)

A Halifax man appeared on one of the world's most famous magic stages this week.

Vincenzo Ravina performed for his idols on Penn & Teller: Fool Us. He secretly travelled to Las Vegas in early March to film the episode, just days before Nova Scotia locked down due to COVID-19.

"I didn't think there was any chance of me getting on the show, but I sent in a clip of mind-reading glasses and they liked it," he told CBC's Maritime Noon on Friday. 

Ravina's act begins with him dramatically opening a black box and donning a pair of "mind-reading glasses, which look suspiciously like those old cheap 3D glasses," he said.

He then placed a silver sci-fi-looking helmet on actor Alyson Hannigan's head and rightly guesses the shape she's thinking. The stakes got higher when he asked Teller to wear the helmet and communicate a thought to Hannigan.

The performance, which lasted only minutes, took hours and hours of practising in his apartment in front of his friends, Ravina said. 

"It was a lot of work. I mainly perform at like open mics and a couple of times a year at The Bus Stop Theatre with the Halifax magic club ... so I was not accustomed to performing for a big Vegas audience," he said. 

Ravina, who has been performing magic since he was a kid, credits a magician named Dave Moon for introducing him to the art.

Moon, who used to perform at a restaurant in downtown Halifax, dressed a bit like Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter with his purple robe and also had a a long white beard.

"I just loved going there when I was young and just being amazed, and I sort of developed the desire to share that same feeling with other people," Ravina said.

Vincenzo Ravina, second to left, pictured with Teller, left, friend Cameron Fenton and brother Adriano Ravina, right, last year in Las Vegas. (Vincenzo Ravina)

Performing in front of Penn and Teller is every magician's dream, he said. He's long looked up to the magical duo and saw them perform in Vegas last year.

The idea behind the show is to present a trick so complex not even Penn and Teller can guess how it's done. Ravina didn't do that, but it didn't matter, he said.

"It's very difficult to fool a magician because they can already think like a magician. They know a lot of techniques and methods," he said. "My goal going on the show was just to present my trick as best I could. I really had no illusions about fooling them myself."

He may not have been able to pull one over on the pros, but Ravina has the upper hand on commentators watching his act online.

"The YouTube comments are full of theories and I'm actually kind of gratified to see that a lot of them are way off," he said.

With files from CBC's Maritime Noon

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