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Compelling Calgarians: Carisa Hendrix

Calgary Herald logo Calgary Herald 2020-01-02 Barb Livingstone, for the Calgary Herald
a woman wearing a red and black hair: Carisa Hendrix says she didn't intend to become a performer, but was lured by the © Submitted photo Carisa Hendrix says she didn't intend to become a performer, but was lured by the

Carisa Hendrix imagined a future as an author or teacher. But in the present, she was always juggling, eating fire, doing card tricks.

“It was never supposed to be a career; just what I was doing to survive.”

The 32-year-old Calgary-born magician is today at the top of her game, performing in iconic clubs — in her sexy Lucy Darling persona — setting a Guinness world record for fire-eating, guesting on Penn and Teller’s TV show and co-hosting Shezam, a popular feminist podcast on magic.

“I am now one of those magicians who can call a magic club (now 50 of them) and ask when they‘d like me to play. I don’t have to send that video in and have someone say ‘you’re not good enough.’ ”

Her journey began watching magician David Copperfield on television with her dad. “He’d ask, ‘I wonder how they did that?’ and I’d come up with all types of answers. He’d say ‘yeah, that could be it,’ and gave validation to my thinking outside the box.

“It was already the seduction of magic.”

Hendrix left home at 16, mixed retail jobs with school and volunteered with youth groups. Her first paid performing job was doing five 10-minute performances per night in a haunted house.

A magician saw her act, started her doing balloons, and “I kept picking up jobs,” she said.

“I would not exist if not for other magicians who encouraged me, paid me to be their assistant when I was 16 and 17. It was the money between starving and not.”

At age 20, when offered a dream job teaching youth, she “burst out crying” when asked where she saw herself in five years.

Three years later, “I was doing everything — fire, acrobatics, hoop dance, magic — whatever anyone wanted. I was making enough money that it wasn’t scary anymore.”

This year Hendrix hopes to add a TV special and Canadian tour to her North American club gigs.

“Magic has to be experienced live,” she says. “It’s so powerful.”

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