Name: Ben Daggers
Likes: Tea, classical music, capybara
Dislikes: Arguing about politics, carrying an umbrella
1. What brought you to Japan? I came here for the magic. Osaka is home to some of the best close-up magicians in the world.
2. Where’s your favorite place in Osaka? I love Shinsekai. It’s become more popular with tourists recently but still hasn’t lost its blue-collar feel.
3. Your parents are musical. Are you? Sort of. I played classical piano for many years but the music took a back seat once I started magic.
4. How did you first get interested in magic? I’ve been doing magic as long as I can remember, but I only thought about it as a career when I met a magician in Shanghai 10 years ago.
5. You’re a self-taught magician. How exactly did you learn — or is it a secret? I’m lucky enough to know some of the best sleight-of-hand magicians in Japan, but I also have a huge library of old magic books at home that would take a lifetime to get through.
6. Who is your favorite magician? Rene Lavand. He was a one-armed Argentinian magician who took magic to new technical and artistic heights.
7. What is your favorite magic trick? It’s hard to narrow it down to one, but either putting a shuffled deck back into its original brand new deck order, or a new effect I created involving an audience member and a lemon …
8. You have a new show starting at Magic Lab in Osaka. Briefly tell us about your show. Every Sunday night I will be performing with Jonio, a Japanese national champion magician. We will do close-up, stage and gambling-themed shows.
9. Have you ever had a trick go badly wrong? Briefly describe what happened. I wish I could say it’s never happened, but that’s the nature of live performances. I will either try to salvage the effect or move on and hope nobody noticed!
10. You have an identical twin brother who also lives in Osaka. Any funny anecdotes? I once borrowed my brother for a (spoiler alert) “Prestige”-style effect during a show. My brother went on stage, left the building and I came straight out on stage again. The audience were floored!
11. You speak English, German, Chinese and Japanese. Do you have a favorite word or phrase from one of them? I love betsubara (second stomach) in Japanese and vokuhila (mullet haircut) in German.
12. Why are people attracted and puzzled by magic? I think magic has the unique ability to bring people back to a child-like state where anything is possible.
13. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? One of my lecturers at university told me to never get a proper job and it has served me very well so far …
14. You describe yourself as an English gentleman. What’s the most gentlemanly thing you have ever done? Making afternoon tea for my girlfriend every day.
15. Describe your ideal day off. It would start with a full English breakfast in the morning before practicing magic, drinking tea and doing a crossword with my brother.
16. What gets under your skin? The wasteful amount of packaging in Japan. Surely chewing gum doesn’t need to be individually wrapped and then put in two plastic bags!
17. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? People’s obsession with technology. Staring at your phone shouldn’t be socially acceptable but it has become the norm.
18. What’s the most important factor in being a successful magician? Connecting with the audience. You can be the most technically brilliant magician in the world but, if the audience doesn’t like you, they won’t care about your magic.
19. What did you want to be when you grew up? What changed? I had dreams of being a virtuoso pianist but, once the magic bug bit me, that was that.
20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Learn a foreign language. It has certainly changed my view of the world.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5