While New York City-based magician Adam Cardone is performing one of his acts, few would probably notice his tattoo which reads "Made in Altoona" - a testament to the place where his career got started.
Cardone, 38, grew up in Altoona has been performing magic since age 10, starting with private events and local festivals.
He went on to study acting at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, but never wanted to settle for a theater job.
Adam?Cardone performs his milk can escape act during the?Olde?Time Coney?Island?Strongman Spectacular in Coney Island,?N.Y., on May 19.
"There's no magician school, you know?" he said. "But I was always interested in that sort of weird performing style."
Now, Cardone is a full-time magician in New York. He's hired for things like birthdays, weddings or bar mitzvahs, but also has regular appearances and partakes in special events.
He said his acting training helps him "100 percent."
If you go
Adam Cardone, Cardone The Magician, is a featured performer in "The Spook Show: House of Ghostly Haunts" at the Canal Park Playhouse, 508 Canal St., New York, N.Y., at 7 p.m. every Tuesday through July 24.
For information, go to canalpark
playhouse.com or call 866-811-4111.
"I always tell people magic is an extrovert art form that attracts introverts," he said. "I always thought if you're a magician, you should study theater because it's the same thing, it's performance art. But most magicians don't study theater, which is kind of sad."
There are many things Cardone does differently from other magicians. Escaping from real straight jackets and swallowing sharp swords are just the beginning. One trick Cardone said gets a big reaction from audiences is his ventriloquism act that's done without a dummy.
"It's like a six-minute routine where it's me and a plastic jar, and I'm throwing my voice into it," he said. "That gets probably one of the biggest reactions because most people haven't seen anything like it."
Cardone also recently perfected a new trick called the milk can escape. He trained for a year to be able to hold his breath long enough to escape from a milk can, which is filled with water and padlocked from the outside.
"It's something I've always wanted to do, and something Houdini actually invented," he said. "I like it because it's classic in nature. I like the old school magic stuff.
"A lot of [magicians] don't want to deal with it, and that's why I'll do it."
Cardone presented the trick for the first time last month at the Olde Time Coney island Strongman Spectacular on Coney Island. He said it ended up going better than he ever imagined.
"That was definitely the most nervous I have ever been performing something, ever," he said. "I actually got really choked up when I finally got out. I was definitely moved by the whole experience."
Though he doesn't necessarily like the fact that his son performs such dangerous feats, Adam's father, George Cardone of Altoona, said he enjoys that his son has made a career of what makes him happy.
"I'm the kind of person [who believes] you raise your kids to fly," he said. "He's liked magic ever since he was little. His grandfather bought him his first magic kit."
George Cardone said his son has always had the extroverted personality that has made him a great performer. His willingness to experiment and learn from his mistakes also sets Adam apart, he added.
"It was always his first love," George said of Adam and his magic. "He has the personality to do it. ... I hope he keeps right on going. He's paying the bills, that's all I care about."
However he accomplishes it, Adam said he simply wants to continue showing audiences how close magic can seem to reality.
"For me, that's what magic is, it's that fine line between fantasy and reality," he said. "I really try to push it as far as I can, and that's not just for the show. It's for me, too.
"The modern audience has a short attention span. ... Capturing their imagination is not easy. So I think whatever you're doing, it's gotta be good."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.