Without even seeing the card that was picked, he knew what the exact card was. A marked deck — cards with supposedly indiscernible patterns that would indicate the exact card — was what garnered the reactions of shock that stayed with computer science freshman and magician Micah Katz.
Katz began doing magic when he was 13 after he was gifted a magic kit. He is now taking what he has learned over the course of seven years and bringing it to UTD through the Magic Student Organization.
“I’ve always been interested in magic,” Katz said. “The defining moment when I (began to) want to do magic was when I had a magician at my birthday party when I was little. When I see magicians, it makes me want to do more magic.”
Katz said he learned mainly from watching magic on YouTube, and he would build off of tricks and concepts he learned. He primarily performs card tricks.
“I learn (magic) as I go,” Katz said. “Everyone thinks it’s really hard to do magic when really anyone can do magic if they know what to do. The hard part would probably be looking up the YouTube videos and then (figuring) it out from there.”
Along with learning magic from YouTube, Katz was a camper at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a camp in Massachusetts that focuses on enriching young minds with project-based learning. After being a camper for five years and engaging in the magic trick classes, he began to teach the classes once he became a counselor in 2018.
“I started out as a camper and I was doing magic,” Katz said. “I remember the first day at camp: I did a trick and no one knew how it worked, so they started videotaping it to try to figure out how I did it and they couldn’t figure it out. It took them a whole week.”
Katz can do rubber band and pen magic, using those basic tricks to introduce the concepts of magic while specializing in card tricks.
“I do a lot of card tricks because there is a lot you can do with them. I got into doing magic tricks with (regular decks) and magic decks, which are specific decks that are made certain ways and there are certain tricks you can do with them,” he said. “When I do tricks, I adapt. You can learn a bunch of tricks, but once you know a lot of tricks and have done them, you can combine them. A lot of the tricks I do are not the original trick; they’re my adaptation. I’ll even change them in the moment. I can do multiple tricks in different ways.”
While he will be the teacher, the club also has four other officers, and the advisor is internship coordinator Kori Farley.
“There wasn’t a magic club here,” Katz said. “Right now, I’m doing everything because I need to figure everything out so then I can delegate. I’ve been managing the website portion, adding all the members, submitting the forms. I’m making sure I know of everything that’s going on. We have 20 plus members already.”
The club will initially begin with lessons on magic, but Katz said he plans on expanding the club after people start learning. For example, Katz said the club might have competitions and fundraisers.
“First, I’m going to talk about the concepts of magic like misdirection and there are secret things that are a part of magic like very basic moves that nobody else knows of,” Katz said. “As people start grasping magic, (the club) will be more of a place to compare and learn tricks. Other people will also be able to lead meetings if they prepare and talk to the officers.”
Although Katz said he might not go into magic professionally, he does want to continue teaching at the camp and at UTD.
“No one in the club knows magic, so I really just wanted to teach people magic,” he said. “Just take what I did in camp and bring it here.”