It was Valentine’s Day four years ago, and Mike Tyler was backstage, pacing. He was clad in a suit, with a robe over it but, within an hour, both the robe and the suit would come off.
“I was petrified. My heart was pounding; I was sweating. This was one of the scariest moments in my life,” he recalls.
Tyler and his buddy, fellow professional magician, Christopher Wayne, were about to unveil – quite literally, their new show, “The Naked Magicians.”
He need not have worried. The show was a hit right from the start, and it’s taken the duo to more than 200 U.S. cities, along with London’s West End.
Currently on a U.S. tour, this week will find them in two South Florida cities –Coral Springs on Friday, Oct. 12, followed by Homestead on Sunday, Oct. 14.
They’ve also performed in London’s West End, along with more than 200 cities in the U.S. Some 50 million people have viewed their act, either on major TV networks (NBC, ABC, Fox), as well as the internet.
With their motto, “Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants,” the show carries with it the warning (or promise) that it’s intended only for audiences age 18 and over and, “includes coarse language, sexual references and male nudity.”
Tyler and Wayne hail from Australia; Wayne was the first magician in that country to have his own TV series, and Tyler was doing high-end corporate events, when they got the idea.
“We’re Aussie lads, and we were best mates. We were doing fine, but we wanted to create something that would attract and audience that wouldn’t ordinarily go to see a magic show,” says Tyler.
But then the movie “Magic Mike” happened. The movie, which focuses on the adventures of a handyman who moonlights as the hot headliner in an all-male review “doesn’t have any magic in it,” notes Tyler.
“But, since I’m a magician, people in the audience started calling me “Magic Mike,” and calling out during the show for me to strip, so we decided to try a show that way,” he recalls.
They signed on to headline the Brisbane Comedy Festival, and test out their concept a week beforehand. “All six shows had sold out in advance, so our buddy, who was also our producer, said we had to do it. So we were all in, and we knew that once we did the first show, there would be no going back to kid’s magic shows or corporate gigs,” Tyler says.
With Wayne’s good looks (he’s been likened to his resemblance to the hit U.S. rapper Macklemore), and Tyler’s body (he was a competitive swimmer), the show was a quick hit; the audience’s only quibble was that they wanted more nudity, and quicker, Tyler says.
“I hate the first part of the show, because we’re clothed, and the audience is like, ‘C’mon guys, we love the magic and you’re making us laugh but give us the nudity,” he says.
The Australian press has lavished praise on the duo –the “Courier Mail,” for example, crowing “You don’t have to sell it! It’s so great and so funny.” But, over here, a reviewer for the Chicago Tribune intoned that the show “is not an evening for sophisticated consumers of illusion.”
But it may not be the “sophisticated consumer” that these magicians are after. Notes Tyler, “We get feedback about how funny the show is and how amazing the magic is, but, at its core, this is a show with a couple of Aussie blokes who like being naked and who want to make people laugh.”
“The Naked Magicians” perform Friday, Oct. 12 at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, www.thecentercs.com and Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Seminole Theatre, 18 N Krome Ave., Homestead, 786-650-2073, www.seminoletheatre.org. Tickets are $49-$71 in Coral Springs and $30-$69 in Homestead.