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Six years ago, he decided to reverse himself. Out went the spectacular, in came the close-up magic: Turning water into Coca-Cola. Swallowing a bit of Nerds candy and pulling it out of his right eyeball. Making a cup of Starbucks coffee vanish, only to appear in another cup.
“The problem with stage magic is that it looks really good, but everyone knows there’s a trick box,” said Flom, as he performed a trick in which he managed to link two Life Savers. “Things got a whole lot more interesting when we started doing magic with ordinary objects. It’s just so much more pure.”
Party all the time
Flom premieres a lot of these tricks at his annual Magic Block Party held — where else? — in his family’s back yard.
Flom, who lives in Las Vegas but comes back to Eden Prairie every couple of months, works the lawn for hours, performing for three to 10 people at a time while hot dogs grill on the patio. The evening culminates with hangers-on throwing a giant dance party. This year’s event, held two weeks ago, drew about 150 people and is expected to be viewed on YouTube more than 2 million times.
What makes the evening work is Flom’s bottomless energy and enthusiasm.
“Weird, right?” he says with an impish grin after most tricks.
“You look at when David Copperfield goes out on stage now and you can tell he doesn’t want to be there,” said Kyle Marlett, who serves as Flom’s magic consultant and has a road act of his own. “Justin is so passionate. He goes the extra mile. That really shows in his videos.”
It also shows in his new series, “Wizard Wars,” in which he’s one of four “ house pros” who go up against a new group of contestants every week. Pairs of magicians are given common objects — eyeglasses, mannequins, cards, even Spam — that they must incorporate into an act. Celebrity judges, including Penn & Teller, pronounce the winner.
While Flom is thrilled to have one of the most iconic teams in magic on board, he makes it clear that their approach is entirely different.
“Penn and Teller love the very intellectual side of magic,” he said. “Me, I’m more fun than them. They never look like they’re having fun. They look angry.”
That giddiness explains why no one can leave Flom’s presence without being inundated with magic. A recent visitor was heading for the car when Flom pulled out one more trick.
He tore off a corner of a playing card and then somehow reattached it.
“You can keep that,” he said, handing over the card as if it were a gold ring.
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431 • Twitter: @NealJustin