For some little boys, summertime means no teachers and no studying. But for Michael Turco, summertime meant learning magic from the masters.
“I would spend the summers growing up on the beach and going to see magic shows at night,” says Turco.
The 27-year-old self-taught magician spent his childhood summers at his family’s shore house in Brigantine, just outside of Atlantic City. “We would go down there every year, and every year I would see all the shows that came through the area—especially the magic shows,” says Turco. “After watching them every year, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Now, Turco is headlining in the same theater where his idols once performed. His illusion show “Wonder” returns in November to the Bally’s Palace Theater in Atlantic City. The show debuted there in December 2008 and returned again this past August.
“It’s kinda like full circle. When I started, it was pretty much my dream and my passion to perform in Atlantic City,” says Turco. “After years of practice and persistence, to be able to perform in that theater and to be asked to come back—it’s an accomplishment. A dream come true really.”
A lifelong Wayne resident, Turco started to teach himself magic tricks at a young age. “I would go to magic stores and buy little magic tricks and books and videos, and go home and teach them to myself,” says Turco. “When I was older, I would come up with ideas on my own and perform them.”
But Turco didn’t just show his tricks to friends and family. As a teenager, he got paid to perform at birthday parties and bar- and bat-mitzvahs. The demand grew, and at 16, he established his own entertainment company. “When I started performing, I would get calls for gigs at the same times as other gigs that I had,” says Turco. “So I wondered to myself what I should do, and just booked them.”
Turco would do as many events as he could, then book friends that were also magicians to cover the rest. Over the years, Turco has built his company, Shade Entertainment, into a booking agency for deejays, bands, and of course, magicians.
Turco was always entrepreneurial, doing whatever it took to succeed as a magician. From the get-go, he financed all his own stage productions, including theater rentals, advertising, and staff—all for the sake of getting his name out there. “It’s gotten me to where I am today,” he says.
Where Turco is today is plastered across a billboard in Atlantic City, inviting guests to come to Bally’s and see his show. As for the future, Turco has his sights set on even bigger stages. “I would love to take my show next to some part of the west—like Las Vegas,” he says.
Although “Wonder” has been performed at the Palace Theater before, Turco says this run will have new elements, including a new twist to the levitation of one of his assistants, new audience participation tricks, and a new special guest. “We’ve got a new animal that will be joining us,” says Turco. “He’s a duck.”