Unlocking the Mysteries of Collins Key
by Shana Bergmann
Teenaged magician and heartthrob Collins Key, has become magic’s next big thing. The world first discovered him competing on the eighth season of NBC’s America‘s Got Talent. Now he is bringing magic back to audiences that forgot how much they loved it. For example, he is currently master of ceremonies on a pop music tour featuring Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony and Little Mix. Incorporating mentalism and social media into his acts, Key has engaged a younger generation of viewers (called Keypers). His innovative take on magic feels like a breath of fresh air.
In the midst of having a little chat after interviewing him, I realized that fame really hasn’t gotten to him. This is no persona in which he puts on while performing. What you see is what you get. His sense of humor, sincerity and wholesome values have shaped a grounded and apparently genuinely good guy. Key made it a point to say that his family meant the world to him. He demonstrates this by adorning himself with a key tied to his neck. It’s not just any key, though. It turns out that this key has been in Collins’s family for over a hundred years and unlocks an heirloom treasure chest.
That’s just scratching the surface of the mystery of Collins Key. See for yourself, just how truly interesting Collins Key is.
How and when did you get involved with magic?
I started off doing magic when I was twelve years old. It just seemed fun. I loved it because it was just the perfect ice breaker. Those first few moments when you walk up to someone and want to start a conversation, there is always that really awkward, “Hi, I’m Collins.” Magic was always the perfect ice-breaker. The perfect way to start any conversation.
Did any particular magician inspire you?
Not really. I haven’t really seen that many magicians. Honestly, I’ve never even been to a magic show in my life… which is kind of weird. I’ve actually never even been to a concert before. The first concert I’ve ever been to was the first show I did in Vancouver with Demi. I’ve never really been introduced to any of that kind of stuff. So it gave me time to develop by myself. Come up with my own ideas and incorporate that into the environments that I’m in.
How do you come up with your illusions?
A lot of it is just figuring out what is fun and finding out what cool stuff I can do. A lot of stuff I do is social media integrated magic. I do a lot of stuff that involves Twitter. Like tonight, I’ll be doing something with Twitter. Everyone in the audience, they all use Twitter on their phone and they’re all involved in the trick. I basically just like making fun concepts. I’m constantly thinking of new stuff. What I love about magic is that it’s breaking all of the barriers. I think, “Well let me think of something that’s impossible and find out a way to make it work.” It’s an extremely challenging process, but at the same time, it’s very rewarding when it works out.
What is the usual process?
It’s kind of difficult. The hardest part is coming up with the initial idea for it. You basically have to come up with an idea that’s so impossible and is just so out there. Something people haven’t seen before. That’s one of the most difficult things, because in magic so many things have been done before. It’s hard. The Twitter trick was inspired because I’m always on Twitter anyway. I was like, “Well how can I integrate this into the magic?” So that’s that.
What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?
Oh… Where do I begin? Well actually speaking of embarrassing, the first show of the Neon Lights tour, my headset mike turned off in the middle of my last set for some random reason. We still don’t know why. It just turned off. It’s my first show and its chaos. (sarcastically) Oh that was fun. I’ve had people throw up on stage before. That was lovely. I found out that it’s really hard to recover from that. What else? I used to work at renaissance festivals, actually. At a ren fair, its the perfect training ground because anything could happen. I’ve literally had people try and steal my props in the middle of the show. I’m up there doing a show. This dude came up, walked back and grabbed one of my props and started walking off. I’m like, “What are you doing?” The worst was when I was doing this one show and this guy ran up on stage. The dude was wearing nothing more than a man thong and he had baby oil all over his body. He comes up on stage like, “Do the moon dance with me.” And it was a kids area, too. Luckily though, nothing like that has happened on the Demi tour.
What do you think of Howard Stern?
I think Howard is the boss. I love Howard. He’s really cool. One of the things I love about Americas Got Talent is that they’re really honest. There are certain TV shows where they praise every single act. I feel like when they praise everything that you do, it puts everyone on the same level. It’s so much more powerful when one act gets criticized and another act gets praised. It really makes the distinction a lot clearer to everyone who is watching at home. But yeah, I love him. He’s just awesome. Very straight to the point. It’s good to have a judge who’s like that.