- Lauren Lindley
I’m sitting at the Beacon waiting for Alex Ramon to show up, joking with Tahoe South’s best bartender, Jamie, that maybe he’ll just appear. He is, after all, a magician.
When Alex does arrive, he is on foot, and with his lovely assistant Meghan Burk. He jokes that she is the better looking of the two, and I dismiss the statement, which is less of a critique of Meghan and more of a testament to the fact that Alex himself is a very pretty person – so symmetrical in his face and appearance that I briefly imagine that it’s a bit like speaking with a famous actor.
In addition to being beautiful, Alex is young, yet so accomplished. In his short history as a magician, he’s won national contests, toured the world with “Disney Live” and at 23, became the second-youngest ringmaster in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus history (and the first magician to hold the title!).
It is clear to me from the get-go, however, that Alex’s accomplishments did not come with ease – he has worked hard for his success. In addition to being successful, Alex is immediately approachable; he doesn’t just make you feel at ease, his manner and tone suggests that you’ve been best friends forever.
I’ve been talking to the magician for less than five minutes and I’m already impressed.
Alex Ramon is the creative mind and magical star behind Illusion Fusion, playing at the Horizon Casino Resort through Labor Day. I’m not one to keep my thoughts to myself, and I admit to him that I accepted the interview because not only had I never met a magician… I’d never seen a magic show before.
“I love it here in Tahoe,” Alex tells me. “Besides being here since January, I’d never really had been to Tahoe. Not only is it a great place and a great location, but the audiences have been great.”
Alex grew up in Richmond and as we sit at the Beacon, he regales me with stories of his life, tales of other magicians, including those he aspires to be like (Slidini, Shimada), disaster stories involving doves (I'll spare you), what it took to learn his “Disney Live” lines in 8 different languages (Chinese was the hardest, Arabic was the easiest), and embarrassing moments on stage.
While today's children may be able to learn magic tricks from the internet, when Alex was young, the only sources of information were magic books and VHS tapes. His mom forced him into performing at a local Chevy's restaurant for tips on weekends, and it gave him the needed allowance to purchase props and learning materials, which were very expensive.
"The truth was, I progressed rapidly but I never wanted to be a performer. I wasn't shy but I didn't like being in front of people.” Alex tells me, "At a party I'm usually the one quiet in the corner. When I was in the circus, it was the oddest thing because the ring master is so gregarious and big and so ‘out there’ and the face of the show."
Today, Alex is very much the seasoned performer.
Alex's new show, “Illusion Fusion” at Horizon, features illusions designed by his friend and magical engineer, Jim Steinmeyer, who he has been working with since his days on “Disney Live.”
Over the course of his life, Steinmeyer has worked with Ringling Bros, Disney, David Copperfield, Epcot Center and Disney World Resort, among others. Currently, Steinmeyer is assisting Alex with a new illusion: a new "old" twist on the classic girl-gets-sawed-in-half illusion; you can see it in “Illusion Fusion” beginning in June.
Alex feels blessed to have had such success in Tahoe, and he attributes it to the community. I can see that it's also due to his own hard work and willingness to reach out to his customers.
The night I attended “Illusion Fusion,” he waited and spoke with every guest in the audience, signing autographs for children and taking photos.
I will admit that when I walked into “Illusion Fusion,” I was skeptical. In fact, I was absolutely sure that I wouldn't be swayed, mystified, or spellbound. I was wrong. I spent the whole show not only laughing hysterically, but completely and totally enthralled.
From start to finish, the show is a fast paced, laugh-inducing-riot, and it's absolutely appropriate for all ages. In fact, the night we attended, Alex had a number of child helpers on stage.
After the show, Alex came over and emphatically thanked me for attending when I should have been thanking him for such an entertaining evening. He encouraged me to spread the word.
"We want it to be a destination point or at least an attraction for Lake Tahoe so that people say when you go to Lake Tahoe you gotta go to the magic show!" Well, this skeptical girl right here can say emphatically: you gotta go to the magic show!
Illusion Fusion can currently be seen Thursdays through Sundays at the Horizon Casino and Resort. Starting Memorial Day Weekend, it will be showing 6 nights a week all summer long through Labor Day. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, by calling 775-588-6211 or online.
Lauren Lindley is a Texas Longhorn at heart and a transplant to South Lake Tahoe, which she has called home since 2006. She is an adventurer and athlete, claiming the following to her sports resume: runner, swimmer, cyclist, snowboarder, and sometimes climber. She is a music lover, prolific reader of literature, traveler and photographer. The only bottle of wine she doesn't like has the word Merlot on it.