Who doesn't love magic?! We spoke to Leon Simmonds for our Misfit Of The Month feature this month. There are magicians...and then there's this guy, who has his own unique style which goes down a bomb at weddings!
Can you please introduce yourself?
Aloha! My name is Leon Simmonds, I live in wonderland (occasionally referred to as Brighton) and I make my living as a magician and entertainer.
When did you first develop an interest in performing magic? And how long have you been doing it professionally?
I first developed an interest in magic when I was about 12 years old, I got taken to a folk festival by my friends family and fell in love with all the juggling and fire performances and it was there I was shown (and after a LOT of bugging) eventually taught my first card trick. I have been performing professionally now for 7 years and I can't really imagine doing anything else.
Who are your influences?
My heroes in magic are Juan Tamariz, Lennart Green, Derren Brown and Tommy Cooper. They all have their own completely individual takes on magic and performing, they understand and appreciate the technical aspect of magic, but more then anything else, they know how to entertain an audience. That is what they have inspired me to do and I could watch them for hours.
Would it be fair to say you are a little different from a lot of other magicians? For example, your look. Did that come naturally or was it a conscious effort to set yourself apart from your peers?
I think it's pretty fair to say I do things my own way, yes. It wasn't easy though, I spent a fair amount of time thinking I had to conform to the 'norm' before realising that actually by doing things your own way, you get a lot more respect, can be much more creative and get invited to perform at way more interesting events!! Once I had that confidence, my look developed naturally really. I have always loved the 'classic' look of the magician, the golden age of magic and the circus. I love dressing up and playing characters and consider myself very lucky now to be able do and wear whatever feels right. Also I think having an interesting outfit is just as important as anything else, it creates interest and intrigue before you even open your mouth. Plain and simple, it's art and I love it.
How long do you tend to perform for at weddings? Is there a particular part of the day you'd recommend to book a magician?
I honestly love performing at weddings, I think it is the perfect way to add some magic, to an already special day. That being said, from my experiences, there are definitely some right and wrong times and timings for it, so here's my advice. I think the perfect time for magic is either the afternoon, after the ceremony, before the sit down meal. Everyone is having their first couple of drinks and just chatting, so magic is a great ice-breaker for people that don't know each other and also injects some excitement into what can sometimes be the 'lull' part of the day. It can also really work after the sit down meal, before the dancing. There are usually more guests arriving in the evening, so it's a great way to welcome them and help get the party started. NO magic during dinner, people just want to eat and rightly so! Food.is.awesome.
As far as timings, it really depends on the amount of guests and the plans for the day. I would say 1-2 hours is perfect.
Do you have a favourite trick?
Absolutely! It is very much my encore piece, when I have 'finished' performing, but people just want to see one more routine. It has everything I love about magic; it is visual, plays on words, has great interaction with a crowd and has a (triple!) surprise ending that happens right in someone else's hands, for that reason i'd go as far to say it's a perfect card routine.
Is that also the most popular with your audience?
People appreciate different routines in different ways and for different reasons so it's quite hard to say.. It always gets a huge reaction and people often ask to see it again so I'd say it's in the top 3 for sure!
What do you enjoy most about performing magic?
For me it's all about interacting with people I have never met before, magic is a great ice-breaker and more than anything else a bit of fun! We live in a world now where we know so much, everything is available at our fingertips and anything we don't know, we can find out in seconds. It's nice to have something that can cut through all of that just for a moment, to be able to show someone something they haven't seen before and to make them wonder. I think it's a little unrealistic now (unfortunately!) for people to believe everything that they see, but if you can put a smile on someone's face, it makes it all worth it.
What can people expect if they book you for their wedding?
I take my work seriously, that means I keep in contact, am always punctual and I understand what this day is for people. It is an honour to share such a special day with, not just the lucky couple, but their friends and families too. That being said, I am anything but serious when I perform! I have a very casual style and love to interact with people of all ages, another reason why I love weddings. I'm proud of the testimonials I have received so if anyone is wondering what to expect, I would suggest a read of those on my website.
Do you have any tips or advice for couples planning an alternative wedding?
It's a long and complicated process, but just get creative, book people you can rely on and have fun!!!!!!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
As well as being available for private hire, I also run an events company called 'Riddles in the Dark'. We run our own quirky events, and have an amazing collective of different weird and wonderful acts and can create bespoke packages for festivals, corporate and of course.... weddings! You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
You can contact Leon and find out more about his magic via the buttons below.