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The Heir to Houdini

Student Eric Wilzig majors in finance by day and dazzles audiences at night with his “extreme” brand of magic.


Eric Wilzig
CARD SHARK: Sophomore Eric Wilzig, the young man behind “The Extreme Magic of Eric,” which has garnered appearances in Atlantic City, has been up to his old tricks since he was 5. Photography by Nick Romanenko

Sophomore Eric Wilzig got his start in magic at the age of 5 while lying in a hospital bed recuperating from a nearly fatal bout of pneumonia. To cheer him up, his father brought him a coin magic kit. Wilzig was hooked. “To this day,” he says, “I still have that coin trick.”

His repertoire of magic and illusion, however, has grown dramatically since then. Taking inspiration from his hero, Harry Houdini, Wilzig performs a high-energy show billed as “The Extreme Magic of Eric.” While handcuffed, he escapes from a diamond-plated and padlocked steel box. He performs what he calls a “modern, unique twist on cutting a lady in half.” He swallows razor blades. And he catches a paint ball traveling at 200 miles per hour in his mouth.

“A lot of magic,” says Wilzig, who is majoring in marketing and finance at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick, “comes from the inspiration of what others do—not copying it but taking an idea and making it my own.”

By age 15, Wilzig had appeared on television’s America’s Got Talent and has since performed at casino hotels in Atlantic City, at the Times Square Art Center in Manhattan, in Israel and Italy, and in the Step Into the Spotlight talent show on the New Brunswick Campus. Last summer alone, he performed 100 shows at 70 youth camps in New York and New Jersey. Although he is studying business at Rutgers, Wilzig dreams of landing a regular gig in Las Vegas. For a guy who says “performing is my life,” that would be pure magic.
— Christopher Hann

View a video of the handcuffed magician escaping a padlocked steel box.