If you bump into Mark Byrne, you can count on him having a trick up his sleeve. He might even have a mother rabbit and two baby bunnies in his shirt pocket. As a professional magician, Byrne seems to know every trick in the book.
The owner of the entertainment company Funny Money Productions showed off his craft in the back of Lenny's Restaurant in Clearwater last Wednesday.
Byrne, 46, is the reigning champ of the annual Tampa Bay Magic Club Competition, which will be held Saturday at Largo Community Center.
His mojo appears to be genetic. His two daughters, Sidney, 13, and Sabrina, 11, teamed up in 2005 to become the stage division junior champions at the Florida Magicians Association Competition. 1You're a full-time magician. That means you do tricks 40 hours a week? No. I'd say 24 hours a day.
2When did you first become interested in magic? I was 8 years old and lived in Hillsdale, New Jersey. It was when my Uncle Sonny visited on his break from working on the Alaska Pipeline.
3What was the magic trick that hooked you? Uncle Sonny's trick was with an old-fashioned, 45 record. He'd slip it in its record cover as a black record, and he'd make sure I saw that nothing was inside the cover. He'd pull it out, and it would be red. He'd do it again, and it would come out yellow.
4How'd he do that? Very well.
5During these difficult times, with the war and the economic troubles, what does your company bring to the world? I believe every once in awhile, but especially in tough times, the suspension from reality is something everyone needs.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.