Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2004 | People

Master Magician: Nate Staniforth

By Sean Thompson

Nate Staniforth takes a full schedule of classes, but he still finds time to commit to an occupation that requires constant practice and preparation. Sounds like magic, right? Bingo.

Nate Staniforth

This history/religion senior from Ames is also an up-and-coming magician. His interest in magic materialized at age eight after he read The Hobbit and, unlike the vanishing coins in his act, it hasn’t disappeared.

Performing in packed auditoria, at private parties, in impromptu street magic sessions, and once on MTV, Staniforth is gaining quite a following. Audience members shriek and gasp in delight and disbelief as he levitates, swallows needles, and makes objects appear from thin air.

He’s prepared to take risks for his art, too. Last year, in the style of his hero, Houdini, he jumped into the freezing Iowa River weighted down with metal chains, padlocks, and locked handcuffs. (While Staniforth doesn’t recommend that you try this trick, he does suggest that you visit his website to glimpse such feats of magic.)

Finely honed escapology skills ensured that he emerged from the river safely, and Staniforth spent this past summer on a national tour promoting his DVD, Spellbinder. Now back at the UI, he continues to perform, practice for his next tour, and prepare for filming his second DVD.

"There isn’t much time at all that I’m not thinking about or working on a show,” he says. “I enjoy it so much, it doesn’t feel like I’m putting in hours or making a sacrifice.”

Whether he’s plucking a thought from an audience member’s mind or making a playing card mysteriously appear in a sealed envelope, Staniforth enjoys making people see something impossible occur before their eyes.

"I really love the idea of stopping people in their lives,” he says, “and giving them this moment of absolute amazement that is completely different from anything else they experience during the day.”