Johannesburg - I’m left with more questions than answers when I walk out of my interview with illusionist Ilan Smith.
What I have witnessed in the past hour has been unexplainable. I have seen banknotes levitate, a solid R2 coin being bent without being touched and witnessed Smith perform a card trick that even Dynamo the magician would be proud of.
But he gave me no answers or clues about how he performs the jaw-droppers.
“Magicians and illusionists do not reveal any of their secrets to the public,” Smith says.
“Though we (magicians) do exchange tricks and ideas with each other.”
From that response, I know that Smith will not shed any light on how he correctly predicted the World Cup final result last weekend.
The Joburg magician and illusionist was flung into the spotlight when he correctly predicted the outcome between Germany and Argentina.
While live on SuperSport, Smith correctly predicted the scoreline and the goal scorer of last weekend’s final.
His spot-on prediction caused a stir on Twitter and South Africans are describing Smith as “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow”.
Although chuffed by his nickname, the 34-year-old is frank with me, admitting he cannot predict the future.
“My prediction of the World Cup final is the result of magic and illusion,” he says.
“I am not able to tell you what will happen in the future, neither can I tell you what this week’s winning Lotto numbers are, although I would love to know,” he laughs.
Smith says all we witnessed was an illusion.
“It was something to amaze, delight and give a sense of wonder to the public, that’s all.”
Smith correctly predicted many other sports results, including the 2010 World Cup final. But that’s not all he does.
The father of two is a master of levitation and specialises in jaw-dropping illusions of the mind and breathtaking sleight of hand.
The illusionist, who grew up in Pretoria, says he began learning about magic at age 8. His father bought him his first magic trick set at a flea market in Durban and he was hooked.
Over the years Smith has been mentored by two of South Africa’s magical greats, George Moss and Graham Kirk. He is also a member of three magic clubs, among them the International International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) and the South African Inner Circle of Magic.
At the IBM club, Smith says, he came across many famous magicians and illusionists, such as Dynamo the magician and David Blaine.
“At these conferences we share ideas with each other and talk about the latest tricks we are working on. I met Dynamo a very long time ago, way before he became famous. We chatted for a while and shared ideas. It was great.”
Smith says the reason Dynamo is rated as one of the best illusionists in the world is because of his dexterity.
“He is a very talented guy, amazing with his hands, and hence he is one of the best in the industry.”
Smith has travelled the globe performing magic shows in many countries, among them the US, England and Israel. He says he loves his job, despite it being a tough one.
“I can spend weeks, months, or even years trying to perfect a trick,” Smith says.
When he is not performing on stage, Smith says he is just an average Joe who is stuck behind a desk doing admin work.
“Being a full-time magician is not as fun as you think. The fun comes in when I am performing. When I am not, I am behind a desk working.”
What is Smith’s next big trick after his incredible World Cup prediction? He says he’s working on a trick that will blow South Africans away.
“I cannot give you details, but I can guarantee South Africans will be amazed.”