– By Kim Parnell –
In the ten years since Paul Cosentino became an overnight sensation on Australia’s Got Talent, he has become a household name here in Australia and a genuine superstar on the global stage. His new show, ‘ Decennium’, will be a greatest hits tour celebrating ten years as Australia’s most successful magician, illusionist and escape artist.
I was lucky enough to chat with Cosentino about magic and his upcoming tour.
As a kid, Cosentino describes himself as being shy and introverted. He also had some learning difficulties.
“My mother was the school principal at my school, and she took me to the library one day, which of course, is the last place most kids want to be.
“I found a book that had magic tricks towards the back. We took the book home, and mum and I would sit together and read the magic tricks. Slowly, through repetition, I learnt how to read and to do a little magic. Mum was always very encouraging”.
Later, after reading a book about Harry Houdini, Cosentino saw a poster of Houdini and underneath in bold were the words “Nothing on Earth can hold Houdini, a prisoner.
“I remember saying to my mother, what does that mean? And she said, well, he would jump off bridges handcuffed and chained, escape from jail cells, and do many other escape acts. Nobody could stop Houdini or keep him down.
“So basically, Houdini was a metaphor. So, as a kid who was struggling, this idea of someone who could escape any bonds and liberate themselves was really powerful.
“Even if I didn’t consciously understand what I was. reading, there was something about this guy who could break free of anything that drew me in”.
At the age of thirteen, Cosentino went to see David Copperfield when he came to Australia. It was an incredible show that was very theatrical. That was the first time he thought that you could actually make a living out of doing magic.
After reading a book by Houdini where he revealed some of his secrets, Cosentino began to develop an interest in the art of escaping. The rest came down to lots of experimentation.
“Now you go on the Internet, and you can google things. Or watch YouTube tutorials on anything. But back then, there was a level of self-discovery that I loved and was really passionate about.
“Growing up, I would get my brothers to tie me up to a chair and, after lots of practice, would be able to wiggle free.
“Eventually, I said, okay, do the same thing, but this time push me in the pool, and they did, and I learnt to hold my breath. So, we were basically doing Jackass before Jackass was even popular. We were just kids being kids. That’s how it began.
“Growing up, mum was just happy that I wasn’t still that shy kid being picked on. I was coming into my own.
“Mum would see me on her best rug with two sticks ablaze, and she would ask me what I was doing, and I would say, mum, it’s okay. It is all for artistic purposes. I was just about to eat some fire.
“I got away with murder. That’s the thing; magic allowed me to do things that nobody else was allowed to do because it was under the umbrella of entertainment and art. So, I had a lot of room to experiment and grow, and that was a very special thing that my mum nurtured and encouraged”.
Cosentino also taught himself to pick locks. Eventually, he did go to a locksmith who taught him the proper methods and techniques.
“I remember that once, we were locked outside the house with mum. She was being clever and said, Well, we’re not locked out; you know how to open the lock. At that stage, I had only been playing around with very easy padlocks, and a padlock versus a house door are two different things.
“But I gave it a go, and I was playing around when I heard this beautiful click, and the door swung open. My mother looked at me, and I looked at her, and I knew what she was thinking. His life could go in two completely different directions now. He could become a great escape artist or a great burglar. Who knows. Successfully picking the lock was actually a very powerful moment”.
Cosentino has come a long way from those early days. He is the first Australian magician to have his own prime-time TV shows. He is a winner of multiple Merlin Awards. Won season 13 of Dancing with the Stars, had a starring role in the Jackie Chan film ‘Bleeding Steel’ and is also a best-selling author.
“If you had said to me as a child that one day, I would not only love books, but I would write them too and forge a successful career out of my craft and passion. I would have said that you’ve lost your mind.
Cosentino is looking forward to returning to Maryborough.
‘Decennium’ is a celebration of everything he has achieved over the last decade. All the pieces in the show have been chosen for a reason, as they represent a significant time and place within his career.
“It’s the best production I have ever created, and I can assure fans young and old that this is one show that you definitely do not want to miss!”
“Magic has given me everything that I love and so much more. I am filled with so much gratitude”.
You can catch Cosentino’s new show at the Brolga Theatre & Convention Centre Tuesday, May 9. For tickets, go to www.cosentino.com.au.