Chris Whitelock’s interest in magic was piqued by a gift he received as a child. Whilst many children receive a magic set at some point during their childhood, for most it only makes a few brief appearances before being buried at the back of a cupboard never to see the light of day again.
For Chris though it was different. He received his first set – a Paul Daniels kit complete with VHS tape – at the tender age of three and as an only child it kept him amused for hours on end. Growing up in a musical family, with parents and grandparents who loved to entertain, Chris would often find himself called upon to perform at parties.
As a child he was a huge fan of magicians Paul Daniels and Wayne Dobson and in addition to his burgeoning love of magic he also loved the theatre, the circus and was mesmerised by the street entertainers in Covent Garden.
At school he would perform tricks and was joined by a few of his classmates. They all became friends and would swap notes about the best shops, books and VHS tapes for improving their magic skills. It was at the age of 13 though when he was performing at a family party that Chris first realised he had a genuine talent for magic. “I did a magic show and that day I completely fooled everybody,” he says.
From that point on he spent hours perfecting his craft and learning more skills until at the age of 17 he was rewarded with his first professional gig. Every Saturday evening for six months he performed in a restaurant doing close up tricks for diners. At this stage he was a member of the Young Magicians Club (the junior section of the Magic Circle) but still hadn’t really considered magic as a full time career option.
Instead he took himself off to university to study Film, TV and Theatre with the dream of one day becoming an actor. To pay for his food and rent he spent three nights a week performing in restaurants including Frankie’s (owned by championship jockey Frankie Dettori and chef Marco Pierre White) in Knightsbridge. “I did that for three years and it was then that I realised being a magician was a pretty good job,” explains Chris.
He added to his skill set by becoming a “magic consultant” after receiving a call from a teacher at university who was working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and needed some magic for a show.
Even at this point he still thought he would go down the acting route but kept up the magic work whilst waiting for theatre jobs. “I got more and more work doing magic,” he says. “I still got some theatre work but the magic just kept on coming and coming.”
Eventually he realised he could make a career out of magic whilst still using the skills he had picked up at university. “When you perform you are not just a magician, you are a comedian and entertainer as well,” he explains. “I can read people really well which is very important because you have to be constantly aware. It’s a great adrenalin rush and also incredibly satisfying to be creating magical memories for people.”
Having made the decision to become a full time career magician it wasn’t long before Chris started making a name for himself and found himself getting booked for performances in venues across the globe including the US, Kenya, Australia, Singapore, Dubai and Russia. In addition to his close up magic Chris is also an accomplished stage magician and cabaret magician. “I love all magic, every genre,” he says adding that he also enjoys watching others perform. “I watch it for the magic though, I do not analyse. I love seeing a new trick and then maybe I’ll go home and try and work it out but I don’t watch it to figure it out, I watch it for the art.”