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Quiet magic

Deaf magician among those to celebrate 20 years of Centennial Hall

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2003

A irline security can be a hassle for anyone, but try flying around the world with two magic ducks.

Matthew "Magic" Morgan, a 30-year-old deaf magician from West Allis, Wis., often doesn't find out whether his best birds can accompany him until a few days before his flights.

"Everything's changed since 9/11," said Morgan, who may or may not be able to bring his ducks - Sprint and Bubbles - for three 30-minute magic shows at noon, 2:30 and 11:45 p.m. Saturday. His appearance is part of a series of all-ages events celebrating Centennial Hall Convention Center's 20th anniversary.

"It depends on what the airline says," Morgan said of his ducks. "It also depends on the temperature. If it's too hot, you can't do it."

Because then, quite literally, his goose would be cooked.

Morgan was born deaf, but that's never prevented him from creating illusions, caring for 10 birds in his backyard and traveling through Germany, Japan, Russia, South America, Canada and all 50 states as a diplomat of sorts. He's the president of the U.S. Deaf Magicians Society.

Southeast Alaska Independent Living is sponsoring his trip to Juneau, through its deaf services program and with a city grant.

"The show is for people at large, and it's also for awareness issues," said Michael Carson, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at SAIL. "His motto being that 'The deaf can do anything but hear.' "

"He tries to show that even if you're deaf, you can reach your goals and you can do what you want in your heart to do," said the magician's mother, JoAnn Morgan. "Even in his show, he will tell the children, 'If you want to do something, set your mind to it and you can do it.' "

Matthew Morgan began performing magic when he was 6, after his grandfather showed him a coin trick. About that time, Morgan hosted his first show.

"He told the kids in the neighborhood to come over to the yard and he put on a magic show," JoAnn Morgan said. "He charged them 25 cents."

Morgan lived a few blocks from a magic shop and began learning tricks. He read books, rented videos and studied famous illusionist David Copperfield and magic man Doug Henning.

"David Copperfield will come out and have the music and the dancing," JoAnn Morgan said. "Because he's deaf, Matthew can't depend on that. He has to depend on his talent of tricking you. He does that with the sleight of hand. That's what he has to be good at."

Morgan also began to learn animal illusions. He started 10 years ago with a 20-pound rabbit named Powder Puff. The rabbit was too fat to easily travel, so he moved on to birds. One of his first ducks, Webster, stars on his Web site, www.magicmorgan.com.

"He has to have special permission from the city council to have ducks in the backyard," JoAnn Morgan said. "Of course, he would always like a lion, but I told him 'No, not here.' "

Last year, Morgan won a first-place award at the Grand Prix, an international magic competition in Moscow. Three weeks ago, he visited Japan for a series of shows at deaf schools.

"Working with Japanese populations is fascinating," Morgan said. "They like the silk and card disappearing act. Here in America, they're fascinated with animals and illusions. In Europe, they're more into whimsy, comical acts. I try to adjust my show to make it unique every time."

Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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