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Meet Derek Ostovani

Today we’d like to introduce you to Derek Ostovani.

Hi Derek, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Unlike most kids that start Magic early on, I started my journey at the spry age of 21 years old. As a child I loved Magic, like any other kid, but had no idea where to start. Any time I saw it, I gravitated towards it. Any time I came across a Magic shop, I would go in wide-eyed and wonder how it was all done. When I turned 21, my friend and I decided to rent a car and drive to Vegas. I’ll never forget it! It was a Friday evening and I had worked my butt off at work, rented a car, and drove to L.A. to pick him up and head to Las Vegas. We arrived on Saturday morning at 1:00 A.M. and I couldn’t wait to go to the club!

However my friend had other plans. He was shy and didn’t want to go out that night; but he promised me we’d go the next night. I agreed, anxiously awaiting the night to come. When we got up that next day, we walked around the strip a bit and came across one of the classic Houdini Magic shops. They would demo the tricks they wanted to sell and that’s when I saw it…. The magic that changed my life! The Magician took a playing card and floated it between his hands. It spun effortlessly as he tossed it from hand to hand in mid air. The card even made a complete revolution around his back as he released it with one hand and caught it with the other. As soon as I saw that, I desperately wanted to know how this was done. It wasn’t just a common curiosity for me. I wanted to be able to possess that “power”. To be able to produce something so magical it would stop people in their tracks and leave them in aw!

Although I was captivated by this experience, I ultimately walked away, telling myself that it was just a gimmick and this is how they “get” people; and we continued our journey on the strip. Shortly after we happened across a second Houdini’s Magic shop. There, they were demoing the same trick, and I couldn’t resist. I bought it! They took me in the back and taught me the secret. Not long after my tutorial, my friend, who was naturally quite introverted, turned to me and said, “you know what, let’s just go home.” As you could imagine I was pretty disappointed having driven all the way there, excited to be able to experience the grandeur of turning 21 in Las Vegas, just to turn right back around before I had a chance to enjoy it’s splendor. In the end it wasn’t meant to be, so I drove my friend back to L.A. and made my way back home to San Diego and arrived by 7:00 P.M. that night.

Past the initial let down of arriving in Vegas and returning home within 24 hours, I came to the realization that this had been one of those situations that actually was truly meant to be and I wouldn’t change that for the world! This short lived trip literally changed my life. I discovered a passion for magic which has allowed me a career and life that I am truly grateful for and absolutely love! Many people never even discover a passion, let alone being able to do it for a living!

That same year, I had already made plans to study Structural Engineering at the Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, which I continued to pursue. It was a wonderful experience because in a college setting, I found an audience everywhere I turned and was really able to build my skill set. I performed at College parties, bars, even in the classroom! I was so passionate about my new found love that I knew one day it would be more than just a fun talent. I went on to graduate and started to work in the field for a number of years. I worked for companies in San Francisco, Sacramento, Arizona, and eventually back in San Diego. At some point I realized that I had been spending years of my life stressed, overworked, and overall pretty much miserable. So instead of continuing on this path, I decided to take a leap of faith and turn my passion into a career. It was the best decision I have ever made and I’ve never looked back, not even once! I have been doing Magic for almost 20 years now.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
When you run your own business, it’s not always the easiest of paths, but you’ll never work harder for anyone other than yourself. There’s nobody to keep you on task, there’s nobody to assign you work, and there’s nobody to pay you unless you do all that hard work on your own. I am my best and worst employee at the same time. When I first decided to stop working in the corporate world, I told myself, I would give it one year. One year to make as much as I made as an engineer. If I could accomplish that, I knew it would be silly not to continue to pursue my dreams. I went on to accomplish that goal and have proceeded to climb higher each year.

When Covid first hit, like everyone else, I thought it would go away in a few weeks. When that didn’t happen, and my gigs were being cancelled, and deposits were being requested back from my only source of income, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t just give up, I couldn’t. I had made a big career decision and I would’ve let myself and my wife down had I not tried to give it everything I had to push past these new challenges. So I decided to try and adapt, pivot, and turn my shows virtual. It was a brand new platform and way of performing. I had to learn how to build a studio, learn new tricks, and entertain all my old and new corporate clients from behind a camera. I was hesitant at first, because I was afraid people wouldn’t like it, or the magic wouldn’t come across the camera as strong. But I was forced to at least try it, and thankfully people really enjoyed the show! Before I knew it, people were referring me to their friends, colleagues, and even recommending me to other companies. I must admit, I got pretty spoiled being able to do virtual shows from the comfort of my home studio. Not to mention being able to enjoy an old fashioned afterwards; all I had to do was walk 20 feet over to the kitchen after the show and make it!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I try to be pretty versatile in all aspects of life, and Magic is no different. So I not only perform Magic, but Mentalism, and also Hypnosis. I do this primarily for corporate clients, but also for cocktail hours, after dinner shows, and even trade shows. I can customize a company’s message, their logo, or even use their products in my Magic and presentation.

In the beginning of my Magical career, I learned from many Magicians that have paved the way. And although I continue to learn and be a constant student of the art, I have also come up with my own material. One of my favorite effects is performed with a jigger. It is a phenomenal effect where an olive will vanish and reappear under a jigger at will, and at the end, there’s a surprise with 2 big wine corks that appear under the jigger. And when you think nothing else can possibly appear from the jigger you just inspected, I then proceed to take it up a notch and pour a liquid shot right out of it into a shot glass!

That trick not only won me first place in a local Close-up Magic competition, but unbeknownst to me gained the attention of an influential gentleman in the industry, while I was performing at a convention in Las Vegas. This gentleman happened to run an invite-only close-up convention in Buffalo, New York, known as 4F or FFFF (Fechter’s Finger Flicking Frolic). After my performance he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “you just fooled the s**t out of me!”. I was given an invite to the convention on the spot! The convention requires you to perform and represent your country amongst 250 of the best close-up performers around the world and I was very proud to be a part of it.

I have since released two separate tricks of my own with Penguin Magic, a very well known Magic manufacturer and distributor, which were both well received and earned me a lot of notoriety in the Magic community. In fact one, got nominated for Best Trick of the Year. I was also recently asked to perform my lecture for Penguin Magic. I lectured in their studio in April which will be available to Magicians all over the world starting on Aug 29th, 2021. Finally, I was asked to perform my virtual show for the members of the World Famous Magic Castle on September 3rd. It had been a goal of mine to perform there for many years so it was an honor to be asked and I am very much looking forward to that show.

Currently, you can catch me performing around different parts of San Diego. Most notably, at McGregor’s in Mission Valley, every Thursday evening! I look forward to my future with Magic & Mentalism as I continue to travel and perform for the corporate industry. I will continue to set new goals for myself while doing what I love, and in hopes to begin a successful residency one day, perhaps at a hotel right here in San Diego.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
This passion of mine came on strong all by itself; however I cannot take full credit for my success along my journey. Many others helped and encouraged me along the way. I would be lying if I didn’t say there were people along the way who discouraged me from doing this full time, but I know their intentions were good. I had many friends whom I was able to practice my new found passion on and it was able to help grind my chops at the beginning. But the first and main person whom I’d give credit to is my mother. She sat through countless card tricks, no matter what time or what she was doing. You’ve got to have that ONE person to try your material out on and for me, that was my mom.

When I was just getting into Magic, I had asked my local Magic shop if there was anywhere I could go and watch Magic around town, and the Magic Shop worker (now good friend) Sal Barajas, pointed me to a restaurant that used to be located in Mission Hills, called The Gathering. The restaurant which is now closed, was open for nearly 30 years and was run and operated by Dan Thomas a Magician himself who employed other Magicians every weekend to perform there. That’s when I met Magician and ex-radio personality, Tom McCarthy. I was in awe watching him work. He introduced me to the local club (Ring 76), of The International Brotherhood of Magicians (I.B.M.); which I later became President of in the years to come. There I met Craig Stone, who used to perform at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, Cruises, and Tradeshows. I have learned a tremendous amount from both of these men in many aspects of the industry, as well in life. I could not be more grateful for them as mentors and more importantly as friends.

J.C. Wagner, another well-known bar Magician within the Magic Community, is also someone who deserves mention. He’d published several books and was acclaimed as one of the best bar Magicians by his peers. Lucky for me, I was able to visit him every Saturday at a dive bar in Coronado, called The Little Club. It was so rare to be able to sit down with someone of his knowledge and experience on a weekly basis! Us Magicians would gather round and watch the patrons come in, often a Naval team that had come into port and had no idea who they were in the presence of. And they would never know, because J.C. was one of the most kind-hearted and humble people I’ve ever known. I learned so much from him because he never held anything back from me. He used to tell me, “Derek, what I know, you know”. J.C. was taken from the world too young by Cancer, but I think about him all the time and am honored to have had him in my life.

The last person I want to give credit to, is my lovely, supportive, and encouraging wife. Every woman wants to feel secure in life, that’s just the nature of life. So for a while, I thought she would not be happy with me leaving my engineering job to pursue something seemingly less lucrative and stable. But when it came down to it, and I was serious about transitioning, she didn’t blink an eye. She saw how much happier it made me and she knew that I would do whatever necessary to make it work. She was very encouraging, even just as a girlfriend; that was before I asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. She continues to encourage me, be proud of me, and holds the title for my number one fan. It’s not always easy to be married to someone who is also married to their work, and in my line of work you have to be. I’m often away in the evenings, numerous holidays, or worse, our anniversaries. But she is always understanding and she will always be my best friend.

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