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Annapolis, Maryland

Mystifying for Fun and Profit

by Jeremy Shweder

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Don't go see Dick Steiner perform magic.

At least, not if you are the type of person who likes to understand why things happen.  The Shipley's Choice resident, named best magician in Baltimore in 1996 by a regional magazine, will do things that you won't think are possible.

After experiencing him reading your mind and performing amazing card tricks, your emotions will run the gamut from awe to bewilderment to frustration and back again to awe as you wonder how it was done.

He'll have you open a book and think of a word and then tell you what word you're thinking of.  He'll have you pick a card from a deck and then coax you into choosing the exact same card from a different deck.

Mr. Steiner will do all these astounding tricks, but he won't let on about how it's done.

Of course, a magician never tells his secrets.

 "I never get tired of the expression on people's faces.  That's what it's all about - the wonder and the bewilderment."

Mr. Steiner has been bewildering people all over the country since he retired from the Army in 1989.  It was then that he picked up magic full-time.

"I just decided to give it a try and it has worked out really well," he said.  "I'm at a point now where it's all word of mouth.  That's how it goes.  It just keeps snowballing."

He performs mostly at corporate functions or events, never for children.  Not that his magic isn't wholesome, it's just that the tricks are often complex and sophisticated.  You won't see Mr. Steiner pulling rabbits from a hat.

"He's a very interesting guy," said Peggy Wall, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau.  "What's unique about his magic is that he applies it to a business environment and can tailor it to the group he's working with.  He takes a craft and sort of gives it a new spin."


Mr. Steiner has different routines for different venues.  When he performed at a recent Major League Baseball All-Star Game he did baseball-related tricks, for instance.

Just last Christmas he worked magic for Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, at a party they threw for the Secret Service agents who protect them.

"I've got to tell you, I never have felt safer in my whole life," he joked.

He has also performed locally, for organizations such as the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce and for Loews Annapolis Hotel.

But he won't even hint about how the tricks are executed.

"I never make a disclaimer," Mr. Steiner said.  "I never say that I have a special power, I never say that I'm going to do a trick.  I just do my thing."

Performing magic gives Mr. Steiner great satisfaction, he said.  It's an art that he thinks can be done into very old age.

"I don't think a magician ever loses interest," he said.  "I know I won't."