Tonight, Lost Magic: Decoded, premieres on the History Channel at 9 pm. Peter was honored to co-executive produce the show. Before the premiere, find out a bit more about Cohen and how he came to be known as the Millionaires’ Magician.
Steven Knight: How did you first get into magic?
Steve Cohen: I’ve been doing magic since I was 6 years old. I learned magic first from my uncle who was a very talented amateur magician and used to show magic to all the children in my family at family parties, and I was really the only one that paid attention, I was really eager to learn how he did these tricks. So he would take me off to a corner and he would not only show me the tricks but he’d give me the props, he’d give me the cards and a little box that has a hidden device in it. He would pass on his tricks to me because I was really interested in it.
When I was 10 years old, I gathered up enough courage and tricks to perform at a children’s birthday party. I got paid $25 to perform to a room of 4-year-olds, and entertain them with magic tricks. It was nerve-wracking, but that was my entry into show business. Then all through junior high-school, high school, and college, I was doing magic at various events and parties. When I went to Cornell I was doing performances for the university, for the dean and the board of trustees. I also got a chance to perform for Carl Sagan, doing a show for his group at the science center at Cornell.
It started off as a birthday party thing and I ended up performing for some of the smartest people in the world.
SK: What were you studying at Cornell?
SK: Did you have magic in mind as a career and profession for life?
SC: I’ve always wanted to do magic, even while I was in college. The joke is with a name like Steve Cohen I should be a physician not a magician. But my parents are very proud. Of course my parents wanted me to have a regular job, so I appeased them by getting a somewhat regular job, working as a translator. I speak Japanese, and I was working as an interpreter/translator for several years, but it was very boring and I always had my eye on magic.
Even when I was a translator I would do performances for people like David Rockefeller, and a lot of wealthy folks in New York and in Tokyo. Along the way I became known as “The Millionaires’ Magician.” I eventually ended up performing for Warren Buffet and a hundred different billionaires around the world, including the royal family of Saudi Arabia and the Queen of Morocco.