Magician Jay Mattioli will perform his "electrifying magic" show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Penn College's Klump Academic Center.
A finalist on NBC's hit show "America's Got Talent," Mattioli is one of the youngest magicians ever to receive first prize in stage magic at the International Society of American Magician Contests.
"I specialize in strong visual magic and original presentations," Mattioli said.
His magic show tours around the world: Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait and Hong Kong. Mattioli believes that his world travels have made him more flexible and versatile.
"There are a lot of things I can't do onstage in the Middle East that I will be able to do at Penn College," Mattioli said. "Being able to make it work in both places is what keeps me busy and bills paid."
His repertoire of magic includes levitating objects and performing tricks with live doves.
"I learn so much just working with the birds," Mattioli said. "I've been doing it for over 15 years and it's always a crowd-pleaser."
When it comes to pleasing a crowd, Mattioli brings plenty of professional experience. Companies like IBM, Morgan Stanley and Disney book his magic act for their special events. He also performs at casinos, vacation resorts and universities. Mattioli's charismatic personality plays a large part in his showmanship.
"I like talking and joking with the audience," he said.
Entertainment legends David Copperfield, Michael Jackson and Superman are among Mattioli's role models.
"A magician was the closest thing to a real life profession that had the qualities of those guys," Mattioli said. "They were real showmen who made audiences fall in love with their persona and not just the tricks."
Like his idols, Mattioli strives to delight his audience in unexpected ways.
His vivid costumes, punk-rock hairdo and vivacious assistant (what magic show would be complete without one?) enhance the show's success.
"I think performers need to pay lots of attention to the concept of putting on a show, not just doing tricks. I put in a lot of effort in that regard," Mattioli said.
What's an example of his unique brand of magic? He levitates an audience member five feet in the air while dancing like the King of Pop.
"I do a bit of a Michael Jackson spoof dance. If I'm having fun, and the audience sees it, there's a good chance they will have fun too," he said.
In addition to "electrifying" tricks, Mattioli considers pacing an important ingredient in putting on a good show.
"I can perform fast-paced magic, then slow it down, then speed back up," Mattioli said.
Not every trick Mattioli performs is original, but most are.
"Originality is what every performer should strive for," Mattioli said. "I stand on the shoulders of giants who invented different magic secrets. I use many of their same techniques but perform them differently."
Mattioli currently performs out at sea on Celebrity Cruises. He found out the hard way that certain tricks are more dangerous when practiced aboard a moving cruise ship.
"I almost killed myself," he said. "I fell off this prop onto a 5-foot tall stainless steel spike. I walked with a limp for over a week."
In general, though, sharp objects don't daunt him: he has an illusion where he swallows and regurgitates 13 sewing needles.
Although magic has been performed for hundreds of years, technologies like TV and the internet make it hard for magic to "hold it's own."
"Some magicians use those mediums to 'stage' tricks that are impossible to do in real life. The tricks are filmed in reality TV-style and passed off as being accomplished by their performance skills," Mattioli said.
He steers clear of such deception, preferring instead to develop real life skills. He has nearly two hours of material.
Mattioli's advice to audience members?
"Just have fun. Be willing to let yourself laugh, giggle, oooooh and ahhhh, and I think you will!" he said.
For ticket information on Jay Mattioli's upcoming magic show, contact the Pennsylvania College of Technology's Student Activities Office at 327-4763.
For more information about Jay Mattioli, visit www.jaymattioli.com.