Known for his signature showmanship and death-defying escapes, Paul Cosentino is undeniably one of Australia’s most iconic magicians. But, he admits he wasn’t always passionate about the craft.
Cosentino recalls starting out in his early teens after being drawn in by a mysterious book with intricate pictures which would inspire him to build a life in magic.
“I was an introverted, shy kid and I had a lot of learning difficulties – I didn’t learn to read until I was about 12-years-old, which was compounded by the fact that my mother was a school principal, so she was pulling her hair out trying to get me to connect, to engage, and nothing would work,” he said.
“One day, she had this bright idea to take me to the local library, and of course I didn’t want to be there because I couldn’t read, so I’m looking at books with pictures, and I stumble across this book called The Encyclopedia of Magic.
“My mother saw me with a book and thought, ‘Great, he’s finally got a book’, and we borrowed this magic book and she would read me stories and adventures and escapades of all these famous magicians like Harry Houdini, and how he would escape from jail cells all across the globe, and jump off bridges handcuffed and chained.”
In the back of the book, there was a list of magic tricks which Cosentino and his mother would work through together – breaking down each word and applying them to his own hands.
He continued to develop his skills until he became the expert he is today, and that many first met in 2011 on ‘Australia’s Got Talent’.
Cosentino credits magic to changing his life, not only in terms of his successful career in television and film, but also as a person, giving him control and power for the very first time.
“When you’re a kid, and you’re sitting in all these specialist classes, and you have to spend your lunchtime doing extra curriculum, and kids at school tease you because you’re seemingly less intelligent, it’s very, very difficult, so magic gave me a coping mechanism, and a tool to do things that were impossible,” he said.
“My father’s a structural engineer, and I remember my first trick was making a 20c coin vanish, and he legitimately said to me, ‘How did you do it?’… That was very powerful stuff, that was a transfer of power.”
This year, Cosentino is reflecting on his many years in the industry with his new show, ‘Decennium’.
“‘Decennium’ is Latin for ‘a decade’, and that’s what it is – it’s a celebration of my life in magic over the last 10 years,” he said.
“It’s the best of my best, so there’s people appearing, and levitating, and teleporting, and close-up magic, and death-defying escapes, and lots of humour, and audience participation all jam-packed into one.”
Whether you’re five or 85, Cosentino promises you’ll find something to love in what’s more than just a magic show, but simply asks you to expect the unexpected.
“Come in with an open mind – if you don’t like magic, then good, come and see the show, you’ll probably be surprised, and if you do love magic, then you’re going to really dig the show as well,” he said.
Cosentino’s ‘Decennium – The Greatest Hits Tour’ will be on at Sydney Coliseum on Saturday, December 30. To book, visit www.sydneycoliseum.com.au.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.