Ron Giesecke Has More Than A Trick and Song Up His Sleeve
By Kerri Regan
House of Magic
By Kerri Regan
Photo by Jeannine Hendrickson
You won’t see magician Ron Giesecke pull a rabbit out of a hat or make a quarter appear from behind your ear.
His magic show centers mainly on cards, and he describes each illusion as “an erudite act – it’s art, ruse and subterfuge at the card table,” he says. “I call each one a journey. I’m a deception artist.”
Some of Giesecke’s acts are based on tricks from a book written in 1902; another stems from a 730-year-old Greek text, which illustrates a three-cup, three-ball routine performed in the market. “Almost 2,000 years later, the reactions to a street-performing charlatan are exactly the same,” Giesecke says.
Many of his illusions are paired with music – often his own. He needed a Western song for an illusion detailing the 1876 murder of Wild Bill Hickok, so he took a jaw harp and a homemade cigar box guitar that he plays with a glass slide, and created his own soundtrack.
In a routine he calls “Apologies to Dickens,” he tells a tale of Marley and all three ghosts, during which all 52 cards are expended on the table in order. “I wanted to see if I could get all the cards to fit the Scrooge narrative, and I did it in a day,” Giesecke says.
Both of his December shows at the Bohemian Art Loft sold out, and he hopes to schedule more this spring. “Not only is he a highly accomplished illusionist, he worked his magic into wondrous stories, creating a mesmerizing and captivating presentation which was also quite humorous and informative,” says Peter Robbins, owner of the Bohemian Art Loft.
Giesecke’s fascination with magic began when his dad took him to a magic show at age 5, and he started doing tricks at 9. Many years later, he watched the owner of a magic store perform the first card trick that “wasn’t a boilerplate one that your uncle does at Thanksgiving,” he says. “It was a mindblowing routine, and I knew there was a skill set involved with that. I started buying books, and as soon as I walked through that Narnia-like wardrobe of literature, I was captivated.
“Card tricks were the majority of what were on TV that interested me – I could care less about tigers or explosions or cutting someone in half,” Giesecke says. “I’m a people person and this involves relationships. I wanted the show to be about bringing you along on my journey. You may not know how it’s done, but you also don’t want to know how Star Wars did every special effect.”
After graduating from a North State high school, Giesecke spent two years in the Army, and has worked as a DJ, dishwasher, car detailer, sign language interpreter and more. He played in bands for years, mostly as a singer and guitarist, but he can also play the bass, drums, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, blues harmonica, piano, cigar box guitar and penny whistle, among others. When his band hit the road, he opted instead for the family life (including wife Nicole and daughters Emma, 16, and Clara, 14).
In 2000, he started doing tableside magic tricks at various restaurants, festivals and fairs. He was hired as a juvenile detention officer in 2005, where his skills bought him respect from the young wards. Twice, Christmas fell on his day off, but he went in and performed his 45-minute show anyway. “One young woman who is in her 20s now saw me in town and said, ‘That Christmas was the best Christmas I ever had in my life,’” says Giesecke, who now works in social services.
But he’s no one-trick pony. He created an 11-minute film about getting his man card back, in which he showcased self-taught special effects, including illusions of Dog Creek Bridge exploding, a Blackhawk helicopter hovering near Safeway and Giesecke getting himself shot.
He has also published articles in various periodicals; his blog, “Master of None,” “gives me a place to vent my spleen and refine what I do.” He also shares tales of his own collection of correspondence inspired by Don Novello’s “The Lazlo Letters,” in which the author writes “ridiculous” letters to people in power. Giesecke has penned dozens of these letters over the years, including:
- He gave Charles Manson some tongue-in-cheek advice for getting paroled, saying he couldn’t simultaneously claim to be Christ and Satan, and that he needed to “deal with the Lucifer complex.” Manson sent back a series of lines and circles in black ink.
- He advised Mother Teresa to ask her local grocer to stock Snapple raspberry iced tea. “Lo and behold, from Missionaries of Charities India came a yellow piece of paper with a typed prayer and a little blue mimeograph of her in a prayerful pose,” Giesecke says. “In blue, shaky ink, it said, ‘M. Teresa.’ I wished I would have written something of a little more substance.”
- He chided Charmin for not having written instructions on use of their product, and wondering why each piece wasn’t two and a half feet long. The response? “Your letter is the first of its kind.”
- He asked the Houston Astros for an update on the status of Nolan Ryan’s hat after a wild pitch led to a bench-clearing fight and Ryan’s hat flew off (“although his hat did get stepped upon, it is OK,” a spokesperson replied).
- He asked to rent a Bengal tiger for a birthday party from the San Diego Zoo.
- He told the World Society for the Protection of Animals that he wanted to start a spotted owl habitat on his property and needed to know what they ate.
- He sent then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell a drawing of a giant fish on wheels that he labeled “the Trojan trout,” billing it as a way to solve the Bosnian conflict. “If I wasn’t on the no-fly list then, I’m probably on it now,” he says.
- He advised Coca-Cola to put a soda machine in the Kremlin to give Boris Yeltsin an alternative to alcohol.
- When a local Starbucks didn’t open until 6 am – too late for him to stop by before his workday began – he wrote to ask if they would send him $300 to purchase Kopi Luwak, a coffee made from beans that are selected, eaten and excreted by a palm civet.
“I think some of my letters have torched some monotony,” he says.