Seasoned magician shares love for astonishment

Magician Nate Staniforth demonstrates a Harry Houdini original magic trick. Staniforth swallowed thread and needles separately but was somehow able to regurgitate all of it back up with the needles on the thread. Sarah Hansen/Photo editor

A magician stunned and dumbfounded eager audience members with his mystifying feats in a packed Ice Auditorium on Sept. 1. Magician Nate Staniforth opened his show with footage of him performing magic tricks on students in Dillin Hall earlier in the day.
Sophomore Haydn Nason, one of the students featured in the clip, experienced a card trick firsthand.
“Dude, it was magic,” Nason said. “Even though my friend figured out how [Staniforth] did the trick, it was still magic.”
Staniforth confounded a much larger group that night when he performed a trick that involved every audience member calling someone from a cell phone. The first three audience members to get a person on the line were instructed to stand. Then, the rest of the audience voted on which person to use for the trick.
The audience voted for sophomore Talia Cowan, who had called her mother, Barbara. Cowan asked her mom to think of a playing card. Barbara chose the eight of clubs. Before the show, Staniforth had chosen a card and returned it to the deck upside down. After Cowan got off the phone with her mother, Staniforth brought her onstage and had her pull out the card that he had chosen earlier. It
was the eight of clubs; her mother’s card.
“He was positively impressive and entertaining,” sophomore Claudia Ramirez said.
The next trick Staniforth performed required several volunteers. One volunteer sat onstage with a secret object, given to her by Staniforth, so no one would see it. Staniforth then asked each audience member to take out a dollar bill. He picked a student’s bill at random and had the audience memorize the serial number on the bill: 34296866. Two other audience members initialed the bill and tore off a corner of it. The magician put the rest of the bill in an envelope, sealed it and set it on fire. Once the flames died, he asked the first volunteer to open her hands and reveal the object that she had been holding the entire time. It was a dollar bill with the same serial number, initials and torn corner that fit perfectly together with the missing piece.
“During my tour I stopped in Georgia for a show, and a guy in the audience called me the devil,” Staniforth said.
Staniforth has been practicing magic tricks since he was 8 years old. At the age of 10, he read a book about Harry Houdini and one
of his famous magical feats. Since then, he has practiced and performed the trick, which turned out to be his next act.
“If you are young and impressionable, do not try this yourself; if you are old and impressionable, there is nothing I can do for you,” Staniforth said about the trick.
He pulled out a spool of thread and swallowed a line of it. Next, he produced a packet of needles from his pocket. Once the audience was satisfied that they were sharp, he swallowed the needles to the sound of people’s horrified gasps.
Audience members in the front row checked his mouth to prove that he swallowed the needles. Then he regurgitated the thread.
Astonishingly, all of the needles he swallowed were threaded on the line of string. “If astonishment could come in a pill form, I would be an astonishment junkie,” Staniforth said.
The next trick Staniforth performed was one he had been working on since high school. He had a volunteer stand on the right side of the stage and another on the left, so they were nowhere near each other. He gave one student the four of spades from a deck of cards.
To prove that there wasn’t a duplicate card, he had her sign it, fold it up and hold it tightly in her hands. Then, he gave the other student the king of diamonds and had him do the same thing. Staniforth asked the first volunteer to imagine her card changing into the other
volunteer’s card. When she opened her hands, the other volunteer’s card, signature and all emerged, and vice versa.
Staniforth ended the night with an act that required everyone in the audience to write down a color, a number between one and 100 and a moderately well-known city on a note card. To select an audience member’s card to use for the trick, he crumpled up a poster and tossed it into the audience. The student who caught it on the third toss was chosen. On his card, he had written “orange,” “43” and “Detroit.”
Staniforth then had a different audience member come onstage and check a phone book he had taken from a California hotel to make sure it was not rigged. The volunteer closed her eyes, ran her finger down a residential page and stopped on a random phone number. Staniforth wrote the phone number down and instructed another volunteer, junior Andrew Carpenter, to prank call the number on speakerphone. He asked the volunteer to say that he was a psychology student from Linfield College doing an experiment for a class.
Carpenter called the number and a man answered, explaining that the people Carpenter asked for had recently moved. But he agreed to do the experiment himself. When asked a color, he said orange. When asked a number he said 16 — not the volunteer’s number. But, when asked to pick a city, the man no longer wanted to participate and said that if he wanted to get a hold of the last owners, they had moved to Detroit — the volunteer’s city.
For more information about magician Nate Staniforth, visit his website at

Jessica Prokop/Culture editor
Jessica Prokop can be reached at

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