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The City Journals

World renowned magician Paul Draper returns to his hometown to do free show

Feb 21, 2019 12:02PM ● By Lindsey Baxter

Paul Draper, the magician, doing tricks with hoops. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

By Lindsey Baxter | l.baxter@mycityjournals.com

Paul Draper grew up in Holladay, Utah. He went to Holladay Elementary, Olympus Junior High School and Olympus High School. He continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Weber State in cultural anthropology, and attending UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) to study for a master’s degree in political rhetoric. He also taught at UNLV before becoming a full-time magician and mentalist. He currently sits on the board for the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice and does a variety of other charity work here in Utah. 

As he had traveled the world performing magic and mentalism shows, he was ready to return to where it all started, here in Holladay. Draper performed a free show for the community at his beloved elementary school, now the Holladay City Hall, on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. 

The auditorium was full by starting time and the crowd was eager for a night of magic tricks. Draper used his skills as a magician to perform magic tricks as well as his skills as an anthropologist (mentalist) to wow the crowd, correctly guessing words and pictures audience members drew. A little guest of the show, Wrigley, said, “The show was very funny. This wasn’t my first magic show but I saw new tricks. My favorite trick was when he put the two metal rings together even though they didn’t have any place to open.”

Draper said it completely sold out within 10 hours a month before the show was even going to take place. “At 10 a.m. the following day there were no more tickets and I had hundreds of friends call wanting to try and get tickets who were surprised they were gone so fast,” Draper says.

Draper loved seeing all the kids in the audience. He rarely does shows for kids so it was fun to see that 30 percent of the audience was kids, which really brought him back to his days of going to school at Holladay Elementary.

Ilo, Crusoe and Shaylee were helpers to start the show off. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

 Bryce Baxter, an audience member, said, “I thought the show was really good. It was really interesting how he utilized anthropology of different cultures and how they predict different things within the show and how different people have different predictions there and how he discussed how those things also carry through when he goes to different countries like India and how he has to change his show to match the anthropology of that region.”

Draper first found his love of magic as a young child reading books and teaching himself to do the tricks he found. His very first show was at Holladay Elementary School on the stage in the lunch room when he was in second grade. When he was in Mrs. Lorraine Billings’ classroom at the age of 8, she could tell he had a special talent and helped nurture him. She loved his performance so much she had him come back and do a show for her class every year from the age of 8 until he graduated high school. Not only did this make him work harder to learn new tricks to continue to impress Billings’ students, but it also continued to deepen his interest, skill and love of magic. 

Draper performed a variety of tricks and mentalism to the crowd. He did tricks from guessing the correct card, to two metal hoops hooking together, to guessing who drew which pig by listening to the sounds of the marker. “My favorite trick of the night was the letter, where he wrote the letter and described the woman’s outfit and what number she would guess and then had her read it,” Baxter says. 

For this trick, there was a card folded in half on his table for the entire show. At one point, he started asking people to yell out numbers, and when one woman guessed a number, he brought her on stage and gave the card to her to read aloud. She read the card, which described her outfit down to the color of puffy coat she had and scarf she was wearing, and correctly predicted that she was the one who would guess that number. 

Sheri Sohm, a member of the Holladay City Arts Council, said she loved the show and it was spectacular. “The ability he had to do the impossible like having the word in a little ball of paper that makes you think ‘how is that possible?’ His advice at the end where he said to do your passion and there is a place for everyone was great,” Sohm says.

Draper would love to do a show again but says he would like to plan for two nights so everybody could attend. “I had a great experience to come on this great stage and have another chance to revisit where the magic started,” Draper says.