Oak City Hustle
Abracadabara Bitches…  It’s Magic Mike!

OakCity Hustle

Richard Livingston

Abracadabara Bitches… It’s Magic Mike!

It’s a muggy night in May. Lanky, bald and bespectacled, Michael Casey commands the small stage at Slim’s on South Wilmington Street. Casey isn’t Slim’s standard entertainment fare. He’s not shredding power chords or supporting his latest EP. Instead, Casey is performing his own unique brand of guerilla magic. His show is rough and rude, stripped of pretense and ornamentation so all that’s left for the audience is the sneaking suspicion that they’re either observing a breach in the laws of physics or being bamboozled by a master of his craft.

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Magician Michael Casey (‘Magic Mike’ to some before Steven Soderbergh unintentionally inflicted the expectation of male stripping upon his performances) excels at manipulating the physical and the social environment. He performs in bars and rock clubs, preferring intimate venues and pick-up magic in which he’ll start a show just by expertly fanning a deck of cards across a pool table. Audiences gather naturally, but there’s danger inherent in that approach. For every ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at a guessed card or sleight of hand, there’s the ubiquitous drunk loudmouth ready to derail the proceedings.

“I like dealing with curveballs in my shows,” explains Casey, calm and smiling. “DIY magic lets me push limits. It makes me better at what I do. Sometimes people like to mess up a trick for the sake of it. I observe comedians to see how they respond to disruptions.”   

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This particular evening, the curveball comes in the form of a slurring, bleary-eye patron in a stained tee shirt. Magic Mike has just impressed the crowd by producing a card – signed in Sharpie by a young woman – from a fresh sealed deck. Stained tee guy – vocal from the beginning – snatches a joker off the table, scrawls his name upon it, places it in the deck and challenges Mike to produce it. The magician takes it in stride, manipulating the cards, no motion wasted. Confidently, he holds up a card. The guy squints. “Not mine, dude.” Mike tries again. “Nope.” Casey, for a moment, seems defeated until racked with a coughing fit. Gasping, he leans over and wretches. Spittle sprays across the pool table. A soggy folded card drops from his mouth to the green felt. No one wants to touch it. Mike gingerly unfolds the dripping card, showing the room the joker with the name scrawled upon it minutes before. 

Casey is philosophical about his talent. “Magic shows people there is something else behind the curtain. It’s like the concept of free will versus destiny. When someone selects a card, and they realize it was in an envelope out of my control, seemingly all along, it messes with what you think about the world. Did you choose for the card to be in there, or was it fate you would choose the card?”

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The performance at Slim’s culminates with a suspenseful demonstration of choice versus chance. Four paper bags are arranged on a table. Mike selects a member of the audience to flip a coin, each flip determining the bag upon which Mike slams his hand ferociously. The first coin toss results in a deflated bag which he crumbles and discards. Two more bags meet the same end. The remaining bag, which could have been fated from any one of the preceding coin tosses, is opened to reveal the broken beer bottle, its jagged shards stabbing skyward, that had been awaiting the tender flesh of Mike’s hand.

“Sure, I was in danger,” Mike chuckles after the show. “Oh, did I mention that was the first time I did that trick?”

Magic Mike x Oak City Hustle_4Magic Mike x Oak City Hustle_15



Richard Livingston

Rich is an OG Oak City Hustler who has been with us from the start. When Rich isn't peeling the onion on Raleigh's past & present he is organizing the Raleigh Zombie Walk, terrorizing the streets while searching for edible brains.


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