I don’t know about you but I geek out over anything that has to do with magic. I grew up watching The World’s Greatest Magic with my family. It was a tradition to sit in front of the screen for hours on end watching trick after trick. Soon after, I became a huge fan of David Blaine and others when street magic started to become a “thing.”
Nowadays, it’s rare to see any magic shows on television. But, lo and behold, Syfy has come to our rescue to satisfy our magic cravings. Their reality series Wizard Wars premiered earlier this year with six mind-bending episodes that went over well with viewers since Season 2 was recently announced!
Judging alongside the legendary Penn & Teller is female magician Christen Gerhart who has quite a reputation in the magic community. The Daily Quirk had the opportunity to talk to Gerhart about her role as a magic critic on Wizard Wars, her other projects she’s juggling and the next skill she’s trying to obtain!
The Daily Quirk: You have tons of projects going on in your life but let’s start with Wizard Wars. How did you first become involved with the show?
Christen Gerhart: I was friends with the executive producer and creator of the show, Rick Lax, through the magic company that I work for, theory11. He’s got a few effects with us in the past and I met him through that and we became friends. He told me about his projects and he’d known I’d been doing some critiquing of magic and such through theory11 with my webshow EXPOSÉ because in it’s infancy, it was a review show for new tricks that are out on the market. So, he heard about that and read a little bit more into what I do critiquing-wise and also being a magician myself. And so he brought me in on the project and I was able to win them over. Somehow, with some sort of charm, and it worked.
TDQ: As a magic critic, you see so many different tricks. What’s it like being a judge on the show?
CG: It’s absolutely incredible. The show is really particular in that not just anybody could come on with any props or any magic tricks that they’ve created. They have specific props that they have to use and that’s both very limiting and also incredibly creative. It’s such an incredible feat for them to take these specific objects that really don’t go together or really seem like they don’t have any magical properties and create stunning magic with them. It’s absolutely fantastic. We’re constantly blown away by the creativity of the magicians on the show.
TDQ: I was wondering, do you have any input on what objects they use doing their tricks?
CG: I do not! Actually when the judges see the act on the show, it’s the first time we hear about that object. It’s the first time we meet the magicians. And, it’s the first time we see the magic that they’ve created with them. So, we are kept completely in the dark.
TDQ: That’s awesome.
CG: Yeah, it’s really cool. [laughs]
TDQ: As a judge, what is it that you’re looking for specifically with each performance and how do you critique it?
CG: There are three main categories that we look for: there’s showmanship, deceptiveness and creativity. Within those, there’s a lot of we like to see. One, we like to see how they use the objects, not just using them in ways that we would think. For example, I don’t know, a fishing pole. Using it in a way that our mind would normally go to in terms of magic which, I know, is kind of a weird thing to think with these random objects but we like seeing them being used in really out of the box ways. There’s also how comfortable they are on stage. How much they enjoy their performance. How well it flows together; the creativity of the structure of the entire performance. So there’s a lot of things we have to keep in mind when we look at these incredible, incredible performances.
TDQ: We just heard there will be a Season 2 of Wizard Wars. Is there anything you can tease for the new season?
CG: It’s… very similar to the last season in that the format hasn’t changed too much. But, I will say that the objects are even crazier.
CG: Really. Yeah. It’s hard to believe. We really stepped up our game in terms of the objects. Last season, I thought, ‘Oh, gosh. How can you get any weirder than that?’ They somehow managed to do it. And it’s really crazy the stuff that these people have come up with.
TDQ: You’re a magician yourself. How did your career start?
CG: I first was kind of exposed to magic on TV when I was 9 but didn’t really get into learning and performing until I was about 15. I kind of started in the Magic Castle Junior Program at 15. I was really in that program pretty heavily for the first few years. A couple years ago I got started with theory11 and they’re one of the biggest magic companies in the world. They’re absolutely my family. I’m so grateful to be part of the incredible team. So I host a webshow for them that now has turned into being the Magic News. Before it was reviewing tricks that were released on our marketplace called The Wire and now I host Magic News for the show. And then myself, just launched a magic show called Bitchkraft with a friend of mine, Eden Dranger, who’s a stand-up comedian. The name is pretty fun. [laughs] We really like that a lot. It’s probably the best female magic stage name we could possibly come up with. It’s kind of girly, it’s kind of silly. It’s just fun and we create the magic for that. Most of it is completely 100 percent original magic. That’s been a really fun to work on. So, that’s kind of the direction my magic has been leaning for a while.
TDQ: Going off on Bitchkraft, how did you and Eden come together to collaborate and make a web series with all these different tricks?
CG: We actually met at an audition, oddly enough. We had a lot of similar friends because she was a host for a show that had a lot of magicians on it so she kind of got in the magic community through the magicians she had on her show. We met at an audition and got talking and just realized that we enjoy hanging out and we really like being around each other. We were like, ‘We should probably do something. We should come up with an idea to do something together.’ And I’ve wanted to do a magic show for a while and I was going to do one regardless but we kind of had the idea like, ‘Well, why don’t we do it together? We both like magic and we can make it work. Having two girls is better than one.’ It just kind of happened and it was really an organic process. It was kind of cool.
TDQ: So far, you’ve launched two videos. What can our readers expect in the future? They’re pretty hilarious. The donut one was the funniest.
CG: Aw, thank you. The donut one was pretty intense. A pretty ridiculous video but so much fun to do. [laughs] We have a couple of videos in the works now. We’re trying to get together a Halloween episode. That might be, I think, pretty awesome. Other than that, we’re working on a couple of collaborations with some different brands that will be released probably next month.
TDQ: I’m just curious, what was your very first magic trick you’ve ever performed?
CG: There were two. They were card tricks. One is called Chicago Opener and the other one is called KickBack. Those were my very first card tricks.
TDQ: Wow, and how did you go about it?
CG: I actually had a friend who was in the Magic Castle Community. We’d kind of hang out and jam together. We would get together and just do magic because we’re nerds and that’s what we do. But, we’d get together and he brought some tricks over and we were kind of going through a bunch of old school magic tricks, old school card tricks. We settled. We liked these two. We kind of learned it together and that was that. It was fun.
TDQ: You’re a huge positive role model for girls. You’re a female magician and you’re also really involved in astronomy. Since you have so many skills, what’s something else you wish you can learn to do?
CG: Oh, there’s so many things. I’m trying to learn German right now. Oh, it’s unbelievably difficult. Maybe it’s just me? [laughs] It’s very, very tough but it’s so awesome! So I would love to — I probably won’t ever master a language in my lifetime but I would love to at least try. So, that’s something I’m working on now. We’ll see if that ever comes to fruition.
TDQ: Why did you choose German over another language?
CG: My dad’s side of the family is part-German. It seems kind of fun. I have a couple of friends who speak German so I thought it’d be nice to have people kind of around that I can speak with. My dad speaks some German so I wanted to take a language that I at least can hear in some kind of real life situation so I think that’d be a little bit easier to learn that way.
TDQ: Lastly, when you’re not busy judging, learning German or working as a telescope operator, what do you like to do on your free time?
CG: Probably watch Doctor Who is my go-to.
TDQ: Oh, right. I heard you’re a big Whovian!
CG: Oh, I’m a huge Whovian. Doctor Who and Star Trek are my go-tos. Otherwise, I really like to just either be with my family or I love to hang out with my cat. Things that just kind of fill that loving hole. So, family time and friend time is really fun but I love working. You know, hosting and building magic and performing, all that stuff is — I do it so often because I love it so much. Free time is great! But! I get to play for work. I can’t complain.
The Daily Quirk would like to thank Christen Gerhart for taking the time chat! To find out more about Gerhart, you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or keep up with her on her official website. Catch her as a magic critic when Wizard Wars comes back on for a new season on Syfy!