Most Denton residents who know Ritchy Flo know him as a chronically optimistic hip-hop artist and beat maker.
Flo also co-hosts "Nobody Knows" with local comedian Joey Johnson for DentonRadio.com.
But since he was a pup, Flo has been a fan of magic, and until recently, an amateur magician. On Nov. 25, Flo will share the stage at Andy's Bar in an evening of magic. (The show is for ages 21 and up.)
"When I was a little kid, like five or six or something, my grandpa was always just doing these tricks," he said. "He taught me some, and I've been doing magic ever since, really. There are some tricks I refuse to look up, though, because I don't want to know how my grandpa did the tricks, you know?"
Flo met Blake Dvorak — stage name Vegas — at a party about two years ago. Dvorak teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Top Game Jiu Jitsu Studio, which he co-owns.
But Dvorak is also a magician.
"When I was 10, I saw David Blaine on TV," Dvorak said. "You know that episode where he floats up off the ground? Well, when I saw that, I had to figure out how he did that."
At the party, Dvorak and Flo demonstrated some of their tricks for one another, and a friendship was formed. Dvorak says his forte is card tricks, and Flo likes to use everyday objects — a packet of artificial sweetener, a remote control, and "blow people's minds," he said. Dvorak also likes to use anything at hand. For a dubious reporter and photographer, Dvorak made a salt shaker disappear. Then he predicted the card drawn from the deck by texting the card-drawer's phone.
Both men said the upcoming magic show will be short on spectacle but long on intrigue and a relationship with the audience.
"For a while now, I've been going up to people on the Square, going up to homeless people, and hanging out before I start doing magic," Flo said. "I like to ask people if they have a dollar bill, and then start doing all this stuff with it."
In addition to booking magic shows for birthday parties and private events. Flo has been posting videos of some of his tricks to his Instagram page.
"I get lots of feedback from that," he said. "People are like 'that was a cool camera trick.' And then I tell them, 'No, it wasn't a camera trick.'"
Dvorak said he's spent time in Las Vegas, and recently caught a show by illusionist David Copperfield and a show by Penn and Teller, who are famous for blending magic with comedy.
"I like those kinds of acts, too, with Copperfield's huge sets and all that stuff," Dvorak said. "But I'd never done a show, and I wasn't sure how it would work."
That's where Flo said he came in.
"I know how to do a show, and I know how to book a show," Flo said. "What I wasn't sure of was how to take the magic that we do and translate it to the stage. That was the challenge."
Flo and Dvorak said they like Blaine's famous street magic, with tricks done close to the spontaneous audience. And both men knew they wanted to avoid the "cheese ball" aspect of big illusionist acts.
"The challenge was taking the card stuff and putting it on stage," Flo said. "Andy's is still pretty intimate. [Dvorak] will come to me with an idea, we'll talk about it a few minutes and then we'll have a stage version of the trick."
Flo said his hip-hop background helps him read a room. There are some stock card flourishes every card magician knows, and common sleight-of-hand moves that most magicians use. What makes an act original is the way the magician performs them. Flo can slip into fast-talk with ease (another talent honed by years of performing hip-hop), and make a trick feel like a conversation or a riddle.
"I feel like my job is to master your attention," Dvorak said. "I have to know where you're looking at all times. There is so much information out there about how tricks are done, but it's not really about the trick. It's about getting people to go along with you."
A third magician, Monico De La Rosa, will join Flo and Dvorak for the show under his stage name, Monico. Flo said each magician will perform about an hour of magic.
Flo said he dithered over ticket prices, then settled on a $20 cover.
"That's more than usual for shows around here," Flo said. "But I sold my last record (D.I.C.K) for $30, and I did pretty good with that. So I decided to charge $20. I think people will think its worth it."
Joey Johnson will host the show.
"Honestly, the biggest compliment to me is when people say 'That was a camera trick' about my videos, or if they're like 'Man, you obviously had other people in on that.' It might not seem like a compliment, but it is. Because it isn't a camera trick. And I don't have other people in on it."
A Magical Evening With Ritchy Flo & Friends
When: doors open at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25
Where: Andy's Bar, 122 N. Locust St.
How much: $20. Tickets are available online.