It’s official: Local magician Rick Lax is the king of Facebook. In the past year he’s racked up a billion Facebook video views. Over 750,000,000 of those views came on his personal Facebook page. And—this is a conservative estimate—another quarter billion came from pages that have stolen and uploaded his videos.
“I never expected this sort of fame,” Rick says. “Among my friends, I probably would have voted myself ‘Least Likely to Become Famous.’”
Rick uses the phrase “this sort of fame,” because he differentiates “Internet fame” from “legitimate fame.”
“I can tell I’m not legit famous because when somebody recognizes me, they’re impressed, but not that impressed. It’s not like running into Taylor Swift; more like running into your old babysitter.”
Rick, 34, started his Facebook Entertainer page only one year ago. He began by uploading simple sleight-of-hand videos, but progressed to more interactive, mind reading demonstrations. The response has been huge. Lax doesn’t only have more video views than any magician in history, he’s got more Facebook video views that Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift combined.
“It sounds more impressive than it is. Those two aren’t making content specifically for Facebook. Their YouTube numbers crush me.”
Lax’ downplays his success, but acknowledges it’s no accident. He attributes it to two factors:
“Lots of magicians made content for YouTube because they could make money off the ads that ran before the videos. Facebook still doesn’t offer that, so a lot of guys refuse to make the transition. I was never in it for the money, so when I saw the open window, I hopped through it.”
The second factor: “Everyone else was trying to copy David Blaine,” Lax says. “They were performing magic for strangers in the street and uploading videos of that. But everybody knows that videos like that can be set up with actors and stooges, so I perform my tricks directly to the camera. I really connect with people directly. And now I’m the one being copied.”
Even though Lax has been interested in magic since he was five, he stayed behind-the-scenes until a year ago. He created magic, most notably, for his childhood hero David Copperfield. “Great magician, great guy, happy to call him a friend,” Lax says.
Rick also works closely with magician Justin Flom, who recently wrapped up a stadium tour with country superstars Florida Georgia Line. Lax and Flom work together almost every day.
“Lots of magicians talk every day. That part’s not special. What’s unique is that Justin and I don’t spend our time gossiping about other magicians; we spend our time thinking up new magic tricks and redesigning old ones. On Tuesday we did that for 6 hours straight. Then we take the mutually created tricks and perform them in our own styles.”
Lax and Flom worked together to create and produce the TV show “Wizard Wars,” which ran for two seasons on the SyFy network.
Now that Rick has had some success as a performer—since Wizard Wars’ cancelation a year ago, Rick headlined at the Magic Castle and won CW’s Penn & Teller’s Fool Us—he’s more willing to tell this story:
“I didn’t want to admit it to my friends at the time, but I did want to be on screen for Wizard Wars. The network said that I wasn’t good enough to be on camera. I couldn’t even get cast on my own show!”
Lax took it personally, but consoled himself by remembering that unlike all the other starts of the show, Lax had no real-world experience as a performing magician. He spend his 20s studying political science at the University of Michigan (graduated with honors), studying law at the DePaul University College of Law (Dean’s list), passing the Illinois bar, and then writing and publishing three books.
“Some of my friends think that if I had focused on magic in my 20s, I would be ‘legit famous’ now. But I think it’s the opposite. Every magician has me crushed in terms of performance experience. But I’ve got critical thinking and the storytelling skills. That’s my secret weapon.”
You can read more about Rick Lax here: RickLax.com
And see more of his amazing magic here: Facebook.com/DeceptionExpert
Rick Lax lives a block off the strip. He creates illusions for Penguin Magic (the biggest magic shop in the world) and for many entertainers. He also the author of the book Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas.