The eye is quicker than the hand
Optometrist shares his love of magic with patients and audiences worldwide
Many patients of Mark Horowitz, OD, look forward to their office visits. It's not what happens during the examination that excites them, but what happens afterward: a little magic.
Dr. Horowitz, who works at an optical practice in southern Florida, has been a professional magician for 50 years. At age 12, he began learning close-up magic or sleight-of hand tricks that involved rope, coins, or cards.
For years, he has pulled coins out of patients' ears, performed card tricks, and made items suddenly vanish—although he has not yet made insurance co-pays or denials disappear. He also shares his magic worldwide and teaches others how to become the next Houdini.
Oddly enough, Dr. Horowitz's entrée into the field began at a flea market in New Jersey. As a young boy, he watched a man perform magic at his booth. "He was just doing these tricks and all of these women gathered around, buying his hosiery for 25 cents a pair even though they had holes and runs in them," he said. "I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a magician and sell stuff using my magic."
As a teenager, he began performing at children's birthday parties. Although he didn't earn much money back then, the parties gave him something more valuable than income: the confidence and experience needed to perform magic in front of live audiences.
While attending college—both undergraduate and optometry school—Dr. Horowitz continued entertaining. But, just as his optometry skills evolved, so did his magic. After graduating from optometry school, he began performing at anniversary parties, adult birthday parties, and optical trade shows, working for various companies to promote their products.
Dr. Horowitz, whose stage name is Dr. Magic, said that many of his patients have been magicians. Even well-known magicians on cruises with ports of call in southern Florida came to see him for eye exams. Not a day went by when he wasn't performing or practicing. Back in the 1990s, he performed every Saturday night for 5 years at the Vanderbilt mansion on Fisher Island in Miami, a celebrity hangout.
Throughout his magic career, Dr. Horowitz has attended many magic conventions, where he met several actors, such as Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") and Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld"), who also are magicians.
Meanwhile, Dr. Horowitz' attraction to magic has spread in other directions. He is a serious collector of magic books and owns the world's largest collection of magic comic books. In addition, he has served as president of every magic club in Florida and joined the lecture circuit, speaking at magic clubs throughout the United States and in places such as Hong Kong and England. Dr. Horowitz has lectured on the history of magic to members of prestigious groups such as the International Brotherhood of Magicians (I.B.M.).