Magicians Christopher Wayne and Mike Tyler threw the "something up his sleeve" gimmick right out the window the moment they got on stage — naked. Literally baring it all, the two Aussies have toured around the world as The Naked Magicians, providing a blend of what the LA Times has called "an orgy of magic, comedy and nudity."
Ahead of the Wayne and Tyler's upcoming March 6 and 7 performance at The Detroit Music Hall, BTL connected with the magical duo. The two talked about relearning classic tricks, adjusting to nudity on stage and being an affirming show.
You both got your start in magic long before The Naked Magicians act took off. Did you have to relearn tricks to accommodate for not having any clothes on?
Mike Tyler: In 2013 we came up with this idea and premiered it in 2014. This idea of us taking magic to a place that it's never been before, and literally stripping away the magic stereotypes: the top hats, the cape, the magic wand. And we designed this show, The Naked Magicians, to do magic without our clothes on. And yeah, we had to relearn a lot of the tricks that we were doing in our own shows and we invented some new ones together. But we realized that getting naked was a little harder to do the magic, because you have no pockets, no sleeves, no pants. It also added that element of misdirection.
I'm sure it must have been terrifying when you first stepped on stage with nothing on.
Christopher Wayne: It was terrifying. Mike and I weren't the guys that went streaking or anything like that — we weren't those dudes at the party. So we're just magicians, and especially myself, I was in a different physical shape. When we first started this show I was a bit heavier, we were terrified.
MT: You were 90 pounds heavier.
CW: I was 90 pounds. heavier. The hardest part was losing all that weight but not losing any from my penis (laughs) — those are some of the jokes we make in the show. It was terrifying. And we both shared a memory of our first show backstage. I was like, "Dude, my heart's beating out of my chest." I felt like I was gonna throw up, and I remember Mike was like, "You're sweating!"
MT: Sweating profusely, yeah. It really wasn't attractive. But what we realized when we got on stage, Chris—
CW: We realized that interrupting one another is something we'll be doing for years to come (laughs). You might as well finish, Mike.
MT: We realized in that moment where we got our clothes off on stage — because we start clothed and end up naked by the end — and we realized that there was so much clapping, applause, pealing laughter, it was so liberating to be standing on stage in front of a packed theater wearing nothing but our top hats and our smiles. And it got so much easier after that, and it's become our favorite part of the night.
It's amazing to think that your day job is many people's biggest fear: showing up naked to work.
MT: Being naked is one of the biggest fears, showing up to work naked, and the other one is public speaking or performing in front of an audience. So, we combine the two.
CW: Yeah, we really just took all of the biggest human fears and just turned them into a show. All we need is a great white shark (laughs). It's a combination of several phobias almost. It makes you feel confident in a way that I know I hadn't before and I know that Mike hadn't before. I think when it comes to magic, it's kind of hard when we stop doing the show and go and do our own solo stuff, which isn't that often, but there's such a safety now. We know that when we do The Naked Magicians, the audience are going to have the best time ever. We chose to be vulnerable in the most embarrassing way, but it paid off in amazing dividends for us when we made a show that's really special.
And your show isn't just for the ladies, it's unique because it's LGBTQ-affirming, too.
MT: The show really is for anyone who is over 18. It's not just a male revue show that's just for the ladies, it's definitely for the guys as well. And we get a huge following from the gay audience out there. And we have some tricks as well in the show that are designed more for the guys than the ladies, and we have a special shout-out to the guys during the show. So, it's not just a girl's night out.
CW: One thing that I was really proud of was — we just spent six months over in Vegas and we went and saw a lot of shows. We saw nearly every show on the strip in that time when we were performing and we saw all the male revue shows as well, and something that I noticed was that even though they're "gay-friendly" it's more that it's a show for women and you won't get bullied if you're a gay guy there. What I love about our show is that the guys have as much fun as the women. I love looking into the crowd and seeing all these girls' nights out and then seeing the groups of gay boys having the time of their life and then you see couples and then the husband is laughing as much as his wife.