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The Magic Man

Simon Mandal's Gratitude isn't an Illusion

Article by Don Seaman

Photography by John Agnello

Originally published in Wayne Lifestyle

Simon Mandal is magic, although not in the pointy hat with stars, casting spells, wand-waving sort of way. He is a magician, sure, but there’s so much more to him that the only word that seems appropriate — yet ironically somehow under-serving — is magic.

No, the magic that Simon brings is deeper than just the illusions he performs. He’s a man of sincere joy, polite to near Canadian standards. His chosen profession is often looked at with skepticism, of someone trying to play a trick on you. With Simon Mandal, it’s about sharing the wonder of the seemingly impossible. You don’t feel duped — you feel included.

His goal is to give people an experience that it’s actually not possible to give them. He equates it to a positive feeling of being struck by lightning.

“For me, the Gold Standard is when it looks like something has really happened and it’s inexplicable,” Simon says. “Sawing someone in half, you sort of figure that there’s some optical illusion going on with the box. That’s not my thing. It’s exciting to give the sense of twisting reality.”

His enthusiasm is disarming, the energy brimming out of him like a little kid who’s sharing something that just blew his mind. He’s an inclusive entertainer. It’s all about sharing the wonder he’s found.

According to Simon, finding your own magic has a lot to do with finding what works for your personality. 

He’s included many of his creative passions during his 15-year career, including magic, comedy, and even some music, crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of spreading wonder. One of the niches he’s carved out is performing shows for corporate events, which began in earnest somewhat organically. A few weeks after a show, he got a call to ask about booking him for a corporate event and he asked them to tell him a little bit about themselves. “Sure — we’re Google.” 

And that’s how his relationship with big events kicked off. But really, he prefers to step off the big stage and perform “small”. He shines brightest when at the most intimate, huddling in to blow people’s minds individually and in very small groups. It’s concierge magic.

The magic of giving back

It’s no coincidence that the performances Simon prefers engender eye contact because it’s connective. That’s why he works so hard to give back to others, not only in his performances but also in his scheduling. Non-profits and charity events figure heavily in his calendar. Homelessness, environmental causes, wildlife conservation, and so much more. This is a man who believes he can make a difference on many fronts. 

“I’ve got a special place in my heart for the special needs community — people with autism, developmental issues, that sort of thing. I’ve done lots of private shows to help with their fundraising. We did one recently in Montclair and we’re hoping to do more of those.” 

To that end, Simon is working on developing a regional theater program that will allow him to benefit multiple charities in an elevated way to drive public attention while efficiently raising money for them. “It’s a win-win for them,” he explains. He’s raised tens of thousands of dollars in a single fundraising illusion night. With this program, there’s potential to be far more transformative.

This hyper-gracious man doesn’t take his success lightly. He has a “grateful for” list a mile long, from teachers and mentors, friendships with legendary performers he’s worked with, and the hundreds of thousands of people he’s been blessed to perform for and make special days and happy events even happier. 

“Our experience of life is hugely influenced by the way we choose to perceive it,” Simon advises. “Living with gratitude is one of the easiest ways to find true happiness.”

Simon Mandal is performing at a HABcore charity benefit for homelessness in Red Bank in January. For more information about the event and to get more about Simon, go to his website,