Students of Steve Cotariu, aka "Hudson, the Master Magician," learn more than just tricks. The children in his summer camps learn lessons to help them succeed in life.
The 61-year-old full-time magician from Merrifield believes in magic, especially its power to transform a shy, awkward child lacking in social skills into a polished and poised performer.
"What we teach in the class are the traits of a true magician: A magician is respectful. A magician is prepared, enthusiastic and competent. A magician is humble, creative, authentic and giving," Cotariu said. "The tricks we teach tie back to one of those traits."
The husband and father of two lives in the Brainerd lakes area because of his three grandchildren, and he owns Twin Cities Magic Academy, where a child can learn magic.
"The first question they ask me is, 'What instrument do you play?'" Cotariu said when people learn about his unusual profession, mistaking it for musician. "That's the first thing they say, and then generally the second thing they say, 'Can you make a living doing that?' or 'What's your real job?'"
His classes for children are taught through community education summer programs in Hopkins, Providence Academy, Wayzata and Minnetonka, and in Brainerd, Pequot Lakes and Pine River.
"I started in high school, which is actually later than when most people start magic. I was at the wedding of my sophomore-year-of-high-school Spanish teacher. She got married in the summer and basically invited all of her students," Cotariu said of his first exposure to magic.
"A bunch of us went, and one of my classmates was there doing magic, and I thought, 'That is amazing!' I was amazed. ... I went to the library and got out a book, 'Blackstone's Modern Card Tricks and Secrets of Magic,' and I started learning magic."
When his youngest child moved out of the house for college, Cotariu began volunteering at a local hospital and became involved with Open Heart Magic, serving seven years on the board. The magic program brings laughter, hope and strength to sick children at their hospital bedsides.
"It was working with Open Heart Magic that I decided this is what I wanted to do for a living, so it was kids in hospitals that made me decide to do this for a living," Cotariu said. "My job is to help people have a good time-to laugh, to smile, to bring amazement to kids."
Some of his corporate clients include United Technologies, Keller Williams Realty and Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge, and his favorite trick is linking metal rings together. But he's passionate about training the next generation of magicians, like Alex Simons, a fifth grader from Medina.
"In every single class, there's one kid who comes up and says, 'I can't stand up in front of people and do a show,' and I just say, 'Don't worry about it. If you don't want to do the show, you don't have to.' In four years, I've had one child that didn't do the show," Cotariu said.
Natalie Simons, who is Alex's mother, said, "At the last class they had to get up in front of kids, adults ... and show this magic trick, and they'd be on stage sometimes or in front of a podium, so I totally agree that it was more than just magic tricks being taught."
Alex took classes from Cotariu and was featured in a commercial for Fruity Pebbles cereal doing a trick that Cotariu and Alex developed specifically for the online commercial.
"Hudson came up with the trick, sent it to Alex, Alex practiced it for hours and hours and hours, and then the film company came to our home and filmed it with Hudson here, so we were fortunate that Hudson gave us the opportunity," Natalie Simons said.
Public Works Agency shot the commercial at their Medina home in February of 2018 featuring her 10-year-old son and his teacher Cotariu.
"I've always had an interest in magic. I like the feeling of tricking people-and they have, like, no idea what's going on-and making people amazed," Alex said.
His favorite trick is the Bermuda Triangle, which involves making a dollar bill disappear and reappear by folding and unfolding a piece of paper containing the currency.
"I would say he's a really good teacher because he makes the trick seem like really easy, whereas if I explained it to someone, then they would probably have no idea how to do it," Alex said of Cotariu. "He was a really good teacher."
More magic online
For more information about Steve Cotariu, aka "Hudson, the Master Magician," visit www.hudsonmagic.com. To view the online commercial for Fruity Pebbles cereal featuring the Merrifield magician and his student Alex Simons, visit www.pebblescereal.com/make-magic.