Atlantic City's own is through to round two on "America's Got Talent," but who really is the magician under the top hat? The man who is there one minute, but gone the next?
There is no major at college on how to become a professional magician, but Michael Turco, 29, has figured it out. Turco, who spends his summers in Brigantine, has performed at Bally's, The Hilton and for Caesars Entertainment.
He is a professional magician, but Turco and his act are all self-made.
"There is no school, no handbook, to say this is how you become a professional magician, it's a lot of practicing and figuring it out on your own," Turco said.
The magician developed an interest in making things disappear ever since he was 7, and has been practicing his craft ever since. As he grew up, he was able to meet the magicians who entertained Atlantic City for years, see the shows for himself and become completely immersed in the world of magic.
Turco, originally from North Jersey, would be a spectator at countless Atlantic City variety shows. He felt, however, he did not want to be a spectator forever.
"I knew I would eventually be on that stage performing," he said.
The performer, who has a degree in communication from William Patterson University in Wayne, Passaic County, perfected his craft doing Sweet 16 parties, weddings and bat mitzvahs during the school year. Following graduation, he produced and started touring his illusion show.
"Eventually I got my own show at Bally's, and that was a big thing, to drive down the Atlantic City Expressway and see your face on a billboard," Turco said.
Turco's staged his "Wonder" show at Bally's in 2009.
The New Jersey native has made it a long way - more than 2,000 miles away from America's playground. Now he's gracing the "America's Got Talent" stage in Las Vegas, wowing celebrity judges Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan.
Osbourne complimented Turco on both his execution and his timing, calling his performance "very slick."
He brought his seamless execution to the audition in New York City for the show's sixth season. He immediately impressed the judges with his quick-paced disappearing act involving multiple female assistants.
One assistant, Britne Lopez, 22, of Galloway Township, worked alongside Turco two years ago for his Bally's performances. She was asked by Turco to come along for his "Talent" audition and she could not say no.
"He genuinely tries to make everyone happy. He's really passionate up there," Lopez said of the magician.
Turco, who says he is constantly working on new magic, has thoughtful advice for any rising entertainer.
"I think if you're a performer and you have the creative eye for the field stick with it, you'll go places," he said.
Turco has certainly heeded his own advice. The three celebrity judges said without any hesitation, "We'll see you in Vegas!" Hopefully while Turco is in Sin City, he will go on to win the show's $1 million prize. If not, Atlantic City will always welcome the magician back.
Following last night's show, the top performers will advance to the next round of competition.
Want a taste of what Turco has to offer? Watch his audition at www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent
"America's Got Talent" airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 p.m. Wednesdays on WCAU-TV 10 and WMGM-TV 40.
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