Embracing the Unknown: Nate Staniforth on the Value of Modern Mystery

Nov 3, 2015

Iowa-based magician Nate Staniforth wants to bring wonder back to the modern world. He’s been practicing magic since he was about 10 years old and is on a mission to encourage people to embrace the unknown.

“Whatever happens at a magic show is tapping into something that fundamentally human,” he says. “If you perform at a kid’s party, it’s the adults in the back that are watching most closely. I think that’s because it reminds us of something we’ve lost… a sense of wonder, maybe.”

During this Talk of Iowa interview, Staniforth talks with host Charity Nebbe about how he uses magic to encourage his audiences to think about the unexpected. Nebbe also talk with Staniforth about a trick he performed early in his career, that could have ended badly but didn’t. He chained himself and jumped in the Iowa River while attending the University of Iowa.

“I was practically naked, locked and chained and immediately realized that this was a terrible decision, and then everything I had worked on was cold and gone. I just wanted to be out of there, so I started working on the locks,” he laughs. “It worked out okay, but someone saw this and called the police. The University was not very happy with me, but it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” 

Staniforth is performing Friday in Iowa City as a part of the Witching Hour Festival.