Seventeen-year-old Ty Robertson doesn’t turn a head as he sits at the restaurant’s bar at 303 W. He’s a cute kid — he wears blond wavy hair, a few cool wristbands bearing messages, and he has bright blue eyes that smile for him.
Although it’s obvious he’s too young to drink, he sits up straight and tall, tossing a deck of cards around like a Black Jack dealer in Vegas.
He’s a regular here.
Ty shuffles masterfully, keeping close eye contact with his victim while he talks through the trick.
“Come on, now — you know the drill. Pick out a card and put it back in the deck wherever you want … You know I’m gonna’ get your card, man, c’mon …,” Ty teases a participant and friend who paused to think.
“He gets me all the time!” John Shannon says as the dealer pulls his card without even looking at the deck. He smiles wide at Ty and tilts his head in respect.
“I stay mystified, I really, really do …,” Shannon says when no longer in earshot of the teen.
Seems like people may think this kid has a future in magic. Eddie Montgomery does.
“Aw, man, he’s unbelievable,” the festive country singer says, sporting a faux grey-and-blue-haired-wigged visor in tribute to the Cats. Montgomery can easily see Ty going somewhere with his sly hand magic.
As Montgomery dances back to his table, Ty leans in and pulls a folded $50 bill from his “Tips Appreciated” money belt, grinning. “He tipped me $50! One of the biggest tips I’ve ever gotten.”
Ty makes about $75 a weekend at 303, pretty good income for a teen. And he continues honing and crafting his skill. He wants to make more.
“I practice in the mirror a lot. It takes a lot of practice …,” he says. Ty, who has been homeschooled all of his life, and his parents — originally from Indiana — moved to Danville about six years ago. Aside from choosing magic as a hobby, he thinks his relationship with his mom makes him a little different.
“I love being homeschooled, I really do. It’s a more flexible schedule and, honestly, I like being with my mom. Not a lot of teenage boys would say that. Not a lot even like their moms!” Ty says and laughs. Then he sternly puts up an index finger while saying, “But I’m not a mamma’s boy. Don’t get me wrong.”
Ty says if he were in public school he would stand up for the kids who get picked on. He’d step in, he says.
“So, I’d probably be in the principal’s office — a lot …”
He’s pulling in bank and having a great time doing it. Ty has been hired to do magic at parties, charging $50 an hour and having a blast doing it. He continues to get referrals.
“He was the hit of the evening,” says Larry Callahan of Cincinnati, a houseboat owner on Herrington Lake who hired Ty for a party. “He’s very gracious and kind, too. Very very good at what he does. In fact, I’ve engaged him for another party in September. He works the crowd so well, and they automatically gravitate toward him.”
But he works for it. Ty explains how he practices at home, after researching different magic card trends on YouTube and other video sites, he focuses on a specific trick and obsesses over it until it’s perfected.
He may go hours in front of a mirror, performing the hand move over and over again.
“I want to see what others are seeing when they watch me. If I see a mistake — and I look for them — I know others will, too,” he says. “Oh — and the size of hands doesn’t matter. Anyone can pick it up and do it.”