Professional magician Phil Ackerly, a long-time Santa Clara resident, produced a literally cutting-edge magic show Nov. 15 to benefit the South Bay Blue Star Moms, who need money for postage to mail 450 holiday Care packages to the troops.
“This really was a magical evening,” said audience member Mike DeYoung from Santa Clara at the end of the “Night of Magic & Comedy” at Rooster T. Feathers Comedy Club, 157 W. El Camino, Sunnyvale. “It was a blast, and it’s for a very good cause.”
The show featured Ackerly and three other nationally-known entertainers: comedian Jeff Applebaum, Pier 39’s sword and knife swallower Lynx Kim and mind-tricks entertainer Jay Alexander, all contributing their talents for the cause.
“The first time I ever heard about the Blue Star Moms was through Phil,” said Kim. “Hopefully, some good awareness comes out of this. I like the thought of entertaining an audience and knowing something good will come out of it.”
Ackerly warmed up the audience of more than100 with classic card and money tricks before turning the stage over to Applebaum, whose fast-paced monologue drew laughs about everything from courses in Latin American studies at Trump University and ethnic dating sites to the Olympics–”an opportunity to learn about countries we never knew existed.”
Lynx Kim kept the audience on edge by swallowing six swords, each progressively more lethal. One sword was so long he needed an audience volunteer to pull it out of him, and the last sword had three blades. Kim, who must suppress his gag reflex to swallow the swords, said he is one of only 118 people in the U.S. to perform this dangerous act.
“It’s the real deal. It’s not a trick and definitely don’t try it without a competent teacher,” said Kim’s friend Jay Paxton from Oakland. “Sword swallowing is actually a dangerous thing, not something to learn off the Internet. Have good insurance!”
Jay Alexander was next up, performing mind tricks. He guessed, for example, which of three people held a ring (and in which hand) and the name of the childhood friend of a randomly selected volunteer.
“When people lie, there’s always a tell, and it’s universal,” he told the audience.
Ackerly returned to the stage for the finale. Some magicians cut their assistants in two. Ackerly, however, is cutting edge. He cut a volunteer from the audience in three. While she stood inside an upright, coffin-shaped box, he thrust two wide, steel blades forcefully into the box.
“It was awesome. I have no idea how it was done,” said Amelia Zahra from Oakland. “I’ve seen a lot of magic, but I still can’t figure it out.”
When Ackerly’s son Scott, 25, enlisted in the Air Force three years ago, Ackerly’s wife, Terry, joined the South Bay Blue Star Moms (SBBSM).
“It’s a support group for mothers with children actively serving in the military,” said Terry Ackerly, now recording secretary. “We’re all going through the same thing. We don’t know when we’re going to see them again.”
In 2015 when Ackerly asked SBBSM President Donna Zolezzi how he could help, she said they needed money for postage to mail Care packages (flat rate USPS boxes). Ackerly responded by producing the first “Night of Comedy & Magic,” which netted $1,500. Ackerly expects this year’s donation to be well over last year’s.
“I appreciate more what our troops do because my son is one, too,” said Ackerly. “I think we can take our freedoms for granted, and having my son in the service has raised my awareness.”
SBBSM has about 60 active members, plus 40 associate members (family and friends). Visit www.southbaybluestarmoms.org for information, including how to help with holiday Care boxes, which will be packed Dec. 3.