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    Shlomo Levinger is a 26 year old frum magician & mentalist from Far Rockaway, NY. He grew up in Queens and went to Yeshiva Ketana of Queens & Tiferes Moshe for elementary school. For high school, Shlomo went to Chofetz Chaim in Queens and for Beis Medrash he went to Chofetz Chaim in Dallas. He then went to Chofetz Chaim in Eretz Yisrael for two years, Waterbury Beis Medrash for a few years, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway for two years and is currently learning in ZA. Shlomo is married & davens at Rabbi Bodner’s shul in Far Rockaway. Shlomo has performed his jaw dropping illusions all over the world, including the US, UK, and Israel. Shlomo is also known on social media for his street magic videos that have amassed millions of views performing for all different types of people, including athletes and celebrities. Shlomo recently performed in Arizona at the L.A. Dodgers spring training facility in Arizona with Shohei Ohtani, Clayton Kershaw & Mookie Betts. The YouTube video has gone viral and is a tremendous hit.

    Mazel Tov on your recent gig in Arizona with the L.A. Dodgers. I just watched your YouTube video this past week and I was blown away. How does someone get a gig like that?
    It’s genuinely just a lot of networking. I’ll start from the beginning. I posted a lot of content over the last ten years. Even when I was beginning my work in magic, I always liked posting content on social media. I was always filming, going out on the street to random people, filming magic, putting it on video, putting it online on YouTube and Instagram. Then, there was a certain point where I had done magic for a certain influencer in the non-Jewish world, random dude, but he has a big following, a few million followers, so I did some magic for
    him and I received a bunch of followers from that. The most important part of that was that Mike Trout, who is arguably one of the top three to five players in baseball, was one of
    the people that followed me and he saw my content and my page. We were messaging each other, and he told he wanted to see my magic in person. I told him that I’d come out to LA to film some content and he agreed. We figured out times and dates and I went out to the game. After the game, we hung out for an hour and I showed him a bunch of stuff and we filmed it. That was my first connection in sports. It was awesome and a really good introduction to the sports world. Then Alex Bregman from the Astros reached out, so I went down there and filmed with him. There were some other guys from other teams that saw my stuff and started following me; I was very proactive and connected with many people. I had many really cool opportunities.
    I also did magic with the Nashville Predator and with a couple other players. Last year, during the last baseball season, I got in contact with Ari Solomon from Stadium Custom Kicks, who is another frum guy in the sports world. For a long time many people were telling both of us to collaborate with each other because we’re both frum guys and both kind of in the baseball world. For those who don’t know, Ari has a company that makes custom cleats for players, so he has a lot of connections in sports. I said, “Hey! I have this great idea that I think you guys could really benefit from.” So, we went out to lunch, we sat down, I told him my idea and he loved it. Basically, the idea was that we were going to pick a player, in this case it happened to have been Pete Alonso from the New York Mets just because we’re both in New York. Before the game, we asked Pete to create an image of a cleat in his mind. This was all on the spot; we hadn’t talked about it before. I came with an empty shoe box and I had him pick a bunch of random things, such as a color, designs that he wanted on the shoes etc. We did this on the field before the game. He picked the color mint green and the designs were fishing and the Statue of Liberty. I then had him pick a random number, I snapped my fingers, and the shoe box that was previously empty had the exact pair of cleats that he was thinking of. It had the same color and designs he chose. The heel of the cleats had the number that he was thinking of. He loved it! The kicker to that was when you turned the cleats over and held them side by side upside down, it said his name- Pete Alonso. And that was my introduction to Stadium Custom Kicks.
    Fast forward a few months and Stadium Custom Kicks was working with Walker Buehler, who was one of the pitchers on the Dodgers. Walker was having a charity golf tournament and wanted a pair of custom golf shoes for the charity event. So they happened to have been working with him on that already. One of the sponsors of Stadium Custom Kicks was this company called Red Moose. In charity golf tournaments, holes are sponsored. So if hole 7 is sponsored, you sit out by the hole and promote your product. Red Moose was doing that with Stadium
    Custom Kicks. They had me come along and hang out by the hole with them and do magic for the people that would come by at the golf tournament. I was there the whole day and I met some really cool people, like pitcher Walker Buehler from the L.A. Dodgers and his family. I met his agent, Chris Glazer, and we got to know each other. Over the last six months, his agent and I were talking about different ideas, and had a networking relationship through Instagram. Then, a few weeks ago I texted him and I said, “Hey, I’m thinking about going to Arizona to film some content. Let’s film some content with the Dodgers. He reached out to the Dodgers and they loved the idea.

    How did it work out with Japanese MLB All Star pitcher Shohei Ohtani? How was his English?
    I’ll be honest, I was talking to Dodger manager Dave Roberts about this, I think he understands English way better than he speaks it. If you have ever seen him in an interview, you’ll see that it looks like he understands the question even before his translator says anything.

    Do you get nervous around these ball players, especially somebody like All Stars Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani?
    I get a little bit nervous beforehand, a little jittery, a little anxious, but once I’m doing my thing, I just go into show mode. It’s like any other performance really. There are higher stakes,
    but I’m confident in my material and I’m confident in myself, so once I’m up there it’s like any other performance, any corporate gig or a stage show. I’ve done over the last year or two, other charity golf tournaments for other guys that I knew that I connected with, let’s say through Alex Bregman, like his one of his friends that was a pitcher on the Astros, hosted a golf tournament for Huntington’s disease, so he called me up and asked me to come down to Florida and hang out at the pre-event dinner. It’s just about connecting with people. It gets a little nerve wracking because it’s high stakes, but once you’re in the moment you get into the zone. You have to shake off a little bit of the jitters in the beginning and then once I get myself going, it’s an adrenaline rush.

    Did you speak to Ohtani’s interpreter?
    Yes. Quite a bit. They seemed very close & were together all the time. I didn’t pick up on anything out of the ordinary. They seemed pretty normal.

    Did you realize that the amount of time that you spent with Ohtani made over $10 million?
    Probably, right? That’s crazy! I made a joke in the show, there was a point where there was a really big number like fifteen billion or something and I made a joke “oh that’s as big as Ohtani’s contract!” The guys loved that. They were laughing.

    Do any of these guys give you any nice tips?
    No, not really. I’m kind of there for the team. They don’t know if I’m getting paid or not, but they know that the team brought me. They appreciate it. I was talking to one of the guys and he was saying how it’s awesome that they do these things because spring training is a very long, grueling process and it’s a good chunk of the year. They’re away from their family a lot of the time, away from their kids, and they don’t get a chance to really be normal. When teams do this type of stuff, they get to sit down and relax for a few minutes and chill as a group. That’s kind of what I’m bringing to the table here and it’s fun.
    People have asked me why I perform with a yarmulke. They ask if I’m scared that they won’t respect me. If anything, it’s the complete opposite. They like it when people are genuine and they can tell. They’re not stupid. These guys deal with people all day who are trying to get in touch with them or do business with them, and when they see someone like me who comes in as myself and I’m not asking them for anything, I’m just entertaining them, they appreciate it so much more.

    Did you ever mess up on any of these gigs?
    Not yet. Hopefully not. It’s like messing up in any show. If things go wrong, you have to roll with the punches. They don’t know what the end of the trick is supposed to be, so you just try to move on. There was one situation where I had a really bad experience that I try to forget about, but I’ve done way bigger and better stuff since then, so it doesn’t really bother me anymore. It’s trying to have that mindset of let’s try to keep doing what we’re doing, believe in yourself and be proactive. I think a big part of it is also having Siyata Dishmaya, understanding that it’s meant to be that way and everything happens for a reason. I believe that if a certain opportunity wasn’t supposed to go my way, then it was meant to be.

    Did you ever feel any anti-semitism with any of the ballplayers you performed in front of?
    I’ve never experienced one ounce of that. B”H, I really haven’t. Barely anybody even asks me about it. More often than not, people will come over to me and say “Oh I’m Jewish or I love Jews or my wife’s Jewish, my cousin is Jewish.” People like to connect in that way.

    How did it work out with Houston Astros, Jewish ball player Alex Bregman?
    When Alex Bregman saw the Mike Trout video he obviously knew I was Jewish because my name is Shlomo. He told me, “I love that you’re Jewish, I’m Jewish. I like that you’re doing this, I think it’s super cool.” I think that was a huge part of why he even reached out in the first place. Forget the fact that the video itself was awesome, he connected in that way.

    How did you get into the magic, mentalist business?
    It started as a hobby in high school. I picked up random tricks here and there. I always liked to be creative and perform. As high school went on, maybe in 11th or 12th grade, I started to do some small gigs through word of mouth and social media, and I started building my business. Over the last few years, I’ve cornered a lot of the frum market and I’m now breaking into the sports world and beyond. There are four things you need in order to be a successful entertainer: Number one is that you need to be good, you need to know what you’re doing. You need good
    tricks and good routines. Number two is even if you have good tricks, you have to be a good performer, so that’s even more important. I say all the time that a magic show should be 80% entertainment and 20% tricks. Even if the tricks are not that good, but you have a great personality and you’re able to entertain the crowd, that’s so much more important. It takes time to be a good entertainer; that comes from doing it over and over, learning from your mistakes, and being comfortable on stage, which takes time. Number three, you need to know how to run a business because it’s a legitimate business. You have to know how to market yourself, speak to clients, customer service and run a bankroll. You have to know how to be your own bookkeeper because in the beginning no one is doing that for you. Eventually, you can hire people to do those things. Right now, I’m an S-Corp. I work for myself, but at the same time you
    have to know how to do your taxes and you have to have the right accountant, which also comes with time. When I started out, I was doing it on a very minimal level, but now I have a much better understanding of how to send out contracts, how to do invoices and how to take deposits. Then, the fourth thing is Hashem. I could do those three things and if that’s not Hashem’s plan, it isn’t happening.

    Is this your full-time job?

    How often do you typically do gigs?
    It depends on the season, but in a really busy season, almost every day. In a not so busy season, maybe two or three times a week on average.

    How long does it take you to prepare for a gig? I’m assuming you constantly need new material.
    It depends on the gig. I have my “set” show, but I always switch things in and out. If I’m trying new stuff or if there’s something that I don’t like then I’ll take it out, or if there’s something I like better, I’ll put it in, so it’s never exactly the same. Right now, I have my routines that I’m happy with and that I like. My show has a structure, so it’s not just a bunch of tricks. As an entertainer, I am structuring my show so that it makes sense, like there’s kind of a storyline to it, where the beginning makes sense at the end and the end makes sense at the beginning. There’s a lot of theory and psychology that goes into that, but yes, I’m always working on new stuff. I still enjoy it, believe it or not. I have been doing it for a while, but I still enjoy it and it’s fun.

    Do you ever get people that give you a hard time being a frum person, being a mentalist? Did you ever ask a halachic shailah if you are allowed to be a magician or a mentalist?
    Yes, I deal with this stuff all the time. Everyone has different shittahs. It’s very complicated. I personally asked my own rebbeim and I got a certain answer, so that’s what I go with, but I totally understand if someone else has a different shittah. I’m not going to hold it against them. I know that there are certain rabbanim that are very against it and there are certain rabbanim
    that love it, so it depends on who your Rav is. For me, the psak that I got was, as long as you make it very clear that it’s not real magic, so whether that’d be saying something in the beginning of the show or really just making it clear that it’s not, that’s all you need to do. If you see my show, my style is very fun and energetic. I make a lot of jokes and it’s a fun show. I always try to
    say in my show that this is not real and even with the mind reading stuff, I’m not actually reading your mind. I say that straight out in my show, so if someone chooses to believe it, I know that I did my part to say what I need to say. Am I 100% confident that what I’m doing is right? I mean I think so. I asked a shailah and I got a response, so that’s what you got to do, but can I promise you? I don’t know. I only realized that there was a potential shailah once I was doing it for a while. I spoke to my rabbeim and I spoke to my Rav and that’s the psak I got. He said you’re good, you’re fine. I think we go with the Ramban that as long as you say that it’s not real, that’s kind of what you need to do.

    Did they ever ask you to perform at any of the yeshivas you were in?
    When I was in Waterbury, all the time. When I was in Eretz Yisrael, we used to have mishmar every Thursday night and they used to have guys get up and say whatever they wanted to say, so I would actually try new stuff there. That was a great platform for me to try new material.


    Name someone alive that you never met that you would like to meet:
    Basketball star, Steph Curry.
    Favorite magician of all time:
    Justin Willman
    Best compliment you ever received:
    “Even if there were no tricks in the show, I would have loved the show.”
    Favorite gig of all time:
    My recent gig with the L.A. Dodgers.
    If you weren’t a mentalist magician, you would be a______:
    Homeless. No, I’d probably be something in the people business, so anything to do with people.
    Do you have a role model? Someone you looked up to your entire life.
    Rabbi Oberlander, who’s my rebbe.
    Who are your sports teams?
    I’ll give you them in ranking order, so my #1 fandom is The Jets. My #2 fandom, just based on what I’m feeling right now, is probably The Knicks because it’s basketball season and that’s what I’m invested in at the moment. The Knicks and The Yankees are really equal, so NY Jets, NY Knicks NY Yankees and NY Rangers.
    If you could be a fly on the wall and witness something in the history of mankind when something actually happened, what would you want to witness?
    That’s a good one. A fly on the wall maybe in the Chofetz Chaim’s house.
    The person you were the most starstruck when you met them for the first time, when you saw them for the first time?
    MLB Anaheim Angels All Star, Mike Trout.
    What would you ask Marty from Back to the Future?
    I would ask him if he could take me back to meet Rashi.
    If you could have three people for Friday night dinner, anybody from the beginning of time, who would you want sitting there at your Shabbos table?
    Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.