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The making of magician Mackinley Oliver

November 03, 2017




How and why does one become a delusionist? This was the question put to magician Mackinley Oliver, whose approach to the art is serious, yet fun.


Mackinley first became interested in magic when he was 7 or 8 years old. Back then, however, there weren’t many sources of information for a budding elementary school magician and his interest faded until, at 16 his interest was once again sparked when he saw a magician in Thunder Bay (his home town).


With his passion for the art and science of magic  reignited, he began learning all that he could from anywhere he could.

Mackinley said that the interesting question is not so much how his interest was sparked, but rather why he loves it so much, why  the passion took off and why it developed into a way of life and means of making of living. “I think it’s really all because magic, to me, runs parallel with my approach to life.”


Oliver says that his approach to life, his philosophy is to “understand as much as possible about ourselves, others, and the world around us, while at the same time accepting and appreciating that there is much that is not to be understood.”


Mackinley’s worldview, his philosophy has guided the style of magic he performs. It is also why he calls himself a delusionist rather than an illusionist.


An illusion can be defined as a distortion of the senses...generally the eyes. When your eyes see something that is not what it actually is, that’s basically an illusion. However, a delusion is more of a distortion of the’s a belief in something that’s not real.


“What I do doesn’t really fit in with the public’s perception of a typical magician or illusionist. I take a very real approach to my magic. A lot of what I do is, on some level, more real than say, pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or sawing a woman in half. Some people have even left my show believing I’m psychic, and that it wasn’t about trickery at all!” Mackinley told the Lakefield Herald.


Mackinley lives with schizophrenia, and believes it’s very important to talk about these things, “and realize that it doesn’t render a person incapable of living and contributing to society and other’s lives.” he said.


“Calling myself a delusionist is kind of a shout out to the fact that I have dealt with delusions, and I know just how convincing they can be. It’s also a way to discuss these things in a manner that’s not very threatening, and a lot of fun. It’s sort of a joke, but serious at the same time,” Oliver said.


At the end of the day, or in this case at the end of the show, there will be gasps, there will be stunned silence, there will be a lot of questions raised, there will be laughs, there will be amazement. Mackinley says, “I try to really take my audience on a journey with my show, and make it more than simply performing a bunch of tricks.”