Brian Brushwood’s bizarre magic wows audience


Brushwood tries to avoid referring to his act as a ‘magic show.’ “When you hear
the phrase ‘magic show,’ you tend to think of a little kid’s birthday party,”
said Brushwood, who performed in the Kansas State Student Union’s Forum Hall on
Tuesday evening in a show sponsored by the Union Program Council. “When you
call it ‘bizarre magic,’ it gets people interested.”

who has published several books on illusions and magic tricks, didn’t pick up
the art until his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin. 

“I just
randomly decided that magic would be a fun hobby,” he said. “By the time I
graduated, I had a pretty solid 30-minute routine.” 

Brushwood was working
in the computer industry when he decided to try performing full-time. 

“I was
offered a raise, and I realized, ‘Crap, this is how people end up doing
something they hate for their whole lives,’ Brushwood said. I decided I would give myself a
year to try and make something of magic.”

Brushwood, who performs tricks of his own
creation as well as putting his own spin on classics, electrified his audience even
without his trademark fire-eating act, which the fire marshal would not allow in
Forum Hall. 

He opened with “The Human Blockhead,” in which he hammered the full
length of a 3-inch nail into his nose. Next, he called Jasmine Davis, freshman in sociology, to the stage to assist him in “The Indian Skewer.” 

didn’t really volunteer as much as I got ‘volun-told,’” said Davis, part of the
UPC’s Multicultural Committee, who came to support the council’s Art Committee, which organized the event. 

Davis was told to thoroughly
inspect Brushwood’s tongue, which he then proceeded to pierce with a metal skewer,
much to the delight of the audience. At the conclusion of the trick, Brushwood
jokingly offered Davis the choice between the skewer and a chunk of his tongue and a copy of one of his books as payment for her services. “I told
him he could keep his biohazard,” Davis said.

The crowd
grew more and more excited as Brushwood rolled through his performance,
demonstrating psychic readings, optical illusions and impressive feats of pain
tolerance. Fan favorites included a Russian roulette-style game in which Brushwood put
a knife under one of four identical foam cups and proceeded to smash them with
his palm, as well as a trick in which he inserted a small nail into his eyelid and
maneuvered it under his skin to the other eye, where he dropped it into a

For the grand finale, Brushwood boasted that he would escape from a
prison-issued straightjacket in less than two minutes or would not accept
compensation for his performance. Brushwood barely beat the clock, triumphantly
spiking the canvas restraint to the floor to thunderous applause.

who says that college students are his favorite crowd to perform for, stuck
around after the show signing autographs and chatting with impressed audience

David Dechant, sophomore in history and anthropology, was thrilled
with the show. 

“I’ve always been a fan of magic,” he said. “It sure beat
playing bingo in my residence hall.”