KNOXVILLE — Justin Flom’s greatest trick might be escaping his father’s career path. Instead of following those paternal footsteps as an insurance salesman, Flom was inspired by his dad’s magical hobby.
The Floms built magic tricks in their garage in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and performed them far and wide at county fairs and churches.
“I grew up jumping in and out of magic boxes from the age of two years old,” Flom says. “I don’t remember most of my childhood because most of it was spent in a magic trunk or a dark box!”
Flom, now 32, makes plenty of magic of his own these days. The magician, who has performed on national TV talk shows and sold-out arenas, brings his act to the Knoxville Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Jan. 31. He’s looking forward to entertaining a Midwest audience as part of the Bravo Concert Series.
“It’ll be like a homecoming,” Flom says. “I think the best audiences in the country are in the Midwest. You kind of get a little jaded living on the west coast or the east coast. People in the Midwest really value entertainment in a different way. In L.A., it’s ‘Fine, whaddya got that’s new and culturally provocative?’
“Ugh. It’s a different kind of thing!”
That’s not to say that Flom takes any opportunity to make magic for granted. That starts with the tricks that launched his career to a new level, especially appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "Late Night with Seth Myers."
“Talk show magic is actually the most difficult form of magic, surprisingly,” Flom says. A trick has to be perfect for the camera angle, the celebrity host sitting beside the magician and the people who’ll watch it over and over online trying to figure it out, he says.
“You wind up trying to create a bulletproof piece of magic,” Flom says. “That’s the most difficult part, but it’s also the most rewarding. It really did catapult me into being able to do what I’m doing now.”
That has included touring nationally with the band Florida Georgia Line and hosting the show “Wizard Wars” on the Syfy network. Flom’s trajectory will go global Feb. 3 when he competes on the “World’s Best” talent show on CBS, right after the Super Bowl.
But first Flom will hit Knoxville with some fun stuff up his sleeve. He’s been working on a new piece in which he’ll borrow an item from an audience member and send it back in time.
“It’s not like any show you've ever seen before, especially a magic show,” he says. “It’s a really interactive show where people get to take part in what appear to be impossible mysteries. It’s just a blast!”
Flom gets a blast from the past when he introduces his daughter Haven, to magic — and introduces Haven to the world. More than 200 million online viewers have seen him cut baby Haven in half with a pair of Dr. Seuss books. Another video shows her magically escaping her crib. Could the torch be passed to a new generation?
“If she wants it, she could be the next great female magician, because we don’t have a lot of those,” Flom says. “But I won’t force it on her.
“It’s only if she wants it.”
Bravo presents Justin Flom
Star magician Justin Flom performs at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Knoxville Performing Arts Center, 1811 W. Madison St.
Tickets are available at Iowa State Savings Bank or on the night of the show at the KPAC box office.
Videos of his magic can be seen at www.justinflom.com