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AOL’s Malcolm Bird – International man of magic

When he's not hard at work getting high-quality kids programming out across multiple platforms, AOL senior VP Malcolm Bird has a few tricks up his sleeve for any audience that will have him.
September 1, 2006

When he’s not hard at work getting high-quality kids programming out across multiple platforms, AOL senior VP Malcolm Bird has a few tricks up his sleeve for any audience that will have him.

‘I do not own a cape,’ Bird says. ‘I have never sawed a woman in half and have never pulled a rabbit out of a hat – the only things I can make disappear are expense accounts.’ Coin tricks, in fact, are Bird’s forté and he has been known to wow kids by pulling quarters out from behind their ears on more than one occasion.

His fascination with magic began at age 11 when he started collecting tricks. Almost a decade later, he earned some extra cash moonlighting as a magic toy demonstrator at Hamleys toy store while he attended Newcastle University in the U.K. And that was it – he’s been dabbling in the field ever since.

Bird’s collection has since grown to encompass a few hundred items, most of which are coin tricks. He believes he must have every coin trick in existence and he’s certainly gone to some lengths – scouring markets in England, the U.S., Japan, China, Thailand and Italy – to round them up. The great collection now sits in a bunch of used cigar boxes in his closet (puffing on fine stogies is another one of Bird’s occasional hobbies). ‘It’s embarrassing,’ he admits. ‘I should have a fancy display case in the house; I’ve been meaning to get one for years.’

Wedding and Bar Mitzvahs are not regular venues, but Bird likes to showcase his tricks anytime an opportunity presents itself. When you become a magician, he explains, you can’t help but be a shameless showoff. As such, he never passes up the chance to perform a coin trick at a dinner party, or any function involving kids. He even keeps several unusual objects on his desk at work to attract attention. ‘When people ask, ‘What is that?’ I do the trick.’

As for wowing the common folk, Bird likes to keep his tricks simple. One of his faves is called Coin Through Rubber. Basically, the it involves a glass with a sheet of solid rubber placed over the top, secured with an elastic band. The spectator gets to choose one of two coins; one is then placed on top of the rubber sheet. The magician pushes the coin down with his finger and it mysteriously appears inside the glass. Skeptics are allowed to inspect the entire apparatus to determine there is no hole in the sheet. So how does the coin pass through? ‘Simple,’ Bird says. ‘It’s magic.’ As for his least favorite tricks, he’s quick to admit he’s ‘horrible’ at card tricks and does not have the time or the inclination to perfect them.

Over the past few months, Bird has not had much time to play with his collection. Along with launching KOL’s Saturday Morning Secret Slumber Party block with DIC Entertainment this month on CBS, he’s also heading to MIP Jr. to do a bit of shopping for new projects and plans to announce a new acquisition at MIPCOM in October. But be warned, those looking to pitch him are advised to come prepared. ‘If you want me to buy your show, you’re going to have to bring a brand new coin magic trick that I’ve never seen before,’ he says.

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