Paul Vigil: Utah’s Second Magic Prophet

Posted March 5, 2013 in ,
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Paul Vigil will be performing at the Salt Lake Tattoo Convention.

It takes a special kind of person to commit themselves to something since the age of six. Whether it’s skateboarding, basketball or those taekwondo lessons parents forked all of their vacation savings into so their kid can be awesome, it all eventually gets lost in the name of puberty, cars and a little peer pressure. By the time the kid has dropped out or been sent to some sort of higher learnin’ camp, they have probably changed their number-one-special-thing so many times that their only fallback now would sound something like, all grown up. Paul Vigil never changed his number-one-thing––magic.

Ever since a family trip to San Francisco, years back, where he first saw street performers and got the chance to walk into a magic shop, he was hooked. “I always had dreams of performing magic as a young boy, but, you know, there were other dreams, too,” Vigil says. After graduating from Tooele High in 1990, Vigil moved into Art Space downtown, down the street from where he worked at Showplace Magic, which has since closed. “Showplace was my training grounds,” Vigil says. “I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had that opportunity, and it’s somewhat unfortunate because there aren’t that many brick and mortar shops really in business anymore like they used to be. You need a place to be bad before you can be good.”

Like the majority of us in our early college years, Vigil had several ideas of where he wanted to go in life. Again, however, sticking to those ideas is another story. “I think I was just a few credits away from maybe six or seven degrees [at Utah State University],” Vigil says. His interests in natural medicine, psychology and art history would ultimately win him one rare scholarship awarded by the Botanical Preservation Core, which turned out to be the shift in focus Vigil was looking for and oddly enough, came with a plane ticket to the rainforest. “It’s funny the twists and turns that life gives you,” Vigil says.

While deep in South America, Vigil had the experience of a lifetime and was able to get a closer look into the world of shamanic medicine, which comes with its own share of magical roots. “It was a really interesting experience to see how magic was mediated with other cultures through their rituals, their use of plants and the myths that they have built over time,” Vigil says. “It’s pretty easy for people to see that magic arose somehow out of religion, but then where is that link?” Finding out how magic came into the cultures of the world would take up the rest of Vigil’s college years.

Once a magician has had time to develop their sleight-of-hand and brushed up on its origins, there will come to be a ceiling in their advancement that can’t be passed without actually jumping into the fire, or in Vigil’s case, performing. This would be especially tricky for the very motivated, yet still young Vigil, who was just on the verge of coming of age. “As soon as I turned 21, I immersed myself in that environment of performing for people,” Vigil says. He recalls working the local club scene in his Salt Lake City years, especially clubs Axis and Bricks. After one has breached the ceiling, the sky’s the limit! Utah had provided Vigil with a concrete foundation for a hobby turned profession, but what he really needed was, what you could call, a degree in the psychology of magic and some street cred. There is no better place for an aspiring magician than Sin City. “I decided that I wanted to move to Vegas in 2000 so I could surround myself with the people who were thinking about magic more as a performance art,” Vigil says. “I got a job at an after-hours club called Glo, which came with its own unexpected challenges and opportunities for growth. All of these were little steps towards perfection, and I think that’s what we’re always striving for.”

As Vigil worked to build a reputation in Vegas, his motivation must have been coming from somewhere passionate. The simple reasoning behind it, however, revolved around showing people that there’s more to life than balancing the checkbook. We’ve read the oldest books, crossed the widest deserts, gone to the bottom of the ocean and we just sent an instrument to mars,” Vigil says.” Oftentimes, people, in their life, the mystery doesn’t penetrate them. I hope to achieve that,” and achieve that, he does. His weekly parlor performances are up close, casual and feature tinges of the supernatural, or as Vigil says, “It will make you go home and wonder what the hell just happened.” Aside from the stock sponge ball, linking ring or ball and tube effects, Vigil has been eagerly testing out and perfecting a newly learned, multiple card selection effect on his audiences. Vigil is extremely excited for this illusion and it will be seen in many shows to come.

Vigil’s most recent accomplishment has landed him a seat as the resident performer at Austrian tattoo artist, and good friend, Mario Barth’s King Ink Lounge located in the Mirage Hotel. This connection may have been what booked him a performance in his birthplace of Salt Lake at next month’s tattoo convention, before he departs for a performance in Helsinki. The SLC Tattoo Convention will be held on March 22 through the 24, and will host artists from across the world along with a tinge of the supernatural, provided by Vigil. If you miss the man while he’s in town, you can always catch his show at the Mirage on Wednesday nights.

Paul Vigil will be performing at the Salt Lake Tattoo Convention. Paul Vigil is the resident magician at King Ink in Las Vegas.