syracuse side hustles

E11: A Trick Up Her Sleeve

Retail assistant manager Theresa Barniak considers her age and gender assets when creating illusions designed to make jaws drop.
Theresa Barniak

Magic to me is an escape to another world. For a little bit of time, I like to sit back, watch another act, and believe they can actually do it.

Name:

Theresa Barniak

Age:

55

Side Hustle:

Magician

Job:

Retail Assistant Manager

Who is your hustle hero?

I would have to say Fay Presto. She’s in London. She’s one of the top five women magicians in the world. I met her at 4F convention, and I walked up to her — I had the guts to walk to her — and said “Oh I just love your act.” And she was kind enough to let me just tag along with her and watch what she did and how she did it. And she even gave me her lecture notes. She has a little booklet with her workshop notes that are geared toward women magicians and how you need to do everything and how to handle things.


Where do you get your materials?

There are websites you can go on to learn to build props. It depends on what you’re going into. I do stage illusion sets. For those you can either make them — if you’re good with your hands at making things. There’s also magic shops that you can go to to get them. Mine were inherited. I inherited them from another magician who spent his lifetime collecting magic props and had four or five storage sheds filled with magic props. But if someone were really interested, they can just contact me because we, magicians, keep that a secret.


Where have you found support in Syracuse for your side hustle?

Outside of the Salt City Magic Club, I’ve found it at conventions. There’s a one-day convention up in Batavia, near Buffalo. It’s worth the trip going up there. You can get it there and by watching other magicians, attending a lecture from a magician — usually to do that you have to be a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians or something like the Society of American Magicians. Get into that, listen to their podcast or watch a DVD.


What's a Syracuse event not to miss?

Salt City Magic does an event every summer at the Marina, usually on July 4th. Anyone can come, all you have to do is bring a dish to pass. Usually we have a show at the Central New York Playhouse.

Theresa Barniak
For Theresa Barniak, practicing magic gives her an internal confidence and a belief that anything can be accomplished. “Magic teaches you how, if a trick doesn’t work, there’s another way,” she says. Photo by Weng Cheong.


What is a quote you live by?

“There’s no crying in magic.” It’s one I used when my act was ripped apart for the first time.


Connect with Barniak

At the Salt City Magic Club or on Facebook