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A Slice of Life:
Magic Man

What do you get when you cross magic with video? You get Tony Chapek – and one heck of an act!
Tony Chapek just may be metro Atlanta’s best kept secret. He has performed in just about every major U.S. city and has appeared on national TV. A good act knows no language barrier either, as Chapek has been on stage in over ten different countries. So what does he do that is so, well, magical?
Chapek was born in Northfield, Ohio, a small suburb between Cleveland and Akron. After graduating high school in 1974, Chapek went to work for his father at an engineering firm doing structural steel drawings. The engineering world has served him well, as today Chapek works for Andritz, Incorporated, a company that designs and manufactures wood processing equipment. But six years out of high school, Chapek began to dabble in something that would change his life.
“I got the magic bug in 1980 when I stumbled into a magic shop in Cleveland,” Chapek remembered. “Dad used to show me card tricks and I was always interested in magic.”
Now don’t get the impression that Chapek went around making street cars disappear right away. In fact, his magic, at the time, was just a hobby at best.
In 1984, some friends talked Chapek into heading south. They told him that Atlanta was a boom town, so Chapek and his family packed their bags and moved to Norcross. Aside from his work as an engineer, Chapek always had side jobs. Shortly after his move south, Chapek got into video production, and began videotaping weddings and various projects. Some things just go together, like peanut butter and jelly. For Chapek, it was magic and video.
Chapek’s act is a bit of a split personality performance. He performs in front of, and in, a TV monitor. In the monitor on tape – or is it live? - is his alter ego, a somewhat cantankerous person also named Tony.
“I started thinking of ways to combine slight of hand with video,” Chapek said of the act. “So I began doing tricks with video and started passing coins through the TV screen.”
Chapek was a regular at the Atlanta Magician’s Club, and one day he showed his act to the club. They went wild. Buoyed by his peers support, Chapek sent a demo of his act to the television show America’s Funniest Home Videos. The ABC Network liked the clip so much that it flew Chapek to Hollywood to appear on the show with the host Bob Saget.
Chapek was on a roll. In 1991, one year after appearing on national television, Chapek attended the IBM, not the networking giant but the International Brotherhood of Magicians. At the Baltimore event Chapek was one of 25-magicians presenting their act. From that number 6-finalist were picked to showcase their act. Finally, one person was selected as having the best original act. Chapek was the last man standing.
“That was a big stepping stone,” he said. Up to that point Chapek wasn’t getting paid to attend magic shows. Winning the IBM event changed all that. But just as he was reaching the top, the bottom fell out. A divorce will do that. After 12-years of marriage, Chapek and his wife went their ways.
“I was going through tough personal times,” Chapek said. “I needed to focus on being a dad for TJ, so I gave up the act.”
Faith. Chapek relied heavily on it, and his church, to pull him through these tough times. In 1996, five years after his divorce, Chapek was on a church retreat in Destin, Florida, where several congregations had gathered. That’s when he met Lisa. A little over one-year later, the two were wed. Twelve months after that, they gave TJ a little brother named Daniel. Life was good, but something was missing. At a Bible study group, Chapek disclosed his void. The group said he was wasting a God given talent. So at the group’s encouragement, Chapek renewed his interactive media magic act. The year was 2003.
Because of past connections Chapek was able to get booked at magic conventions - like the IBM event he had previously won - right away. In 2005, Chapek pulled another rabbit out of his hat. At the Society of American Magicians convention in Boston, he won the prestigious People’s Choice Award. By 2007, in his own words, “thing really began to take off.” Chapek was booking corporate events and was a hit overseas as well. He had performed in Turkey, Japan three times, France and Spain, twice. In fact, Paris came calling again and wanted to book Chapek in October 2008. He declined. Lisa is due with their second child that month. Some things take priority.
“I want to be the best husband and father I can be,” Chapek said.
Although he has been doing his video magic act for over 20-years, the last two years have seen the greatest change. “I’ve made two big improvements,” Chapek said. “I’ve added music and a new ending, which I think has really improved the act.”
Had it not been for an over 10-year hiatus, Chapek concedes that his magic career would be further along. But he harbors no regrets. “The sacrifices I made giving up the act to raise TJ were worth it. He’s a great kid.” And that’s no act.
For a preview of Chapek’s work, check out his promotion video at tonychapek.com.
Earl Gray is a freelance writer. Send comments and suggestions to etg_3@hotmail.com.




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