Editor’s note: Open Doors is a series in which photojournalist Anna Solo visits the homes and workspaces of fascinating Seacoast people.
Michael Lohmeier’s passion for magic began when he was about 8 years old, spurred by his dad. “He showed me a little pocket trick and I still remember it,” Lohmeier says. “It was called the ‘ball and vase,’ and it was mindblowing to me. When I was 10, I got a magic set for Christmas and I would spend hours and hours practicing card tricks.”
Today, Lohmeier is a professional magician whose shows are geared mainly toward adults in corporate settings and cultural institutions such as The Dance Hall in Kittery. The Portsmouth resident is also a freelance graphic designer and the writer behind “Other Lives,” a bi-weekly series published in the Portsmouth Herald about the interests and passions people have outside of their day jobs.
The path to becoming a performing artist was not always easy for Lohmeier. As a “shy kid,” getting up in front of an audience was tough for him. He dealt with his timidness by performing magic tricks for friends, neighbors, and family members. Eventually, he started performing for the Cub Scouts and at children’s birthday parties.
By the time Lohmeier started performing publicly in restaurants, he was a college student at the University of Nebraska working toward a journalism degree. But, having always wanted to follow through with a career in magic, he moved to Paris with the hope of performing in clubs.
“That was pretty silly, thinking that I could just go out without an agent or without knowing anybody or speaking the language, but I’m glad I made that error,” he says.
While the club scene in Paris didn’t quite work out for Lohmeier, he did begin performing on the street, which led to several private shows and a performance at The American College in Paris.
“After about a year and a half, the starving artist thing got old and my now-wife and I moved back to the states,” he says.
Upon his return, Lohmeier decided to study design at the Art Institute of Boston, which led to a 15-year career in graphic design from which he was ultimately laid off. Luckily, he had kept up with the world of magic by attending lectures and subscribing to trade magazines, and the timing of his layoff led him back to the pursuit of magic.
Lohmeier’s impeccably organized home studio, which doubles as an office space, reveals his interests. A wall of shelves is lined with books, mostly on the subject of magic, mixed with quirky decorative objects. On one side of the room is a massive David Bowie poster. In the center of the room is a neat desk with a large Mac monitor, which serves as a space for his freelance graphic design and writing projects. Pictures, magic props, and a couple of practicing mirrors fill the rest of the room. In its entirety, the space is a tribute to all that he’s worked on over the years.
To prepare new tricks, Lohmeier pores over magic books, practicing and rehearsing for upcoming shows for several hours each day. As additional practice, he’s happy to perform tricks for friends at their request. He admits that something goes wrong with a trick during almost every show, but knowing how to stay in the moment and think on his feet helps ensure that the audience never knows it.
“It’s really rewarding to do something difficult and have it work and get a response,” he says. “Wanting to feel like that again and again is what keeps me coming back.”
While his demeanor is humble and he confesses to being nervous before his shows, Lohmeier is focused and confident when performing tricks. “My mantra is, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway,’” he says.