Troy is big in magic circles, now catch him on TV

By Sandy Rashty, February 6, 2014
Tricks of the trade: Troy’s E4 series will demonstrate his magic “close and personal”

Tricks of the trade: Troy’s E4 series will demonstrate his magic “close and personal”

Troy is being touted as the next big thing in magic. His tattoos, urban swag, gold watch and collection of bright snapback caps distinguish this Magic Circle member from the more traditional practitioners of his craft. He has even been known to pull a rabbit out of a snapback.

And those seeing him for the first time on his upcoming TV show — being heavily trailed by E4 in advance of the opening episode next week — might be surprised to learn that the 25-year-old has a German-Jewish background.

Born Johannes Troy Von Scheibner, he was raised by his father — an actor, writer and archeologist — after his divorce from Troy’s Jamaican mother Lisa. “My parents separated and I lived with my dad from the age of four,” he explains at his management’s West End office. “I’m a lot like him — he’s a performer.”

Although he was not raised in a religious home, Troy was always aware of his Jewish roots. “We lost family in the Holocaust,” he says. “I remember being a child and asking my dad why, and he said: ‘It’s because the Nazis didn’t like Jews.’”

And Troy attributes his scepticism about religion to his understanding of the “tricks” behind the magic. “It’s odd. When I want something, I’m always like, ‘please God’,” he says pressing his hands together.

His interest in magic was sparked, aged 12, by seeing David Blaine on TV. “That was it. I’d never seen a magician like him — with my complexion. I thought if he can do it, so can I. I saw that magic can be cool.

“My dad bought me his video and I used to watch it all the time. I can tell you, no homework was done.”

Magic has helped Troy through dangerous situations. Aged 15 and out with his cousin during a visit to relatives in eastern Germany, he was confronted by a group of racist teenagers. “I was a mixed race kid with an Afro. There was a lot of animosity. My cousin told me to ‘do some magic for them’. I did and they were more embracing.”

Calm and friendly, he recalls being “very shy. But I got a lot of confidence performing magic. When you’re relaxed and comfortable, you can talk to anyone.” He honed his art during university and by working at bar/batmitzvahs, weddings, restaurants and around Covent Garden while employed at Carnaby Street fashion store G-Star. “It was the way I made most of my money — G-Star didn’t really cut it. Gigs used to come up randomly and I couldn’t get enough hours [working in the store] to pay my bills.”

But one gig at the Nolita restaurant in Potters Bar three years ago proved to be pivotal. As the tired performer was leaving the restaurant to catch the last train home to Lewisham, the manager asked him to perform one last time for the tables upstairs.

Danny Fenton, the chief executive of ZigZag Productions and a Jewish Care supporter, was among diners in the upstairs seating area. “He asked for my business card and we had a meeting — I did his daughter and son’s batmitzvah and barmitzvah.” But the meeting had a longer-term career benefit as Fenton facilitated the Channel 4 deal (C4 will be repeating the shows the following night).

In the six-part series, Troy is filmed by a hidden camera performing magic around his local barber shop, shopping centre and fruit market. He takes a bite of an apple before restoring it to a whole and locks an iPhone in a mirror.

“I always want to keep the magic close and personal — I like to get everyday things and do impossible things with them,” he laughs, distancing himself from the large stage props employed by others.

Troy has come to find the E4 publicity machine and being stopped in the street “all a bit surreal. Maybe I’m having a delayed reaction to it all. It was really weird getting verified [high profile status] on Twitter.

“Magic is secondary to myself. I want people to find out things about me. I love fashion, music and sport,” adds the Arsenal fan, pointing to his Givency jumper and Topman jeans.

Has the magic at least helped on the romantic front? “People always ask me if it helps get the girls, but I think magic is an unfair advantage. I wish I could sing. Now that would get all the girls.”

As the interview draws to a close, Troy takes out a pack of cards from his pocket — he’s never without a few props on his person. “I started with cards, they’re easy to carry around,” he shrugs.

I shuffle the cards thoroughly (dropping a bundle or two in the process) and try to maintain focus as he works his magic, attempting to fathom just how he does it . But despite my best efforts, I end up as one of those head-shaking, open-mouthed people filmed on the show watching him perform an array of logic-defying tricks.

Troy is on E4 at 10pm Tuesday

Last updated: 7:36pm, February 11 2014