Some would say magic is a dying art, but 18 year old Billy Menezes is on a mission to change that perception. The self proclaimed ‘street magician’ has been honing his craft since the tender age of 14, beginning his journey as a result of boredom and curiosity. Now, 4 years later he’s released his first short film ‘Out N About’ – an idea born from the desire to take videos of his tricks on social media to a place of substance and longevity. The film – produced in collaboration with his friends – sees Billy take to the streets, music festivals, parties and more performing his tricks for peers, London Staple figures like Slawn and Clint as well as international stars like Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa.
Ahead of the release of ‘Out N About’ we caught up with Billy in the GUAP Studio to find out how far he wants to take his tricks, what the ‘street magician’ label means to him and the process behind the creation of the film.
You’re often referred to or refer to yourself as a ‘street’ magician – what does that label mean for you?
Being a street magician – it’s just a label given to me because what I‘m doing is such a strange thing there isn’t really a label for it. I guess normal magicians are just called magicians and people have an idea in their head of what that is and what that looks like – a magician with a top hat and a bunny rabbit. Street magician is a label that kind of just says I can do what I want. I’m kind of in my own field in the sense that I don’t really conform to what a magician should be. I think it’s a cool label but I think it’s just because there isn’t a way to describe what I do – but I like it, it is what I do – I mean I do magic but on the street.
As far as hobbies go Magic is really cool – not many people especially your age are into it especially in the digital age. How did you get into it and realise what you wanted to do?
I got into magic when I was about ten. I had a Harry Potter themed birthday party when I was like seven – my mum used to run a children’s café so throughout my childhood I always used to be at kids parties so I kind of grew up around entertainment and entertainers – I used to see it a lot. It was always in the back of my head but I never thought about it. I had a lot of hobbies when I was younger but then I kind of grew out of them. Then, one day I was at my mum’s café and she was locking up and I just searched magic tricks on YouTube and it just took me down this long road to what I’m doing now. It was basically just boredom and YouTube that got me here.
Your new film ‘Out N About’ came out last week – tell us a little bit about the process behind the film and why you wanted to make it?
‘Out N About’ was a project I’ve been wanting to do for a while, I just didn’t know how to do it, I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew that I wanted to create something that was going to last and create an impact rather than videos that just get forgotten about which seems like that’s all that goes out nowadays. I just wanted to create something that was a bit more sustainable and was going to create an impact and put my name out there so that’s where ‘Out N About’ came from. It’s literally just me and my friends – all of us just made it together and I’m really happy about it and it’s exactly what I wanted. We’re out and about doing magic after being locked down so it’s just sick to be able to do it. It literally just came from an idea of everything just being so throwaway nowadays, we wanted to make something with lasting impact that’s even why we made the DVD so we could have something tangible for a long time and create a real life impact.
Do you have a favourite / standout moment from the film and from the time you spent filming it?
The whole film was a lot of fun. It was just me and my friends – no one telling us what to do and we didn’t have any plans so just being able to go out everyday and film was fun. I think that was the best part of it – just not knowing what was going to happen. I didn’t set anything down or plan anything – everyday I just had my bag of tricks and my pouch and I’d just go out and do tricks and whatever happens, happens.
But there were some really fun parts like when I did the trick for Slow Thai – that was a trick I’d wanted to do since lockdown and actually being able to show him that was cool. The other day I got a picture of the framed bank note in his yard which made me really happy – because it’s like a full circle moment. Being able to do that trick and him caring about it so much that he hung it up in his yard – it’s got to be my favourite moment from the whole thing.
For you, how far do you want to take Magic – what does Billy in 5 years look like to you in your head?
With my magic I want to take it out of London and take it worldwide – I just want to be able to push my magic to as many people as possible. I feel like it’s a really cool thing for people to see and be a part of and I don’t want to restrict that to just being in London or just people I know – I want everyone to experience it. I want to go all over the world doing magic. I want to show as many people as possible and I want to do the biggest tricks imaginable. Things that people don’t think are possible, I want to make possible. It is an artform, so I just want to keep working on it and keep getting better until I’m as good as I possibly can be.
When you were younger you used to break into VIP events and do magic for celebrities which must’ve been pretty cool and also got you some wild experiences. What’s a crazy story you can tell us from then?
I’ve had some pretty wild experiences – I’m only 18 and I’ve been going to events for a while. I find it really fun and I’ve met some amazing people through it. Living in London all my life I started going to events at like 14 and just doing magic – it was a great way for me to practise because I actually had an audience and wasn’t just practising to myself in my room. And luckily it was actually people who I looked up to and respected so it was even cooler. All of them were pretty amazing moments , it was a great way for me to get better at what I was doing but also introduce myself to the world. To be honest, all of them were pretty crazy – I just think I was lucky to be able to share magic with people at such a young age. It’s just kind of funny that I was 14 sneaking into these events where you have to be 18+ and I was just doing card tricks. Like, I’ve never smoked or drunk in my life – I get that happiness from doing tricks. I don’t go out to get drunk, I was there to show magic tricks because it makes me so happy. So I can’t really pick a craziest story – it’s all been really crazy!