NEW YORK – Emmanuel Kamarados (aka Kammar the Magician), who has appeared on the David Letterman Show a record 40 times, was invited by the host to be there yet again, for Letterman’s final show.
The sections on science and philosophy in history books speak of what the world has learned from Greeks about reality, but the Hellenes were pioneers in realm of illusion, too. TNH interviewed Kamarados after he was honored by The Society of American Magicians for his appearances at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and his contribution to magic.
He said that in 1964 – he was only 20 years old – he was only magician who could cut a woman in half and levitate her.
At the World’s Fair, Kamarados met Georgianna, now his wife, and they were blessed with a lovely daughter, Kathy. He agreed that is the real magic in his life.
He never studied magic – prestidigitation, he corrected himself. He credits intuition and destiny.
Inspired by a traveling magician performing at his school, Kamarados stayed behind to help him pack up, and was given a small magic book as a reward.
“I am from the small island of Kalymnos. Nothing but churches and schools, and when I first started to practice they were against me. They called it the Solomonic Arts.” He explained it was all tricks, but may not have been believed.
“When I was a 16 year-old kid, I cut my head off and put it on a plate. Five people passed out.”
He was popular in Greece, but he sought a better future in the United States. In 1962 he was helped by his brother Michalis, the owner of Tarpon Springs’ Zorba’s Greek nightclub.
“Then I did my other magic trick,” he said with a smile. “On Epiphany Day I retrieved the cross in the Bayou and made all the newspapers.”
Magicians know the value of publicity.
When he heard there was going to be a Greek World’s Fair pavilion, he performed there, and then was hired by the Hall of Magic. When a magician failed to show up, he got his break.
Soon, donning a tuxedo and aided by two assistants, he amazed the visitors.
TNH persisted about sawing women in half. “OK, how did you learn to do it?”
For any magic trick, he said “You first analyze the situation and try different objects and approaches, and finally you find the solution.”
His profession taught him the general truth that “whatever you want to do, if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”
Having the right assistant is important. “They must be presentable, and thin enough to fit in a box. That was as much as he would reveal.
Kamarr was pioneering magician performing on cruise ships. “All the magicians woke up and went on the ships,” he said.
His 40 appearances on David Letterman’s show is a record. “I survived 16 years,” he said ironically – it was Letterman who was cut in half, blood everywhere. “I had guts. I destroyed his $250 shirt.”
He often upstaged the titan of late night TV. While viewers could not tell whether his annoyance at “Kamarr (rhymes with K-mart, without the “t” at the end) the discount magician” was thinly disguised or well-acted, Letterman invited him to be part of his farewell show.