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Morgan Strebler, who's performed for celebrities and at Vegas casinos, brings his illusions home to Southeast Missouri
Hide the good silverware. Morgan Strebler, a Las Vegas mentalist and personal celebrity entertainer known for bending steel, is performing his award-winning illusions at the Pink Galleon in Cape Girardeau.
Strebler has been spending time back home in Sikeston, Mo., as he prepares a comeback show and reinvents his image in the world of magic.
"You can only take so much time off before you are ready to get back into it," Strebler said.
In March, Strebler will visit Las Vegas to receive the magic industry's highest honor, the Merlin Award, which has been presented to David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, and Criss Angel. Strebler uses a form of telekinesis, called PK or psychokinesis, to bend metal objects such as coins, keys and silverware and perform other mind-reading illusions, which made a name for him among celebrity clientele when he moved to Las Vegas in 1999.
He began performing his illusions privately for celebrities with a birthday party for Michael Jackson's father at Neverland Ranch in the early 2000s.
From there, he became a regular at Las Vegas casinos such as the Bellagio.
Strebler also performed in South Korea under the direction of his mentor and famed illusionist Franz Harary. He had five shows daily for several months, performing for a total audience of 1 million people.
In 2009, Strebler moved back to Southeast Missouri to take a break from performing and spend more time with his family, including his wife Mikala, who performed with him in Las Vegas, and their two sons.
Strebler said after being gone for 10 years, it is really good to see family and friends, but as an entertainer, he feels like a time bomb. His passion for performing magic is drawing him back in.
To make his comeback, Strebler has been working on a new stage show, called "Inside Your Mind." In November, he auditioned in Chicago to be featured on "America's Got Talent," and is waiting to hear from producers.
He has plans to shoot two television pilots this spring and has been performing segments of his new show in Southeast Missouri before he will perform the full show nightly at a club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in May.
While in Southeast Missouri, Strebler said he has toned down his appearance to make himself more relatable to audiences.
"I used to have bleached hair and was more flamboyant with what I wore. Now my hair is dark, and I have more of a Midwestern look to where it's less 'Vegas-y,'" Strebler said.
He has been enjoying performing for smaller audiences because he said he likes to involve people from the audience in his show.
"I don't want it to lose its intimacy," Strebler said.
Using techniques in psychology, hypnotism and suggestion, Strebler reads the minds of around 45 people in the audience during one of his illusions. What makes his show different, he said, is that participants make the choices that still result in him reading their minds using two decks of cards.
Even though the mind-reading card trick is a vital part of Strebler's new show and a favorite to perform, he said his metal-bending illusions are most meaningful because they made him who he is.
The process of creating "Inside Your Mind" comes about from a lot of trial and error over the years, Strebler said. Part of his purpose for performing in Southeast Missouri is that he said he is trying to get the show tightened up enough to take it on the road. His mind-reading illusion involving the cards can't be rehearsed at home. It takes around 60 people to be successful.
"This show is mentalism, not magic," Strebler said.
Although performing during tourist season in South Carolina will take him away from home eight months of the year, he said he wants to continue working in Southeast Missouri when he can.
"I have a lot of friends and family here, and I think there's a market here for this kind of entertainment. I like performing here," he said.
Chris Seib, owner of the Pink Galleon, said he is excited to have Strebler as part of the lineup on the venue's comedy nights and for other events.
Seib said he watched Strebler make the hands on a woman's watch run backward in addition to illusions he uses in his performance.
"He is a world-class talent. He's right up there with David Copperfield," Seib said.
Strebler will perform mind-reading and metal-bending illusions Jan. 16 at the Pink Galleon for "Holly's Fund," a charity event to raise awareness for breast cancer and benefit Holly Zoellner, a Cape Girardeau woman with breast cancer. Bands in the lineup include the St. Louis-based band Well Hungarians, the Mike Renick Band and The Intention. Tickets are $10 at the door and include a buffet of wings and hot dogs and a nacho bar from 5 to 7 p.m. There will also be a silent auction. The event runs until 11 p.m.
Seib said he has an attendance goal of at least 600 people.
Strebler will also open comedy nights at Pink Galleon with 20-minute shows Wednesday and Jan. 19, and will perform the full two-hour show of "Inside Your Mind" on Feb. 2 at the Pink Galleon.