The story of how it all started
I learned the hard way that dancing in the shower wasn’t the greatest of ideas, but it inadvertently opened a magical door for me. My soapy samba resulted in two impacted front teeth and a fortuitous introduction to Dr. Steven Stein, the David Copperfield of Dentistry.
As Dad lifted me up off the shower floor, my five-year-old mind was overwhelmed with a haunting fear. I imagined the dentist as a frail man with veiny hands clenching bloody tools, incongruously smiling his way-too-perfect grin. Thankfully, my fears proved unfounded. I had never met a man as funny and entertaining as Dr. Stein. His humor complicated the job because he had to operate while I bounced from laughter and when he announced he was finished, I thought he was joking.
My preconceived notion of horror-movie dentists was changed by an individual of great accomplishment and humanity. Dr. Stein worked wonders in more ways than one. On the day of the “Drippy Slip,” he introduced me to the powerful art of magic and its potential to divorce the mind from reality. This childhood encounter fueled a passion in me that has permeated my life ever since.
Dr. Stein packed fresh gauze inside my bloody mess of a mouth, snapped his fingers, and seconds later, pulled out a red sponge ball. He told me that he had learned magic as a child, and now used it to his advantage in dentistry. Thereafter, I would get more excited over my bi-annual cleanings than my own birthday! Dr. Stein cultivated my love for magic by teaching me a new trick every visit, and I would showcase my perfected illusions to his office staff. He became a role model who pushed me to excel and fulfill my aspirations, and thus the “Great Brandini” was born.
Truth be told, my poolside premiere performance for an audience of Floridian retirees was a disaster. At the time, I had not yet learned to gauge my audience, and my eagerness rivaled their passion for 11 a.m. Pinochle. If I knew then what I know now, I might have edited my shtick; instead, I masterfully delivered my, “I said blow, not spit!” line to a recovering stroke victim who could not help but rain on my hand. Suddenly, I’m dancing in the shower again; I’ve fallen on my face in another of my finest moments. Embarrassed but undaunted, I regrouped and became more determined than ever to improve. With experience, I learned to read my audience, and with each performance, I defeat hecklers and draw energy from the crowd.
Thirteen magical years after my fateful fall, I am the headline act and owner of my own magic business. For me, magic is more than a hobby. Magic is the look of pure astonishment in my audience's eyes; the wonder, excitement, happiness, belief, and even disbelief all contribute to my contagious enthusiasm. A flourished deck of cards holds the key to unlocking my auxiliary identity – my magical personality, enhanced by sleight of hand. As I have improved over the years, magic has become an art where there’s nothing to hide; my heart shows the passion and my hands tell the story – the story of how my unbridled obsession with the art of magic has shaped the person I am today.
There is one magic trick that eludes me. I cannot conjure the illusion that Dr. Stein is here to see my success. Seven years ago, ALS disabled his magical mind and hands; he was no longer able to practice dentistry or mentor me. His passing has motivated me to continue to develop my talent and to share the wonderful gift he dealt to me on the day we met.
On numerous occasions my parents have been sarcastically questioned about their motivation for raising a “circus clown”. After I fell in love with the art of magic, I began to take an interest in public performance. It took a bit of coaxing, but I convinced my parents to sign me up for balloon animal lessons at age eleven to feed my hunger to impress and entertain. I was a natural and within weeks already had some of the advanced balloon designs down – the snake, the eel, and the stick – and after about ten or so classes I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts from Clown College. Being a Balloon Buffoon was grueling work and when I worked my first professional parties, my fingers would bruise from tying so many knots. Enter the clown committee – my incredibly supportive parents – my mother came to my events and would help me tie the balloons, which earned her the coveted custom shirt that read, “Balloon Mama” across the front. For some reason she did not feel comfortable wearing the shirt while we worked children’s parties. Today, my business is bursting, and is stronger than ever. I entertain at birthday parties, block parties, religious celebrations, and more. My quirky talent of balloon artistry is unique among high schoolers, few of whom play with balloon animals on a weekly basis. I skillfully create a multitude of balloon designs; Elmo, Buzz Lightyear, jetpacks, monkeys climbing palm trees, baskets of flowers, you name it! What began as clowning around has evolved into a passion for entertaining with balloon artistry, and is the basis for a thriving business.