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Hobo Skillzz

Years ago, when I was still Vlad Kraven, magician, I worked in a little magic nook inside a Union Square costume shop. It attracted a lot of strange and fascinating characters, but one stands out above the rest. He went by the name of Nevada Dan, and he was a Tornado of a man.

Understand — people typically come to a magic shop to see some tricks and hang out. Not Nevada Dan. He flew into the shop, and immediately started performing. It was a whirlwind of card tricks, coin tricks, contact juggling, like a recovering magic addict in full relapse. He did an hour of tricks without stopping, hypnotizing everyone around him, myself included. He was the real deal, a performer to the core.

He was a vagabond, a street performer traveling the country with just the clothes on his back and his Doctor’s Bag of magic tricks. In the weeks that followed I would see him performing in Union Square, drawing huge crowds into his crazy alternate reality. If he wanted food or shelter, he took to the streets and passed the hat.

A few weeks later he walked into the shop looking to buy some ropes and other props. “What happened to your stuff?” I asked, not seeing his bag. “Someone stole it from me,” he said, not really bothered by it.

He didn’t skip a beat. The day it was stolen, he bummed a cigarette from someone on the street, did cigarette tricks until he earned a few bucks, used that money to buy a pack of cards, and he was back in business.

And just as unexpectedly as he arrived, he vanished. That was the last time I ever saw him.

Nevada Dan was more than a Tornado of a man.
He left me with a lesson and a plan:
A vagabond that called the road his home,
he taught me that I’ll never need to starve alone.
For if I have a hobo skill like him,
magic, music, busking on whim
Then no job will ever be my master,
And no street will ever yield disaster.


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