ERWIN — To some, he’s known simply as “The Magic Man.”
But despite this mysterious moniker, 14-year-old Dalton Stout is a familiar face to many in the community. For about the last five years, Stout has been performing and honing his skills at his favorite hobby.
“Other than chores and stuff that we have to do around the house, the only thing that my mind thinks about is magic,” he said.
It’s a hobby that Stout hopes to one day take to perhaps the biggest stage of them all.
Stout comes from a family of performers and entertainers. Originally, he was poised to take up the family pastime of performing music. However, the soon-to-be high school freshman said he wanted to carve his own path and took up the study of magic. Spread throughout his room in his family’s Unicoi home are books on the subject, the majority of which Stout has read cover-to-cover.
Stout’s magic act appears to be in high demand. Aside from performing at a number of local birthday parties each month, Stout has been a contestant in talent shows, such as “TriCities’ Got Talent,” and performed at the 2010 Unicoi County Relay for Life.
“I do it about anywhere,” he said. “If I get asked to do something, I’m psyched.”
In February, Stout and his family even traveled to Texas so he could try out for “America’s Got Talent.” More recently, he landed one of the leading roles in the zombie flick “Radio Z,” which is being filmed in Erwin.
Stout’s specialty is what he calls “close-up magic,” which are tricks involving coins and playing cards. He also practices “street magic” which, as the name implies, involves approaching folks on the street and asking them if they’d like to participate in a demonstration. Stout said he also occasionally performs stage magic on a larger scale.
He also has two doves that he’s working to incorporate into his act and he would eventually like to perform escape tricks similar to those of Harry Houdini.
“I don’t do magic just for the heck of it,” Stout said. “I really want it to mean something to somebody and create something that they’ll never forget.”
Of course, no magician’s act can be complete without the aid of his lovely assistant. Stout didn’t have to look far to fill this role as his 8-year-old sister, Zoi, regularly joins him onstage. One of the tricks that Stout is perhaps best known for is making Zoi levitate.
And like any good magician, Stout keeps his secrets very closely guarded, sharing them only with family members. Except for Zoi, that is. In the past, she’s been known to fill the audience in on how particular tricks were done.
Stout said he is constantly learning new tricks or attempting to invent his own. As far as practicing, he said he likes to try new tricks out on those around him, such as his mother and brother, Barrett. Their reaction dictates whether he will work to perfect the trick.
“If their reaction is good, I definitely want to practice that trick and put it in my repertoire,” he said. “If it isn’t good, I’m going to say, ‘OK, let’s turn to the next page in the book here.’ ”
And the young entertainer’s sights are already set clearly on the big time. As soon as he turns 18, Stout said his “bags are packed.”
His destination? Where else but Las Vegas.
Stout said it is his goal to have his own Las Vegas stage show before the age of 30. No matter what happens, it seems unlikely Stout will lose sight of why he enjoys performing in the first place.
“As long as I’m entertaining people, I’m happy,” he said.