In a time of pandemic, magic is one business that won’t disappear

Magician Apollo Riego: Virtual magic has acquired a large following during the pandemic.

By Maricar CP Hampton & Cristina DC Pastor  

COVID and computers go together, and magicians like Apollo Riego  know how to keep them that way.

Apollo, owner of, said his online store has been around years before the public health pandemic, but his products have now been flying off the shelves because of “virtual magic.”

“Virtual magic allows the performer to do impossible things even though we’re miles apart, like mind reading and sometimes making something appear in their homes,” he said speaking to The FilAm by email.  “It has become somewhat of a sub-genre in magic since most shows are now performed in front of computer screens.”

Apollo’s interest in magic surfaced at age 4 when his parents hired a spellcaster to perform at his birthday party. He became a full-time magician at age 19. He is now, at 33, a more masterful performer who has left children as well as corporate executives wondering: “How did he do that?”

He has been selling his “creations” in the last five years and created Magician Unlimited online to elevate the business side of his magical arts.

MU carries video and DVD products teaching the uninitiated how to make a coin disappear, pull a series of scarves from sleeves, or guess the card handpicked by the magician. Apollo’s “Deliberation” video has been ranked a worldwide bestseller, allowing the newbie to create several tricks using ordinary house objects, such as razor blades or paper bills. It retails at less than $30.

“I was one of the first, if not the first, magician to do a Google hangout,” he shared.

Only child

Being an only child who played mostly by himself may have helped Apollo create wonders in his own world, perfecting the art some have come to associate with voodoo and witchcraft.

The signs became apparent when he was gifted a magic set of cups and balls. With unusually quick hands, he was able make the balls disappear.

‘It’s a skill not a lot of people can do.’

“Houdini said if a man cannot perform this the right way, he is not a true magician,” said Apollo of the classic beginner’s trick. “So, I guess it is a good omen that I was able to do it at age 5.” He came to the U.S. with his parents two years later and found New York a wonderful haven for magic toys and accessories.

He would visit supplies stores to acquire new kits and practice them. Much of his art is self-taught, but he said he turned to mentors to learn new tricks and further hone his skills. His act incorporates some dancing and Filipino martial arts. Thus, he was called the “Dancing Magician.”

“I am actually a dancer. I also like to choreograph things. I’m a dance instructor at a public school. I also did a lot of martial arts, I did karate,” he said.

Movement and martial arts help to discipline the body on stage, he said. It also provides a measure of showmanship, as audiences love a magician who is funny, graceful, and a great illusionist.

Although he gets some inspiration from the likes of David Blaine, Jeff McBride and David Copperfield — whom he calls the “game changers and innovators” of the art — he has his own style.

One of his acts called Snow Storm, where he produces snow on stage, is his tribute to his ethnic roots. “In every show that I do, I say that I am a Filipino. I’m proud to be Filipino. I say I never see snow in the Philippines but on stage I create my imaginary snow.”

Preparing for a show involves physical conditioning and mental alertness. His bag of tricks needs to be at the show at least a week ahead of time “because if you’re missing one little thing your show is not going to have the same flow. Practice is essential.”

Apollo said magic paid for his college tuition and books. It is a lot of fun and also financially rewarding at this time of COVID-19 when many businesses are going under.

Asked if his trade is booming, he replied: “On the retail side, yes, because people are looking for something to do.”

He said live bookings have been on the slow side because of the lockdowns and people avoiding events with large crowds. He was a regular at the Coney Island Circus in Brooklyn and was a sought-after act at children’s parties and community fundraisers.

“There’s not as many as before the pandemic,” he said. “It’s definitely a struggle if you don’t know how to market yourself.”

To order, PM at

© The FilAm 2020

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