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Former Herd football lineman finds success with sleight of hand

Apr. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Many Marshall University football alums have gone on to magical careers after they left Huntington, Joey Stepp is one of them -- literally.

A Marshall University center who once protected two of Marshall's great quarterbacks, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich, has been making a name for himself as a magician, comedian and illusionist who's chalked up shows at the Clay Center, as well as a bunch of regular corporate gigs and birthday parties.

Stepp, whose day job is a sixth grade school counselor in the Putnam County School system, will share a night of his up-close and sleight-of-hand, and interactive magic Saturday, April 27, at Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe, 857 3rd Ave., Huntington.

The first show at 7 p.m. is an all ages show family-friendly show, while the second show at 9 p.m. will be more of a mature show for an 18 and over audience.

Tickets are $10 in advance for the family show and $15 for the adult show. Advance tickets are recommended.

Order tickets via Eventbrite at http://halloffamemagicshow-efbevent.eventbrite.com/ or stop by the Hall of Fame Cafe.

Promoting the show is Eric Easley, a 2005 Marshall graduate who has put on more than 800 events in more than 100 venues around the region.

"We had been discussing it for a while but the stars had never aligned and it finally has," Easley said. "I think him being at the Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe on Green and White day made it fall in place."

Although Easley's worked with a lot of artists of all genres, he said Stepp is one of the only working magicians who could do a club show.

"This isn't like David Copperfield with stage illusions that you try to see from 200 rows back in a dark arena, this is intimate in-your-face magic like David Blaine," he said. "It's interactive, it's right there and you're wondering how in the world did he do that."

Stepp, who is among a small fraternity of Mountain State magicians that includes such folks as Mario Orisini (the illusionist who has performed at Midnight Madness) said he's fired up for his first show in Huntington.

"I partnered up with Eric Easley and we loved the idea of doing it the night of the Green and White game because there's a lot of people in town and we might be able to piggyback off of that," Stepp said. "I've sent an invitation to a lot of the old guys and it would be a lot of fun for them to come down because my shows include a lot of audience participation. It would be fun to bring them on stage and make the kids laugh."

Stepp, a 32-year-old native of Inez, Ky., started dabbling in magic back when he was working his way through college.

A show or flair bartender (see Tom Cruise in the 1988 classic movie "Cocktail"), Stepp was once ranked the No. 2 flair bartending amateur in the world in 2007 in a competition at Universal Studios.

Since many show bartenders were expanding their shows and racking up big tips by employing sleight-of-hand magic and comedy, Stepp, who worked at Stumblers on Fourth, got interested in magic.

That casual interest turned to a bit of an obsession when Stepp ran into a street performer at Easton Town Center in Columbus where he witnessed the man blow away a crowd with a fresh blend of impromptu comedy and up-close magic.

"I always thought that magic was kind of nerdy and I thought it was weird," said Stepp, whose business is called Stepp Show Entertainment. "But when I saw this guy on the street, I couldn't leave. He was there for about four hours and it was one Sunday and I watched him so long the mall closed. ... I had never seen anything like this. I helped him take his stuff to his car and he handed me a magic book and one magic book turned into two magic books and that has turned into a full garage that I use as an office for my business."

Stepp, who obtained his last degree from Marshall, a master's degree in Counseling Psychology in 2007, said it's been a lot of fun to share his love of entertaining and magic at an ever-increasing number of shows that range from the CAMC Teays Valley Christmas party to delighting kids and families with up-close magic at the Putnam County libraries.

"The cool thing about magic is anyone can learn a magic trick," said Stepp, who also juggles some too. "I can teach anyone with a deck of cards. The entertainment aspect is how to get the laughs with the things you are saying and the stories you are telling while you set up the trick. I think there's a huge difference between being a magician and being an entertainer. I call myself an entertainer first so I'm like a comedic magician, and I try to put a pretty cool spin on it as an old football jock, the 300-pound guy with the shaved head who's trying to find that happy medium between being nerdy and being funny."

We Are ... Magic

WHAT: A magic show by Stepp Show Entertainment -- Former Marshall football player Joey Stepp doing magic shows

WHERE: Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe, 857 3rd Ave., Huntington

WHEN: Saturday, April 27. The first at 7 p.m. is an all ages show. Doors open at 6 p.m. The second show at 9:30 p.m. will be more of a mature show for an 18 and over audience. Doors open at 9 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $10 in advance for the family show and $15 for the adult show. There is limited seating so advance tickets are recommended. Order tickets via Eventbrite: http://halloffamemagicshow-efbevent.eventbrite.com/

ON THE WEB: Check out Stepp on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/joeysteppmagic) as well as on Twitter @joeysteppmagic