For his latest routine, the young escape artist had just 45 seconds to free himself from a metal straight jacket and avoid being impaled on live television. He made it out alive. But the judges weren’t impressed.
“It was all a bit boring,” Sharon Osbourne complained. “All we were watching was a screen with you wigling. So for 45 seconds that is a bit much time to see you wiggle.” Howard Stern was more to the point: “It failed!”
But Spencer, 26, tells us today that he was pleased with the performance. “It is a bummer that the judges didn’t fully understand it or thought it was too long or whatever,” he says. “I know it was definitely different than the other two performances I have done. “I think I set the bar really high doing these full view escapes, where you see all the action and you see me picking the locks. But being a magician, there are certain secrets I need to keep under my belt that I can’t let anybody see. So that was my decision to go with something a little different, a little more theatrical.
“I took a risk on it and the audience seemed to enjoy it,” he says. “I guess it really comes down to them and what they voted for.” Here’s what else Spencer had to share during our exclusive one-on-one interview.
Q: How is you arm doing? It seemed a little banged up last night.
It is good. I have some beautiful bruises on my shoulder from the jacket actually. So I feel like I should have taken my shirt off and showed those instead of my arm!
Q: Would you do anything differently if you could?
It is an ever evolving process, especially doing the escapes and the magic that I do. I am constantly tweaking it and evolving it. Everything that I presented on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT and created for the show was all custom made. Has never been done before. So to really create things that are 100% unique is really difficult. Creating these escapes is not the easiest task in the world.
Q: How long did it take to put that illusion together?
That was an idea I came up with about a year and a half ago and we started having built about a month and a half ago. But because there are so many acts here and so much going on, I probably only practiced the whole thing straight through about four times. I had practiced the straight jacket and the mail bag prior to that. But the whole presentation, I only did less than half a dozen times.
Q: What is the process?
When it comes to an escape, you first work on the escape itself. You work on the technique. Then when I feel I am comfortable with that, that is when I will add in the danger element to it. Walk before you can run.
Q: You are obviously a pretty good lock picker — ever lock your keys in the house?
I have had to break in to my house several times. (laughs)
Q: Assuming you get through, are you already working on your next act?
Yes. I already have my next one prepared. It has been in the works for a long time. I am quite excited about it.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background?
Both of my parents were entertainers before me. They were clowns in Ringling Brothers Circus for a number of years. My father was also Ronald McDonald for 20 years. I grew up in entertainment family. My dad would do over 300 shows a year plus running the magic shop that he opened up when I was a year old. I picked up ventriloquism when I was 8 years old. So I have this whole skill set. Juggling, etc. When you come from a circus family you learn a whole wide range of skills. I picked up on magic at 4. I picked up the escape stuff when I was 12 or 13.
Q: Was there pressure on you from the family to follow in their footsteps, maybe go to clown college?
No. My parents were very supportive no matter what I decided to do. So when I picked up the entertainment, they were very supportive and overjoyed. But if I decided to drop it — even now — they would be like, “ok.”
Q: Have you always been able to support yourself doing magic?
For the most part. I have never really had a normal job, per se. It has always been entertaining. Traveling with my parents and performing during their shows. My father opened up a bar (Illusions Magic Club in Baltimore) five years ago. So I bartend there. I will bartend there for two hours, hop up on stage, do an hour and a half show, and then hop off and do another two hours of bartending. I keep active. I definitely pay my dues.
Q: What would you do if you won the $1 million prize?
My father put a lot of work and money and dedication into opening the bar to have a venue for me to perform at. So first and foremost, I would help to pay off all the debts from the bar. But secondly, I was born and raised as an entertainer. Meaning that when you entertain, you do it for passion, not money. If you are good enough, money will come. It is a lifestyle. So I am not used to having tons of money. It is not a guaranteed paycheck. It is literally show by show by show. So I would probably help out with family.
What do you think of Spencer? Is he a $1 million act? Sound off in the comments below!