It’s in the cards

Local magician makes a living stumping audiences as a “fake psychic.”

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Recently, at October’s In Business Expo & Conference, Lochlan Masters nonchalantly wowed attendees with card tricks and disappearing pens.

He was not an IB plant.

Masters, 40, has been practicing magic since he was a young child. For the past three years he’s been focusing on his own magical business model, creating and selling illusions online and performing.

His backstory is nearly as interesting as his magic. His name is Gaelic, but he was born in Melbourne, Australia to parents who traveled the world. Eventually, he’d land in Atlanta, Georgia and graduate from high school about 18 months early. He pursued medicine for a while, even working as a paramedic before deciding it wasn’t for him, then moved to San Diego and started working as an engineering tech, which put him on a building inspection track.

Masters is not a professional engineer, but he was certified as a quality assurance consultant and spent some time inspecting structural-steel bridges for the state of Colorado and also evaluated the Houston Texans football stadium when it was first built. “My job was to tell people they couldn’t do something because it would fall down. They’d do it anyway, and when it would fall down they’d get mad at me,” he notes, only half joking.

He followed his wife, a biomedical engineer, to Madison about 12 years ago when she accepted a faculty position at UW–Madison.

After a friend got him an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Masters sold some illusions to a couple of well-known performers, which proved lucrative enough for him to pursue magic full time.

Jumping from engineering to magic may seem crazy, he admits, but the two are very similar. In either case, he’s solving a problem. He’s always thinking of the next illusion or magic trick, and his engineering knowledge helps in the design.

Masters prefers tricks that are straightforward and simple. “I don’t like them to look like they took a lot of practice,” he says. Tricks begin by thinking of something that’s impossible — like sawing a person in half or predicting the future — and making it possible. “I try to spend more time on the presentation of magic so the show itself is so entertaining that you forget to worry how it’s done.”

For all the glitz and glamour involved in stage shows, Masters has discovered a unique event that has proven its popularity time and again: the séance.



A twist on dinner and a movie, Masters always wanted to do a séance, and he developed a dinner and a séance idea around a scary, sit-around-the-campfire story with some magic sprinkled on top. “I aim more for really good theater that happens to include magic, and I think that’s why this has been so successful.”

Of course, he isn’t really contacting spirits. Or is he?

Creating the illusion doesn’t come cheap. Tickets can cost between $90 and $110 per adult — but the unique, three-hour evening includes dinner, as well.

A sold-out séance show is intimate, no more than 14 people, and Masters’ goal for the coming year is to find 25 venues within driving distance of Madison that agree to hold three shows a year.

“The trick to my magic show is not the magic,” he insists. “I use the same cons and scams that fake psychics do. It’s very authentic, but it’s also entertainment because you know it’s not real. I’m a fake psychic.”

Which begs the question: Is there such a thing as a real psychic? “I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole,” he says.

Masters originally planned to sell his séance kit — props and all — to anyone interested in purchasing it, but he’s having so much fun that he’ll likely continue this gig for a while. “The séance is proven and it’s becoming my brand,” he says. “It’s a different shtick.”

And it’s making money.

“Six séances a month would get me [a decent salary],” he says, “but I’m not there, yet.” He’s considering hiring a marketing partner to get him over the edge.

“The old joke is that the difference between a large pizza and a magician is that a large pizza can feed a family of four.”

Lochlan Masters, magician
(608) 209-5562

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