Monday, July 13, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 19

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on March 19th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 3

Central Coast local Mark Barbere recounts his journey to becoming a professional magician

Is this your card?


Central Coast-based magician Mark Barbere strolls from table to table, performing a variety of sleight of hand tricks, during his monthly gig at Vino et Amicis in Orcutt.

Ooos and aaahs occasionally interrupt the ordinary murmurs you’d expect to overhear in a wine bar or tasting room. Before you can take another sip of your cabernet franc, a man in a suit approaches your party with a deck of cards, among other props.

This is Mark Barbere, a Central Coast-based professional magician. His monthly strolling magic gig at Vino et Amicis offers guests a rare opportunity, unique to Old Town Orcutt specifically, Barbere explained.

“It’s the only place in the North County that offers this type of entertainment—where you can experience close-up magic firsthand on a regular basis, without having to drive to private clubs in Santa Barbara or Hollywood,” he told the Sun.

During his events at Vino et Amicis, he strolls around the venue, performing intimate magic tricks in front of each table. Barbere’s been practicing card, coin, and other sleight of hand feats since his early 20s, although he remembers his intro to magic being much earlier than that. He remembers the culprit too.

Guests of Vino et Amicis in Orcutt during Mark Barbere’s strolling magic show can look forward to viewing a plethora of card tricks while enjoying their wine.

“My earliest memory of witnessing a magic trick was when I was 8 years old. My older brother, Robert, was into magic,” Barbere said. “He performed a pick-a-card trick and the classic ‘multiplying billiard balls.’ The billiards were just plastic red balls that came from a magic set, but to me it was amazing!

“I learned a few magic tricks, however, being 8 years old, my attention span was about two or three weeks—then it was on to something else,” he added.

But it was Barbere’s reintroduction to magic—more than a decade later, while working full-time at an electronics manufacturing company—that rekindled his curiosity with the subject.

“A manager at the company I was working for called me into his office and showed me a very basic coin trick,” Barbere said. “It blew my mind. I must have bugged him for two or three weeks until he finally revealed the secret to me.

“That’s when I was bitten by the magic bug and knew right then I wanted to be a professional magician,” he said.

Barbere’s newfound aspiration led him to take professional magic lessons, while juggling a 40-hour workweek and spending time with his family (wife, two kids, and a third on the way at the time).

Magician Mark Barbere gets assistance from his granddaughter (dressed as Wonder Woman) during a special Halloween magic show at her elementary school.

After giving up the lessons eventually, due to budgetary difficulties and scheduling constraints, Barbere bought some books on card tricks to read on his own time. He even drove down to Los Angeles to purchase his first instructional magic video, on VHS.

“It’s the early ’90s, there’s no YouTube to learn magic for free,” Barbere said.

During the summer of 1991, Barbere performed his first gig in front of a live audience, during a company picnic at Oak Park in Santa Barbara. From that point forward, Barbere maintained magic as a side job, performing for various public and private events over the next two decades, while still working full time at the aforementioned electronics company.

In 2013 however, Barbere found out his job was going to be outsourced.

“After spending 28 years of working in a specialized technology, I wasn’t about to start over with another company,” Barbere said. “So I took some time off and worked on some ideas that I had but just never had the time to work on while working and raising a family.”

“Now my children are grown up, and I’m finally doing what I love,” he added.

During the summer of 1991, Mark Barbere performed his first magic gig in front of a live audience, during a company picnic at Oak Park in Santa Barbara.

Solely working as a strolling magician, Barbere has multiple residencies at venues throughout the Central Coast alongside Vino et Amicis, including two PizzaMan Dan’s locations—one in Carpenteria and the other in Oxnard. His act at Vino began in 2018 and has been part of a monthly rotation at the venue ever since.

Although strolling from table to table with tricks became his trademark at the wine bar, both Barbere and the venue have new, additional plans for his residency in the foreseeable future.

“Our plan for later this year is to section off the back room to make more of an intimate parlor, for table magic shows where you can see me perform mind magic—commonly known as mentalism,” Barbere said. “And for those who are card players, you’ll be able to see me expose techniques that are used to cheat at the card table, along with other card routines.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood can’t even shuffle a deck of cards properly. Reach him at

Weekly Poll
What'd you make of the county's decision to close beaches for the Fourth of July weekend?

It was sensible since counties to the south closed their beaches.
I was OK with it. I set off fireworks at home instead.
It was ridiculous. The restrictions have to stop.
It didn't matter. I went to SLO County.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events