Magician Harry Milas’ sold-out “up close and personal” show in the south east pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is so revealing you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to see it. Not to protect you from the 33-year-old performer’s sleight of hand tricks of the trade – but to protect him, should you try and use those tricks for evil, not good.
Because the ability to count cards and make things appear and disappear could be used by opportunistic criminals – a path he himself could have gone down, Milas laughs. “I never pickpocket – a lot of my magician friends do – I’ve never stolen anything from anyone, ever,” he says over brunch at Bills in Darlinghurst.“Could I? Absolutely.” Luckily, an ethically-driven Milas is a master of his craft for a reason.
Since falling in love with magic as a young boy while he was being raised in Sydney, Milas has not only sold out hundreds of packed shows – his latest, The Unfair Advantage, has just been extended to play throughout 2024 – he’s also consulted by casinos looking to catch card cheats and still spends hours practising new and old tricks every single day. Not because he’s disciplined – he doesn’t like that word – but because he is dedicated to helping the world find wonder again. “I feel like magic is due for an expansion,” he says.
“When you look on TV, magic is still very much about, ‘Did I fool you?’ I would like to help people think a bit more magically about the world, and I think maybe a good way of doing that is to give them a vocabulary for how to describe what’s magical in the world. Because I’m not sure that people my age, or even people of any age I think at the moment, I’m not sure we’re very comfortable sitting with mystery.”
“I think every human being has somewhere deep inside them, a part that is peering over the void of just how little we know, and just how beautiful and miraculous these things are. But what I would love to help people understand is that the magic is inside you – which I know sounds quite cheesy – but I do genuinely really believe that people have lost the ability to se their mind in that way. I think there’s a pretty pervasive cynicism at the moment, and cynicism might be my least favourite quality someone can have.”
He says if you’d told him five years ago that he’d be selling out shows in the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, he would have been in awe. But Milas doesn’t sit still for long. “Definitely, never at any point in what I’m doing, do I want to be comfortable,” he says. “I would love to show people the magic that’s happening in Indonesia and Spain – there’s some very special stuff happening – there’s people that are making it rain and there’s people that are turning stones into … wait, can I talk about that?” he says. “Maybe not. And yes I know how they’re doing it … but I think it sits better in your soul to sit with the idea that someone out there is making it rain.”
Milas will be showing The Unfair Advantage on December 15, 16, and all the way through 2024.
STORY – LISA MAYOH (SYDNEY WEEKEND)