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Silent laughter

click to enlarge 2006 JON KELLEY

It's not often that a man makes foam bunny rabbits multiply inside your closed palms. It happened to me on Thanksgiving. There's a word for the effect: magic.

Dennis "Rocky" Rivera (pictured above), born in Walsenburg and aged in Minnesota, moved back home to the mountains in May. He was just in time to perform at Old Colorado City's Frontier Days and, later, Scarecrow Days.

Though he became a serious magician only six years ago, he remembers seeing his first professional at age 9 and has considered himself an amateur magician since high school. What sets him apart from most of his contemporaries is that he lost his hearing in a car accident at the age of 19.

"I love to see eyebrows go up," says the craftsman. "Magic is for deaf and hearing people. It's all about how you perform. Anyone can do tricks."

Rivera also believes magicians should be funny. He reveals a rich sense of humor and positive attitude as often as his deck of cards even when talking about some of life's tougher challenges, like long hospital stays. "I've had so much surgery," he says, "I like hospital food."

He adds that he sometimes performs at hospitals, as well as doing "walkarounds" in bars and cafs.

"I and most magicians will do magic for anyone, anywhere, anytime," he says. "I love, for the moment, that I can take your troubles away."

Matthew Schniper

photo by Jon Kelley

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