Arts, Entertainment & Leisure

How Did He Do That?!

Chilean-American Illusionist Matias Letelier Works His Magic on Diverse New York Audiences

Matias Letelier started learning to perform magic tricks when he was 14 years old, but never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d pursue it as a career. His life took a complete turn when his uncle, famous magician Jorge Barriga, died in a tragic accident. Matias inherited his uncle’s collection of books on magic and promptly decided to follow in Jorge’s footsteps. At the time, he was pursuing a degree in business, and decided to fuse his knowledge of marketing with his love of magic. He started an entertainment business in his native Chile, and within a few short years of performing at parties, schools, clubs and events, he became one of the nation’s most popular magicians.
Then he met Marlana, a lovely American woman, who was studying in Chile. When it was time for her to return to the States, Matias followed. While Marlana pursued her studies, Matias started his career again from scratch. And he rose to the challenge spectacularly: within five years he had performed more than 1,000 shows and received several awards. Today, he performs at a wide range of events, from family parties to large corporate affairs, peppering his astonishing illusions and mentalist demonstrations with a charming banter. His innate sensitivity to cultural differences and fluent English, Spanish and Portuguese make him the unique, go-to entertainer for diverse audiences.
We asked him about his trade and his background.

What is it about magic and mentalist demonstrations that people find so captivating?

People have always been fascinated with the idea of possessing special powers, and the desire to experience them. An illusionist will fulfill this desire in a way that helps people process deeper life issues on a subconscious level. For example, freeing myself from a straightjacket echoes the idea of escaping from something that keeps us from moving forward. A card that rises from the middle of the deck represents rising above everything and accomplishing something. Finally, finding a hidden card recalls the idea of being lost and found. People see themselves and their lives represented in a magic show.

What’s your favorite performance style?
I particularly enjoy mentalism and mind reading demonstrations. I’m fascinated by neuroscience and the study of the mind, and how mentalists can use that knowledge to create amazing mind demonstrations.

How have you adapted your show to meet the unique needs of the Jewish community?

I’ve done many shows for the Jewish community, for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Purim, Hanukkah, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, etc. I’m respectful of the traditions and restrictions and I try to show sensitivity to individual requests regarding, for example, the type of music I use during my act. I’ve created tricks that are totally clean, appropriate for all ages but still thoroughly enjoyable.

Tell us how you link magic to corporate marketing.
My degree is in business and I have an MBA in Marketing; I create experiences that promote my clients—let’s call it experiential marketing. I focus on their products or services in order to increase their market presence. This is an effective way to engage potential customers at, say, a trade show or convention.

What kind of corporations have you done this for?
I’ve done programs for large companies such as IBM, CNN, KPMG, AT&T, CISCO, BMW and American Express, to name a few. And because I’m fluent in both Spanish and English, I’ve worked with companies that have many Hispanic employees. I speak their language and understand their culture.

Tell us about your awards.

I’ve received several awards including Best of New York and Best Comedy Magician. But the biggest award is the love my audience shows me.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your career, and what’s the most challenging?
I love working with people and watching them smile and be amazed. The challenge is to continue to develop new routines that will keep bringing wonder to people, while keeping it clean, engaging and entertaining.

Do you give away your secrets?
Let’s put it this way: the magic world has a door that keeps the people out. However, that door is not locked. Anyone with the determination, patience and perseverance to learn the secrets of our art, can enter.

What is some of the feedback you’ve received from your shows?

Here are a few meaningful quotes: “He engaged every person in the room from age 5 to 70.” “The best part was the amount of audience participation!” “Matias put on an outstanding show! He arrived ahead of time to prepare his ‘stage’ and brought everything he needed with him.” “He had 20 kids, ages 2-8, mesmerized for 45 minutes.” “He had everyone laughing, when they weren’t gasping in astonishment.” “Matias engages his audience with his tricks and leaves you wondering… HOW DID HE DO THAT?”

If your uncle Jorge could see you now, how do you think he’d react?
I think he would smile and pay attention to my performance to make sure it’s the best it can be—he was always criticizing other magicians when they were wrong!


Matias Letelier is a bilingual illusionist and mentalist and a founder of Fun Corporate Magic.
Phone: (646) 476-9830
Email: Website: Facebook: MagicianMatias
Instagram: @IllusionistMatias
Youtube: Magician Matias

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