You’ve got to pick a pocket or two

Photograph by Martin Schoeller / The New Yorker

I enjoyed this New Yorker profile of Apollo Robbins, a man with an almost supernatural ability to relieve people of their belongings:

In magic circles, Robbins is regarded as a kind of legend, though he largely remains, as the magician Paul Harris told me, “the best-kept secret in town.” His talent, however, has started gaining notice further afield. Recently, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and the military have studied his methods for what they reveal about the nature of human attention. Teller, a good friend of Robbins’s, believes that widespread recognition is only a matter of time. “The popularity of crime as a sort of romantic thing in America is profoundly significant, and Apollo is tapping into that,” he told me. “If you think about it, magic itself has many of the hallmarks of criminal activity: You lie, you cheat, you try not to get caught—but it’s on a stage, it has a proscenium around it. When Apollo walks onstage, there’s a sense that he might have one foot outside the proscenium. He takes a low crime and turns it into an art form.”

Read it all here, and watch Robbins in action below.

Update: A much better video of Robbins than the one from YouTube below is now available on the New Yorker site.

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You’ve got to pick a pocket or two