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Cards, wires and a small straitjacket: Port Moody magician's Vegas experience opens new doors

Gabriella Lester's flair (and trademark hair) made a world-famous duo take a second look. She may not have 'fooled' them, but she hopes a new escape can lead to new opportunities.

There's a collection/shrine of Gabriella Lester's magical accomplishments displayed proudly in her family's living room.

It consists of membership certificates for prestigious magic circles, mementos from past performances and a sparkling pair of high heels.

On the bottom shelf is a framed taping booklet — along with a contestant's pass — from Lester's recent and first-ever appearance on national television.

And since her Las Vegas TV appearance, Lester is looking forward to exploring where she can solidify a long career in magic.

For the Port Moody magician, it's just a matter of figuring out where to start.

"I didn't expect to be where I am now, and I'm very grateful that I have more now," the 18-year-old 'Diva of Deception' said in an interview with the Tri-City News.

"When I decided I wanted to do magic, I set all these goals that I will choose in life. And it's like, they're happening a lot sooner than I expected, which is great. But it also means that I have to figure out where I want [to go], but I think I'm in a good position now where it's just taking opportunities as they come."

The risk

On Nov. 18, Lester endured one of the most thrilling performances of her young career to date — attempting to trick a pair of the world's greatest magicians.

The CW's Penn and Teller: Fool Us gives up-and-coming and experienced magicians the chance to see if they can shock the duo and earn an opening act slot at their Las Vegas show.

Lester, who unnervingly knows her way around escaping a straitjacket, was invited to come onto the show and decided to use said straitjacket as part of the act.

Prior to hanging upside down in the jacket, she asked Penn to pick a flash card with a math equation and remember it.

Lester was then hoisted into the air and got out of the jacket in less than 30 seconds.

While doing so, she made Penn answer a deck of math flash cards out loud as Teller stood by to watch her escape.

But before her act was over, Penn didn't find his equation. Luckily, Lester revealed it written in big numbers on her shirt.

How did she do it? Well, the Heritage Woods Secondary grad couldn't tell the Tri-City News, per magician's code, nor could Penn and Teller explain on pre-recorded TV why she ultimately didn't 'fool' them.


Story continued after video below.


However, the two professional magicians had positive comments about Lester; her presence on stage, her bubbly personality, her ability to make volunteers feel uncomfortable (which is a good thing in the magic industry) and her positive outlook on pursuing a career in magic.

While she appears calm, cool and professional, Lester admits she's always nervous when taking to the stage — a key sign that she's passionate about what she does.

"It's this balance where it's like, maybe [you're] nervous because it means you care. But you can't let the nerves override you and stuff," she explained, noting due to safety protocols, there's no live studio audience during the taping.

"I think they could just see me like hyperventilating a little, like, I'm just trying to breathe in....There's no audience reactions, there's no sound. So you're performing for dead silence when it's the most nerve-wracking performance of your life. So that's why you can see, in the performance, that Penn was very reactive and very talkative, like trying to fill that little gap so it made it more comfortable."

The act was a team effort between Lester and mentor Shawn Farquhar, a three-time Fool Us alum who influenced her to pursue magic after he shoved a Sharpie pen up his nose at a middle school show.

"I'd never done the act before," she explained.

"I've done the straitjacket thing, but the act itself was my first time performing it, because we built it for the show. So, I think it worked well. And it was fun."

The reward

Penn and Teller: Fool Us is certainly a big check off Lester's bucket list, and could potentially earn her a second opportunity down the road.

She's gone from the forests of Anmore to the bright lights of Las Vegas, so what does the future hold for a teen magician looking to increase her experienced star status?

How about a three-week trip to Europe to perform for new crowds? It's a start.

"I want to travel and see the world, and perform while I do it," Lester said with great enthusiasm.

"[And] magic is my whole world. There's nothing else that I can picture myself doing. And it's one of those things that's always felt like I'm just meant to do it, which sounds kind of cheesy. It's just, every experience and person I've met has felt like it's pushed me towards doing it."

In February 2023, Lester is set to perform in countries like Scotland and Spain in venues she visited when she backpacked overseas earlier this year.

She admitted it may not be easy, but she's thankful to have her family's support regardless of where she travels.

"I don't think I would have supported my kids as much as [my parents] did in this regard," Lester said.

"When a 14-year-old goes, 'Hey, you know, I'm going to do card tricks for the rest of my life, and I'm not going to go to college,'....in any world where a parent would be like, 'Okay, they're crazy,' but they've been amazing and so so supportive. They fly out to see me do shows, they've watched every performance possible and watched each trick a million times. It's not their world in the slightest, but they've embraced it."

Locally, Lester is a member of The Vancouver Magic Circle — a branch of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM).

For more information on her magical endeavours, you can follow Lester on Facebook, InstagramTikTok and YouTube.

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