By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor
Worcester – Fran Flynn of Worcester was first influenced by the wonder of magic as a teenager. Now with over 40 years of experience, he continues performing as a professional magician throughout New England and beyond.
He was introduced to magic at age 14 while attending the YMCA by staff member Steve Dacri. When not working at the Y, Dacri operated his store on Lake Avenue known as Imperial Magic.
“Steve taught me a lot,” Flynn recalled. “You’d walk into his store and see showcases of magic props and illusions. He intrigued me. The bug bit and I’ve been at it ever since.”
Flynn’s cousin worked at the public library and would alert him when new books about magic arrived. A number of Flynn’s peers at the now-closed South High School on Richards Street shared his interest in magic. They’d meet weekly after school and practice sleight-of-hand tricks.
At age 16, Flynn performed publicly for the first time. He volunteered to entertain for a Christmas party at the Worcester Lodge of Elks #243 on Mill Street.
Previously, Flynn considered pursuing a career as a firefighter as did his father, grandfather and other relatives. At age 17, he revealed to his high school guidance counselor a change of plans to become a professional magician.
“My guidance counselor told me that I couldn’t do that,” Flynn relayed. “I said, ‘I can – and I will.’”
As a young man, Flynn worked as a retail security guard in the Worcester area. He considered it on-the-job training for his ultimate career as a magician.
“I learned to be more of a trained observer and to watch better,” he explained. “I’d see magicians perform and they’d say, ‘Watch my hand.’ So I learned to watch closely as I watched the shoplifters.”
After catching shoplifters, Flynn nabbed his first paying job as a magician. In 1975, he was hired to entertain restaurant guests at the Lantern Room in Shrewsbury. There, the tuxedo-clad magician developed experience strolling from table to table and interacting with guests.
“I try to find the right time to go over to a table because you don’t want to cut into their family time,” he noted. “I talk with the guests, show them sleight-of-hand magic and make balloon animals for the kids. Sometimes the adults want balloon animals, too.”
Now on a weekly basis, Flynn adds magic to the menu of several eateries: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at IHOP Restaurant, 4102 Shops Way, Northborough Crossing; Sundays, 5 to 8 p.m., at Villa Restaurant, 124 E. Plain St., Wayland; Tuesdays, 5 to 8 p.m., at Uno Pizzeria & Grill, 225 Turnpike Road, Westborough; Wednesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Horseshoe Pub & Restaurant, 29 South St., Hudson; and Fridays 6 to 8 p.m., at Alumni Restaurant, 391 E. Central St., Franklin.
Flynn also returns to perform at many annual community festivals and company functions. In addition to events in central Massachusetts, he performed this past December for his sixth year during Christmas activities at the Equinox Resort in Manchester Village, Vt.
“I enjoy going back to these events each year,” he said. “I’ve become friends with the people who booked me.”
Countless children’s birthday parties are more memorable thanks to his magic act. Kids are pleasantly surprised by the appearance of an unexpected party guest with four legs and long ears.
“I love the expression of amazement on their faces when I produce a real, live rabbit,” Flynn declared. “There’s nothing better than the smile of a child.”
Among this magician’s proudest fans are his two adult children; granddaughter, 6; and grandson, 2.
As his all-time favorite performance, Flynn cites an unpaid gig in the early 1970s at the now-closed Worcester Center Galleria. He accepted an invitation to voluntarily perform at a party for children with special needs. After the show, the event organizer thanked Flynn for his time and apologized that they couldn’t afford to pay him.
“Just as she said that, I felt a tug on my jacket and there’s a little girl about 4 or 5 with Down syndrome,” Flynn relayed. “I leaned down and she said, ‘Mr. Magician, I love you!’ I said, ‘I just got paid.’”
For more information, visit FranFlynn.com.