Asheville magician Ricky Boone has had to overcome major physical obstacles to do what he loves.
Diagnosed with a rare bone disease as a child and confined to a wheelchair, Boone learned magic in high school and went on to complete three college degrees before finally stepping out of the corporate world to become a professional magician. Now the owner of Asheville’s Magic Shop, Boone has performed all over the country and uses his disability for both comedy and inspiration. Boone recently told Bold Life his amazing story and why he thinks of his challenges as a blessing.
How did you get started doing magic?
I’m originally from a small town about thirty miles from here called Burnsville, but my parents found out that there was a school out (in Asheville) for disabled kids. I was very fortunate and got to go there. I had been going there for a couple of years and we were told that there was a new teacher coming in. And here comes a guy — pulls up on a Harley Davidson wearing a black leather jacket. I already think he’s cool. He comes over to the kids and proceeds to start showing magic tricks. And I’ve been hooked ever since. That was 35 years ago.
So he continued to teach you tricks?
Luckily for me he became the principal of the school and over the intercom every day it was “Ricky Boone please report to the principal’s office.” I would get up and go to his office and his secretary didn’t know any better. He’d come out and argue with me. He would say, “Ricky get your hiney in here!” and act like he was mad at me and he would shut the door and we’d sit down and he’d show me a card trick. And he would say, “Can you figure that out?” I’d say “Nope,” and he’d say, “Go to the library, we’ve got some books on magic. Figure out a trick and when you can fool me, we’ll trade.”
What sorts of tricks do you do now?
I’ve done anything from the stage illusions and making ladies appear out of boxes to levitations, cutting the head off, sawing the ladies in two all that stuff. I have a dollhouse that I put swords through and then I close it up and take the swords out and a lady pops out. I have one where I have handcuffs, thumb-cuffs and shackles, and I get out of those. I use that one to show that a lot of people have a lot of different ways that they are bound, but no matter what you’re problems are you can get out of them.
You’ve made quite a career for yourself. You’ve appeared on NBC, ABC and CBS and own your own store. To what do you credit your success?
I honestly believe that magic is why I’m on this earth. I believe that I’m on this earth to do exactly what I’m doing. It’s taken me a very long time to realize why I was put in the condition that I’m in — but I also feel like now I’m a mouthpiece for the disabled because so many don’t have a voice of their own.