If you've been downtown at any point during the past six years, chances are you've come across Richard Waddington, better known as Richard the Adequate. He's a magician and one of Orlando's few street performers. He recently sat down with us to talk about his magical career.
Orlando Weekly: What was it about magic that first captivated you?
Richard the Adequate: When I was 6, I saw the movie Houdini with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and it was one of those things. I was instantly captivated it was wow and my dad saw that. After the movie he got out the Encyclopedia Britannica H Volume and read me Houdini's life story. From that point on, it's pretty much been an obsession. … Six years ago, I lost my home and my job in the same week. I had been doing street magic a couple days a week having fun. …It wasn't something I was doing seriously. Suddenly, I panicked and was pegged into a corner. So, I started doing magic full-time. I lived under a bridge under I-4 and after three months of being the troll under the bridge, it got me my own place. I've been paying my rent ever since. Street magic got me off the street. I consider that poetic justice.
Why doesn't Orlando have more street performers?
Because of the way the city treats them. They treated me like I was a panhandler at first. Told me I had to stand in a little blue box, just like all the panhandlers. Well, I'm like "I'm not panhandling, I'm busking." They didn't even know what busking means. It kind of bothered me. Then I found out I needed a permit, so I went down to the county office and got one and they left me alone since then. But, still they kind of look at me with a disdainful tolerance.
How do you feel about people like Val Valentino (an illusionist who became famous by revealing the secrets of professional magicians), who break the magician's code for personal gain?
He's going to burn in hell. We're just like Masons. You give away our secrets and you end up with your throat cut from left to right. It's one of those things. We're here for entertainment. It's not any cosmic secret that we're hiding. It's nothing. We're not changing the laws of physics. We're doing sleight of hand, you know? The hand is quicker than the eye. No, the mind is quicker than the hand. And that's the whole idea. Val Valentino, like I said, he'll burn in hell.
Being downtown nearly every night, you must see some interesting things. What's the greatest spectacle you've ever witnessed?
Oh God. Where do I start? I walked by the alley behind Midnight Pizza. I was walking threw there about five, six months ago and this really pretty girl was just squatting at the fence, peeing. She looks over and notices. She didn't wear any panties, nor did she shave. She looked up at me and screamed, "What are you staring at?" And I said "Heaven." She laughed, and at that moment I realized if you can catch a girl in an awkward uncomfortable position and make her laugh it's a win-win situation. I've seen people give me examples of what not to do when a cop is harassing somebody or when someone is being harassed, because he is legitimately being a jerk. … I see a lot of kindness. A lot of good things happen downtown.
I recently came across an old picture of you that appeared to be a press kit photo for a band called Chimo. What can you tell us about Chimo?
Oh my God. Well, I went to Combs College of Music in Pennsylvania. I have a degree in music. I joined the band, spent years on the road in this three-piece band called Chimo. It's a Canadian Eskimo word that means friend. Our drummer was Canadian. He taught me the Canadian alphabet. "A eh? B eh? C eh?" I spent eight years on the road. Met my future wife while touring with them. Basically, divorced the band and married my wife and when I divorced her, I remarried my music. I actually came here originally to work for Disney. I wanted to play in the Disney band. But when I got here I found they had canceled the band and they had canned all their music, everything in the park, except for the marching band they use during the parade. Everything else is canned. There is no more live music there. And that really bothered me. I don't know. I became a magician, basically, because I got tired of saying "You want fries with that?" Yes, I have a degree in music. Is it for here or to go?"
Richard the Adequate perform magic tricks just about every night on the streets of downtown and occasionally does stand-up at the Other Bar. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/adequatemagic.com.