"Antony Gerard does not do tricks; he practices the art of magic. Calling a magic effect a trick is considered derogatory, akin to calling a psychiatrist a "shrink." One particular sleight took me five years to master, he says. That is no mere trick, that is an accomplishment!
If you are browsing at the Timid Rabbit Magic & Masquerade Shop on West Main in Kalamazoo Michigan and repeatedly ask him about "tricks", after he has gently corrected your use of the term, he may ask you to leave. To Gerard, who has built a successful career based on magic, costuming, masks, and custom prop building, this is serious business. Gerard's fascination with magic began as an infant in his native Netherlands, when Antony came under the spell of his charming Uncle Tiest, who in his eyes was a master magician. Tiest demonstrated his prowess at the small nightclub that he owned in Breda, Netherlands. After his Uncle Tiest started to show and teach young Antony some of his magical secrets, or magic spells as he would call them, Antony would sit and practice his newly learned miracles and only after mastering them would he be allowed to perform them for the clubs patrons.
At the tender age of 5, Anthony Gerard William in'tGroen emigrated from Leiden, Netherlands, with his family in the mid 1950's. "We moved from Holland to Holland," he notes. "My family was actually planning to settle in Phoenix, however, while visiting relatives in Holland, Michigan, my father, Ted, had a job offer as a financial adviser, so we stayed." Antony now uses his stage name Antony Gerard almost exclusively, dropping the "h" to spell it Antony. Plus, Antony took his middle name as his last name to make it easier for Americans to pronounce. His children still go by the family name Intgroen, which means "in the green." "Which I wish I was," he says with a chuckle.
Growing up in Holland, there were no local magicians to emulate, so he read books and started to teach himself, developing his own style of magic. "I did my book reports on Houdini. I would read stories about magicians doing certain things and then try to figure out how they would accomplish such miracles. Some of my efforts were rather crude, but others got a bit creative."
Wanderlust hit Tony hard during his senior year in high school, so immediately after graduation in 1973, he strapped on a backpack and traveled across Europe, reveling in the sights and sounds of the Old World, including his homeland. During that trip he performed magic in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. Shortly after returning home from Europe, Antony was off to college where he kept up a 24 to 26 credit hour class schedule. Antony's dream was to become a marine biologist and because the school that he wanted to attend required a near 4.0 average, he went to Ferris State College to get his grade point average up to that level. It seemed he could not avoid the web of magic anywhere he went. The controller of Ferris State College proved to be a retired professional magician and one of his fellow resident advisers in the dorm, a criminology major, had performed his magic acts on the Merv Griffin and Dick Cavett television shows. Tony pulled all those tangled strands together and organized a magic club on campus, The Ferris Conjurers.
Antony's dream of becoming a marine biologist was not in the cards. One night Antony was riding with a friend on the way to perform a magic show when a drunk driver came speeding over a hill, crossing into the wrong lane and smashing into their car. "He landed on top of us. I had over 20 broken bones and massive brain damage. I was told that I actually died right after the accident, but they kick-started me and brought me back, to some people's disappointment," Gerard recalls with dark humor in his voice. "Often, when I am asked how I am, I say, 'I will live. I like disappointing people.' It gets a chuckle and some ask if they can borrow that line."
The accident destroyed Antony's dream of a career in marine biology, but not his love of life or magic. It took his broken body a long time to heal, nearly three years, but the near-fatal crash barely made a dent in his sense of humor. Gerard's style of magic tends to lean toward humor and slight of hand. "My very first paid magic show was for a fraternity benefit. I really did not have any desire to get up in front of a bunch of people to do a show. I did my effects for small groups of friends or family. But then, the fraternity offered to pay me and that is where the Dutchman in me said, 'Wait a second. You are going to pay me to have fun? Let me re-think this.' Since it was a benefit for underprivileged children, I only charged them to replace the props which would get ruined in the course of the show, which came to about $25. They said there would only be about 30 people in the audience, but when the curtains opened, there were over 300."
The largest live audience Gerard has faced in his career numbered around 4,000, but he performed for millions of television viewers in a 1984 appearance on "Entertainment Tonight." As a professional magician in the late 1970's, Antony Gerard hit the road, touring throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and some of Mexico. Countries that Antony has performed in include, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Monte Carlo, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. In the United States, he appeared in Las Vegas and was included in a 1984 "Entertainment Tonight" on-location special along with the super stars of magic Siegfried & Roy and Paul Harris. Antony also toured with a band for a few years, combining their sound and his talents in a show billed as: "The Mugician's of Spellbound present Rock-N-Magic." Plus, Antony has performed on a cruise ship in the Bahamas, and has performed seven times at the, by invitation only, Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic convention in New York.
The list of Antony's clients range from the Ernst and Ernst Auditing Firm, to Credit Unions, Banks, Restaurants, Schools, Churches, Boy Scouts of America, Conventions, Festivals, Private parties, plus he has become a favorite performer at magic events around the world. As of 2015, Antony has done seven European magic tours and will be doing his eighth in late 2016. Antony has also been asked to be one of the headliner acts at the 2017 Florida State Magic Convention.
Beside magic, Antony has a number of other passions. Some of which include; marine biology, martial arts, paleontology, sculpting, and writing. Antony has written over 20 books, created many magic effects, and has sculpted hundreds of creations. Some of his works have been made for television shows such as; Storm Warning, The Big Bang Theory, The Soap Opera The Young and the Restless, Conan O'Brien, Cartoon Network, Bitchin Kitchen, plus, Antony has worked on many movies, theatrical productions, and haunted attractions. Antony is also frequently called upon as a creative consultant. "
At age 62, he says, "I am just getting started!"