The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

Medicinal Magic: Ben Zabin, Bend magician who created a weed-themed magic show


Oregon, especially Bend, is unique in breweries, festivals, outdoors, art geography and, um, of course, *cough,* the legalization of marijuana. But what if I also told you this city is also unique in magic? And no, I’m not talking about magic as a metaphor for the experience in this high desert town. I mean “magic,” as in a magic show. How is that unique, you might ask? 

Before I lose you, take the words “magic show” and combine them with “WEED,” and you get a unique show called “Smokus Pocus.” And no, I wasn’t high when writing this, though my editor may sometimes question me.  In all seriousness, I’m talking about the magician Ben Zabin, who performed at Open Space Studios on Friday, Feb. 10 in our unique city of Bend. 

 The word was most definitely out; because the house was fully packed, and I am not talking about the weed bowls people were packing. The tickets sold out, plus a waiting list for no-shows. During the performance, Ben the magician displayed an impressive barrage of tricks, audience participation, witty humor, and *cough,* weed. However, smoking inside was prohibited, though much of the audience seemed to have had a pregame session before attending.

The atmosphere was lively and enthusiastic, with friendly staff and attendees. Zabin captivated the audience with tricks involving the illusion of personal items being broken, disappearing, and reappearing.  Also, mind reading tricks and, of course, tricks with; *cough,* weed. Though, these tricks I listed barely scratch the surface of the entertainment.

 Who is this magician, Ben Zabin? Was he just some stoner kid who lived by the system of, “everything is better with weed!”? After the show ended, I met up with Zabin as he shook hands and took selfies with his audience. He graciously agreed to partake in an interview. 

Zabin explained his love for magic started as a kid from New York. He was inspired by magicians such as Penn & Teller and David Copperfield. Ben talked about dropping out of college and falling into hard times leading to distributing weed in not-so-modest ways. Though, it was his propensity for magic that steered him towards more positive horizons. He performed more traditional magic along the way. Yes, I mean without the; *cough* weed. He only later incorporated weed into the act, which has undoubtedly been a signature mark in his performance.

Looking beyond the green magic, Zabin also expressed how weed should be used in moderation and advocated for people’s medicinal use of the substance, such as for anxiety. He also loved how magic and weed brought people from diverse backgrounds together. Performing in places like Baltimore and Philly, he explained how he was often the minority at shows. 

“I wondered about people seeing some privileged white dude do shows in these communities,” he said, though he enjoyed the audience’s acceptance of his cameo. Zabin also said, “Bend doesn’t have much diversity,” and how he wants more diversity at shows, but he’s happy with any audience that comes with a good spirit. 

Zabin expressed that the most challenging part of performing is finding venues. It’s difficult for obvious reasons; the legality of finding places where weed isn’t prohibited or accepted. After he explained this issue, I naturally played devil’s advocate. 

“I imagine you have to have critics; what do you want them to understand about your act?” I asked, referring to his show centering around weed. 

“I don’t think there’s anything I want the critics to understand,” Zabin replied, reflecting on how his act wasn’t “going to be for everyone.”

Zabin explained that he wanted people to leave his show filled with excitement and togetherness. “So, what’s the next big thing? What’s next for you?” I asked, seeking some insider news. Deviously smiling, his eyes grew wide like a kid with a secret, contemplating revealing his next act. 

“There’s some really exciting sh*t coming up, so I don’t really want to say right now, but stay tuned.” I could see it in his eyes; he wasn’t just blowing contact smoke in my face at this moment; he had something big rolling up. I guess that news is being held in until it hits the air. ‘Till next time, this is reporter Aaron Rasheed (aka The Broadside Kid), signing off. 

To find out more about Ben Zabin, here are the following links:

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About the Contributor
Aaron Rasheed
Aaron Rasheed, Staff reporter
Aaron Rasheed, also known as “The Broadside Kid,” is a staff writer for The Broadside.

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