As a 7-year-old, Danny Cole got hooked on magic.
Now, as a professional, he has his own agent and is performing close-up, slight-of-hand magic at parties.
He charges $35 for a half-hour gig, usually a kid party, and that's not bad wages for a 12-year-old.
Most of all, however, "the applause is everything," he says.
Danny recently won the state Exchange Club's Search for Talent contest over 200 others of all ages and just walked away with first prize at a talent contest in Brea.
Although he spends up to four hours a day practicing--"That's what I enjoy doing when I wake up until I go to sleep"--Danny isn't convinced that it will turn into a career.
"Unless you make it big and work all the time, it doesn't seem to be a well-paying job," theorizes the seventh-grade, straight-A student who attends Sowers Middle School in Huntington Beach. "I don't really know what I'm going to do."
But until he gets a little older, magic is his game except for an occasional soccer match with friends.
Danny wants to entertain an adult audience.
"I just came back from a magic convention in Oxnard with my mom and everyone was a friend," he said. "I think if you are an adult, you appreciate it when a kid does the same thing you can do."
But when he walks into a magic store, "they don't know how good I am and it makes me upset because they treat me like a baby."
His next move is to become a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, but he has to wait until he's 13 to be considered for membership.
"I'm working up a 15-minute routine to perform for my audition there," he said, noting that he has a lot of time to perfect the presentation. He won't be 13 until May.
The money he earns from performing is invested in new magic effects to increase his repertoire of tricks and a growing library of magic books.
Danny's interest in magic was heightened after visiting a magic show in Las Vegas with his parents, Claudette and Gary Cole of Huntington Beach. "I wondered if I could be that good," he mused.
His mother attends all his performances and, while she supports his magic, she points out that a college education is in his future.
At parties, coin and card stunts dominate his performance.
"Close-up magic is more intimate than doing magic on the stage," he said. "On stage, you mainly talk instead of perform." His stage shows include recorded music.
But when he performs up close, "You can see the look on their face. I like to amaze people and keep them hanging."
At this point in his life, Danny feels that learning new magic tricks is "kind of like a snowball. You learn basic moves and once you learn those techniques, you can make everything better."
Danny believes he is at his best with coins. "I'm good at keeping my hands relaxed," he said.
At school, he shows his buddies how to do some of his tricks.
"I enjoy teaching little coin and card tricks they can perform on their brothers, sisters and parents," he said.