Apollo Robbins is a unique combination of performer, speaker and consultant. Robbins first made national news as the man who pick-pocketed the Secret Service while entertaining former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Apollo utilizes pick-pocketing and sleight-of-hand to demonstrate proximity manipulation, diversion techniques and attention control. This unique set of skills have led to several academic speaking engagements for the science community, law enforcement and government agencies on human behavior.
In 2006, Robbins founded Whizmob Inc., a brain trust that offers law enforcement officials and ex-cons as subject matter experts on current fraud, theft, and scam trends. Apollo hosted Tru TV's reality show, THE REAL HUSTLE, and served as technical advisor on TNT's series, LEVERAGE.
In January 2013, Apollo was profiled in The New Yorker in a feature article by Adam Green. On January 16th, 2013, Apollo performed on The Today Show for Matt Lauer and Ryan Seacrest.
Q&A with Apollo Robbins
Who are some of your biggest influences in magic?
Since magic is both a passion and a career for me, my influences come from many directions.
For understanding attitude, naturalness, context and misdirection: Slydini, Tommy Wonder, John Carney & Cardini.
For learning the important balance between show & business: Bob Kohler, Jon Stetson and my old friend Mark Sparks.
For understanding branding & niche marketing: Derren Brown, Mac King, Marco Tempest & Kevin King (the double talk expert).
What got you into the field of pick-pocketing?
Besides two nefarious brothers and a blind father... it probably has a lot to do with my preference for effects that are both plausible and border-line possible. Super skills such as mega memory, card cheating, rapid math, and pickpocketing have always intrigued me. I've never liked asking my audiences to pretend I have super natural powers. I was drawn to pickpocketing because it allows me to create astonishing moments with context. My audience gets a glimpse into a shadowy underworld world of colorful characters with unusual talents.
Do you have any advice for magicians that would like to learn pick-pocketing techniques?
Picking pockets is an advanced art form that assumes your technique has become second nature, you have a natural comfort with people, and a sensitivity to how they perceive you.
It is becoming very difficult to perform a pickpocket act due to the increased popularity of casual attire and the dangers of performing for a litigious society. But as a skill, pickpocketing & body loading are a fantastic set of tools for gathering information, hiding predictions, assisting in transportations, etc.
Practice Tip: Your initial focus should be on loading rather than steals..
What is your favorite effect to perform?
Hard to answer... There is a precise feeling that I am trying to create for my audience. It's hard to always hit it with any one particular effect.
I can give you some ingredients for my favorite effect; unexpected plot twist, borders on the possible, seductive, final effect is deduced mentally not visually, and plausible ability - so the spectator imagines how such an ability would change their life for the better.
You perform and travel all over the world, what are the best and worst aspects of your busy lifestyle?
I am very fortunate that I get paid to do what I enjoy. It is fulfilling to have an occupation that I am still passionate about after 20 yrs.
There are times that I perform in exotic locations and stay at 5 star resorts. Sounds glamourous... until you realize that often I only see the inside of my hotel and the airport 'cause I am off to the next gig. Zig-zagging from Hawaii to the East coast and back to Vegas in the course of a week.
When I am home, I split my time between researching, consulting and developing new services that I can offer to my regular clients.