By Thao Nguyen
There was nothing in the bag. Both volunteers verified it to the rest of the audience. But magician Confetti Eddie pulled three shot glasses full of whiskey from inside. His hands had been chained on Houdini handcuffs by the two volunteers.
“Houdini’s record was nine seconds. I will attempt to break that record,” Confetti Eddie said a few minutes earlier as he smiled to the audience.
Edward Ruiz, better known as Confetti Eddie, is an Oak Cliff-born magician and visual artist. A Brookhaven College alumnus, Ruiz was a successful graphic artist before returning to his lifelong passion of entertaining audiences through the art of illusion.
Ruiz operates a magic parlor on Exposition Avenue near Fair Park, where he performs his shows. His burlesque-style magic shows earned him the Dallas Observer’s Best Naughty Magician award in 2017.
Ruiz fell in love with magic when he was a child. His mother took him to magic shops, and he loved watching professional magicians, such as David Copperfield, and Penn and Teller, perform on TV.
Ruiz said the mystery of magic is one of the things that caught his attention. “I just wanted to learn about it,” he said. “It was just cool. It was different.”
Ruiz’s first magic trick involved a small box he used to vanish small items. “That was the coolest thing to me,” he said.
Ruiz’s journey includes more than his passion for magic, but art as well.
When Ruiz was in high school, he put magic on hold to focus on art. At the time, he was more interested in drawing comic books and animations.
When he graduated from high school, Ruiz said, he did not think magic was a profession he could follow. “I either had to pick magic or art, and at that time I decided to focus on my art career,” he said.
Young people are often challenged to choose a career, Ruiz said.
He wanted to become a professional artist and have his work displayed in galleries.
Ruiz said he became more serious about his art after he enrolled at Brookhaven in 1993. While at Brookhaven, he worked on illustrations, advertising and commercial art.
Ray-Mel Cornelius, visual communication professor, who he has stayed in touch with over 26 years, said Ruiz was a talented student.
After Brookhaven, Ruiz spent hours in his studio, dedicating his time to creating art.
Ruiz said he felt successful as an artist after selling his paintings and exhibiting work in the Dallas Museum of Art.
However, something bothered him. His desire to pursue magic never disappeared.
Ruiz reached a turning point when he no longer felt happy selling his art. When he made art for himself, he expressed his feelings and thoughts and didn’t have to create works for others’ enjoyment.
Ruiz said the repetitive nature of making art and looking for clients began to take a toll on him. “I tried to listen to what people think about my art. It wasn’t satisfying for me. I felt like I was just doing it for money.”
Ruiz decided he only wanted to create for himself and returned to his original passion – magic. Cornelius said he was not surprised when Ruiz told him that he wanted to be a full-time magician. Ruiz had many talents, he said.
Ruiz also created lighting and set designs for stages. Then, he realized something – as an artist, his artwork was in the center of the spotlight. But as a magician, he would be the spotlight.
Ruiz soon set out to follow his passion. He began to transform his studio into a magic parlor, a place where he could perform for small groups of people in a more intimate setting than the grand spectacles other magicians put on. Confetti Eddie’s Magic Parlor, as the venue was named is a place ehere Ruiz performs magic as he pleases.
The parlor still holds the spirit of Ruiz’s days as an artist, with several of his paintings on display. “It’s kind of like a gallery with a stage,” Ruiz said.
When he turned to magic, Ruiz’s family did not agree with his decision, because he was a successful artist.
“At the time, magic wasn’t really that popular,” Ruiz said. “It is now. People are really starting to get into magic.”
He said he did not want to wait until he was an old man to follow his dreams. “I gotta do this now,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said magic brought out a side of him that he never knew about. It helped him talk to people and engage with audiences. Soon, he set aside his paintbrushes and slipped on his vest and bowtie to become Confetti Eddie.
Ruiz said his first performances in front of live audiences were nerve-wracking, but he soon learned to overcome his nerves and developed a stage presence.
“When I am doing magic, I’m not worried about trying to make money from my performances,” Ruiz said. “If they like it and applaud, or I see smiles on their faces, I’m being rewarded right then.”
Ruiz is currently working on a parlor series of shows where people can experience up close magic. “It’s not a close-up show and it’s not a big stage show,” Ruiz said. “It’s a small, 50-foot intimate show so that people can see magic close up so they can experience what they see on TV and the movies live.”
Art Meets Magic
Ruiz’s goal is to incorporate more of his art into his magic shows. He says he always wanted to make his art and magic go hand-in-hand. When he was an art student at Brookhaven, Ruiz included magic elements in his projects, such as his drawing of a rabbit coming out of a hat.
Ritchy Flo, a magician who has collaborated several times with Ruiz, said he loves working with him. Flo said Ruiz is a magician who not only performs magic tricks, but tries to tell stories through his performances. “Eddie knows how to make magic feel magical,” Flo said. Ruiz’s personality is what makes the performances feel more believable and magical, he said.
When he is off stage, Ruiz works as a deck electrician at The Dallas Opera and a project manager at the Perot Museum.