Moore Than Meets the Eye

Rick Moore has been dazzling audiences for more than 30 years. Photo by Scott HolsteinMoore Than Meets the EyeThis magician has spent a lifetime traveling the globe to charm audiences who love him for being trickyBy Rachel Bruce

Fifty-three years ago, a grandmother gave a young boy his first magic kit. And before you could say “abracadabra,” Rick Moore had found his calling. For this 58-year-old magician, what you see is what you get. And that equates to a lot of charisma and a little good-natured mischief. 

Moore has traveled the world performing his opening act for stars such as Johnny Cash, June Carter and Bruce Willis; and taking the spotlight with the entertainment division in the U.S. Air Force. Now he appears daily in his own magic shop in The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. As if from a magic hat, Moore produces one adventurous tale after another.

The Making of a Magician

Moore grew up in a small town outside of Chicago called Michigan City, Ind., where his grandmother nurtured his love for magic. “I started doing little pocket tricks that were so simple to do and I would intrigue my family with all of this amazing magic I was doing.” His parents also encouraged him to focus on it. “Some days I couldn’t come out to eat dinner until I had a trick down,” he said jokingly.

After he practiced for several years, he started performing for every imaginable scout banquet, and was often the youngest magician to perform at trade shows. He even attended a magic school for a while. When he was 18 he went into the military for eight and a half years. “I was pulled out of my job and put into the entertainment division in the Air Force,” he said.

Moore went on to compete in 62 acts at McConnell Base in Kansas. He toured with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn for many years. Later, he performed with stars such as Johnny Cash, June Carter, Jim Nabors, Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Danny Glover and many others. He frequently performed at the Opryland Theme Park and Hotel in Nashville.

This year marks the 31st consecutive year Moore has traveled with the Department of Defense to entertain military troops at bases around the world.

Before moving to the Emerald Coast, Moore and his wife, Donna, lived in Nashville, Tenn. Three years ago, he and Donna, who is his stage assistant, performed at some campgrounds while visiting Destin. On a tip, they visited The Village of Baytowne Wharf their last night in town. “It looked like Opryland without the theme rides,” Moore said. He negotiated a deal and opened Rick Moore’s Magic Shop. 


That’s Entertainment

In Rick’s shop, the intriguing memorabilia from his travels cover the walls. From riding on camels by Egyptian pyramids to being sung to by a gondolier in Venice and running with bulls in Spain, he’s done it all. “My favorite place overseas is Turkey because the locals are so humble and they love people,” he said.

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and the Dead Sea and standing in the River of Jordan make for an eventful life, but he says there were some dangerous times he experienced. “I was in Athens, Greece, when terrorists were clearing out all of the clubs and I had my bus tires shot out,” he said. Then there was a time in Jordan where he was almost killed for showing locals a magic trick which required the Jordanian dollar to be ripped in half. Even after magically restoring the dollar, Moore still had to escape the town. “There are places I’d read about in books but when you stand there and actually see it, it’s absolutely amazing,” he said.

One of Moore’s passions is helping others. He’s given prostheses and wheel chairs to those who needed them. He said he’s been so fortunate with his talent that he was able to give something back to those in need. He was performing in Europe during the Iraq war for families who had recently lost a loved one. Smiling children came to see him after the show. The mothers told him they were so thankful that he could bring smiles to their children’s faces. “I still have a pencil a child gave me to thank me that night,” he said.

Moore is still motivated by his grandmother’s memory. And his purpose is still to fill the world with entertainment in his own special way. “You have to be different from all the other magicians out there and you don’t want to be like everyone else — you have to be yourself,” he said.

The Moore the Better

There’s nothing like being yourself when you’re stuck in a straight jacket suspended 175 feet above a concrete floor by two small cords — especially when the ropes are lit on fire and only minutes remain on the clock. Evidence of this escapade are proudly framed on a wall in Moore’s shop.

Mentalism, illusionism, street performing and escapology are all forms of magic that Moore likes. What he doesn’t like is seeing dangerous magic acts televised to impressionable viewers. As for walking on water, he laughed and said the only man who is able to do that is Jesus Christ.

Moore has worked with some large equipment that he stores in Nashville. He also had two tigers, Cleo and Leo, who worked with him in 1983 but he said they got too wild. His view of magic these days is fun-filled family entertainment. “I love when the audience can’t believe their eyes with something that’s so simple and so fun, not necessarily dangerous,” he said.

During the spring and summer, Moore performs shows on the main stage in the Events Plaza of The Village of Baytowne Wharf, as well as in his 40-seat theater in the back of his shop. During the season, he performs in the evening a few times a week at the Sandpiper Beacon in Panama City Beach. He performs at birthday parties, summer camps and private functions. His shop has magic kits for any beginner or professional, including a brand new version appropriate for all ages that just hit the market. Different tricks can be found in the shop as well. “My bag of tricks isn’t about anything but making people laugh or smile,” he said.