Bobby and Jeramy Neugin are one of only a handful of Native American magic acts working today. The father and son duo perform under the name Lost City Magic and bill themselves as “the last conjurors of the Cherokee.” As their moniker implies, they perform traditional stage and street magic, but with a Cherokee twist.
They pull wasps from dirt (inspired by a legend involving giant wasps eating children and the elderly) and scorpions from wounds. They bring drawings of snakes to life. Their signature trick involves Bobby setting fire to his son’s head:
I put a box on Jeramy’s head. It’s got a little door in the front. You can open the door and see Jeramy’s face. I will stick a napkin over his face and I will shoot the top of that box full of lighter fluid and set him on fire. When you look through the door, you see his head being burnt to a skull. Then the magic is I’ve got to bring him back.
Since their act involves a variety of creepy crawlies and live animals, the pair spend a lot of time sourcing their scuttling “assistants.”
“We can’t go to the pet shop and buy scorpions or snakes whenever we need them, but we can go out to the forest and find them,” Jeramy explains.
None of the animals are harmed during the performances, and are released back into the wild once the show is done.
While the Neguins hint at a long magical legacy leading all the way back to the Trail of Tears, the pair didn’t start performing professionally until a couple of years ago.
“When we first started this, we were doing construction work,” Bobby explains. “We were out of North Carolina building Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes. That was paying well, then the boom dried up and I realized how easy something like that could be over. It’s like turning water off on a tap. It shut off, there suddenly wasn’t work anywhere.”
Bobby has been interested in magic since his early childhood, and Jeramy suggested performing magic might be easier on the joints than gruelling construction work. The duo quickly put an act together. Unfortunately, the magic industry can be just as volatile as the construction industry, especially for a pair of Native American magicians.
An appearance on America’s Got Talent gave their careers a kickstart, but they swiftly realized billing themselves as Native Americans was actually harming their business. They begrudgingly changed the wording of their promotional material to claim their magic was based on “old West” legends rather than specifically Cherokee and they started making money again. Fortunately, the further afield the Neguins travel, the more people seem to appreciate the way they weave their heritage into their act.
“The further we get from Oklahoma, the more interested people seem to be in our Native American culture,” Bobby explains. “Just going across the state line into Arkansas, we had people from all over come see us. It was a culture shock. Here, we downplay our Native American looks. Outside, they wanted to see us in full regalia.”
The pair perform all over Oklahoma and are willing to travel to other states for the right booking. They have an exhaustive list of the venues they’ve performed at on their contact page. You can also follow them on Twitter and Instagram.