BY BARB BERGGOETZ
Ace Saturn likes the feel of crisp, new playing cards, shuffling and handling them. He enjoys relating stories from fortune-telling cards. He appreciates cards with unusual, colorful designs. Sometimes, he buys a dozen decks at once.
He calls himself The Card Wizard.
And he recently created a unique spot on the downtown Square — The Parlour Theater — where he performs 72-minute shows before a small audience at 9 p.m. every Saturday.
“I just want to share my magic,” says Saturn, a Chicago native who moved to Bloomington less than two years ago with his wife, Tracey Jenkins, a physician, and their three children. “I think of it as more of a calling.”
The theater, tucked beneath Darn Good Soup, has Victorian-era-style seating for just 18 people. Velvet-covered chairs are arranged in a semi-circle, while black curtains surround the seating area. He dresses in clothing of the late 1800s during shows geared for adults but suitable for any age.
“It’s very intimate,” says Saturn, who has been fascinated with cards since he was a young boy. “That way people can feel the magic and be right there close to me.”
But he says he’s not just doing tricks. They’re illusions, experiments, and effects he’s taught himself over many years.
Saturn, who has performed at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market and fundraising events, calls his shows intelligent magic. “I do a lot of research in card magic,” he says. To help explain his illusions, he tells stories about real people and events from the past that are shrouded in mystery or intrigue.
“You have to have a story. When you do that, the magic has meaning to the audience,” Saturn says. He says his first show, called Nightshade Mysteries, will run for several months.
In addition to the weekly shows, Saturn teaches a card-handling course to help people learn to deal and shuffle cards. Groups seeking a small venue can rent the theater for plays, recitals, and other events.
A self-taught magician and stay-at-home dad whose children are in middle school and high school, Saturn’s real name is Lance Jenkins; he has a bachelor’s degree in public accounting.
Tickets for his shows are $45; $40 for those under 18 years of age or over 65. For more information, visit thecardwiz.com.