Magic Cyclops Celebrates 16 Years Of Entertaining And Confounding Audiences

Photo: Magic Cyclops
Magic Cyclops

Magic Cyclops is a Denver musician that blurs the line between musician and comedian -- a troublemaker who's been entertaining and puzzling audiences for 16 years.

Like his music heroes Devo, Magic Cyclops employs an outlandish signature costume. He performs his songs onstage like a subversive comedy act that often has confrontational interactions with his audience a la anti-comedy hero Andy Kaufman. 

This month marks the anniversary of Magic Cyclops’ live debut. In honor of the self-described "Mile High Magic" turning 16, here's a list of 16 things you might not know about Magic Cyclops:

  1. Booking his first show -- opening for San Diego band The Peppermints at Surfside 7 in Fort Collins -- pushed Magic Cyclops to finally write music. He had his look down but needed songs. He borrowed a keyboard from David “Davey” Shultz of punk band Someday I and wrote his debut album, “Best of Synthesizer Hits,” in one evening.
  2. For the first 10 years of his act, the most important accessory of Magic's look was his Hulk Hogan bandana. Then he received a letter from World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. ordering him to stop wearing the “HOGAN” bandana. Now he dons one that says “MAGIC." 
  3. Magic Cyclops wore a thrifted woman’s winter coat with a fuzzy hood onstage at his first show. He recalls there were about four people in the audience. The joke was he’d take off the coat, and the fuzzy hood would remain. 
  4. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club took Magic Cyclops on his first big tour. He rode in their vintage RV, but there wasn’t enough room to pack his keyboard. So he started playing music from his laptop. The night before they left on tour he erased the vocals on his songs so he could perform what he calls “live karaoke.” He says Slim Cessna’s alt-country audience loved his act. 
  5. His song “Teen Pregnancy (Don’t Do It)" has a cult following. It has been remixed by musician and film composer Mark Mallman and covered by The Polyphonic Spree. 
  6. Magic Cyclops was also in a short-lived band with Polyphonic Spree members Chris Penn and Mark Pirro. Their band Super Goose played one show opening for Enon. 
  7. In 2012, he was asked to audition for American Idol. He received more air time than any other contestant on the episode, eventually performing for the judges. While Magic went on the show knowing he would not take it seriously, fans of one of the musicians he covered did. He sang Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” and after his audition Parrotheads started sending him hate mail and showing up to his shows throwing flip-flops at him. 
  8. Magic Cyclops is notorious for performing air guitar, and was recognized for this hobby after he was on American Idol. His most outrageous performance was at Red Rocks Amphitheatre when he sprained his foot onstage while enacting “Planisphere” by Justice. 
  9. Magic Cyclops has headlined concerts that Grammy winners have played. In 2004, a then unknown Arcade Fire opened up for Magic Cyclops at Denver's Larimer Lounge. A few years later, the governor hosted a private party and he performed right after Huey Lewis and the News.
  10. The song “Magic Cyclops” by Centro-matic inspired his band name. Centro-matic has even become a fan of the band. You can see the group's guitarist wearing a Magic Cyclops t-shirt in the music video for “Rat Patrol and DJs.”
  11. The first three albums he bought in order: Ace Frehley’s self-titled debut; "Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Polka Party!”; and “Oh, No! It’s Devo” by Devo. They have all inspired him over the years, especially Devo.
  12. Magic Cyclops has opened for Colorado bands he grew up idolizing. He opened up for The Fluid in 2008 and performed at the Warlock Pinchers reunion in 2010. Magic says you might not hear those bands’ sounds in his music but they’ve inspired him to do what he does.
  13. Magic applied  to be the lead singer in Mike + the Mechanics when the 80s band was replacing their lead singer in 2010. He sent them a video performing songs their hit “All I Need Is A Miracle” and deep cut “Taken In.” He never heard back.
  14. He was invited onstage by Descendants to perform their song “Good Good Things."
  15. Magic Cyclops has been a club DJ longer than he’s been a musician. A memorable gig was seeing Susan Sarandon on the dance floor as he DJ’d the Black Eyed Peas’ after-party at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
  16. He has been a guest the Internet show “Tom Green Live” and also hosted his own online program, “Dungeons and Dorks.”