About

JOHN S. RAILING – Biographical Information

John Railing, 65, is quite a Renaissance man with many interests and a varied business background.

John is widely considered to be one of the country’s top close-up magicians.  Based in Chicago, he performs regularly for an impressive roster of celebrities, entertainers, and leading corporate executives; and he has performed for Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and heads-of-state from around the world.

John’s specialty is sleight-of-hand magic.  He combines his delightful personality with an amazing repertoire of fascinating effects using cards, coins and balls, in addition to an array of baffling illusions and mental tricks.

John first performed professionally while attending law school over 30 years ago.  After practicing corporate law in Cincinnati and abroad, John settled in Chicago and was the featured magician appearing nightly at the renowned Pump Room restaurant for several years in the early 80s.  His various TV appearances have included twice being seen nationally on the Today show.  He has also written and published several magic effects, including a feature in Playboy magazine and a series of “Awesome Tricks” books for the younger audience.

While maintaining an extensive schedule performing for over 100 private engagements each year, John was also an options futures trader with a seat on the Chicago Board Options Exchange for 6 years, from 1981- 1987.

John is also involved in magic of a different kind as one of the leading producers of pop-up books and movable advertising inserts appearing in well-known magazines and periodicals.  In fact, his company has designed and produced over 30 million hand-assembled ads during the past 20 years.

John’s business in advertising was actually an extension of his passion for books.  He is an avid collector of modern first editions and French photography books.  But his main focus is, not surprisingly, in the area of pop-up books.  John is one of the foremost authorities on three-dimensional publishing and has one of the largest private collections with more than 5,000 pop-up books.

In the last 15 years, John has consulted on film and stage productions, created illusions for trade fairs and corporate shows and has produced a myriad of products for the magic and toy industries.  This has included working with David Copperfield to assist with retail and magic for his new restaurant and entertainment complex, several licensed toys, magic related candy packaging, magic books, and various other projects involving 3-D printing, optical illusions and puzzles.

John wrote and produced a series of 10 magic sets, each with its own DVD, for Scholastic Books.  Called “The Ultimate Magic Club,” it was regarded by the magic fraternity as the best magic package and has sold over half million copies.

John is actively involved with the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation, which celebrates the work of the legendary recreational math author, the late Martin Gardner, with a playful and fun approach to mathematics, science, art, magic, games and puzzles.

John lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Sheila, and their three children, Maxwell (22), Mia (20) and Macey (13).