By (TK) Published on .

Fifty-year-old Peter Samelson is a partner and creative director at In-vision, an East Orange, N.J.-based new-media company, but he's only been involved in new media full-time for the last six years. Prior to that, he was a professional magician. He had two off-Broadway one-man shows, performed for more corporate clients than you could shake a wand at, and worked all the big cruise lines. Sounds pretty nifty. On the ships, "You do only two shows a week; the rest of the time you're a passenger," he notes. Sounds like a Love Boat fantasy, but "you can only put up with this amazingly luxurious lifestyle for so long," Samelson sighs. After 20 years, "I wanted to wake up in a room that didn't have a porthole. I got fed up."

He started moonlighting in the digital world, which was not as great a leap as it might seem. Samelson is a tech-savvy Stanford grad and the son of a math professor -- "I used to play in Einstein's backyard when I was little and my dad was at Princeton" -- and he's been involved with computers since the mid-'60s. He's still involved with magic, too. He does trade shows for Invision clients, but despite his lightning-fast hands he doesn't come on strong from the get-go with people. "I let them get to know me before I start pulling stunts."

Samelson can do potentially humiliating things like "steal the watch off your wrist, borrow a ring from you and have it appear on your keychain or burn a hole in a napkin, then have it heal in your hand," he casually notes. "It never backfires, it never pisses people off," he claims, which is no doubt a testament to his charm. "And I can use magic to make a point. For instance, I will do something right in front of a guy and he can't tell what I'm doing because he's too close -- but people further back in the room can see what's going on. Point: teamwork solves problems. The client was too close to the problem."

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