The Untold Truth Of Derek DelGaudio From In & Of Itself

Hulu's In & Of Itself is a mind trip. In the show, illusionist Derek DelGaudio takes audiences through a journey about his life while doing one jaw-dropping trick after the other. (Spoiler alert: He makes things disappear, then reappear — on a random street.)

DelGaudio intended the show to be more thought-provoking than your typical magic show. As he tells anecdotes about how his childhood and how he learned to do magic tricks, he also talks about the idea of identity and how putting labels on yourself may hinder you.

In & Of Itself began as a stage show in 2017, and the Hulu documentary is a filmed version of one of the live performances. It drew favorable reviews, with NPR calling the show powerful, and noted the movie evokes the same experience.

DelGaudio is not just a magician; he's also an artist and a writer. He's been doing sleight-of-hand magic since he was a kid growing up in Colorado, wrote GQ, and even did a stint as a casino dealer in Los Angeles. He was supposed to rig his shuffles in that job to make sure the house won more than the gamblers. His skills are impressive, and his shows are critic's darlings, but DelGaudio doesn't even call himself a magician. Say what?

He says he's not a magician

Speaking to GQ, DelGaudio said he doesn't personally identify himself as a magician, but doesn't correct others when they do. For him, a magician isn't just about tricks; they also have stories to tell. These stories often don't come across, because people have preconceived notions of magicians. He said people have a right to be cynical about magicians because, In his words, "magicians have sullied that good name."

That's not to say DelGaudio shuns the magician community. He got his start at the famed Magic Castle in LA and is even friends with other well-known magicians like David Blaine. Blaine told The New York Times that he'd learned new tricks from DelGaudio.

DelGaudio's also won several awards from the Academy of Magical Arts. He was the 2016 Magician of the Year and won Close-Up Magician of the Year in 2011 and 2012. The International Federation of Magic Societies honored him with a 2018 award for creativity and artistic vision. He may not call himself a magician, but he's a very good one. One reason DelGaudio doesn't call himself a magician is that he wants to break magic. He told Daily Beast he set out to break people's perception of magic. In his shows, he tries to blur the lines of "what it means to be and be seen and people's perception of you."

His mom's story plays a pivotal role in show

In & Of Itself revolves around identity, and at the beginning of his show, DelGaudio asks the audience to pick a card and choose an identity. According to him, his tricks are supposed to help break down the barrier between identity and self to drive home that identity and magic are the same: They're both illusions. To do this, the show takes on a very personal route for DelGaudio as he examines both his identity and those of the audience.

One of the compelling stories he tells during In & Of Itself is when he found out his mother, a firefighter, was gay. DelGaudio said he came upon his mother, who raised him on her own, kissing another woman when he was six years old. But the town they lived in was conservative, and one night, someone threw a brick into his mother's car, shattering a window.

The brick became a cornerstone of In & Of Itself. At one point during the show, DelGaudio takes a golden brick embedded in glass and makes it disappear. Then he asks an audience for a random street corner. The brick will somehow appear there. After the show ended its run, DelGaudio took to social media to thank his mom for everything.

While In & Of Itself is a deeply personal show for DelGaudio, he collaborated with several people to bring it to life. One of his producers is his wife, the film and theater producer Vanessa Lauren.

He has some big name friends

The show also boasts some big names who became interested in the type of magic DelGaudio does. Frank Oz, whom everyone knows as a Muppeteer and the voice of Yoda, directed both the stage show and the filmed version. DelGaudio said in an interview with Daily Beast that he felt Oz was the only option. Oz, he said, understood the show's core. Oz had been advising DelGaudio since 2013.

Oz even introduced DelGaudio to the trappings of fame. During In & Of Itself's off-Broadway run, the production made nightly security arrangements for Oz. Several fans and autograph-seekers waited for the director outside the theater every night.

One of its producers is Stephen Colbert, the comedian and talk show host. Colbert saw the stage version of the show and came on to co-produce it. He's also involved in the Hulu show. Neil Patrick Harris is also involved with the show.

DelGaudio was a consultant for Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, which explored the rivalry of two magicians, and also worked on the TV show Carbonaro Effect. DelGaudio also writes his performances and has premiered several programs off-Broadway. Harris, who's a big fan of magic, also helped bring DelGaudio's other shows to the stage.

And in what could be the most magical pairing ever, DelGaudio was an artist-in-residence for Disney Imagineering. His role? Brainstorming the different magic-themed acts across Disney theme parks. Not bad for someone who doesn't even call himself a magician, even if his ultimate goal is to break magic.