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ENTERTAINMENT: Aiden Sinclair celebrates ten years at The Stanley Hotel

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When Aiden Sinclair performed an impromptu performance of magic tricks in the lobby of The Stanley Hotel in 2014, he never anticipated that ten years later, he would have not only a show, but a theatre dedicated to his craft in the historic hotel.

On Saturday, April 13, Sinclair marked the tenth anniversary of his first show at the Estes Park hotel, the only full-time residency show in a Colorado hotel dedicated to magic.

“It’s been insane,” said Sinclair. “You don’t really realize it until a Facebook memory pops up and holy crap, that’s been ten years. How did that happen?”

In 2014, magician Aiden Sinclair performed an impromptu show in the lobby of The Stanley Hotel, which led to his ten-year run of performing at the historic hotel in Estes Park, Colo. (Courtesy Photo / Aiden Sinclair)

As Sinclair reflected on those ten years, his enthusiasm and passion for what he does — not just the magic but the ability to build a business that now helps other performers — can be heard in his voice.

But his ten-year story starts farther back, as most stories do, with challenging times and a reflection on his past leading him to ask himself who he wanted to become.

“I had a not great start in life and really kind of made my way in this world in a pretty bad way,” said Sinclair. “It culminated in me running very illegal poker rooms and running as a fugitive for almost 15 years of my life. In 2004 or 2005, I just had this weird, ‘I don’t want to be this person’ moment.”

At that point, Sinclair willingly turned himself in to authorities, spent time in prison, and came out with a new perspective on life and who he wanted to be.

Aiden Sinclair has been performing in the Underground theatre at The Stanley Hotel since the doors opened in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Aiden Sinclair)
Aiden Sinclair has been performing in the Underground theatre at The Stanley Hotel since the doors opened in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Aiden Sinclair)

He knows he was lucky to find his gift, thanks to the book “How to Do Card Tricks” while in prison, and he enjoyed his gift of sleight-of-hand tricks. That interest and talent cajoled him into learning more magic techniques, tricks and methods.

He returned to his home state of Wyoming and was hired to do magic for a fundraiser for a domestic violence safe house for women.

This turning point, one of many in his twenty-year path to where he is today, taught him the power of the one-magic-trick show.

“That night, I watched a documentary from the BBC called ‘Mental,’” said Sinclair. “It was about the insane asylum system in the United Kingdom. In the course of watching it, they talked about how in the 1800s all the way to the early 1900s, it was cheaper in England for a man to have his wife committed than it was to get a divorce. There was this weird process of women being institutionalized that had no mental illness whatsoever.”

Sinclair’s perspective on magic was that it takes people away from reality. Her fundraiser needed to show them reality, show them the challenges these women are facing.

In a change of form for his show, Sinclair scripted a whole show that was more theatrical, called “From a Padded Room.” It was a 90-minute narrative story told on stage that still made people forget but created a kind of sleight-of-hand technique to make people realize the challenges these women are facing. About halfway through the show, his assistant came on stage, a large man from the audience placed her in a straitjacket and then sat her in the corner for the remainder of Sinclair’s performance.

“I went back to telling my story,” said Sinclair. “From the stage, it was very powerful to watch the audience of 300 people after about five minutes, stop looking at the girl. And that was the point, to see if we could make them forget about her.”

At the end of his theatrical story, Sinclair explained that the asylum in London is now the location of some of the most expensive apartments in that world-class city.

“I looked at the audience and asked, ‘Many of you after this are going to ask if everything was true in his show, and if everything I told you is true, then how can all of these horrible things done to these women have been forgotten?’ And I let that hang for a minute and I looked at the audience, and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, how many of you have forgotten the lady in the straitjacket?’”

It is these out-of-the-box, sleight-of-hand tricks that have brought Sinclair to where he is today. These shows are more than just magic shows. They are faces of Sinclair and the powerful messages he wants to share. The entertainment business he has developed has become a way for him to give back.

“That show changed a lot for me, because with one magic trick, I was able to do something artistically and emotionally that was way more powerful than doing 200 magic tricks with a deck of cards that made people forget,” said Sinclair. “Because of that, it changed how I wanted to use magic and how I wanted to present it.”

The Underground theater, where magician Aiden Sinclair has performed since 2021, is located under the original carriage house at The Stanley Hotel. Sinclair is celebrating tens years of performing at the historic hotel in April 2024. (Courtesy Photo / Aiden Sinclair)
The Underground theater, where magician Aiden Sinclair has performed since 2021, is located under the original carriage house, which is now The Post restaurant at The Stanley Hotel. Sinclair is celebrating tens years of performing at the historic hotel in April 2024. (Courtesy Photo / Aiden Sinclair)

Sinclair visited The Stanley Hotel within a week of that show for the first time.

On that day in the lobby of The Stanley Hotel, John Cullen, owner of The Stanley Hotel, happened to witness the crowd gathering and he was intrigued, according to Sinclair. Shortly after that lobby show Sinclair was performing his magic for audiences every Saturday night at The Stanley Hotel.

The popularity of his show led to three days a week and then five.

Five years later, Cullen broke ground on the Underground theater below the original carriage house at The Stanley Hotel. After a couple of setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Underground opened in 2021.

“The shows at the Underground are very narrative, they tend to be very heavy,” said Sinclair. “There is always subtext to them, dealing in matters of faith and destiny.”

Today, Sinclair has a staff of 12 and is constantly looking for ways to change the show. The Underground has evolved from just him performing to now including guest performers with unique, solid shows.

“The last ten years have gone by in a blink,” said Sinclair. “The cool thing is that 2014 was a cool year,” said Sinclair. “‘America’s Got Talent’ happened in 2014. I met John at the same time.”

In 2014, Sinclair found himself on “America’s Got Talent,” receiving four “yeses” from the judges. In the next round, the crowd chanted, “Put him through, put him through.”

The crowds have continued to chant for him.

The Underground performances at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park run about 60 to 90 minutes. They are held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through the middle of May. Starting the week of Memorial Day, shows run daily throughout the summer, with two shows on Friday and Saturday.

Sinclair, who also delivers his “Illusions of the Passed” show aboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., performs every weekend at the Underground theatre until early August. The current show is titled, “Possessions,” a performance that questions the magick of things we possess. Other performers and shows at the Underground include Hannibal’s 13: Séance, Billy Kidd, Steve Valentine and Jarod Kopf.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.aidensinclairsunderground.com/magicians.

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