November 20, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
A Lake Orion street performer took his act to the west coast, and is traveling with little money and a big heart.
Lake Orion High School graduate Anthony Grupido left on November 8. First stop Denver. Second stop Las Vegas. Third stop is wherever his three week adventure takes him.
"It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what's left? The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams," he posted to his Facebook page on November 11.
Grupido's dream is to travel the world giving his knowledge of magic and "escapology' with his show. Through his trip he hopes to spread hope and inspire young adults to follow their own paths, to not be ushered into the future, and to believe in themselves.
His performance is called Street Performers Offering Support, is motivated by his own setbacks and challenges in life.
Escapology is the main drive of his show, and Grupido uses a straitjacket to metaphorically demonstrate how following your own dreams can unbind your fears.
When he was a teenager he lost a possible wrestling scholarship after tearing both his rotator cuffs, found little family support for his true passions and fell into depression.
A therapist at Common Ground—a lifeline for individuals and families in crisis, victims of crime, persons with mental illness, and homeless youths—asked him what makes him happy.
"I was like well, magic is pretty cool, I mean I might as well go for it. Nobody supported me at the time, I'm just going to go do it," he said. "The next day I was booked at a few different restaurants, and my first private show was booked a week later."
He calls himself Handsleight, and has performed "everywhere" in the Lake Orion area, from Applebees to Golling GMC Buick, Ed's, Leo's Coney Island, Orion Art Center, Dragon on the Lake, and the multiple parades that run through the downtown.
His routine starts with a "cool magic routine" to draw the crowd in, sometimes involving shackles, sometimes involving fire breathing. At that point he gets 'em going, asking them how their night is and pumping up their spirits.
Then he whips out the straitjacket and starts giving the talk about his depression and how the jacket is symbolic of what holds people down.
"Magic was such a turnaround in my life that I can honestly say it saved me from myself. I can honestly say, and let me repeat this, I would not be here today if it wasn't for me going after my dream of becoming a world renowned magician," he said.
About half of his crowd walks away when he explains the deeper meaning of his routine.
"It's sad to me because not everyone there wants to hear it," he said. "I'm not trying to reach out to those people. Obviously the people who stay are the people who I want to listen, and they get to see the cool escape too."
Magic has always made Grupido happy. Through magic he learned to feel again, he stopped hurting himself, and now performs more than 200 shows a year.
He booked a few shows in Las Vegas before heading there, and seems to have found himself something else.
"Escorted to the buffet in Primm (Valley Casino), all three shows were gold, eating before a meeting about future shows here," he posted November 16.
Not only does he hope to motivate any and all to follow their dreams, he thinks performing his routine out west will make his name nationally recognized.
"It will really help me build my show and my character," he said.
He plans to write an autobiography of his adventures, but mostly, it's for the people.
"You never know who you can inspire. It's more to go out there and be like 'hey, my parents didn't support me, and look what I did,'" he said.
Returning will be the difficult part, but Grupido has a surprise for all of his supporters.
Follow him on his Facebook page Anthony Grupido to trace his steps out west.