“The mind is an amazing playground…if you just let it go, and believe it can happen”.
A helicopter hovers fourteen stories above the earth-its propeller whirling ceaselessly, blocking out all surrounding sound. Attached to the copter by a cord, an inverted man dangles precariously in the sky, constricted in his movements by a strait jacket.
Contrary to initial belief, this is not a man being transported to the local asylum. This is entertainer Danny Zzzz, and this is his own idea-an act of courageous fortitude that is all in the name of charity.
The mission is simple: hanging upside down, Danny Zzzz’s goal is to escape the constraints of the strait jacket before succumbing to a fate guaranteed to be much worse.
Even with over twenty years experience in the field, it’s difficult not to fear for Danny Zzzz’s safety as he attempts this Houdini-esque helicopter stunt. As he teeters above the perilous landscape below, Dan has to be terrified, or so the onlookers assume. Instead, Dan focuses his concentration and, within moments of ascent, magically relieves himself of that pesky and constrictive jacket. Dumfounded and awestruck, the spectators breathe a sigh of relief as Dan (with a grin as large as a child’s) is lowered back onto the ground without a sense of concern.
In reality, this is simply just another day in the life of Danny Zzzz, a hypnotist, mentalist, illusionist, magician and entertainer.
A former musician and producer/daytime host at 97.7 htz FM (1995-2001), Dan has always been a man who, more often than not, has succeeded in taking chances (in every regard). Gifted with remarkable business savvy, Dan credits a great deal of his success to serendipity: “I have tended to take career chances at the correct time, but I’ve been very lucky. No matter how astute you are business-wise, there is always a great amount of luck involved.”
Billing himself as the ‘premier choice for quality live entertainment’, Danny Zzzz performs all over North America with his Vegas-inspired show (the Danny Zzzz LIVE! Show). Mixing elements of humor, magical mentalism and comedy stage hypnosis, Dan performs two shows a day, seven days a week. In a normal year, he and his technical crew will conduct over 400 performances (He has amassed over seventeen hundred shows in nine years of existence).
In fact, in one forty-two hour span, Dan and his crew traversed across two provinces (Thorold, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta) and two states (Buffalo, New York and Orlando, Florida) to perform their widely-acclaimed show.
Based here in the Niagara Region, Danny prides himself on producing shows that are suitable for audiences of all ages, which ultimately dictates that there is no offensive language or conduct of any kind. In a medium where pushing the limits relishes being the norm, it’s refreshing to witness an act such as Dan’s refrain from that sort of material and continue to remain a relevant and engrossing spectacle.
This respect for his audience has not been lost on others, either. He has garnered wide acclaim from many of his peers in the industry.
In 2007, NBC premiered a program entitled ‘Phenomenon’, a competition show that featured ten contestants competing to become the next great mentalist. Contending against over forty-four thousand applicants, Danny Zzzz secured his spot during an awe-inspiring video-phone interview with producer Marla Brodsky (he performed a Mentalism effect that occurred in two countries at once!). But unfortunately, his role as the lone Canadian representative on the show was not meant to be. A problem in securing a working visa upended his chances of appearing on the program, and consequently another performer was substituted in Dan’s spot.
But this unforeseen obstacle did not deter Dan’s ambitious aspirations. In 2009, he appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and won over all five demanding judges with his fully-loaded arsenal of magical intrigue (he melted stainless steel cutlery between his fingers). In fact, Judge Brett Wilson was so enamored with Dan’s performance that he continues to hire him to perform and entertain his clients at conferences and parties around North America.
Through these amazing opportunities, one would assume that Danny Zzzz would eventually pack up and vacate the Niagara Region for greener pastures. But though he has had opportunities to relocate his show to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Dan has adamantly refused the tempting allure of the bright lights and big city: “This is my home. My family is here and my roots are here. Don’t get me wrong, the financial opportunities are there, and it would be easy to flee but I won’t. Home is home, and I love it here. The Niagara Region has a great sense of community, and it has personally provided me with a sea of memories”.
It’s truly galvanizing to encounter a personality quite like Dan’s: Extremely confident in his abilities, but yet ultimately humble in demeanor. Driven by his love for this truly laborious craft, Dan is seemingly unmotivated by financial means in any inherent way. Instead, he simply wants to entertain, and is always insistent on giving back to the region in some measure.
Involved with more charities than thought possible (Niagara Peninsula Centre, hospital fundraisers, diabetes foundations, Big Brothers and Sisters), the man is as assiduous as one can be, but yet a happiness continues to permeate across his face. It’s not about the almighty dollar but rather the smiles of those he affects with his work.
However, his passionate connection to the community has not been simply relegated to his show or stunts. Just recently, Danny released a book entitled ‘Life in a Jar’; a self-help guide that deals with numerous issues such as addictions and communication barriers within social relationships. Dan, who is a well-trained and registered hypno-therapist, has penned this book in an attempt to aid people in their struggle with life’s everyday issues.
Put simply, the element of time clearly does not factor into the hectic world of Danny Zzzz.
Even with the tourism season being unfortunately slow this year, Dan continues to work hard at his trade night in and night out. Running his show out of the Crowne Plaza and Sheraton ballroom in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Dan continues to do what he does best: entertain audiences from around the world with his wide array of dazzling and death-defying trickery.
Asked if he is crazy to perform some of his stunts, he simply replies: “We will always continue to do crazy things…things that will set the bar really high. The hardest part is coming up with new and unique ideas to perform. In a sense, what is next?”
What IS next is exactly what everyone is truly anticipating.