Deaf Performer Dr. Simon Carmel to Offer Deaf Folklore Talk, Magic Show



Deaf performer Dr. Simon Carmel, a retired professor from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and an internationally known deaf magician, will speak to Kalamazoo Valley Community College students during the afternoon on Nov. 16 and will perform a magic show that night.

From 4 to 5:30 p.m., Carmel will present, “Sharing Stories: Deaf Culture and Folklore.” The talk will not be interpreted and will only be open to KVCC staff and American Sign Language-knowledgeable students.

Carmel, who has a doctorate degree in anthropology, started exploring the concept of "deaf folklore" more than 30 years ago. He has traveled to give talks or workshops to both deaf and hearing young and adult audiences at deaf clubs, deaf schools, universities and colleges, and professional folklore conferences in many parts of this country as well as European and Asian countries.

“While traveling, I collected many deaf jokes, anecdotes, sign play, and other stories from both deaf and hearing individuals after lectures or workshops,” he said. “It is very important to preserve all stories of the American Deaf Community.” Carmel has also urged the deaf community to start its own national deaf folklore and preserve all types of stories. “Someday some other deaf and hearing folklorists or researchers can begin to study the cross-cultural comparison between the genres of different national deaf folklores in order to better understand the perspectives of deaf people around the world.  This is my dream,” he said.

While he has lofty goals in terms of preserving deaf stories, Carmel’s intent during the evening magic show will be simpler. “In my evening show, most of my tricks will be the amazing mentalism part that will stun the audience,” he said. “The other tricks will be full of surprise and enjoyment for everyone.”

Beginning at 8 p.m., Carmel will present, “A Magical Evening.” The magic show is open to the public will be followed by a question and answer session. Tickets are available through the KVCC Bookstore web page and also at the door.

    Su Cutler, ASL instructor at KVCC, said Carmel’s visit to KVCC two years ago was well attended. “He has a rare gift for making connections with everyone wherever he goes,” she said.

    Cutler said she hopes the magic show will both entertain and inspire the audience. “These are challenging times and I would like the audience to take away from his magic performance the memory of having seen someone who gave them a sense of wonder, maybe leave them thinking, ‘How did he do that?’ From reading his book, Silent Magic, I think it would be wonderful if someone went away from his performance thinking, ‘I can do that.’ One never knows when a spark will ignite.”
Carmel said he has been fascinated with all kinds of magic -- manipulation, misdirection, mentalism, card, coin and ball manipulations, since he was three or four years old. “One of my last big performances  was at the banquet of the 300 Deaf Senior People Convention in Kuopio, Finland last May 2011,” Carmel said. “The second to the last one was the fund-raising event to support the Las Vegas Charter School of the Deaf in Las Vegas last August 2011. I love learning more new magic tricks every week from the websites or at two monthly local magic clubs.”  

Carmel coordinated the first Deaf Folklife Section at the American Folklife Festival sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. He is also regarded as an expert on the Society of World Deaf Magicians.
Hosting Carmel’s presentation is the KVCC chapter of the American Sign Language Honor Society, a student club advised by Cutler. 

Tickets to Carmel’s magic show may be purchased online at or at the door on Nov. 16. Tickets are $15 at the door; $12 general admission if purchased before Nov. 12; $10 for students and HOH patrons; and $5 for children under 12.
 For more information, contact Cutler at 269-488-4862 or