Johnny Ace Palmer will give an audience everything he has — except for a clue, that is.
The magician, who has appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," won awards internationally and performed for years at Disneyland, often gets asked how he pulls off his sleight-of-hand tricks.
At any given show, those may include making baby chicks appear out of thin air, changing the faces of playing cards by blowing on them and making coins defy gravity.
Palmer, who lives in Huntington Beach, often has a ready response.
"I lean in close and whisper, 'Can you keep a secret?'" he said. "And they say, 'Yes!' And then I whisper, 'So can I.'"
When the curtain falls on Palmer's two shows Saturday at Huntington Beach High School, his act should be as impenetrable as ever. But he hopes to make more than just a rabbit magically appear. Proceeds from the shows will benefit the school's sports, academic and performing arts programs, and the organizers aim to raise more than $8,000 by the end of the night.
Russ Marlow, a parent of two Huntington Beach High football players, met Palmer years ago when their children played in the American Youth Soccer Organization. When Marlow invited him to perform at the benefit shows, Palmer gladly accepted the offer.
Initially, the shows were meant to benefit the football program, but the organizers decided to spread the wealth. Volunteers at the door will ask each patron which student club he or she represents, and $5 of the ticket cost will go toward that group, Marlow said.
"I would be tickled pink if we could get 200, 300 people per show," he said. 'But that's modest. I hope we can get more than that."
Palmer gave an impromptu performance for a group of students Monday on the auditorium steps, but anyone who makes a return visit Saturday shouldn't expect to see all the same tricks. He has more than 1,000 bits in his repertoire, having learned his first card trick at age 4 and honed his craft for nearly 50 years.
"I really feel I was put on this Earth to do magic," Palmer said.
If You Go
Who: Johnny Ace Palmer
Where: Huntington Beach High School auditorium, 1905 Main St.
When: 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $20 for adults, $15 for children younger than 12
Information: (714) 717-0004