Johnny ''Ace'' Palmer loves close-up magic because ''it's intimate and fun and I can see the eyes of the people as I do the magic. That's kind of cool.''
Tonight, the eyes he'll see are those of David Letterman. The 1978 Lakeview High School graduate performs on CBS's ''Late Show with David Letterman,'' which starts at 11:35 p.m.
Palmer, in a telephone interview from his home in Huntington Beach, Calif., said he got the call a week ago Friday to appear on the talk show. Letterman is featuring close-up magic all week on the program. Palmer was recommended by Jason Randal, a fellow magician featured on Monday's show, and the producer told him they also saw a video of one of his performances
Johnny ‘Ace’ Palmer
''They didn't say where they saw it or got it,'' Palmer said. ''There's a lot of me on the Internet that I didn't put on the Internet. They could have seen it on my Web site.''
Palmer was told to prepare about three-and-a-half minutes of magic for a segment that will run about six minutes with the interview with Letterman. The producers asked him to perform a classic sleight-of-hand routine with cups and balls, and he will sandwich it between his traditional opening bit and a closing number that he frequently uses as a strolling magician.
''It will be a trilogy of magic,'' he said.
And all of it will be performed for Letterman at his desk.
The Letterman gig is the latest in an extensive list of television credits. After Palmer became the first close-up magician to win the title of World Champion Magician at the 1988 International Federation of Magic Societies' convention, he performed in prime time on CBS for ''Live! Dick Clark Presents ....''
Palmer also has been seen on MyTV's ''Masters of Illusion,'' the CBS special ''The World's Greatest Magicians at the Magic Castle,'' ''Life Styles with Regis Philbin,'' Jerry Lewis' MDA Labor Day Telethon and the Travel Channel.
Palmer's mother, Ann Anne, lives in Niles, and he has other family still in the area.
According to Palmer, the best thing about being on television is, ''It makes my family happy. I got an e-mail from a friend who said he'd tell everybody he knew (about the Lettterman appearance), and I told him I think my wife already told everybody.''