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Paul Zenon (born 29 June 1964) is an English magician and comedian, known for television shows across many genres; in particular his 'Street Magic' specials featuring him performing stunts and tricks in pubs and on the streets.
Zenon has sometimes been billed as "King Con" and "The Sultan of Swindle". He staged his first scam at the age of eight when he sold fake raffle tickets for a non-existent prize. In his adolescence Zenon worked in a joke and magic shop, The House of Secrets, in Blackpool before travelling the Mediterranean as a street magician. He also worked as a casino croupier, from which he was fired for (allegedly) cheating. It is fair to say that over the years Zenon has led a life of deceit and trickery but he now uses his knowledge to expose hustlers and scam/con artists, particularly those who claim to have 'psychic' and 'paranormal' powers.
Early in his career Zenon performed with the rock band Hawkwind and was also lead singer with the Blackpool band Crackousrocknroll. As well as appearing on the comedy club circuit and performing in summer seasons and Forces entertainment, Zenon presented children's television in the early 1990s, hosting the BBC shows Tricks 'n' Tracks and Tricky Business with numerous guest appearances on What's Up Doc? ITV. He subsequently created and produced the Children's ITV game show Crazy Cottage. He has since made hundreds of TV appearances as performer and presenter on shows of almost every genre. He has had several successful one-man shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as well as at Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland, and for some time has been one of the UK's most successful corporate performers, appearing at events and hosting awards ceremonies in over thirty countries. At the Edinburgh Festival in 2012, Paul took to the stage as magician, compere and comedian for La Clique Royale's run at The Famous Spiegeltent on George Street.
Zenon was the UK pioneer of 'Street Magic', writing and presenting several one-off specials on Channel 4 and ITV including Paul Zenon Turning Tricks (1999), Paul Zenon's Tricky Christmas, Paul Zenon's Trick or Treat (shot in Prague in 2000) and White Magic with Paul Zenon (shot in Lapland in 2002). His last special 'Paul Zenon's Revenge Squad' on ITV1 was a kickback against the faceless bureaucracy and daily irritations that we all have to suffer in modern-day Britain. He is currently a regular special guest in Countdown's Dictionary Corner and appears as pundit on various shows[which?] with regard to subjects such as the history of magic and variety, cons and scams, and as a skeptic with regard to all matters 'paranormal'.
He is the founder of The Wonderbus, a Registered Charity which takes older people on days out to see live entertainment - see www.thewonderbus.org. In the summer of 2008 he toured British theatres with comedians Harry Hill and Lee Mack to raise funds for the organisation. In 2009 he put together and hosted a highly successful benefit show at the London Palladium featuring comedians Dara O'Briain, Sean Lock, Lee Mack and Dave Spikey.
He has also written three books, all published by Carlton:
- 100 Ways to Win a Tenner (2003) - a compendium of bar bets and hustles.
- Paul Zenon's Dirty Tricks (2004) - a guide to revenge-style practical jokes.
- Street Magic (2005) - a complete 'how to' course for the budding magician.
Street Magic was re-published in 2008 in a smaller format, with illustrations rather than photographs, and 100 Ways to Win a Tenner was released in the States under the title 100 Ways to Win a Ten-Spot and in Australia as Bar Bets.
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