CHARLESTON — A newly opened venue in downtown Charleston will feature a Union native on a regular basis.
The Palmetto Crescent Parlour, located at 49 Archdale Street in the heart of historic downtown Charleston, opened its doors to the public for shows — featuring mind-blowing feats of master mentalist “The Southern Charmer” Kellar O’Neil — on May 20.
The performer may be more recognizable to local residents by his real name — Shaun Moss.
Moss became interested in performing the art of illusion as an elementary school student at the former Excelsior Middle School in Union. He was inspired by WSPA Channel 7 mainstay Jack Roper, who he saw perform magic at various school and church events. Roper taught Moss his first illusion, and during junior high school, Moss performed on Roper’s Saturday morning television show, “Kidsizzle,” which led him to follow in Roper’s footsteps by performing at various local events.
As a student at Union High School, Moss continued to practice his craft, learning more about stage performance through drama classes. Moss said he was then influenced by Ralph Lawson, who taught and directed Moss in classes and school productions. Local residents may also remember Moss as a former news director at WBCU Radio.
Moss went on to become the president of the Greenville ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the world’s largest organization for magicians. Along the way, he began to focus on the aspect of illusion known as mentalism and took the name Kellar O’Neil, “The Southern Charmer.”
One of O’Neil’s signature effects is known as “Any Drink Called For,” in which he asks audience members to call out their favorite drink and proceeds to pour the drink named from a “magic kettle.”
“It has been everything from sweet tea to chocolate milk to margaritas,” the performer grinned, adding the types of drinks can depend on the venue and audience.
He also brings participants on stage and has them taste several of the drinks while his back is turned and he is blindfolded. They are then mesmerized when the mentalist knows which drinks were tasted and in what order.
“This effect dates back to the 1850s,” he said. “It was performed by Jean Robert Houdin — the magician Harry Houdini named himself after.”
Last month, Moss was featured during the opening of The Palmetto Crescent Parlour in Charleston, and he will perform five shows each weekend — at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights as well as a matinee performance on Sundays. The venue was designed as an intimate and old-fashioned chamber space, replicating the ornate and exotic chambers of magic’s heyday where America’s famous early mentalists performed for the wealthy elite. In addition to its vintage red wall covering and luxurious drapes, the parlour takes audiences back in time with decor including an authentic gramophone, a peacock standing nearly six feet tall.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to perform regularly at such a unique venue in one of my favorite cities,” O’Neil said. “I invite the fine people of Charleston, as well as visitors to this wondrous city, to join me at the Palmetto Crescent Parlour for an evening of mysteries, miracles, and mesmerizing feats that will leave you spellbound and speechless.”
O’Neil added that he knows many residents of his hometown of Union visit Charleston during the summer, and he hopes to see some familiar faces visiting the city and the parlour.
Due to the intimate and interactive nature of the venue and the show, the number of guests at each show is limited to 28. Guests must be at least 10 years of age to attend, and they are encouraged to dress in nice, but comfortable attire. Tickets are $39.95 and may be purchased by calling 1-855-285-6463 or by visiting www.thesoutherncharmer.com.
O’Neil (Shaun Moss) is the son of Mike and Cheryl Moss of Union, and he and his wife, Nalaan, have twin daughters — Lahna and Olivia.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4090.