"Theoretically, you can make it bend the other way, but it's not like you can make it bend in perfect proportions," offers Elbaum, who owns two kiosks aptly called Airport Magic Shop at the Philadelphia International Airport.
Elbaum – who emulates the great Jewish magicians David Blaine and David Copperfield – then shows off his other skills by levitating a crumpled dollar bill and performing some seemingly inexplicable card tricks.
"Magic is the only thing in this world that can create the emotion of astonishment," purports the Long Island native who's lived here the past four years. "So many people will rationalize the magic with irrational solutions just to set their mind at ease.
"But I really view magic as an art form, and I take it seriously. I put a lot of thought into it; it's a mental exercise. I spend so much time thinking, 'What would be the quintessential effect.' If the concept of your trick is obvious, then most people are going to figure it out. It's your responsibility as a magician to fool them."
In fact, he explains that the downside to being a magician is knowing how most tricks work; the mystery of the illusion is what makes it so much fun.
Down With the Grind!
Elbaum – who grew up in a kosher home and attended the Solomon Schecter Middle School of Nassau County – performed his first children's birthday party at the age of 9, and has taught at some of the most rigorous magic camps in the country. But it's his entrepreneurial side that, in part, explains his new digs.
He knew one thing when he graduated Indiana University with a business and marketing degree: "I didn't want to get a real job. It would be like wasted time because I'd just get into the corporate grind."
So he decided to turn his passion into his livelihood; the only problem is that magic shops have been closing left and right because most products are now sold on the Internet.
Still, he determined, he could make some money if he marketed a trick of his own devising. Thus, he entertains customers by levitating glowing objects – moving them up down, closer and farther from themselves while they await their flights.
What Elbaum sells is a "patented material" that makes the trick work, as well as a DVD that explains how to perform it.
But why do his thing at an airport and not a mall?
Elbaum explains that he wanted a place where people were stuck with nothing to do; hence, the airport, which serves a regional hub for U.S. Airways.
Also, he notes, airports tend to have a wealthy clientele.
"In the airport, people aren't exactly shopping for magic. But when they see the lights, they say, 'Oh, what is that,' " says Elbaum, who's about to open another shop at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. "My store does very well because it's not for magicians, which is a very small, niche market."
A board member of The Collaborative, a group that organizes events and volunteer work for young Jewish professionals, Elbaum says he's not very religious, but often feels an instant connection with other Jews.
Along those lines, when asked about his future goals, he doesn't hesitate in responding: "I'm looking to marry a Jewish girl."