Harry Milas can command of deck of cards with impossibly swift movements, and his acclaimed show The Unfair Advantage is where you can get a front-row look at his magic tricks. “It’s a close-up show that talks about the meeting point between the gambling world and the magic world,” he tells Broadsheet. “Obviously, there’s a huge crossover between those two worlds.”

The show – which just returned from a sell-out run in Chicago – is inspired by Milas’s time transitioning from the gambling world to the magic world. “I think really good magic happens very close to your face,” he says. The show is intimate, with an audience of just 25.

The Unfair Advantage is in residence in the Harbour Bridge’s north pylon during Vivid Sydney. We asked the magic master about the show and how he likes to spend time in Sydney.

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Harry, what’s it like being a professional magician?
People can be pretty freaked out by magic, so they’re a little on edge. A lot of people seem to think that magicians can really just read minds – you know, “what am I thinking now?” kind of thing. I’m a sleight-of-hand guy.

You’re just back from Chicago – did the show hit differently in the US?
It’s a theatre city, and being able to take our show there, and be a part of that in a city that has an incredible history of both theatre and magic, was incredibly exciting.

What do you think the magic of Sydney is?
When you travel, you realise that Sydney and the New South Wales coastline is one of the few places in the world that has ocean pools – and we take them for granted. In Sydney, I love Wylie’s, but my favourite is Merewether, up in Newcastle. It’s like 100 metres by 100 metres – it’s crazy.

What venues do you think make Sydney a better place?
The renovated Enmore Theatre. I’ve been there a few times recently, and it sounds great and looks great. It’s nice that we have the ICC – I’ve seen stand-up and bands there and it always feels like a proper venue. The Opera House is pretty cool, and New Ghosts has taken over the Old Fitz Theatre for the year. I love the Old Fitz, and it’s great to see some fresh eyes there.

Belvoir is a legendary theatre space too, and it’s got an incredible pedigree. And 25A, downstairs at Belvoir, is a great place to see who’s coming up and who’s fresh.

Where’s your favourite spot for breakfast?
I’m a big fan of a proper breakfast out. Valentina’s gives you a proper diner feed, and it’s always great service. I usually order something that I regret – a pretty full breakfast with eggs on toast, bacon and sides. Then I’ll inevitably get at least one pancake. Immediately after I’m like, “Oh god, I need to lay down for two hours.”

Do you have a go-to spot for coffee?
Marrickville has like 14 amazing cafes with incredibly high-quality coffee. Can my answer just be “Marrickville”?

What’s underrated in the city?
This is my personal opinion, but I think that we have a bit of a pub problem at the moment. The Golden Barley is the most underrated place in Sydney. Not because it’s got this amazing, cool menu or some other hook – it’s just a pub. It’s locally owned, the VB is always very cold and in a cold glass, there’s a front area that feels like a country pub, a back area that feels like a city bistro, and then there’s a garden area, which is pretty rare these days. I’ve never met a dickhead in the Golden Barley. Not once.

If you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
To some of the bars we’ve got going. Cantina Ok, maybe Clam Bar, Hubert, Bar Planet. Our nightlife has certainly started to return, and these places hold their own.

I also love to take people to Taronga Zoo. Zoos are kind of in question, but it’s an amazing place to go. If someone’s visiting for the first time, take them to that bird show with that view of Sydney. That’s pretty sweet. Every time My Island Home comes on at the end, I tear up. It’s the greatest show in Sydney.

Do you have a favourite restaurant?
It changes all the time. There’s a great place that just opened up: Derrel’s on Parramatta Road, an Indian diner just next door to The Lady Hampshire. They give you a tray with butter chicken, roti, rice, sides of chutney. It was superb. Get a cheeky bottle of something from the bottle-o across the road, then pop there and have a great night. And Lady Hampshire – vibey pub.

It’s lunchtime, where are you going?
Look, I’m the guy that recommended the Golden Barley. I do gigs in all of the fucking cool places, so when I’m not working, it’s rare for me to go have a nice lunch. I usually bounce off that and go in a different direction. The best Sydney lunch I’ve had in the last year is probably Kosta’s. I recommend the Rosebery location: it’s a little bit out of the way, you can get a park, and it’s a fucking great sandwich.

Where do you go to escape the city?
A lot of people go west to the mountains or north to the beaches, but if I want to get out of town, I’d much rather go south: Ulladulla, Dolphin Point, Mollymook. You still get incredible beaches and places to swim, but the landscape starts to shift into that lovely highlands kind of scrub, rock, rolling hills and dead trees.

One other place: Lightning Ridge. The thermal baths there are awesome. A lot of the towns in that part of New South Wales are really nice places to visit, and they want you to be there.

The Unfair Advantage takes place at Sydney Harbour Bridge’s north pylon during Vivid Sydney on June 7, 8 and 14. Bookings are essential.


My Sydney” is a regular column discovering the places and spaces that captivate and entice Sydney’s well-known residents.