I started with all of the usual props. I did magic with simple things like coins, silks, ropes, cards, and sponge balls. My mother would bring me to the local magic shop every few months. It was there that I met my first teacher, Peter Monticup. Peter was the first magician to tell me to throw away the instructions when you buy a new trick. I was forced to see what other effects I could create using the same gimmick. This store was where I bought my first book on card magic, Expert Card Technique.
Over the next few years the props got more advanced. I was buying large production boxes, linking rings, and trick handcuffs. Even though I had all these props, I was still drawn to the card tricks written up in Expert Card Technique. I was always searching for card tricks that were more advanced. When I was about seventeen years old I stopped buying props. I started buying more books and videos on card magic. Things changed when I first saw Martin Nash. I was amazed at how much magic he could do with just a deck of cards. And, I was intrigued that he did more than just pick-a-card tricks. It was then that I had the idea of just being a card guy. Everything really changed when I saw Darwin Ortiz – now I knew I wanted to be a card guy. All of his moves were flawless and his effects were so powerful. I noticed that the audience reacted strongly to each effect. I wanted to do powerful card magic like that.
I also started playing piano at the same time I got into magic. My magic career wasn’t paying the bills just yet. However, my music career was taking off nicely. When I was nineteen, I moved to New Orleans and joined my first touring band. I toured all over the world with several different bands. My main gig was playing keyboards with Grammy-nominated Alligator recording artist, Shemekia Copeland. While in her band, I performed on Austin City Limits and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
While on the road, in 2001, I finally met Darwin Ortiz in person. I was overwhelmed by how someone could be so technically proficient with a deck of cards. I was amazed at how in-depth the thinking was behind each trick. I began to apply new ideas and techniques to the material I had already created.
Since I was a kid, I dreamed of publishing my own book. I grew up practicing Darwin’s effects. So, it was a tremendous compliment to have Darwin write the foreword for my book. However, it was an even bigger compliment to know that he was now performing some of my effects.
It’s an honor to be featured on Michael Vincent’s blog as a guest writer. I had the pleasure of performing with Mike last year. It was a great experience that I’ll never forget. Michael asked me to answer three questions.
So, here they are:
1. Through and Through
This is one of my favorite effects from my book. I push a single card through the table. I offer to repeat the effect. This time, I push the entire deck through the table. It gets the strongest reactions I’ve ever seen. When the spectator’s hand crushes the card box and the entire deck penetrates the table — they actually jump in shock. They just can’t figure this one out. It’s so simple in plot as well. They’ll easily remember exactly what happened for the rest of their lives.
This effect quickly establishes me. The magic starts right away and people instantly know that I’m an expert with cards. It can withstand the sharpest spectators. They won’t be giving me any trouble as the show continues. This effect also establishes my card cheat/con man persona. It’s been my opener for over a decade. It can be done with any deck, anywhere, anytime, surrounded, seated, or standing. In my version of this classic effect, the spectator shuffles the deck and names a card. Let’s say she names the seven of hearts. I cause the seven to appear on the top of the deck over and over. I finish the effect by bringing all four sevens to the top.
This effect defines my approach to magic. I try to raise the bar on effects that have already been created. Signature transfer effects have been around for quite some time. I’ve invented one where you transfer a signature from the face of one card to the face another. My con man persona shines as I explain a new way to forge signatures. It’s one of the strongest and easiest effects I d0
Ultimately, I want to make my audiences happy. I want to make sure my audience never forgets the magic I showed them. And, I want them to never forget me. The next time they think of magic, or a magician, or a deck of cards, I’ll instantly pop into their minds.
What am I currently doing to help leave magic better than I found it?
I want to inspire new thinking in magic. My book Confident Deceptions is a start. This book shows that new card plots are still possible. Powerful magic can still be practical. The effects in this book have plots that are logical and meaningful. I think that magic would be better if magicians stopped creating simple puzzles. These puzzles are designed only to get a reaction. (The audience doesn’t know how the kings and aces change places. But shouldn’t a magician explain why they change?) I’d like to inspire magicians to create finished effects that are logical, practical, meaningful, and can get huge reactions.
I’d like to thank Mike Vincent for asking me to be part of his blog. From my first trick to my first book, it’s been an amazing journey so far. With the release of my book, I’m gathering even more momentum. I’m looking forward to lecturing and doing more performances across the country. I hope that one day, I’ll be on television and some seven year-old kid can think to himself, “Magic must be part of my life.”
Mike’s Guest Blog Commentary
The show that Jason spoke of was at the private home of our dear friend Paul Griffin. Imagine, Jason opens the show, I follow and Darwin closes, that should give you some idea of how awesome that experience was for all concerned. I want to acknowledge Paul Griffin for extending his generosity to Jason and myself to work alongside our mentor Darwin Ortiz and entertain some of the most influential business people in Washington D.C.
What sets Jason part in todays climate is raw talent, impeccable technique, passion and a relentless drive of mastery and excellence. I am excited because he inspires me to raise my own standard – I mean that sincerely.
If a man is known by the company he keeps then I am thrilled and proud to called Jason my friend.