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Oh Oh Oh... It’s Magic!

Published: 
Thursday, July 13, 2017

David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, Criss Angel and David Blaine are some famous magicians who command the attention of fans all over the world. The art of magic is still a hit on the international stage but what of the magicians of Trinidad and Tobago? T&T Guardian writer Bobie Lee Dixon explores the field for local magicians in interviews with two of this country’s leading illusionists. Today, she speaks with photographer turned magician Jonni Magik.

From photography to magic, that was the extreme move Diego Martin native Richard Cook made ten years ago. Today his magician’s persona is Jonni Majik. He is no simple Mr Abracadabra, so don’t expect to see any ordinary tricks from this father of two. Jonni Magik wants each trick to be a mind blowing experience that leaves his audience in awe and inspired. He gave the T&T Guardian a peak into the mind of a magician and spoke on his plans for lifting the art in T&T

Q: You are a photographer by profession. How and when did the transition to a magician happen?

A: It all started with getting a Criss Angel magic kit for my kids for Christmas 2007. His show on A&E was very popular at the time and we always watched it together. After delving in the kit, I became hooked on the reactions of people when I would do tricks. This encouraged me to take a greater interest in pursuing the art of magic.

But would you say magic was something you were fascinated with for as long as you can remember?

I always liked magic as a kid. Would always be the first to be seated waiting for the magician at the birthday parties I had been to.

What does it mean to be a magician in T&T? How does that work for you? Is it recognised as a career here? Can you live off of it? Is it lucrative?

Being a magician is being an entertainer and in T&T, our culture clearly shows that we are a people of good vibes and celebrating and entertainment is our pastime. I have noticed in our present time with cable and internet access we have all become overloaded with finding all sorts of ways for entertainment. So much so, that there is a void where there is no new entertainment, no whole, clean family entertainment to the point I see that people are starving for something new. I see monotony everywhere in entertainment. Think about it for a sec, when you go to an event with a lineup of entertainment what do you see? A singer or a pan player, or a cultural dance and maybe a soca artiste.

It is pretty evident there is a very low variety of entertainment for the whole family that’s why MovieTowne and similar places are always so bloody rammed with people because it’s a place to recreate and there’s pretty much nothing else. So my objective here is to fill that void with new and wholesome entertainment away from the norm.

A career as a magician is virtually a non-existent career in T&T and is often limited to be classed in the zone of providing service for kids birthday parties. However, I do see the great possibility of being successful, enough to live off of it yes.

Where did you formally study the art and mystery of magic?

Well, after getting my magic kit and practicing and performing for family and friends, I began to look into where I can take this further. So I started researching online which led to meeting other magicians and being on the inside of this industry, it was truly an eye-opener.

I started meeting great magic developers (these are the guys who create magic tricks) like Andrew Mayne, Jay Sankey, Brent Bruan and Jeff McBride to name a few who welcomed me into the fraternity. But my mentor is JC Sum, an amazing magician from Singapore. He is like the David Copperfield of Asia. A great guy and he has been teaching and guiding me on everything I know. This now leads me to pursuing workshops in the USA along with meeting other fellow magicians, like Rogue the Magician who made it big after being on America’s Got Talent. We became good friends ever since. So between online tutorials and physical workshops in the US, that’s how I did it.

Have you done work outside of Trinidad as a magician?

Yes, I have had the privilege of performing at Rogue’s magic theatre in Queens, New York, and in Time Square.

How would you say your skill as a photographer assists (if at all) in being a magician?

Performing magic is very angle sensitive so having an eye to capture opportunities in your surroundings and being creative in your performance is the same as in photography.

What are your plans to boost the art in T&T?

My goal is to bring Las Vegas style magic to T&T, along with setting a trend and vibe of positivity through magic. Magic creates awe and wonder, people feel good inside when they see magic. I want to set the trend where I bring magic on stream that all the kids will be doing magic in the school yards and want to perform for their family and friends.

Abroad, there is something called ‘walk-around magic,’ restaurant magic, corporate magic and so on, and I want to bring that here. And in the end, when you go to a function you will now see a singer, a panman, a cultural dance … and a magician in the lineup.

What would you describe as the highlight of your career as an illusionist?

My highlight thus far is having had the opportunity to perform abroad and being recognised in the fraternity.

How do you define your brand and what do you think makes you stand out from other local magicians?

After paying close attention to the great ones such as David Copperfield and Criss Angel, I paid a lot of attention to how they get the magic out there, how they market the feeling of awe and wonder that makes people flock to their shows. And I have created a template that is working so far. I define my brand by going beyond just performing.

I went further into this artform by learning how to design and create illusions and customise my shows. I have learned how to create scripting for performances and design illusions around a client’s brand or product. I have also designed at least three card magic tricks that I’m in the process of marketing to the magic industry (Mind Burn, Face Up, IT and Initial Tranference).

I have already introduced Marketing with Magic…and have gained a few corporate clients in the last few years.

Lastly, my goal is not to stand out from other magicians, I want the magicians of T&T to stand out from the other forms of monotonous entertainment. Because right now, we all need to feel hope again, we need to have a misdirection to make us feel happy even if it’s for just one moment. The feeling of awe and wonder connects to our sense of innocence and wanting life to be trouble and stress free. And magic can take you there.

INFO

To learn more about Jonni Magik, check out his YouTube channel @ Jonni Majik.

My goal is to bring Las Vegas style magic to T&T, along with setting a trend and vibe of positivity through magic. Magic creates awe and wonder, people feel good inside when they see magic. I want to set the trend where I bring magic on stream that all the kids will be doing magic in the school yards and want to perform for their family and friends.