Actor Transformation Interview
Welcome Felix, Actor Transformation usually covers actors, but you have different profession in entertainment as a magician and mentalist. So interesting. Please share your story with our readers.
Like most magicians, I was drawn to magic at a young age, about 11 or 12. I would send away for magic tricks and then perform them in friends’ garages. When I was 13, I acted in a summer-school play “Hoodoo The Magician,” playing a shyster magician who then learns real magic. After that I kept my fingers in a few supernatural pies (Ouija board, ESP cards), but I wasn’t practicing magic any longer. I transitioned to theater and had a long career as a produced playwright, director, producer, and Artistic Director of two theater companies. Then I wrote a play about Houdini and that brought me back into the magic world, this time with world-famous professional magicians, who urged me to audition for the Academy of Magical Arts at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I was accepted as a Magician Member, and I’ve been performing there continuously since and in Las Vegas as well. The Magic Castle closed in March due to COVID, so I’ve pivoted to Zoom magic shows.
Please explain to our readers what is entailed in your craft and how you develop your show.
I have a very clearly defined character, voice, and appearance, and the magic effects that I perform reflect the character. Some magicians struggle to be recognized because they haven’t established a performance persona, just an amplified version of their personality. I’ve tossed out dozens of effects because they didn’t suit my character, so I look for material that only Felix Jones could perform. Another essential element is the script. It’s especially important for a mentalist, since I hope that every word I speak elicits a response. If you’ve worked in improv, you know that you need a structure with a beginning, middle, and end. The same applies to magic. My show needs a three-part structure, and every effect in the show needs it as well. Once I have the right effect and script, it’s time to test it out on an audience, and exactly like writers and actors, that’s how I learn what works and what doesn’t. For me, performing as a magician is standup, improv, and theater all at the same time.
What do you love most about being a mentalist?
Card tricks are amazing (I even do a few), but I don’t feel that an audience emotionally connects with them. But the illusion of my reading their minds and knowing their feelings is meaningful for them and for me. I love surprising my audience, but I love when they surprise me. Once I had selected a woman from the audience – she was seated in the dark – and as she came up to the stage, I had turned to pick up a prop. When I turned back, I saw that she was very pregnant, and I said “well, Mr. Jones didn’t foresee THAT.” It brought down the house. Even though everything I do is artful deception, I truly do connect with the audience on a deeply fulfilling level.
What advice would you like to share with performers?
I made a life-changing choice, and it led to a successful and life-affirming career. Don’t be afraid to change and adapt and make bold choices that might seem scary. You could become better than you ever imagined.
How do people hire you?