Jonathan has performed for a variety of celebrities, from Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz, to Dan Aykroyd and Kevin Bacon. He also donates his time and magic skills to coaching youngsters as a Director at the Society of Young Magicians.
1. How did you first become interested in magic?
I was always enamored with magic. When I was four or five, I saw a magician perform at a birthday party and was immediately hooked. There is something about it: it has the ability to take an audience on a journey. It makes us realize that there is much more in life than what we see. To be able to bring that feeling to people, and more recently, mainstream celebrities, is just amazing.
2. Would you tell us a little bit about the concept behind Real Magic TV and how you got involved with the show?
Real Magic TV was born from a film project called "Real Magic New York." The original film followed me around the state of NY performing magic in support of the Twin Towers Fund. At the tail end of the benefit project, I was invited to perform for the com band Sevendust. The band's appearance opened the door to a host of record labels and artists wanting to get involved with a magic/music show. We originally called it "RMNY Backstage" but quickly changed the name to "Real Magic TV" after the third taping, and it has stuck ever since.
The concept itself is extremely original. In a nutshell, I am invited backstage at popular music shows to do magic for the bands. The show captures both the magic and a relaxed conversation I have with each band.
A few years ago we added live music performances to the show as well and had the honor of debuting Jason Mraz's hit "I'm Yours" with an exclusive acoustic multiple-cam recording four years before its release. The performance has been viewed millions of times worldwide and launched a whole series of acoustic sessions that we continue to do to this day.
3. How can viewers of RMTV interact with you online and share suggestions of tricks they want to see you perform?
We have just launched a special website for just that purpose: http://www.challengethemagician.com. Viewers can submit their own magic idea videos for me to view and tackle on the program. The site allows the public to see all of the submissions and vote on their favorites. We've seen everything from card tricks to mentalism/seeing through blindfolds and escape requests come in so far.
4. What do you find to be the most fun--and the most challenging--about performing magic?
The fun part is easy: performing magic is extremely rewarding. Seeing the smile on someone's face is incredible and what I strive for in every performance.
The challenging part is practicing and keeping on top of your game. I'm in a really unique place with this show because unlike most magicians performing on stage or in front of a large crowd, I am most often performing for an audience of one. And that one person is a well-known celebrity with a loyal following. The first few tapings we did were extremely nerve-wracking, realizing that if I mess up an effect, not only will this person know about it, but potentially millions of their fans as well. But with risk comes reward, and my career was launched by so many mainstream artists that shared with their fan bases the great stuff I was able to do for them.
5. For people who want to improve their own skills as magicians, what's your best advice?
Practice makes perfect. As secretive as magic is, there are groups across the country that can help you learn the art and perfect it. I joined one such organization (The Society of Young Magicians) at the age of 12, but they welcome people as young as seven who have an interest.
Other than that, you need to perform for as many people you can once you have perfected a trick. And before you have it down perfect, perform for yourself, for a video camera or for other magicians. It's a lot like music: you aren't going to be very good at it at first, but with experience you can really create great and memorable performances.