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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Gaga for Magic


Jay Mattioli

Jay Mattioli has a passion for magic, and it shows. If you watched last summer’s season of America’s Got Talent, you might remember him as the young, energetic magician with spiked hair that made it to the top 48. After winning numerous magic awards and spending a few years on the road, Mattioli is now using his basement workshop to plan his very own headlining shows, which he hopes to sell to a resort or a casino in Las Vegas. Until then, you can enjoy his performance at UMB this Thursday, September 9th, at 6 p.m. in the third floor ballroom of the Campus Center.

Do you remember your first-ever magic performance?

One summer, when I was seven or eight, we got a magic book from the bookstore. It had a whole bunch of magic tricks, so my brother and I put on a little show on the front porch of the house for a couple of the neighborhood kids. That was the first official show. I’ve always been gaga for magic. I had no life, basically. I was a geek. I still am.

What was it like to make the leap into a fulltime career in magic after graduating college?

When I first started, I would do magic at restaurants, walking around, “people-hopping.” On a really good night I’d make fifty dollars. I never really loved that stuff, doing table magic in restaurants, twisting balloons for kids, but it paid the bills. There’re hundreds of restaurants in the area where I live, so it was kind of easy for me to a find someone who’d pay me 45 bucks and let me walk around his restaurant doing magic tricks.

Can you pinpoint the absolute worst moment you’ve ever had during a performance?

My last performance on America’s Got Talent. Two of the judges gave me X’s and I felt so embarrassed. You know, it was live TV and I had so many friends and relatives rooting for me. I even had seven or eight family members that flew in to LA to come see the show. I felt like a failure.

In retrospect, after I watched the tape, I realize that what I did wasn’t so bad. It’s just that it didn’t sit well with the judges. But in the heat of that moment I was just so embarrassed. People were rooting for me all over the country and I just felt that I let them down.

Have you ever had a trick go horribly wrong?

I used to do this illusion with another guy. I was getting locked in a box and my hands were chained together, so I would have very little movement. Then the other guy would stand on top of the box and drop a curtain, covering his body for a split second. When the curtain would fall, I would be standing on top of the box without the chains, and when I would unlock the box he would be inside it with the chains.

Well, there was a problem with me getting out of the chains. So when I appeared on top of the box, since my hands were still chained, I ended up basically falling off the top of the box. That was pretty bad.

Wow. How did you recover?

We kind of played it for comedy. I don’t think the audience knew what was going on. They thought we were just trying to be funny or something, so it wasn’t that bad.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but on the show Arrested Development, there’s this concept of a Magicians’ Alliance, which is a body that regulates and enforces a code of silence for magic tricks. I’ve always wanted to know: Does that exist in real life?

Lots of people have told me about this show and I still haven’t seen it. You know, it’s kind of true. There’s not exactly a magic police on every corner making sure that magicians are not going around revealing secrets, but there is a code of ethics, kind of. There’s basically a fraternity between magicians and we don’t reveal the secrets. The bottom line is that telling how the tricks are done just spoils the fun.

Check out Mattioli’s website www.jaymattioli.com

About the Contributor
Shira Kaminsky served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2012; 2012-2013 Managing Editor: Fall 2011 Arts Editor: Fall 2010