Now you see him, now you don’t. Jean Blake travels the world making magic wherever he goes. Photo by Ryerson Anselmo for Costes Portrait.
Jean what does magic mean to you?
Magic is that special moment that the artist creates, when something that previously seemed impossible becomes a reality. But more than that for me magic is to travel, to see new cultures and enjoy life.
How did you grow up and when did you decide you wanted to be a performer and an illusionist?
I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and I have loved magic ever since I was a kid. I had my first big show when I was in my second year of high school, where I wasn’t shy at all. Magic has been a part of my life for 20 years and my first real job ever was in a magic store. Five years ago I decided to do magic for living.
What did it take to get to where you are today with your craft?
A lot of time dedicated to learning and mastering different skills, a lot of practice and thousands of people! It also took a lot of courage for me to fly to other countries where I didn’t know anyone, to start from scratch again and again, having faith in my abilities to allow me to travel the world. What helped me most with this, as well as with not seeing my family for many years, was a positive mindset.
Why is it that people know ‘magic’ is a trick but they are still amazed by it?
Because the “trick” is only 15% of the effect in its entirety, there is no magic without an artist, the people enjoy the moment, the atmosphere, the character, the presentation, the show, and all of that affects the impact of the illusion.
Are you ever tempted to use your card skills at the casino?
Everyone asks me that question, but I don’t really like casinos, and my magic makes money on its own.
Can anyone become a magician?
I think it’s possible for anyone to learn some basic magic tricks, but in my opinion magicians are born with a love for magic, as well as the desire to create impossible moments.
What do you think about magicians who reveal how they do their tricks?
I think that maybe they just do it to get attention. While these magicians can destroy the mystery a little, they can’t destroy a good show.
What’s the best reaction you hope for from an audience?
That the audience feels various emotions when they witness my magic. Sometimes the audience applauds, sometimes they scream and other times they can’t even speak . . . that’s when I know it’s working.
What’s the biggest trick you have ever done?
I have appeared many times on the television in South America, and in one of these appearances I took a piercing piece and swallowed it. After swallowing it I then took it out of my body – from my eye. It was my craziest trick yet, but unfortunately I dont have the video for this trick. I’m ready to do it again.
Who are the best working magicians in the world today?
David Copperfield, Juan Tamariz . . . and me of course!
When was the last time you saw a trick from another magician and had no idea how it was done?
I used to work in Uruguay with Daniel K, the best Uruguayan magician. He had a dictionary in his hands, and asked everyone to think of a word. He then threw a ball of paper into the audience, where the person who caught the paper ball threw it again, making it a totally random choice of person in the audience. The woman was told to think of a word, and then Daniel K asked her to join him to the stage. He gave her the dictionary, and asked her to look for the word, but the page with that word was missing . . . imagine . . . then when she opened the ball of paper she found the missing dictionary’s page, with her word circled. Mind blowing.
There are plenty of magicians in the world today, what makes you stand out?
I travel around the world doing magic, so I keep my skillset fresh with new illusions and new skills. I also genuinely enjoy sharing my illusions, which I think rubs off on the audience. Plus I’m cute as hell lol! No really I live by this quote from Rene Lavand. “The people can forgive you if a trick goes wrong, but they never will forgive you if they get bored.”
What’s the difference between magic, mentalism and illusion?
Everything is an illusion, as an artist you are creating illusions, but mentalism is to play with the spectator’s mind, like mind reading, mind control, predictions, that kind of thing.
Where would be your dream gig, and what would you do there?
To do magic at all events staged by The Yak! I also love to travel so it would be to do big stage shows, touring all over the world.
If we gave you one hundred dollars would you show us how you did that?
With more than 20 years of practice, acquired knowledge, mentors, travel and experience . . . it would need to be much more than a hundred bucks.
Did you love reading about Jean? Check out stories of more amazing people here.