From the April/May 2010 issue of
New Zealand’s International Magazine for Magicians
DIAMOND JIM TYLER
PALMERSTON NORTH, MARCH 2010
Report from Andrew Wilson
Jim Tyler from Dallas has just completed a tour of magic clubs in Australia and New Zealand with his close up routines of high quality and his own charming and fresh personality. He discovered magic at five years old and has been a professional in restaurant magic from his teenage years. He is now 39 and full of real knowledge and experience of entertaining the public in demanding close up situations. He has a university degree and used his magic to pay for his education but is now a seriously good close-up entertainer. He works the corporate circuit in Dallas but has recently spent a good deal of time touring magic societies in England and Europe. His first book and DVD called Pockets Full of Miracles is generously filled with superb material with cards, balls, ring and string tricks, mentalism and various bar stunts.
He has made a particular study of bar ‘betchas’ and bizarre challenges and has produced two volumes (of a projected five volume series) of beautifully designed, leather bound little books called Bamboozlers – The Book of Bankable Bar Betchas, Brain Bogglers, Belly Busters & Bewitchery. He makes fine entertainment out of these and interspersed his lecture with samples such as suspended full cans and bottles that did not leak their contents, pencils that stuck cleanly to the palm, amazingly magnetized coins and credit cards, and beer bottles that could only be picked up between the thumb and finger by the magician himself.
His magic routines were all very strong visually and also in the supporting patter that shaped his presentation. His mirror cards routine was a brilliant development of the ‘wild cards’ effect. It was streamlined in performance technically and had an extra finish in that the cards ended in a shattered state and had a thought provoking patter line about the deep mysteries of mirrors in human history.
He called this routine Mythos and it is one of the items on another DVD called Mirrors that also has a number of strong mirror themed card effects.
His Ring & String Routine used a long leather lace and a borrowed ring and was stunningly good. Many of the moves were standard and familiar but many were not so familiar and his finely honed routines are the result of thousands of table side presentations. This is the gem hidden in Pockets Full of Miracles and I recommend it highly.
Other notable effects include the deceptive and entertaining mental mystery using a set of postcards called SentiMental Postcards. You need to buy his special cards and learn his presentation but it is a first class effect of its kind. This is an absolute stunner for a lay audience and has a charming story line and many ‘feel good’ features in addition to the stunning finish.
Many of us have used Patrick Page’s three card monte effect using a swing flap section of the card. Patrick (who sadly passed away earlier this year) called it The Kitson Miracle and used it constantly to fool both magicians and the lay public. Jim Tyler has managed to improve this classic and has produced a single trick DVD to explain all the subtleties of his fresh handling. There are attractive advantages in the presentation in the earlier stages of the effect but the ability to hand out all three cards for examination will stump those who think they know what is going on and will thoroughly impress a lay audience. The audience is naturally keen to look at the three cards but could not do so in the original version. In Diamond Jim’s revised handling (which offers another method of the swing flap of the original) the cards are left in the hands of the spectators. This is a valuable development in magic and can be found on the DVD called DiaMonte.
I was very impressed with Diamond Jim Tyler. He is a consummate performer and is also deeply knowledgeable in the history and practice of our art. It was a great pleasure to see him at work creating magical comedy at close quarters.
SOFT-SPOKEN TEXAN TALKS WITH MAGICANA’S EDITOR MICHAEL WOOLF
DJT: When I first began performing professionally, in restaurants, when I was 16, I would always bump into people who had seen other magicians, and I didn’t know any other professional magicians at the time.
They would always tell me the story of the magician they saw and of the tricks that he would perform and I would ask for gentleman’s name. And they could never give me a name. They might be able to describe what he looked like and so I realized early on that people had problems remembering names. For business reasons it seemed appropriate that it would be a good thing to know. And each time I would show a trick to my step-father he would say, “Hey Hollywood!” or “Hey Diamond Jim!”. And I thought that “Diamond Jim” had a nice ring to it. It makes people smile when they say it. The diamond is my birthstone. Plus it conjures up visions of gambling and of wealth. Maybe- a shady character- a wild west figure. I just started using the name as a handle and it stuck. It has served me well for 24 years now. It helps with name-branding for my products- and you can type in “Diamond Jim” into Google and I am one of the first listings that pops up. Plus it helps in my business in a competitive way because it is easy to remember.
MW: You’re still a young man and you’ve been in magic since you were a kid, right?
DJT: I started practicing when I was five. Actually when I was two my grandmother would always give me decks of cards every time she saw me. So I had hundreds of decks of cards and that is how I learned to count. So at the age of five I found a magic book while visiting Disney World. I’d also seen J.B. Bobo perform at my school that year. He had a big impact on me but the book was probably the most profound. That book was Magic with Cards by George Schindler and Frank Garcia. The book was not heavy on sleight of hand but it was big on presentation. That had a huge impact on my magic.
By the age of five I was already pretty dexterous with a deck of cards. By the time I was six I could do every trick in that book. That was the start, and I began performing professionally when I was sixteen, working in a magic shop and doing tableside magic in restaurants at night.
DJT: No. I haven’t done restaurants in about four or five years now. I did them for nineteen years and at one time I was doing seven or eight restaurant shifts a week. And when you do the math- I was doing the same routines twenty times a night- multiplied by seven or eight- equals the routines becoming well-polished and tight. This helped with my patter as well. For the last several years I’ve been blessed with so much work that I haven’t had the time to pursue restaurants.
MW: What’s your main area of work these days?
DJT: Corporate work and private parties around Dallas/Fort Worth. My advertising is minimal. Most of my gigs come from word of mouth. Most people that hire me have seen me, and have been using my services for years.
MW: You’re known as an innovator. You have a number of effects and routines that you’ve developed, and which you market. Shall we talk about them?
DJT: Obviously I’ve taken kernels of ideas from others and sometimes I am inspired by things that I think of or see or even dream about. Sometimes my inspiration comes from a spectator’s challenge. While I’m performing they’ll say, “Can you do this?”. And I’ll think it over and try to come up with a method. There are routines that I’ve worked on in my head for ten to twenty years and then one day the solution will present itself. I have about 25 products on the market now. There’s the tricks, the books, the DVDs and lots more in the works.
MW: What are you moving on to?
DJT: Well I’m writing volume three of the Bamboozlers series and I’m writing the sequel to my first book Pockets Full of Miracles which did very well. I have a few more DVDs that I’d like to produce and I have outlined several more books that I’d like to write one day. I’ve got other trick projects and more to come.
MW: In your lecture, which I enjoyed last night, I was struck by one thing- how you reduce the essence of stage magic to fingertip level. That is something I really appreciate. Do you do that consciously?
DJT: Like a diamond I have many facets and I love various types of magic. I like to bring stage magic into the close-up world. To marry those things together. The close-up arena is my stage; it’s where I perform most often.
MW: Some performer’s strive to make their magic memorable while other’s strive to simply get a reaction. You lean towards the first of those in my view, would you agree?
DJT: I’d like to think so. To me the entertainment is the most important part which is why I interject so many gags into my magic. Sometimes I’ll perform puzzles or bar-betchas, whatever seems appropriate. But when I do perform sleight of hand routines I will try to use an economy of moves. I try hard to remove as many sleights from my routines as possible. Sometimes when we do our secret moves I think we’re fooling ourselves more often than the spectators.
MW: You’re referring to ‘finger flickers’?
DJT: Yes! When we are executing passes, multiple push-offs, or whatever I think the audience may not always see what we did, but they might suspect something, which kills the magic moment.
MW: Your lifestyle involves a whole lot of traveling.
DJT: Lately, yes! I’ve been lecturing since about 2000. Since my first book came out. I’ve lectured in half of the states in the US plus twelve other countries. I love architecture and art, so any time I can get booked to go somewhere I’ve never been, to see the world and get paid for it- sign me up! This year I’ve performed at the Blackpool convention, this Australian and New Zealand tour and later in the year I will lecture across Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. In the summer of 2009 I lectured in 21 cites across Southern Europe, before that I lectured all over the United Kingdom. I love it.
MW: How do you see things going for you in the future?
DJT: I guess that is not up to me. What’s the saying, “Man makes plans and God laughs.”
MW: Man proposes, God disposes!
DJT: Right! I’m working on a one-man show for the public in DFW and there are several more book projects. I just take things as they come. My phone rings and someone proposes something. Like in the summer of 2008 when I got a phone call from a production company in Hollywood. They needed an expert in mirror mythology (which I happened to be) since I produced a DVD called MIRRORS featuring several tricks using mirrors and lots of lore about the history of these fascinating reflective devices. So they hired me to help with the promo piece for a movie called Mirrors starring Kiefer Sutherland. The promo was used all over the world and apparently one of Fox’s favorite pieces. I just never know where I am going to be. One day I’ll be performing at a Maserati and Bentley dealership and the next day at someone’s home for a private party.
DJT: I do work on stage from time to time. But even when I do I like to warm up the crowd with some close-up strolling magic first. Typically the first five minutes of a stage performance is the magician trying to win over the crowd. When seeing me up close and personal before the show they already love me once I step on stage.
MW: Where is magic going, Jim?
DJT: For a long while the focus has been on street magic with guys like David Blaine, or Criss Angel- with his over the top rock-n-roll style, but I think that soon the spotlight will shine on the stage magician once again. There is a pendulum that swings. Right now audiences appreciate close-up magic and kids these days are working on knuckle-busting card sleights. I believe that another David Copperfield will emerge soon. We’ll see.
MW: Who knows, it could be a guy named Diamond Jim Tyler?
DJT: (Laughs) Well – you never know. I don’t care to be on TV or to work Vegas. I just want to make a comfortable living and to see the world. And always do what I do best and keep striving to further our art.
MW: To be a happy magician?
DJT: I am living the dream! And it’s a hard way to make an easy living.
MW: Thanks Jim.