JOPLIN, Mo. —
When you think of a magician, some rather iconic images quickly spring to mind: black top hats and fuzzy white rabbits; card and rope tricks; smoking mirrors.
But a lot more goes into being a professional magician than just fancy finger work.
Jay Temaat is a magician. Actually, at age 17, he’s one of the most talented teen magicians in the country. He’s won national magic competitions in some of America’s largest cities. Next year he’ll be attending one of the most prestigious magic schools in America, the Las Vegas-based McBride Magic and Mystery School.
But the magic he performs is certainly more than just a hobby or, worse, a job.
“It’s a life,” said Temaat, who moved to the Pittsburg, Kan., area at age 11 from his native Wyoming. “A job is an understatement. With a job, you get to go home at night and have a social life. Magic is one of those things where every day, I’m performing or practicing. It’s something I’ve dedicated my entire life to, and I hope it takes me far.”
To truly understand the type of dedication Temaat has invested into his magic, one must first peer into a typical day of his rather hectic life.
On Monday, for example, Temaat began working around noon on mass mailing his resumes to the boards of hundreds of state and county fairs nationwide, trying to land future paying gigs. Even with his little brother’s help folding the letters and licking the envelopes, they didn’t wrap things up until 2:30 a.m.
Less than seven hours later, on Tuesday, he was driving to Pittsburg to pick up some of his newly printed materials. After that, he was on the road by 10 a.m. for the two-hour-plus trip to Wichita. There he would spend the entire day rubbing elbows with fellow magicians and speaking with one of his key mentors, magician Skip Foley. Later that night, at 10 p.m., he attended the “Wizards of Wichita” banquet. He didn’t leave Wichita until after 11 p.m. He reached his parents’ front porch steps at 2:30 a.m.
On Wednesday morning he was back on the road once again, this time motoring south to Joplin for a news interview. With that completed, he headed eastbound on I-44 for a show in St. Louis.
Recently Temaat attended the International Magic Experience at the New Orleans Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas strip, where he competed in the Teen World Magic Championships. He also found himself driving through the heart of the Lone Star state, attending and competing at the International Brotherhood of Magician’s Convention in Dallas. He topped off his Texas trip by performing live in front of cheering crowds in the streets of Galveston.
He has performed in multi-billion dollar casinos and has done his act to standing ovations in nightclubs where he’s old enough to entertain, but too young to drink an adult beverage. But just as deftly, Temaat will perform at a small birthday party for elementary school children in Frontenac, or put on a show for the elderly inside a Pittsburg-based nursing home.
“People say their job gets old,” Temaat said. “But if you love it -- if you love what you do -- you’ll never work a day in your life.”