Dominic James, or Dom as he prefers, performs most of his street magic in Shoreditch. This Saturday morning he cuts an unassuming figure, dressed in a mix match of formal and casual clothes, with an elegant pea coat complimenting baggy jeans, and skater pumps. It’s difficult to imagine him approaching strangers on the street to perform unsolicited card tricks. But when he produces a deck from his pocket, he becomes almost supersonic, dexterously flipping cards around with incredible speed and precision.
Dom was not always this confident. He felt he didn’t have much of a social standing as a teenager, and said he felt invisible at times. Magic was a way for Dom to come out of his shell, and draw attention to himself in a positive way.
Not everyone takes a positive view of his magic, however; Dom’s mother is one such person. “My mum was a Jehovah’s Witness, and is now a Seventh Day Adventist. She started her own cult called the Asian Community Church with her partner. They mostly attempted to convert Muslims to Christianity.” His mother is very superstitious, she thinks that David Blaine “is a fallen angel”, and she would rather Dom didn’t practice magic.
His father, on the other hand, is very supportive, and quite proud of his abilities: “One year I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said he wanted me to do some tricks for some people down the pub.”
Dom’s always been enthralled by magic, but he’s not quite sure what it is: “Magic is a creative process. But it’s not an art form; a piece of art can be seen and appreciated, where an illusion is short lived.” He doesn’t think it’s a science either: “because it doesn’t always work. Sometimes the magic relies on someone not seeing something, or seeing something you didn’t really see.”
Dom was initially drawn to the craft by a fascination with the mechanics of illusions, and finds the art of deception fascinating: “There are two types of magicians, those who do it to get the appreciation of an audience, and there’s the other type who are interested in how magic works, the nuts and bolts of a trick, the misdirection, and the sleight of hand. I would put myself in the second category.”
Dom says that the time it takes to learn a trick depends on what the trick is. The simplest of tricks can take the longest to master, and the most complicated can be picked up relatively quickly: “The practice doesn’t necessarily equal the pay off.”
Dom describes that one of the ironies of performing magic, is that what took ages for him to perfect, can go completely unnoticed by the audience: “A perfect move is something that no one has ever seen. So, no one gets to see the fruit of their [a magicians] labour.”
Dom came to London a little over three months ago. Before that he was doing smaller shows in restaurants in Hatfield. He says taking his magic to the streets is a challenge: “It’s tough to perform on the street because people aren’t expecting it. But a paid gig is also tough, as the pressure is really on.”
Unlike gigs in restaurants and other venues, street magic is unpaid, and Dom does it mostly for the instant gratification street magic provides, and the practice: “A magician constantly has to keep their sword sharp, and street magic is a good way of doing that.”
Dom rarely gets nervous these days, as years of performing have given him a thick skin. Dom recalls one particularly awful hen night, when his performance began by being pelted with food from one of the tables in attendance; this didn’t put him off, but then one of the women stole some of his cards, and hid them down her blouse, whilst another attempted to shove his head into another woman’s crotch: “At the end, they were too drunk to remember the cards they picked so the whole thing was a waste of time.”
If he never reaches fame and fortune through his magic, Dom maintains he’ll be content: “Magic is interwoven into my personality, it’s who I am, so as long as I’m performing magic I’ll be happy.”
If you would like to contact Dom for a private booking you can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or on: 0747 401 3065