By MIKE COOK
Las Cruces Bulletin
Listening to Jamie O’Hara talk about doing magic in Las Cruces and across the country during the past 30-plus years is fascinating. Watching him make three green foam balls disappear from a mostly imaginary coin purse is, well … magic.
O’Hara, who moved to Las Cruces in 1982, estimates he’s done about 6,000 magic shows to date, mostly in New Mexico and Texas, but also in California, Virginia, his home state of New York and elsewhere around the U.S.
O’Hara also performs at school assemblies and library programs, as well as business events, birthday parties and other gigs. He does threeto- five-minute table-side magic routines in bars and restaurants. In fact, “close-up magic is my forte,” O’Hara said.
Billed as “The Magic Guy,” O’Hara also does a mind-reading act and is an accomplished public speaker and musician. He plays the guitar, mandolin, ukulele and “other things with strings.” O’Hara started as a musician about 25 years ago, he said, performing church music, and now works as a soloist and in a local trio. O’Hara also gives ukulele lessons at the new Acton Academy in Las Cruces.
“You’ve got to go where the job is,” said O’Hara, who gives his age as “7 going on 46.” O’Hara said he is now in the “Jamie 3.0” version of his life, seeking “jobs that pay me what I’m actually worth.”
His brand is diverse, O’Hara said.
“I like working with kids and I like working in bars. I’ve developed a wonderful network of clients that has made it possible for me to be a full-time entertainer.”
If he wasn’t an entertainer, he would either “be homeless or selling cars,” he joked.
O’Hara is a three-time finalist in the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) magic competition, which brings professional and amateur magicians from all over the world together for youth and adult magic performances. He has served as head judge for the IBM close-up competition for the past three years.
Billing his adult show as “an evening of mindbending entertainment and fun,” O’Hara mixes magic with mind reading, mysticism and comedy. He says he’s not psychic, but that can be hard to believe after he’s joined you in taking six different items out of both your pockets and then shown you a piece of paper on which he’s correctly written down which of the items you will pick before the trick even starts.
O’Hara’s favorite trick, which he’s been doing since the age of 9 and identifies as his signature performance piece, is the one involving green foam balls and a metal clasp from an old-fashioned coin purse.
“People see magic as a puzzle,” O’Hara said, and they wonder, “Why can’t I figure it out?”
The best way to watch a good a magic show is to “only puzzle for a moment, then enjoy the rest of the show. Wondering about the trick too much is like talking at the movies.”
Performing magic takes “lots and lots of practice,” O’Hara said. A good magician does a lot of rehearsing to learn how to stay ahead of his audience, he said.
“The magic is not in the props,” O’Hara said. “If you take apart the piano, you will not find the music. Magic is theatre. We really do use smoke and mirrors; just not all the time.”
Contact O’Hara at 575-650-9070 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Facebook at Jamie O’Hara.