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For 33 years, Jamie O’Hara has been on the scene in southern New Mexico providing magic- and music-based entertainment at various venues, homes and parties.
He’s made a living at it, traveling throughout the region to showcase his skills and talents, which he’s been perfecting magic-wise since the age of 9 and performing music since he was 13.
He recently hung up his traveling hat for a while.
Last year, O’Hara became friends with The Amazing Raze, an illusionist extraordinaire who also is local physician Imran Raza. Raza started performing when he located his practice here, and last year he decided to open his own magical storefront/theater. At 10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 14, Raze is preparing to drive his Ferrari, blindfolded!, through an obstacle course at the old K-Mart parking lot, 1900 Bataan Memorial Parkway.
With the help of magic, Raza worked his way through medical school in Pakistan as a young man, O’Hara said. Eventually, Raza’s magic-performance abilities even helped him impress an interview panel and get his foot in the door to the medical residency program at Memorial Medical Center.
“One thing led to another, and his medical practice is doing well,” O’Hara said. “He decided to reignite his practice in magic, because he loves magic and loves to perform. He had two shows last year that were very successful with sold-out crowds.”
O’Hara and Raza became friends over coffee, and soon Raza asked O’Hara to perform at the new facility. But O’Hara’s schedule kept him on the road, performing often in eastern New Mexico. After the financial crash 13 years ago, he said he has been struggling to make ends meet and often traveled as far as Carlsbad, Roswell and Artesia to ply his double trades as magician and musician.
Raza was persistent, so O’Hara put on his thinking cap.
“I came up with this crazy idea, and I honestly thought he was just going to chuckle and say forget it,” O’Hara said. “’Why don’t you give me a retainer fee so I can clear my decks and refocus largely on this,’ I said. ‘Then give me a salary for three months, and I’ll do every show you can book in here. In fact, I’ll help you book them and train other people to produce your shows.’ And he asked if I would do that for a year.”
The partnership storefront has been open for 12 weeks and has hosted several birthday parties, as well as two sold-out illusion shows. The magical facility welcomes visitors with lush colors, welcoming chairs and a deep red curtain across the stage. It also offers a museum’s worth of magical history, including a Houdini display, a guillotine, kabuki swords and various other illusion accoutrements.
Also found at Raze Studio Illusions & Magic are magic boxes with illusions and card tricks for sale, along with various other feasts for the eyes. Ephemera line the walls behind the counters, and, for the shows, concessions are open.
“I know it’s crazy we’ve got a theater in a shopping center,” O’Hara said. “We have a magic shop. Come to a show, pay a ticket price, enjoy concessions and visit the back of the room for sales after the show.”
After a handful of birthday parties and the two live shows, the facility is making money and building its capabilities.
“We really we need to have four or five times that for this to become a humming operation,” he said. “When that happens, we can do two shows a month for [Raza] on consecutive weekends. Pretty soon, I’m going to do a show too, an evening of magic and comedy, probably with a lower ticket price (Raze’s illusion shows are $25).”
O’Hara said he’s adjusting to what he called a significant change of pace in his life after being on the road for so long. Sometimes, he said, it feels like a bit like a cage.
“While I do love being on the road – I’ve got friends on the road and I love doing shows – I was weary,” he said. “I’ve been a free-range animal for 33 years, and now I have a cage, and that’s a difficult adjustment. But as a guy who does magic tricks, if you have to have a cage and the cage is a theater where you hang out with magicians and listen to music and do all this other stuff – WOW! – that’s pretty cool.”
Raze’s next illusion show is scheduled March 28 at Raze Studio, 3202 Rinconada Blvd. in Las Cruces. For information, visit the website at razestudioillusions.com or call 575-250-RAZE (7293).
Raze Studio opens 4ish each afternoon, Wednesday through Sunday, sometimes earlier. Calling ahead is a good idea, but the museum-quality displays alone are worth the trip to check the place out.
Elva K. Österreich may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.