The teen with the magic touch
By Jesse Leavenworth
The Hartford Courant
Jonathan Jacques is willing a deck of cards to move. He is on his knees in his Glastonbury, Conn., home, rubbing his fingertips together and talking about a guy who can mind-move objects.
Jacques puffs at the face-down deck, which contains a card ó the queen of diamonds ó signed by a visitor with a black marker. Slowly, the top half of the deck jitters and slides away to reveal the red queen’s hiding place.
Now wait a minute. He must have made the deck split with those little puffs, right?
No. Later experiments prove that highly unlikely, and dizzying as well.
Was he vibrating the floor somehow, with his knees maybe?
Again, no, unless he was doing it silently, with no apparent movement.
In the end, the question remained, the question that punctuates any professional magic act: How did he do that?
At 16, Jacques has gone far beyond the cute kid doing coin tricks for his uncles and aunts. The Glastonbury teenager is in demand and books about 250 paid gigs each year at birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, corporate gatherings and other events throughout New England.
He has performed at the Big E in Springfield and in front of 8,000 people at a halftime show for the Connecticut Sun basketball team at Mohegan Sun Arena. He has his own Web site, too: jjmagicshow.com.
Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”) has been hooked on magic since age 6, when his parents gave him a kit for Christmas containing a video and a few tricks. He quickly discovered that magic engaged people completely, made them smile and gasp.
“I just found what I loved at a young age,” he said.
His parents, Ronald and Carol Jacques, have supported and encouraged him, Jonathan said, although they never foresaw his intense interest when they gave him that gift.
“We didn’t expect it to go this far,” Carol Jacques said.
But they saw that he was captivated, so Ronald Jacques took his son to a Boston magic shop when the boy was 8, and they loaded up on illusionist materials. Jonathan honed his skills in front of his two siblings and his many cousins and friends, and gave his first performance at age 9 at his grandfather’s birthday party.
He next performed at a school talent show. As word spread, Jacques started getting calls to perform at private parties and events sponsored by senior citizen centers, municipal libraries and recreation departments.
Jacques said he is constantly refining his act, which includes sleight of hand, large illusions and tricks with the nine white doves and one white rabbit he owns.
Asked if he ever makes mistakes during performances, Jacques said he has, but he can usually cover the error so the audience is unaware. Once, however, at a child’s birthday party, a dove flew directly into the cake. Jacques said he was upset, but the child’s parents thought it was a hoot.
He’s been saving profits from his performances for college, Jacques said, and plans to attend Babson College in Wellesley because of its focus on entrepreneurship. Then, he hopes to establish himself as a professional magician and tour the world with his own show.
His mother said she can see clearly now where her magic son is headed.
“He loves it,” she said. “He loves performing.”
Marlene Clark, a Connecticut magician and New England regional vice president of the Society of American Magicians, said Jacques has the passion, stage presence and determination to make his dream come true.
“He’s better than good for his age,” Clark said.