When Marc Janes was a young boy, he’d sneak away from church choir practice and go around the corner to a local magic shop.
“During the breaks, I’d go to the magic store much to my father’s dismay,” said Janes. “That’s really how I got started in magic.”
Janes, who goes by the nickname “Pops,” will perform a 30-minute magic act at the Older Americans Conference. He titles the show “A Teaching Act,” but beware, he seldom gives away the real magic to his magic.
As a professional educator for most of his life, Janes began performing magic for others after he retired in 2010. He was principal at Charles Ray Academy in Tacoma for 30 years, and then became the private school’s director of college counseling.
“I love children, but I really like to perform classy parlor magic for adults, especially seniors,” he said.
He has performed at the Rainier Club, Columbia Tower and the Dahlia Room in Seattle. He does employee holiday parties for law firms and he often takes his magic on the road to senior living communities.
“That’s really how I got started,” he said. “After I retired I would go to senior communities and do magic. They seemed to like it so I thought, ‘Why not do this more?’”
He also gives magic shows without charging at cancer centers and works with Hospice patients.
“When people get to the end (of life) there’s no beating around the bush,” Janes said. “They know their time is short. But they also want to laugh. So my magic is comedic and we all laugh.”
That comedic magic is what he plans to perform at the conference. Parts will mystify the audience. Other parts of the show will be explained by Janes, so that those attending will get to learn a bit of magic themselves. And there will be audience participation.
“Humor is huge for anyone,” Janes said. “It’s like a medication. It’s good for all of us. I like to help people forget their cares and smile.”
Magic, to him, is not a way to make money.
“I don’t do it for money,” he said. “I do it to bring smiles to faces.”
But that doesn’t mean that magic isn’t without its work. For every show, Janes puts in about 12 hours of rehearsal.
“Nobody really knows how much goes into a show,” Janes said. “Every day at 4 p.m. I go to my workshop out back and I go through my routine. And at night, if I can’t sleep, I go through it in my mind. Magic is an art form.”
Once he discovered magic in that shop when he was a kid, Janes studied it in books and watched other magicians.
“I learned by watching and reading,” he said. “Nowadays everybody just goes online, but back then, it took effort to learn this.”
He wasn’t shy, either.
“If I saw a trick I liked, I’d ask the magician to teach it to me,” he said. “Most of the time they would.”
His performance at the conference will include some adult humor, but nothing risqué, he said.
“Some people will want to know how I do each trick,” he said. “They’ll watch and then there’ll be that twinkle in their eye when they think they’ve figured it out. Other people don’t want to know. They just want to be entertained.”
Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Kitsap Living and the Kitsap News Group. This story first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Kitsap Living: The time of your life.