Annenberg manager moonlights as magician

first_imgWhen students at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism check out equipment from Jim Yoder, the audio-visual technologies manager, they might be greeted by a card trick. After all, Yoder has been practicing magic since he was 8 years old.Most people  find their passions when they are young, and Yoder was no exception. He became interested in magic after he started to watch a TV show called The Magic Land of Allakazam.“Everybody that is anybody in magic at my age grew up watching this show,” Yoder said. “I watched it every Saturday morning until it went off the air.”Yoder pursued his childhood dream of becoming a magician by becoming a member of the Academy of Magical Arts, an exclusive magicians-only club that boasts more than 5,000 members, for 14 years. Members include Mark Wilson, the star from Yoder’s favorite TV show, as well as celebrities including David Copperfield and Neil Patrick Harris. The Academy meets at their clubhouse, the Magic Castle, in Hollywood, Calif.Yoder began developing his skill in magic through the help of multiple mentors that he has had since he started practicing magic.“The tricks that I [do] represent several years of my life,” Yoder said.Yoder was even able to meet and befriend his longtime idol, Wilson, through the Academy 15 years ago.“It really and truly was so neat,” Yoder said. “I can’t even describe how it is to meet some icon that you’ve always looked up to.”Magicians categorize illusions into close-up, parlor magic and stage magic. Yoder’s favorite type is stage magic, especially large illusion tricks such as sawing a woman in half or tricks involving animals.“Producing doves from anywhere has always been a fascinating thing to me,” Yoder said. “[It’s] the most fascinating magic in the world because from nothing you produce something that is more than just there — it’s living and flying.”Though Yoder does have the title of a magician, he does not perform professionally. Other than occasionally performing tricks for his students, he prefers to work behind the scenes, as a wizard behind the curtain.“My true magical expertise is in ‘staging’ magic,” Yoder said. “I design lighting, soundscapes and staging for magicians. The staging of a magic show is often as important as the performance of the illusions.”Yoder says he helps the performing magician misdirect the audience by controlling the scenic, lighting and audio elements in the show. He is also responsible for helping with the Academy’s annual awards show.To Yoder, the most rewarding aspect of performing is when the audience asks how a trick was done.“It’s music to my ears,” Yoder said. “If I can fool you, then I’ve successfully done the trick.”Chelsea Johnson, a senior majoring in critical studies, says she is intrigued by watching Yoder in action.“It was just fun just to watch him because he has so much joy [performing the trick],” Johnson said. “My reactions to his tricks are just complete awe. I just have no idea how he did it and he’s very smooth with it.”To Yoder, learning how to practice magic has not made it any less magical — if anything, it has enhanced his life even more.“To me, life is fascinating  —  life just in general is magic,” Yoder said. “What magic does is that it allows me to impart some of that onto whoever wishes to see it.”last_img

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