He’s a magic man
Magic is in the air when J.C. Dunn enters the room. Chico’s magic mastermind shares his talents with pretty much anybody who will watch. Born in 1941 in Baltimore, Dunn joined the Marines at 18 before becoming a teacher and joining the Peace Corps. He was in Hawaii when he was first mesmerized by a street magician, and when he returned to the mainland he began training at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. Dunn has been boggling the minds of audiences with his vanishing acts, floating objects, mentalism and escape techniques ever since. His career as a magician has included TV appearances, conventions all over the country and even trips to perform as far away as Jamaica. Four years ago, he brought his act to Chico and has been entertaining at places like the Silver Dollar Fair, Outlaws baseball games and holiday shows.
How did you go from being a teacher to a magician?
I read a couple magic books and I would use some of those tricks to get the kids’ attention. When they were rowdy I would pull out a trick, and all of a sudden there would be silence and they would behave to see more. It just kind of grew on me from there. I tried different jobs and always found my way back to magic.
What’s been your greatest disappearing act?
Once I jumped out of a hot-air balloon over the desert with another magician and we did a trick as we bungee jumped. I changed a scarf into a cane and he did an interesting card trick. I think we were the first magicians to do that.
What’s the best part about being a magician?
With all the crazy things going on in the world it’s nice to put a smile on someone’s face. I always carry magic with me, and I love to just pull out a trick wherever I am and surprise people.
Ever get strange looks on the street?
Most people find it fun and entertaining. Once I was in an elevator with Julia Louis Dreyfus and did some tricks with my scarf and cane. I handed her my card and she started talking about it on the David Letterman show and he said, “He pulled a cane out of his ear—even David Copperfield couldn’t do that!” That was kind of a magical happening.
Do you ever let the rabbit out of the hat?
A lot of people ask, “How the heck did you do that?” And I reply “very carefully” or something like that. There are a few simple tricks I don’t mind sharing so that they can spread the fun of magic, but I think it ruins the mystery if I spoil it for people.
How do you recommend people keep the magic alive in their own lives?
If you can be part of making people smile and enjoy life, then you’re putting magic in your own heart. Not a day goes by that I don’t do a couple of tricks; I’ll even surprise someone while I’m getting my mail.