The Successful Entertainers – The Wizardry of Phelston Jones

The Successful Entertainers – The Wizardry of Phelston Jones

“If you stay afraid, and you don’t go past the fear, this is failure. When you confront the fear, this is success.”

Phelston Jones captivates audiences with magic and comedy as he playfully picks the pockets of audiences, or seriousness with mesmerizing one-of-kind illusions, and with his dynamic energy audiences are treated to a visual feast fit for a king. He has performed from North Africa, Italy, South America, Canada, Australia, China, and Japan are just a few of the exotic locals to have welcomed him. In Monaco, the late H.R.H. Prince Rainier III graced the audience for Phelston’s command performance at the prestigious Monte Carlo Magic Stars gala. He sold out shows across USA, his home country, and well-known hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. NBC’s World’s Greatest Magic V, introduced the catch phrase for his performances.(Source Gypsy Moon – Dion & Randal Production)

Interwiev made by Sebastian & Kristina during the performance in TRIKSTARS show in Kuala Lumpur!

Kristina:             How you became a magician and why?

Phelstone Jones

Phelston:          How I became a magician? Cos I had no other choice. I created this occupation out of need. Not so much for passion, just because I needed something to get  to eat, plain and simple.And it was the quickest way for me to make a couple dollars, quick. We’re hungry. What do I do? I know a couple of tricks, learned in school. I did on the street, a hand movement, and I hear a coin go inside the hat. And you hear ‘clink’ and you get another one, ‘clink,’ ‘clink.’ Next thing you know, oh, ok, right, it’s not so bad. Then do it again, and people walk away and you start hearing, ‘clink, clink, clink.’ The first two ‘clinks’ give confidence but it really was to get something to eat, the first reason.But I really had my heart in Architecture. But if you’re not going to school, forget about it, it’s finished. So one thing led to another, snowball, snowball, snowball, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger. Before you know it, you have full street act, 20-minute street act. Of course it gets more complicated.

Kristina:          And when you did you perform for the first time on stage?

Phelston:          Actually, the first show I did was a magic show. It was for my school. Every kid has couple of tricks. And what does he do at the end of the year, they always said, “Let’s put on a show! Come on, let’s do something. You have the guitar, You know how to dance….We are all artists, crazy artists in a school  “Ok, let’s do a show.” So everybody does— I did a couple of tricks in flash paper and that’s how we put on the first magic show together. It was just for fun! But when you have maybe a 1,500 to 2,000-seat auditorium, that can change a life. When you hear that applause, now it’s a new game. Now it’s ego. Now it’s arrogance. Now it’s pride. All the bad things come, that’s what happens.

Kristina:          When was your first paid show?

Phelston:         Pretty much like most people I don’t come from a circus family. My generation is the first and the first thing I did was I went to a nightclub, just a regular nightclub on my street.          Dionosus Club was a Greek Club. I just went up to the owner or the manager and said, “Do you do shows?” He says, “Yeah, what do you?” “I live on the block. I do magic.” Showed him a couple of tricks so, “Ok, maybe Friday. You come back Friday.” That was it.So I think the first gig I ever got, did a little thing with coins, cards, and he gave me like $80.00. I was on top of the world, $80.00. Crazy, I said, this is a way to make a living. But that was the first show. After that, that was it. That really kind of started it. Street performing did but so did the stage. All of a sudden, you have a way to make food, income. You can make food up here at that time. We were very poor. My mother was not the most responsible person so I had to figure out a way to make my own money right away and so that’s what I did.

Kristina:          How did you came up with the act that you’re doing now?

Phelston:          Oh, bits and pieces over the years. A little bit of this, you try this, you try that. I have maybe one hour of material all over the house but you put the best of this, and a little piece of that, and you put together what they ask for;  “I want a 15-minute show, 10-minute show.” You put together little bits and pieces as you go along.

The Great Magic Act!

It’s a lot of fun if it’s a challenge. If it’s your own material it can be a lot of fun. But you don’t get much support in the magic world. You have to kind of do it yourself. Not too many magicians support. It’s very competitive. Maybe you have friend or two but for the most part, you have to be a little kind of crazy side, a little creative. But I come from an art background so it was easy for me. Whether you’re making a painting, or doing magic trick, —it’s all the same; come from the same side of your head. That’s exactly where it’s coming from.

Kristina:          What is important in a magic act?

Phelston:          Oh man, it’s not one thing. I wished it was, it would be easier. But so many things are important. First and most important thing, you better have a passion for it. If you don’t have a passion for this, you’re only in it for money, you won’t last long, and you won’t make a lot of money. It has to be in your heart. That’s the most important thing; if you follow it for love, if you really love it, you’re going to be ok. Really love what you do.

Kristina:         How important is the costume & costume designs for a magician?

By Trikstas show in Kuala Lumpur

Phelston:          It should look clean and professional. Every artist; singer, dancer, ice skater, puppet guy, you have to invest in yourself. It’s like investing in yourself. It’s very important. Your presentation and your costume means everything especially if you’re going to make sure that you want the best venues, you want to work for the best contracts.Yeah, your presentation has to be top-notch, the best that you can think of, nothing less. And if you can’t afford it, do the best you can afford.

Kristina:          What is the secret to create the successful magic act?

Phelston:       There’s no secret. Just be dedicated. It’s not secret. Anybody can do it. The most important thing is you’ve got to love it. I think the thing is to love it and it has to be deep inside you.With love everything comes. If you love it, everything comes because you’re going to want to do good, You will want to make a good costume. You will want to make a good prop. You will want to study technique. But if you don’t have the seed, everything else is like a job.

Kristina:          What do you like most about being an entertainer?

Star Wars Premier – Sebastian & Kristina, Phelstone Jones, Adam Dion Bahoudian, Rudy Coby, Daniel Sylvester

Phelston:         Everything that comes with it. It’s exciting! It’s crazy, you travel, you get to meet crazy people like Kristina and Sebastian, and you get to be a part of these guys’ lives. Then you realize that you’re not the only cool person in the world. It’s just good to meet people. I love most about this, you get to travel and you meet other artists. Other artists, that’s a great reward. Of course, everything else comes with it. But when you meet other performers, creative like yourself… it’s like a network. It’s like global family. I never want to sound hokey but it’s true. You get a chance look at Rudy Coby, look at Silvester the Jester look at these guys, they’re brilliant. How are you going to get a chance to have dinner or to watch the Star Wars premiere here in Malaysia with people like these? You go and you have—you brainstorming ideas. It validates your own life, that’s the cleanest way I can think of answer like that.

Kristina:          What was your biggest failure and biggest success in your career?

Phelston:          As long as you’re doing what you do with magic, with your performance, if you’re a singer, if you’re a dancer, whatever it is, it is success. If you’re doing it, you’re success, it’s not a failure. Failure to me is when you want in your gut, you Costume design planshave this burning desire to do something, but the biggest failure is when you ignore this call. If this is a call and you are—you stay afraid, and you don’t go past the fear, this is failure. When you confront the fear, this is success. You are going into the mouth of the dragon and you’re going in, you’re fighting, and you find out, “Oh, there is no dragon. There’s no teeth. There’s nothing.” You find, “Oh, the fear is not the world, I’m the fear. You become the fear.” So the biggest failure for any performer I think is you become complacent. Complacent meaning you don’t move forward because you’re afraid. This is failure no matter what level, this is failure. It doesn’t have to be make a billion dollars, you have to just push yourself, now you are successful. But when you ignore this call, every time, small failure. They keep adding up; tiny failure, tiny failure, tiny… and it gets bigger.

My biggest success when they invited me to this very intersting program called “World’s Greatest Magic,” and they were using magicians, the best from all over the world, the best at this time. Gary Ouellet was the producer in United greatesmagicStates. It was the biggest TV show for magicians maybe in 30 years! Now this truly was a show, I’d been on many TV shows but this is the one I’d wanted to be on for so long. Already five episodes gone, and everybody said this will not last, maybe one more year, two more years then they’re going to close it. But the last year, just before the last year, it was magic five, I think I may have been the last one because I was “World’s Greatest Magic Five.”It was the last episode like this and they decided, they were looking, looking and I never applied for it before. And then I send something to the producer, I found out who was—where he was, and I said, “Listen, I understand you’re looking, you’re still looking for different acts.”, I get a call one week later, that fast. “When can you send another video?” “Immediately.” “Then we want to see interview with you.” Nobody’s doing my stuff. And they realize you’re the most original, one of the more original acts. And so they decided, ok, they’re going to take a chance. They videotape in Caesar’s in Las Vegas for this one. So right across the street from David Copperfield. Right down the street from Siegfried and Roy, you are right in the hub. This is for me the pinnacle, the top where you are accepted by your peers, by the best in the business is surround you. The best in the business all in two blocks on the entire planet, is in two blocks. So that to me was the highest, highest point. But even higher than that, highest point related to my business is my kids. Because that gives me the juice to go get anything. So that was the most successful part of my life, I would say the kids and then this institution for TV that was looking for the best and the most unique. That was the crest of my life so far.

Kristina:          If you could start over, would you choose the same path?


Phelston:         The first path I think if I start over, I wouldn’t be a magician. I probably would continue with scholarship for university that I got called Pratt Institute in New York City. I went to art school and then they gave me a scholarship to go to Cooper Union and Pratt Institute, most difficult art schools. Because my art and my architecture, my skills were so sharp at that time. And I didn’t take advantages, this is my biggest regret because it’s the time when I was on the street. And all my life I’m still regretting this that I didn’t take this degree. But somehow if I change the clock back to go back to art and then I would start another business, an art business to take care of my life, my soul inside. If I just had magic, it’s ok but I think I am originally a painter. And I cannot make a divorce with this painter. So I have to go back, and I am using this painting eyeball, the IIC? was my painting, I’m using in my other business; photography and advertising.

Phelston Photography and Advertising

And sometimes this is more successful than the magic, you know why? Because I make the formula follow the voice inside. How do I see it as a child? And sometimes, we’re all children growing, every last one, every girl, every guy, we are by-product of our youth. We have evolved from some experience we had as a child that molded us into young adults. It’s that experience that’s most magical!

Kristina:          What is your advice for the new generation?

Phelstone & The Fire

Phelston:        If you’re going to do it for the money, finish, go home, do something else. Be a banker, go Wall Street, be a real estate mogul because there are more ways to make money, and easier ways to make money. If it’s in your heart, and you really have to do it even if you know you’re going to starve and you must do whatever you’re going to do. You don’t harm anybody, because you feel that this is so burning, yes, follow it. Follow it and stick to it, don’t give up so easily. Stick with it. If it’s in your heart, you’re not going to want to. But if you’re doing it for, “I want the Lamborghini. If I want to buy a Rolex. If I want to…,” forget it. Go home. I think you have to come up with a story or a concept or something. Think, use your imagination. If you’re in this business, you have an imagination. Imagine something that you did when you were a kid. Try to imagine something that makes you so excited when you were young. Because when you are old, we are cynical. But maybe when you were young, you had stars in your eyes. Something moved you, follow this and try to be more honest with yourself inside your gut. This is where the child is, not child like in immature way but the child innocence. Something that made you think back why you went into the business. Why you saw this circus act and you went to the circus. So you went to see something, what happened inside you? What happened inside your belly? What happened? Try to tap into this and then you create from there. If you create from, “Oh, this is rational. This is logical. This is this, and that…,” I think you more limit yourself. Because the technique, you figure out, but the core, that has to come from some place. Some place inside you that is pure and innocent. This is us when we are children, follow this.


For the past twenty years, Phelston Jones has been obsessed with creating images, and he has taken thousands of incredible photographs throughout the world.  His originality and uncanny knack for snapping the shutter at the decisive moment has been sought in Norway, Australia, South Korea ,Thailand and Hong Kong for magazines, books, CDs and billboards.
Check out his amaizing photos:

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