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Jack Alexander has magic to do

by Jim Gladstone

Jack Alexander
Jack Alexander  

Las Vegas-based illusionist Jack Alexander will bring his sleek new stage show, Express, to Oasis next weekend in two benefit performances for the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF).
And while Alexander doesn't have a further San Francisco engagement on the books as of yet, he's knows for sure when he'll be back at Oasis.

"I want to go there as soon as I'm legal," says the openly gay East Bay-raised magician. All of 20 years old, Alexander looks even younger. But he's mature beyond his age when it comes to building his show business brand.

"The show that I'm doing at Oasis has been my fantasy for a long time," says Alexander, who came out four years ago. "I have this vision of doing a magic show that's not oriented to kids, that's very sexy and edgy. When I was a kid, David Copperfield was my hero, but now pop stars are my idols. I've wanted to do a stage show that was like a Britney Spears concert with magic."

Alexander promises flashy lighting and costumes, male dancers, choreography by a Cirque du Soleil vet, and a dance pop soundtrack—"Britney, Rihanna, Ariana Grande. All the music that people who get to stay at Oasis afterwards will dance to," he pouts, jokingly.

Alexander was smitten with magic even before he was obsessed with pop divas.

"When I was in kindergarten, my mom hired a magician for my birthday party and I wouldn't stop bothering him afterwards." He launched his own career shortly after. "By second grade, I was doing other kids' parties. I was always a little entrepreneur.

"I used to perform with two friends, my next-door neighbors—another Jack and James. We called ourselves Triple J. By the time I was ten, I decided to go the solo career route," he half-jokes. "I was the BeyoncĂ© of the group, if I do say so myself."

A magic-obsessed kid like Alexander lucked out in growing up just a ten-minute drive from downtown Martinez, home of The California Magic Club, one of the rare magic-dedicated performance venues in the country, with professional shows and dinner service every Friday and Saturday night.


Jack Alexander  

"I started performing there when I was 10," Alexander recalls, "Doing walk-around magic before the main stage acts. It's a small family-run business, and I feel really lucky that I got to develop my craft there."

Throughout his teenage years, Alexander continued to hone his craft and began to purchase and refurbish large-scale illusions on the semi-secret magic supply market. Eventually, he began being booked for corporate gigs for Salesforce and Intel, and stage shows at theaters and casinos.
He was 16 when he came out to his parents. "I was lucky, they were cool with it. My mom was not shocked in the least. I mean, look at me, really, would you be surprised? With my bleach-blond hair and perfectly coiffed eyebrows. I'm kinda gay."

It was around the same time that his then-manager introduced Alexander to Ken Henderson of REAF, who began booking him for some of the organization's multi-performer fundraising shows.
"It was great finding them just as I came out," Alexander recalls. "It helped me meet a lot of good people and get to be more comfortable in my skin in the gay community."

After finishing high school, Alexander moved to Las Vegas, in part to study the magic shows on the Strip, and it's also an easy hub for flying to gigs around the country. Rents are also affordable for a successful but still early-in-his-career performer. "Also," he says, "My grandma lives there."

"I really enjoy living on Vegas," says Alexander, sounding very much his age. "I mean, who doesn't love an awesome buffet? I go to the Bellagio buffet more than I care to admit. And I can go see Magic Mike Live like six or seven times."

On being out in his act, Alexander says, "A lot of people warn me that doing a so-called 'gay magic show' could damage my career. But it's really not more than PG. It's just that I'm pretty gay and I want to be out and proud and not hide it during the show. I mean, I'm not going to be making out with my dancers or anything. My pet peeve is people who say they support gay rights, but also say I shouldn't be flamboyant on stage. Well, when I'm onstage I'm very much being myself. "

Alexander says that some of the magicians who have advised him to turn down his fabulousness are blatant hypocrites.

"Let's just say that I've gone to a magic convention and there are like maybe ten magicians I grew up watching who are on Grindr. I saw them as a kid, and now here's their dick pic."

Beneath his outspoken sass, Alexander is a serious, focused professional.

"I've never even drunk alcohol," he says. "I'm a good boy. I don't have a fake ID. I love performing and I never want to risk not being able to do it. Life in the entertainment business can be pretty weird. I've encountered quite a few predators and creepy people. But I stay in my lane and stay out of trouble."

He says that when he turns 21, a whole new world of performance opportunities will open up for him, including gay cruises and other community venues that have been understandably cautious about booking a minor.

"I've been preparing for these opportunities since I was six years old," he says confidently. "I'm ready to take on the responsibility."

Jack Alexander, May 3 & 4, 7pm at Oasis, 298 11th St. $25-$40
www.sfoasis.com
www.jackalexandermagic.com


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