Magician Sydney James Karp
Born in Sydney, Australia, James, at the age of twenty-two, quit his job as a body guard to set off on a journey travelling the world that would take three years, in the hope of finding his true calling. During his travels he encountered strange yet wonderfully inspirational people who led him to study transcendental meditation and metaphysics, before being seduced by the world of magic after a chance meeting with veteran Las Vegas producer Peter Reveen in 1998. Peter introduced James to renowned Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy. At their show Masters of the Impossible at The Mirage Hotel, (1994-2003 most visited show in Las Vegas) James fell in love with the art of magic and was left wondering how they made tigers appear and vanish and make an elephant appear seemingly from thin air. “I was in the front row” says James “and eyes wide open… Two hours of witnessing miracles was an incredible experience. The emotion of surprise has stayed with me ever since.” James spent time with Siegfried who also shared a love of transcendental meditation and attended what was called at the time Desert Magic (an underground magic gathering by invitation to magicians only), hence beginning his training in theatre production and the art of magic.
With such exceptional expertise to draw from during his early introduction to magic, James went on to produce his first Magic show called “Beyond Belief” in 1999. The show saw James work with Las Vegas based illusion designer Bill Smith. James’ magic show included magic and illusions such as levitating his assistant, cutting a girl in four pieces, changing his assistant into a tiger and escaping from flames, only to reappear in the audience moments later. The magic and illusion show was an instant success and toured around Australia for a year. The show also received rave reviews. One such review was written by James Cockington of the Sydney Morning Herald who referred to James as, “Australia’s own Siegfried and Roy” before going on to say, “It’s Vegas-style magic – a must see”. James’ other works include Las Vegas, Chamber of Secrets and Viva Lost Wages.
James’ magic cabaret act and roving magic repertoire has been consistently booked for over a decade. Renowned American magic magazine VANISH wrote “James Karp is charismatic and conjures astonishment at will” James’ list of clients has included The Star casino, Slide Cabaret, Sydney Showboat, Carnival Cruises (Miami) along with numerous corporate companies / brands, such as BMW, NAB, 2UE, Apple, Revlon and media personalities such as the late radio icon Stan Zemaneck, Marcia Hines, Star Wars producer George Lucas, American R&B singer and seven time Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton and even Mr. Toyota Jnr. himself. James has also performed magic for his childhood hero, legendary comedian Jerry Lewis, (who was a magician himself in his youth) who described James as a “sleight of hand merchant”.
James’ introduction into producing came about when, out of the blue, Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai approached him in 2005 to produce the opening ceremony of his international A1 Grand Prix in Sydney. James went on to then produce three more A1 Grand Prix opening ceremonies in Australia and one in China, all with television audiences of over seventy-million. James’ productions all comprised of song and dance, working with Australian singer / songwriter Ricki-Lee Coulter and Australian soul singer Jade MacRae as well as country music singer / songwriter Felicity Urquhart. The success of these opening ceremonies established James as a sought after producer, with projects including two book launches for Australia’s best-selling author, the late Bryce Courtenay (Sylvia & The Persimmon Tree), the official national launch of the movie Madagascar (Hoyts), also German Bank Bayern (Sybos event), French cologne Viktor & Rolf Australian launch and major events for advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi to name but a few.
In 2008 James became the president of The Magic Academy (Australia) with the premise being to advance magic in Australia. James designed a learning magic program for children based on the principle that learning magic is fun and it builds self-esteem and develops confidence. This program has been taught to over 5000 children. James has been approached on many occasions to mentor children who have experienced bullying or have had low self-esteem. “I find it my moral passion to use magic to help kids. It is a very beautiful experience to witness a change in their behaviour and to see them start believing in themselves and realising that they can do amazing things”. James also lectures on the art of magic to corporates for team building activities and has even been invited to lecture at Sydney University on how to fool the human mind.
Outside the magic industry James’ creativity has been recognised by other genres of the arts: Authors – part of the research and development for Australian author Diane Armstrong’s book Empire Day, in which its main character is a magician; Actor Jackson Gallagher (Home and Away) with his love of magic, has had James teach him, which was later produced as a feature story for Disney. Australian singer / songwriter, dancer and actor Johnny Ruffo – James consulted and directed for the card mechanic, who was featured in Ruffo’s music video “She Got That O”, James produced the magic effect to be taught to radio personality Emma Freedman to present to international magician Dynamo for his 2016 Australian tour promotion; Choreographer James Taylor (Royal Ballet of London, Sydney Dance Company) pursued James to train him in incorporating magic in his latest production Risque Revue for Slide Cabaret.
Since 2014 James has been the producer and artistic director of the annual Bastille Food, Wine, Art Revolution Festival ( formerly known as the French World Festival) that attracts half a million audience to its opening Grand Cabaret Shows, which features Parisian Cabaret and has featured on Channel 7 The Morning Show, Channel 9 The Today Show and French television networks.
In 2010 James created The Magicians Cabaret theatre restaurant which encases a classic 1920’s box office, a Parisian style cabaret room with a proscenium arch stage, and a secret New York underground bar called the Top Hat Bar. James has produced three major works La Fortuna, La Lumiere and La Belle Rose which he all wrote and directed. Resident cabaret dinner show La Fortuna has played continuously for five years. Sydney Arts Guide wrote “I can recommend La Fortuna.” MW magazine quoted “craftsmanship in creating a visual feast.” Additionally his work has again received global detection with UK Magic Week Magazine writing, “The show is spellbinding and mesmerizing” and USA-based celebrity magazine Cliché writing “simply amazing, unpredictable and enchanting” and voted The Magicians Cabaret as best three things to do in Sydney after dark.
In 2017 James created The Australian Museum of Magical Arts. The museum stores and exhibits historical, artistic and cultural artefacts of the art of magic and houses James extensive collection of magic memorabilia and illusions. It receives visitors both locally and internationally with daily tours of the museum.
Amongst James’ commitments with his dinner shows, his museum, The Magic Academy, and his producing and consulting projects, James still finds time to meditate every day and enjoys performing in his productions from time-to-time. He still remembers what Master Magician Siegfried told him: “To create, requires great powers of imagination.”.