The Colony Courier-Leader “Sleight of Hand” article from Jan. 22, 2003
Kazaam! “Diamond Jim” Tyler shows off one of the many tricks he uses in his magic acts. Tyler, a close-up and stage magician, has been interested in magic all of his life, and has been professionally performing feats of sleight-of-hand and misdirection since he was in high school.
“Diamond Jim” Tyler, an accomplished stage and close-up magician, has called The Colony home for the past year while performing all over the nation, making solid bubbles appear out of thin air and levitating small objects with the power of his mind alone. Being a successful professional magician in the metroplex, Tyler has built a reputation for himself. Who argues the talents of a man who can set business cards afire and then hand them out unscathed?
Diamond Jim is no mere dilettante when it comes to his trade. He eats, breathes, and sleeps magic. His house looks like it was pulled straight from the pages of an old black-and-white mystery movie, with posters of Houdini and Thurston decorating the walls and Egyptian sarcophagi leaned against his big-screen television set. Ever since he was able to walk, Tyler has had a dozen tricks up his sleeve. “I was given a deck of cards as a child, and that’s how I learned to count,” Tyler said. “I learned every card in the deck by the time I was 2 years old. By the time I was 5, I was fascinated with magic; I’d seen magicians before, like J.B. Bobo, one of the most famous magicians in the world. I actually saw him perform when I was a kid, so he was a big influence on me.”
The magic bug really bit Tyler after his family took him to Disney World when he was 5. While he was there, the young Tyler found a book on magic called Magic With Cards by Frank Garcia and George Schindler, which pushed him down the path towards magic and illusion. “That was a big inspiration for me because I’d only seen the tricks that everybody’s uncle does (up to that point)” Tyler said. ” I learned every trick in the book by the time I was 6, and later found out that it was an excellent book for a beginning magician- a solid foundation for my magic.”
Tyler didn’t stop there. When he was 16, he spent most of his time in a Dallas magic shop, eventually getting a job inside and then running the store for eight years – while he was in high school and college.
It wasn’t until college that he decided to chase his life-long dream of becoming a professional magician, after a bout with cancer had made him reevaluate his priorities in life. “The very last year I was in college, I found out that I had Hodgkin’s disease, a type of Cancer” Tyler remembered. “So I had to drop out of school, and have radiation therapy and all that jazz. I always wondered how far I could go with magic, so when I was lying in that hospital bed, I thought (magic) is what I want to do, this is what I love… so let’s see how far I can take this.'”
Eventually, Tyler decided to write a book on magic. Encouraged by Lewis Zafran , one of the most famous magicians in Dallas and Tyler’s mentor and friend besides, Tyler began working out routines and writing out tricks to preserve his ideas and to help young magicians get ahead in their craft. Unfortunately, Zafran passed away before the book was complete. “After I’d written the first routine, I called (Zafran) to share the news, and found out that he’d passed away,” Tyler said. ” (Zafran) and I were best buddies, so I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to finish this book for Lew,’ so I wrote the book and dedicated it to him.”
Since then, Tyler’s fascination with magic has been a roller coaster of sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and fun. He received an award in 1999 for Best Close-up Magic by the Texas Association of Magicians, has created and designed his own magical devices, published his aforementioned book called Pockets Full of Miracles that sold out within the first year of printing, and has triumphed in a profession that most people consider simple entertainment.
He also gives private lessons out of his home, training aspiring magicians in the seemingly complex but amazingly simple art of magic. “You can walk into almost any magic shop in the world and find my book, or something that I have created,” Tyler said. “I’ve been published in every major magic magazine. Right now, my focus is lecturing to other magicians. I prefer to perform for lay audiences, but what’s nice about the lecture tour is you’ve got a whole other market there. Magicians are always looking for new ways to (pull rabbits from their hats,) so it’s a fun job.”
In addition to this, Tyler’s writing a book on “Bar-Betchas”- bets involving simple sleight-of-hand and cunning puzzles that can be pulled off in any bar with everyday objects.
So what is it about magic that’s kept Tyler interested in it all these years? He says it’s not the glamor or the money – he just does it because he enjoys it more than anything else he’s ever done. “Everything good that’s come to me in my life was through magic,” the magician said. ” (I like it) because of the way it makes me feel and the way it makes others feel. It sounds corny, but I feel like it’s my purpose in life to perform and make others feel happy. When I do my close-up tricks in restaurants, churches, schools, convention centers or wherever- it’s great just to see the looks on the audience’s faces when you get inside their heads and perform an effect that stuns them. Magic is about suspension of disbelief.”
Like any good magician, he refuses to reveal his secrets. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” Tyler said with a smile.