Max Major is not a household name in the mentalist/magic world, but he has been in the entertainment business for the past two decades.
He has been primarily doing shows for corporations and conventions until moving from the D.C. area to Las Vegas last year. His new career hope: get his own show along the lines of his first magician hero David Copperfield.
“My focus is shifting to more of a public career,” he said, “having tickets shows that people can attend.”
But the pandemic sidetracked those dreams and cut off his primary sources of income. So he got creative and created a virtual show he is co-marketing with theaters around the country that need any source of income.
“It’s a win-win,” Major said. “I get to continue to perform, and the theaters get to raise money.”
The one-hour Zoom show, which costs $45 per household, includes a mysterious box of items mailed to you that you are not to open until the show begins.
“It looks like a high-end television show and is super interactive,” Major said, noting he converted his home office into a full-blown production studio and worked with director Chad Rabinovitz. “It’s not a thing you sit back and watch. You are part of it from beginning to end.”
He has already done several shows for theaters in New Jersey and New England. Some households will hook up their laptop to their big-screen TV or project it onto a big screen in their backyards.
“I will hypnotize people through the screen and predict their actions,” he said. “Everything you see will be done live in the comfort of your own home. The distance in many ways makes it more interesting and impressive.”
As a mentalist, he said it’s tougher to read people on TV screens, sometimes with poor clarity or shaky Internet connections.
“It’s not the same as performing on stage,” he admitted. “I don’t have the same feedback mechanisms.”
Ultimately, he just hopes they enjoy themselves.
“Some people come for laughs,” he said. “Some come to be amazed. Some come with no expectations and an open mind. Some come for an escape. That’s the beauty of entertainment. All I can do is be fully present and give everything I have. I hope some people will be inspired seeing someone do something that is their calling in life.”
Major said he’s enjoyed these remote shows so much he plans to continue doing them even after the pandemic is over.
He also has a possible publicity boost coming soon: he tried out for “America’s Got Talent” this season. The show had recorded most of its auditions before a live audience but in March had to cut it short when the pandemic began. “AGT” ended up doing a few more auditions remotely. Major said he was one of the performers.
He hopes he’ll get some quality air time on the next episode.
In the meantime, Major is also working his social media platforms and was thrilled to hit 1 million followers on TikTok July 7. Some of his recent videos feature him amazing people on the Vegas strip by predicting their childhood pets’ names.
Major said he began performing at age 14 at a neighbor’s six-year-old birthday party (paycheck: $45!) and quickly realized this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
He attended magic workshops and followed the advice of another magician: always say yes. So he began doing shows for anybody anywhere. He did dozens of kids birthday parties, honing his craft. “I learned how to speak with confidence and deliver a line and put a show together,” he said.
After getting a business degree at the University of Maryland, he used those skills to work the corporate market. He performed for employees at Microsoft and Facebook as well as the Department of Defense. He recalled doing a dentists’ convention in Atlanta.
But Vegas was always the shining star in the sky. He recalled visiting with his grandparents at age 15 and was enamored by the glitz and glamour.
“Siegfried and Roy were dark, but I was struck by their presence at the Mirage,” he said. “The tigers and statues and billboards. I could picture myself in lights one day.”
But he said he tended to overanalyze things in his late 20s into his early 30s and stayed in D.C., traveling around the world for gigs.
Only recently did he finally go back to the philosophy of “surrendering to whatever life has to offer. The pandemic has really solidified that for me.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.