By Chelsea Nichole
At the Trics Convention I was able to catch up with Joe Barry and spend an hour talking with him. Before this interview most of my interaction with him was being a spectator at his shows so I was a little intimidated going in. On stage he has a big personality and brings a lot of confidence to the room. I wasn’t sure what to expect sitting down and talking with him. However he was very kind and funny and just an easy person to shoot the breeze with.
I’m excited to get to sit down with you in person after seeing you perform; it seems like you are quite different in person than your stage persona. Your almost over the top confidence would almost make me think that you are cocky but clearly you’re not.
Yes, with the kind of magic I perform it is very necessary to portray over confidence throughout my performance. Nobody wants to watch a person that isn’t confident on the stage. When I walk onto stage I want to be the most confident person in the room because it puts people at ease. I do my best to not look arrogant but I want to make it look like this is just nothing for me. I look at it as a character and my character relaxes the audience. You’ve seen me perform, so how would you describe it?
Yes, I saw you last year at the Magic Castle and Magic Live and if I were to describe your persona it would be as a rock star! You seem like the Rock Star of Magic to me.
Well on that note we can just go ahead and end the interview! Haha, no, thank you so much.
When you are off stage would you describe yourself as more introverted or extroverted?
I tend to be you more introverted, but with my friends I am extroverted. Generally I tend to not talk to many of magicians or approach others but keep to myself more.
It’s interesting for me to get to meet you and sit down and talk with you because I have already seen you perform but haven’t had much of a chance to get to know you and you are quite different in person than on stage. You are very kind and I think I was a little worried that maybe, based on your stage persona, you would be a bit arrogant but you are not at all!
You know that makes me think of how I developed my own voice and own style. For the longest time I had no friends in magic, I didn’t watch magic videos because I didn’t know they existed and I didn’t know anything about conventions so I learned everything from books. Books give you the ability to put your own voice and style into it rather than watching a DVD or YouTube video and you end up mimicking the other person rather than bringing your own personality into the trick.
Let’s back up a little, where did you grow up?
Stoke-On-Trent, England, midlands area. Not the nicest area but very friendly.
What did your parents do?
My Dad was the deputy headmaster of my high school.
How did that play out? Did you get in any trouble with him?
I was a bit of a troublemaker but he didn’t give me too hard of a time. My sister was the head girl growing up and I wasn’t a fan of school. I didn’t like school and felt like it was a bit unnecessary.
Did you get in trouble in school?
Oh yeah, I didn’t really do anything bad but I just didn’t like school. Really I would just skip school at times. School ends for us at 16 and then you can get a trade or go to university. The only thing I liked was sports, I played football and basketball and cricket, whatever I could.
What about you mother, what does she do?
My mother passed away recently from cancer. Before that she worked in a Veterinary office as a secretary. Growing up she was a UK cross country champion winner.
What age did you get into magic?
Around 12, I went to a book store and rented some books on it. I also bought a few books from a local magic shop as well and that’s all I had for 6 years.
What age did you get paid for your magic?
Very recently. I didn’t realize you could work as a magician as a job so it has only been in the past 5 years that I have been working as a professional magician.
What were you doing before that?
I was a stone mason.
A stone mason?
Yes, I would carve stone with a tool. I got a job with a guy who was one of the best stone masons in the country and he was designing staircases and fire places for rich ppl.
This job sounds so old timey, its cracking me up.
Oh absolutely it’s an old job and a bit of an odd job. But it was great.
I started around 17 or 18 and started doing an apprenticeship under the guy who was well known for his work.
Could I hire you to make a stone carving of my face? I’m planning on putting it up in a park and pretending like I am really famous.
That’s not a bad idea. I might have to get in on this.
Did your parents have a job they wanted you to do?
How did they feel about you becoming a professional magician?
Ok well they were not too excited about that, what parent would? However I was making more on the weekend working as a magician than a whole week working in stone masonry.
I started working weddings which was a great learning experience but now I focus more on private parties.
I also get booked for conventions which is a really amazing experience. Magic conventions I find to be an amazing thing where you get the opportunity to meet your heroes. A kid can’t decide to go to an “Acting convention” and then expect to meet Brad Pitt. It’s such a unique experience and great community.
We are currently at the Trics Convention (at the time of the interview) and I am looking forward to your lecture coming up in a few hours.
Thanks, I am nervous but excited.
How do you get over the nerves?
I spend the first 15 minutes performing to warm up and get the audience engaged without teaching anything.
We are out of time but I am really looking forward to watching you later today perform!
Thanks so much!
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