Illusions abound

Rayne (left) with Mid-Valley Media Inc.’s John Strauch (right)
Photo by QUINN STODDARD of the Keizertimes

Lights. Camera. Magic. 

Renowned magician and illusionist, Jackson Rayne will put on a show for all interested on May 31, from 8-10 p.m. at the Salem Historic Grand Theatre located on the corner of Court Street NE and High Street NE.

A 20-year veteran of the scene, Rayne has been involved in performing and creating magic and entertainment for some time, rubbing shoulders with pros from around the world such as David Copperfield and Jerry Andrus.

Having performed in a variety of venues, from humble parties to college campuses to sold out Las Vegas stadiums performing in shows such as Spellbound, Rayne brings clever tricks with an affable personality and interactive show. 

Born in Vancouver Wash., Rayne moved around during the first few years of his life, first to the Bay area in San Francisco then finally to Indiana, due to his father’s engineering job. 

Growing up in Indiana, Rayne noted few opportunities to meet professional magicians outside of a tv screen. Because of this, he noted how much of his start in the profession was self-guided, at least until his father took him to his very first meeting of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, a world-wide organization that brings together magic performers and lovers to highlight the profession and encourage up and coming artists. 

Rayne described how seeing professionals in their element gave him a clearer idea of what he wanted to do in magic and how he would get there. 

“I did get to see a couple of magician lectures that were some of the top closeup guys in the world at the time which was pretty eye-opening to see,” Rayne said. 

Rayne took a stronger interest in magic in his junior year of high school, learning as much as he could through reading and practicing. 

His junior year in high school also brought him and his family back to Vancouver where he took his passion for magic and entertainment to the people, performing in birthday parties and variety shows.

Once Rayne reached college, he attended Willamette University, where he began to expand more complex tricks and how he performed them. 

During a summer break from school, Rayne visited Los Angeles looking for his big break and finding an entry position working at the magic shop inside Knotts Berry Farm, a theme park located in Buena Park, Cali. 

He described how he would set up impromptu shows using the various magic tricks the shop held, drawing in more and more customers. 

After one particularly successful show, managers of the park saw how adept he was at pulling in customers and decided to give him his very own show multiple times each week.

In college was also where Rayne met AV wizard John Strauch, a media giant by his own right and future partner for Rayne as he continues to tour and perform around the world.

The two met in 2000 when Strauch was working at the university, producing a tv show. During a meeting trying to come up with what to air that week, someone told  him  about  this  freshman magician who wanted to perform an underwater escape.

Rayne (shown far right) with his crew as they lower the coffin he escapes from during a trick into the water.

Intrigued, Strauch filmed the event noticing multiple news stations doing the same. That night, he recorded all of the footage, putting it onto several VHS tapes. One recording for the program and the others for Rayne and his parents.

“I said, one of them is for you, but the other one’s for your mom, And two weeks later, my phone rings at work and [Rayne] goes “Hi, we need to talk,” Strauch said. “And we’ve never stopped talking,” Strauch finished.

After school, Rayne went back to LA performing in whatever private shows he could be a part of. Soon enough, his big break came in the form of the show Spellbound, a Vegas-produced magic show.

Rayne was brought on and, after a tour of the show and facility, went home that night and wrote an entire magic show, which he went on to call Essence.

Part illusionist, escape artist and magician, Rayne brings a variety of acts and skills to the shows he performs, but the thing he focuses on the most is the entertainment factor of the show.

A veteran of the drama class, Rayen described the entertainment  aspect,  making  a  show that, magic aside, is actually fun to watch, is one of the most crucial pieces that goes into the profession.

“One of the base pieces of advice that I offer to other magicians is that we need to study theater. It’s not just about learning tricks and fooling people,” Rayne said.

Rayne discussed how his natural inclination as a performer greatly aided him in his career as you need to be lively, magnetic and approachable in order to leave a lasting impression on show attendees. 

Something he has done in shows to leave that impression is to involve them in the tricks such as with his card routines or even when he guesses about attendees personal details. 

Rayne noted that he never has a “plant” in the audience and that his interactions are all genuine.

He went on, stating that being able to involve show attendees adds another layer of wonder and excitement to the show and allows him to interact with them as he performs. 

“It’s about experiencing it together,” Rayne finished. 

Making a show happen requires a great deal of time, preparation and dedication. 

Strauch, who often takes the lead on helping build tricks and set them up, provided a detailed account of everything that goes into the show from planning the tricks, building the set and even what it takes to set a practice up. 

Strauch discussed one escape trick where Rayne escapes from a chained up coffin, underwater, within the timeframe of a single breath, and how practice and preparation has gone on for years from practicing breathing to the actual construction of the coffin, which Rayne noted Strauch built himself. 

Videotaping his tricks has become a staple and in many cases helps Rayne perfect his tricks as watching the tricks, such as a sleight of hand trick, on a screen helped him learn how he could improve it. 

What some might call a purist, Rayne noted that when it comes to tricks, creating something from nothing gives him the most pleasure when performing. 

While he admits that, like any industry, those who perform today stand on the shoulders of giants, artists should still strive to innovate. 

“You’ve got to use the magic we’ve been building upon and then figure out how to make it your own,” Rayne said. 

For Rayne, magic and its performance is like a story and as such, requires many of the same building blocks. 

“Create a story, a script, a concept. Create a vision of an illusion that your audience would like and then look at the concepts that you can apply and how to do so,” Rayne stated. 

The most critical advice Rayne provided about performing is to always make sure that any trick you do can be done in several other ways. 

This not only allows the performer to understand a trick completely but doubles as a way to ensure that no single show is done the same way and repeat attendees always see something new. 

Tickets for the show are available online at

General Admission is $25 and doors open at 7 p.m.

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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