Brooklyn magician Uncle Majic makes coins disappear, performs tricks for celebs and kids' parties
BY SARAH ARMAGHAN , KATIE NELSON
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 4:00 AM
Uncle Majic the Hip-Hop Magician airs late-night commercials on BET, VH1, MTV and WPIX-TV.
Two dozen rug rats sat mesmerized in a semicircle around Uncle Majic the Hip-Hop Magician.
While a Snoop Dogg beat boomed on a recent Saturday night, Uncle Majic made a white dove appear with several shakes of a long silk scarf.
"Whoa!" the kids exclaimed.
Wearing white shades, a faux-hawk hairdo and white Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, Uncle Majic helped the children celebrate Jayden Jenkins' ninth birthday at The Rib Bar & Grill in Melrose, the Bronx.
The Brooklyn native made small silver balls and handfuls of salt disappear and reappear.
Later, he balanced a can of Coca-Cola in midair. Each new trick elicited delight.
"He's just very fun," said Johnnette Gibson, 40, who lives in Far Rockaway, Queens. "This is my third time seeing him, and every time he's a blast. ...My son loves him."
Her wide-eyed boy, Nate, 5, eagerly agreed: "I really liked the salt trick. Wow! I wanna be a magician like that!"
Perhaps Uncle Majic's greatest trick is how he turned his act into a bankable business - which he spends $25,000 a month promoting with commercials on VH1, BET, MTV and WPIX-TV from midnight to 2 a.m.
"This is called show business," said the magician, whose real name is Nakia Rattray. "What that really means, is: Show. Your. Business. I advertise to potentially 12 million households every time that commercial plays."
Rattray claims he commands $500 to $35,000 per appearance and has performed for rap moguls and sports stars. He also manages other clowns who bill at $250 an hour.
"When I was growing up in my neighborhood, you either had a wicked jump shot and you could play basketball real good, or the local rapper - he had the money and the jury," he said. "Now I make quadruple what they make."
His fondness for birthday parties started on his second birthday - and he can prove it with curling snapshots and grainy video of him that day surrounded by an uncle, a grandfather and his beloved mother.
Uncle Majic wows kids and celebrities alike with his magic tricks. (James Keivom/News)
"I'm eating cake. I'm crying. I cried for half the party. I never liked the presents. In the video, I just like ripping the wrapper, ripping open packages," he said.
He keeps those memories in a safe - with his will.
"Now I see phony love because I have money," Rattray, 34, said. "People giving me love based on what I can do for them. But when I see those pictures, I see genuine love. "
Rattray said he started out as a "bad kid" from East New York.
He first learned sleight of hand from a special-education teacher at Gershwin Junior High School who was trying to keep him from misbehaving. The educator made a coin disappear, mesmerizing a then-12-year-old Rattray.
"I was so amazed because I never saw someone do magic right in my face," he recalled.
He learned tricks from the teacher, then from books. A couple of years later, he started working the kiddie-birthday circuit. His first big break: a birthday party hosted by a clothing designer and attended by rapper LL Cool J.
Now, as either "Uncle Majic" or "Shock-kim the Clown," Rattray has performed for Knicks guard Alan Houston, TV host Wendy Williams and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
He hopes to make it big by landing his own TV show.
"It's all about putting smiles on kids' faces," Rattray said.