A prodigy, a whiz kid, and one of the hardest working men in magic. Jonathan Bayme's passion for magic was ignited at age six after watching a performance by David Copperfield in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.
By 13, he began headlining theatrical performances in the southeast USA to sold out audiences. Bayme finished high school two years early and began producing projects for some of the most respected names in magic. In August of 2007, he founded theory11.com alongside eleven of magic's most influential artists.
The site accelerated to the forefront of the magic community, creating an educational environment that reaches up to 250,000 members around the world each month. theory11 has energized and inspired a new generation of magic enthusiasts, from Marines in uniform to students who use magic as a means to build confidence, self-esteem, and a reputation among peers.
At its core, theory11 allows anyone to learn magic as a social skill that has proven transformative for people young and old, with active members in 164 countries. Now 27, Bayme serves as CEO of theory11, strategist for The United States Playing Card Company, and a writer and consultant to legendary illusionist David Copperfield.
Q&A with Jonathan Bayme
What got you into magic?
The first magic I was ever exposed to was David Copperfield; the early nineties on his Dreams and Nightmares tour. I was six or seven. I was blown away. I couldn't shake the feeling; I was hooked on that feeling I got when I left that theater - I wanted more. I started learning as much as possible. I started reading anything I could get my hands on. Thirteen years later, I still live for that feeling, and the primary objective of theory11 is to spread that feeling to others - and allow others to share in it.
What is theory11?
theory11 is, above all else, an alliance. theory11 started as a group of eleven of magic's most innovative performers, creators, and innovators, all united in one place, for one purpose. The goal of this site is to push the envelope within the magic industry. To take things up to the next level. What I find most revolutionary about theory11 is the spectrum of creators we work with. Guys that span the spectrum all the way from Jason England to Chris Kenner to Daniel Garcia to Andrei Jikh, all in one place.
Each member brings their own ideas and perspective to the group; each artist is a different element that, when you add them all together, composes theory11. Everyone has their own styles and areas of expertise, but that's the beauty of it. We work together for one primary objective - to focus on quality, not quantity.
You've worked with some of the top names in magic. Tell us some dirty secrets.
Wayne Houchin likes weird breakfast food that smells like a mix of butter biscuits and dog vomit. Chris Kenner's car CD player has more hardcore rap CD's in it than 50 Cent's iPod. Daniel Garcia likes bad movies like Open Water. Lee Asher accidentally ordered $400 Foie Gras at a restaurant in Vegas last month. Aaron Fisher jokingly discussed originally naming PANIC the "Fishee Squishee." Waking Dana Hocking up before 11am, even with the offer of riding Dune Buggies in the desert, is a sure way to see the fury of Satan. Dan White is seriously like 16 feet tall. Is that enough secrets? By the way, almost all of these were true.
What do you see as wrong with the industry today?
The magic industry is historically extremely segmented. I think we need to work together. That's what theory11 represents. Magic is a niche art form, and as such, to take it to the next level, to keep magic evolving for the better, we need to focus on working together across all levels to keep magic on the cutting edge, topical, unique, and current. This is not to say that magic should be a commercial artform - there's a way to be everywhere and nowhere at once.
I think that as an industry, if we continue to push hard for evolution, magic will continue to strengthen as it has done in recent years. theory11 exists to champion that cause; to keep a focus on quality, to keep the community in mind, and to work together. And, above all else, we have to respect all of those that respect the art, and have fun with it.
Who are your greatest influences within the magic community?
I've very fortunate to be able to work with people that I admire, respect, and have a great time with. Our senior crew members are individuals at the top of their game - people I look up to and am fortunate to be able to work alongside each and every day. Our focus is on pumping out great products and having a great time doing it. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we take our work very seriously.
Chris Kenner has been a friend and confidant for as far back as I can remember. The first time I met Chris was after a Copperfield show in Charleston, SC when was 13. One of the greatest ingredients within theory11 is the team; we've all known eachother for years and years; we know what eachother is thinking without asking; and we have a damn good time.