Texas native Diamond Jim Tyler travels worldwide and has performed before celebrities, court justices and corporate executives.
The star-studded list includes Tyler performing before Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The man with the diamond touch was also hired to work Katy Perry’s private birthday party and has worked his personal magic on Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen, Colin Farrell, Aaron Paul, Buzz Aldrin and countless others. Billionaire and regular Joe; young and old — all enjoy Tyler’s storytelling and up-close magic.
As a baby, his grandmother gave him a deck of cards whenever she saw him because he loved to play with them so much. His parents told him that by the age of two he knew every card in the deck. When he was five years old, his parents purchased his first magic book from Disney World. That book taught him 113 tricks with an ordinary deck of cards. By the time he was seven, he could do all the tricks in the book. Little did he know then that it would be the foundation of his future career.
Where did your nickname come from?
I learned early in my career that people had a hard time remembering people’s names. My stepdad would exclaim ‘Okay Diamond Jim!’ every time I showed him a trick. Diamond is also my birthstone. Sticking Diamond in front of my name has served me well. People smile when they say it. and it conjures up images of a con man or a card shark. Now, when you Google Diamond Jim, I’m one of the first things that pops up. It’s helped a lot with name branding when competing against other magicians and helps bring attention to my many products like my instructional books, special dice, trick cards, and more.
You’ve worked for many noteworthy clients — including at the home of Jerry Jones, where you made one of his Super Bowl rings vanish and reappear on your finger. Any other favorite high-roller stories?
The Texas Crow family (billionaire investors) uses my services often and I’ve been to their estate more times than I can count. Twice they’ve had me entertain Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in their home. I turned him into a huge fan of magic after he saw me the first time. Afterwards he sent me a nice letter from the Supreme Court. The second time I entertained him in Dallas at the Crow mansion I asked Justice Thomas to sign the back of a little yellow business card for me. It was my Get Out of Jail Free card from the game of Monopoly. When he saw that he laughed hysterically.
For a magician, the pinnacle of success is performing at the Magic Castle in Hollywood — and you’ve performed hundreds of shows there and has lectured there three times. But tell us about some of your first performance gigs.
I was 16 and very green. I only knew the patter that came with the tricks. Soon though my audience would say funny things and I would adapt their jokes into my routines and make them my own. By listening to my audience, I began developing my own tricks too. They would ask, “Can you do this?” and I’d think about a way to do the things they asked. Sometimes it took a day, sometimes it took 10 years to figure out ways to do what they asked.
How has it been for you, being based in Texas?
Most of my clients are corporate. There’s so much industry here. I’ve spent the last 35 years spreading my brand name and cheer across the Lone Star State. My first trophy was from the Texas Association of Magicians. When I won for Best Close-Up Magic in 1999 there were over 1,000 people in attendance. Since I travel the world now performing and lecturing, I love that Texas has two major airports. I’m 25 minutes from either of them. Being centrally located in Texas it takes me only 3.5 hours at the most to fly about anywhere in the US. However, Texas provides me with so much work that it’s rare that I leave the state the last quarter of the year. To put it into perspective I did 68 in-person shows between October 1 and December 31.
Do you see your career as a job or a calling?
This has been an amazing career. I get to be a part of some of the best moments in other people’s lives and a part of that memory. I also get paid well for what I do which affords me lots of spare time to be creative. It’s not easy though. It takes lots of discipline — akin to working out regularly. Many are drawn to the art of magic but very few are chosen to stay in it. It’s a calling really. You have to be born with the drive and creativity. You must also be a people person who thrives to make others laugh or give them the sense of wonder.
What makes a great magician?
I’ve found the best magicians are those who are naturally empathetic and start off as introverts to learn the difficult maneuvers but then metamorphose into an extrovert to become an entertainer.
Catch Jim Tyler at a theater show in Addison, TX Feb 25. Tickets $40. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(Adults/teens only, please.)
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.