Jon Wayes of Mishawaka is living his childhood dream. He started practicing magic when he was only 8 years old. Today, he travels all over the Midwest as a psychological illusionist – bringing magic and mentalism to audiences of all types.
His first paying gig was when he was 18.
“I just remember thinking, ‘Holy crap, someone’s paying me 150 bucks to do what I do in my room as an introvert,” Wayes said. “A year and a half later I had the opportunity to go to Vegas and learn from street magician David Blaine’s consultant.”
At that time, Wayes was a college student. He had started at IUSB studying computer science. But he hated math, and it didn’t take long for him to transfer to the theatre department. He fell in love with performing.
“Acting and theatre became my way of expressing myself,” he said. “I love performing and I love doing shows and I love doing what I want to do on stage but I don’t like being told what to do.”
That clashed with the structure of a college program, and he nearly got kicked out, he said. He convinced his professors to let him stay, but no sooner than he walked out of the meeting, he decided to drop out to pursue performance.
“I did the starving artist thing for the first few years,” he said. “By the time I was 26 or 27, I started figuring it out on my own and learning how to run an actual entertainment company.”
Now it’s his full time job – except he has the benefit of working part time hours. In the spring, he books a lot of proms and high school shows; summer is private parties; fall is back-to-school at college campuses and winter is full of corporate events. He’s even started consulting and mentoring younger performers on how to grow their business. And, when the opportunity arises, he does things like Oaklawn’s Got Talent.
He first heard about the show on the radio. That was back in 2021, when Oaklawn was getting ready for auditions for its inaugural show. He made the first round of cuts and was supposed to audition that November, but got sick and missed try-outs. He attended Oaklawn’s Got Talent last year and knew when he saw the show that he’d be back to try out again. Now that he’s made it to the final four, he’s got big plans for the night: magic, predictions and psychological illusion.
He loves that what he does demonstrates the power of the mind.
“We make the impossible possible,” he said. “Magic and mentalism entertain with the purpose of making you question what you think and believe. I’m going to do things that make you question what’s real and I’m going to frame it in the context of entertainment.”