Biographies of our Monday Night Magic Performers


An acclaimed master of the challenging art of sleight of hand, Jamy Ian Swiss has performed magic throughout the United States for presenters ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the Smithsonian Institution. He has lectured to magicians in 13 countries and made numerous television appearances in the United States, Europe and Japan, including U.S. appearances on CBS “48 Hours,” PBS “Nova” and the PBS documentary “The Art of Magic,” Comedy Central, and repeat appearances on “The Today Show.”

A gifted sleight-of-hand artist who possesses, as the “Washington Post” once wrote, "a finely tuned sense of the absurd," Swiss was born in Brooklyn, New York and today makes his home in nearby Manhattan, having appeared along the way in performances from Hollywood's Magic Castle to Caesar's Palace on the Las Vegas Strip to the Ginza District of downtown Tokyo. His wildly eclectic resume includes stints as a marketing consultant, telecommunications firm owner, and wild animal handler. His greatest passion, though, is sleight-of-hand magic, and there are few practitioners who can match his skill and enthusiasm. With a bravado that reflects his early days performing in biker bars, Swiss blends contemporary comedy with bravura technical mastery to create a truly unique show that appeals to almost any audience. He has been called magician, comedian, artist; Swiss himself prefers the phrase "Honest Liar"—the title, in fact, of his one-man show in the New York International Fringe Festival. 

"One of my great satisfactions in being a magician is that it is the most honest living I have ever made," says Swiss. "As Karl Germain, a world-famous conjurer at the turn of the century, said, 'The magician is the most honest of all professionals. He first promises to deceive you, and then he does.'"

Above all else, Swiss is an entertainer, as this glowing review from the kings of irreverent magic, Penn & Teller, makes quite clear: "Jamy Ian Swiss makes one understand what a terrifying art form pure sleight of hand can be. He is James Bond with a deck of cards for a pistol."

Swiss offers a sophisticated catalog of performance for corporate and private audiences,  with special emphasis today on his platform and stage show of mentalism and mind-reading, “Heavy Mental.”  He also in demand as a public speaker, presenting motivational talks, keynote addresses, and hosting corporate meetings, under the rubric of “Magical Metaphors.”  And he continues to perform his first love of sleight-of-hand close-up magic; his formal program, “Close-up In Concert,” ran for six months at New York’s famed Rainbow Room, and has been presented at numerous other public and private venues since that time. 

Swiss was a featured performer on the PBS documentary, “The Art of Magic,” and he is co-author of the companion book of the same title. He served as a comedy writer and chief magic consultant for Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular, a weekly television variety show on the FX network, for which he also co-produced the Penn & Teller segments. He created, produced and performed in the documentary special, "Cracking the Con Games," for the Discovery Channel. Currently engaged in developing, producing and writing additional projects for television, he recently served as Head Writer and Associate Producer of the new high-tech series, "The Virtual Magician" starring Marco Tempest, as well as for a recent Tempest magic special for Japan’s NHK television. 

A busy and accomplished writer, Swiss is the author of “Shattering Illusions,” a collection of essays that was given a full-page rave review in “The Los Angeles Times.”  Swiss is the author of 11 other books and monographs of magic for magicians (including a volume published in Japanese) and writes a column of commentary and magic theory for the quarterly magic journal, “Antinomy.”  He has contributed a regular book review column to Genii, the Conjuror's Magazine since 1994; he has also written non-fiction book reviews for the “New York Post” and “Kirkus Reviews.”  Swiss was a contributor and advisor to the book, Magic for Dummies; and co-authored a chapter entitled "Explaining Magic" in the book, Visual Explanations, by the renowned information design authority, Edward Tufte. He was a creative consultant on Penn & Teller's book, How To Play With Your Food, and has been magic consultant to “Rolling Stone” magazine and on feature films, including The Fantasticks

A founder of the National Capital Area Skeptics and contributor to Skeptic magazine, Swiss lectures to scientific, academic and university audiences about deception and the paranormal on "The Illusion of Psychic Powers." He is an annual presenter at James Randi’s The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas; he also performs and lectures for the Center For Inquiry, and was the subject of an interview on their weekly podcast, Point of Inquiry.  Why, you might wonder, is a professional deceiver concerned about the misuses of deception? "I want to highlight the line between illusion and reality," Swiss explains. "The fantasy world I create as a magician is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."