Sitting down, on stage, with mind reader Jaymes White

Jaymes is inspiring. A rocker at heart, he believes in doing what you love, no excuses; whatever your thing is, do it, persevere. Jaymes is a mind reader. I have seen him at work and he is brilliant, awe-inspiring. I am really excited to see his upcoming show, Paradox, to see him on stage doing what he does best. Check him out on Friday, October 23, at Shenkman Arts Centre. For Jaymes, the shows have always been about the audience. He wants you to feel like a kid again when you believed anything was possible. A trip to Neverland.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, are you originally from Ottawa?
Yes, I was born and raised in Ottawa. My mom is from India and my dad is from here so I am a pure mix.

You are a mind reader, what does that mean?
I am a professional mind reader or mentalist as some call it. I always call myself a mind reader. Mentalist is more associated with Sherlock Holmes, I do a lot of that kind of stuff, but I like mind reader because it is broader. It’s basically combining science, psychology, intense research on human behavior that you can read someone’s mind or at least predict what someone is going to do.

I try to get you to feel like a kid again, when you believed anything was possible. It’s the whole message of my shows.

When did you start doing this?
I was 6 years old when I started. At that age I knew that this is what I wanted to do if that makes any sense. It felt right.

How did you know? Where did that sense come from?
Originally I saw magic. I was at a big mall either in the States or Mall of Edmonton and there was a roller-coaster ride at the roof and there was a magic trick. My dad gave me a choice, I don’t know why he made me choose because he should have allowed me to do both, but he gave me the choice: roller coaster or get a magic trick. I ended up on a magic trick and that kind of sparked my way in that direction.

Do you remember what the trick was?
Oh it was something stupid…you have a rope, you cut the rope and it separates and then you put it back together. I probably never did it right or anything. Magic was never really my forte. I was just lucky that for whatever reason I was born being able to read people really quickly, study statistics, analysis, I am a good “studyier”.

Magic never felt right. I practiced when I was little and it just didn’t feel right and all of a sudden I discovered mind reading. There was a mind reader called Annemann who was really famous in the 1940s. He actually committed suicide before a stage show because he had stage fright but he brought mentalism to the mainstream. He was always an influence on my life. I just loved what he did.

How did you discover him?
I found his biography by accident and it just kind of clicked. It’s hard to describe how you get into something like this. For example, how do you become a magician? They don’t just let you into their circle do they. With mind reading there is nothing in Canada, we are not known for this. In the U.S. there are known people but Canada has never been big on magic or mind reading. We had Kreskin at one point which was pretty big but other than that we haven’t really had much. And so as young person, I had to figure out how do I get into mind reading. How do I do this? I just read books, I studied science.

I used to do this experiment that got me really good. I would get a friend and tell them to bring a picture of someone they know. They would show me this picture and I would write a whole paragraph on what I think this person did and then I would compare it and see how accurate it is. So now I am actually good at that but I practiced. When you see a show Cold Readings I just see someone and tell them their whole life based on how they dress, their demeanor, how they talk, how they act, what color shoes they are wearing, thing like that. Observation. People are 80% the same and I would say the 20% is what changes sometimes.

Mind reading just felt right. I never had a connection with magic. With mind reading I get the connection with the audience. I think why I succeed is because of this connection. It’s an emotional connection, it’s so personal, and it’s in your mind. It’s them and me working together to accomplish something. You will never get this feeling or a connection with anyone else.

I get the connection with the audience. I think why I succeed is because of this connection. It’s an emotional connection, it’s so personal…

Can you describe your journey from 6 year old kid to doing Paradox and other shows in front of 500 people?
A lot of luck [laughs]. I was a really stubborn person, stubborn child. That is all I wanted since I was a kid and I kept taking steps forward. I started with a little show than I forced myself to go perform on streets. I am naturally an introvert, I am naturally designed for stage work, I have always been good at my stage show because I can go into my character, do my show and go back to my introvert self. The stage character is an extension of me. You have to have a certain readiness when you go up in front of 500 people. You cannot just get pushed out and expect to do a great show. You gotta practice, you gotta work hard at what you want to do, and you have to be stubborn. If you are not, you will give up because it is such a tough field, a tough business. Entertainment is almost like a flavor of the week. It’s tough to survive and I think the reason why I survive is because I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I always push myself forward.

…the reason why I survive [entertainment business] is because I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

How do you stay your path when it’s so tough? 
I naturally have an addictive personality. It’s why I don’t drink because I would be hooked. It’s my personality, it is what it is, but it has allowed me to spend 8 hours a day on my art and that is why at this point, after 20 years, when you see me on TV it looks so simple. It doesn’t look like there is any effort to it but that is because of all the years of working on it starting from the bottom.

How do you manage your addictive personality?
I have a lot of things I control it with. I do fitness 6 times a week, intense cardio, and fitness is really important for me because I need to be in shape for my stage show. You are running around on stage and you are up there for two hours and you cannot look tired and that excited energy level is really high especially for an introvert. You have to remember because I am introvert getting to that energy level is much harder for me. I am also really heavy on guitar. I have played guitar all my life. I play blues and rock. That might be considered my true passion. I enjoy writing songs and playing but mind reading is what I am really good at.

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It’s the music that is in your soul.

Do you ever perform music?
No, it’s my personal serenity, it’s not about others. That’s the difference between mind reading and guitar. For mind reading I have to be in front of people I cannot just do it at a wall. You have to go out and test these theories, test the concepts to make sure they work while guitar you can just play by yourself…forever. It’s the music that is in your soul. It is not about satisfying any other people.

What do you get from doing your shows? What keeps you going?
It’s the audience reaction. The feeling you get when you have the whole audience believe in you, there is no better feeling, it’s the biggest high in my opinion. It is actually a high because your dopamine levels are going up so when you get that high it’s a legitimate drug high. When you have 500 people in the audience and you have blown them away, they cannot believe what they just saw; there is no better feeling than that.

What was your parents’ reaction to your interests?
My parents were always supportive. My family is very intelligent. My mom, dad, and two younger brothers are all engineers and there is me, the person who went to study psychopaths. I studied criminology, serial killers; I was interested why someone would commit a crime.

How does being in Ottawa, Canada for that matter, where there isn’t a tradition of mind readers, impact what you do?
There are two views to look at this. I don’t want to be mean, but Ottawa is not an arts city, it’s a government city, it’s hard to get people to events, it’s hard to sell shows. I sell my shows, I do well, but I can also tell you that there isn’t another Ottawa performer who has had as much success in Ottawa that I have because I am able to sell these shows for 300-400 people. I am not saying I will sell out every show but that is tough to do in Ottawa. The media doesn’t necessarily support us either. Most entertainers from Ottawa leave Ottawa because they don’t have a choice, they don’t get the support we need.

Why do you think there is a lack of support?
I feel it’s not mainstream enough. When you say he is mind reader they don’t know what that is so it’s harder to sell tickets but once they see my show they are my number one fan and that is a guarantee. If I want to succeed to the level that I want I need to leave Ottawa. I love living here but my career can’t be here. You cannot make a living here unless you are travelling. The amount of effort and energy I have to put into selling a show in Ottawa could be equivalent to two shows in Toronto.

Are you taking a personal financial risk putting on a show?
Paradox alone costs $7,000 so if I sell 100 tickets I am in trouble. The positive thing is because I am so unique once I get to be known it’s going to be easy. I basically had to be an entrepreneur, Jaymes White Entertainment, and I have a few business mentors in Ottawa.  Bruce Firestone has been a big fan and a big supporter and I am really appreciative of that, also there is Greg Weatherdon, Invest Ottawa, who helps me figure out how to sell tickets. We call it guerrilla style because we find any way to sell them.

Tell me about your shows?
I have two specific shows: Paradox and Art of Mind Reading. Paradox is essentially a theatrical mind reading show. It’s all about the audience. They come up on the stage and do the crazy stuff, it’s really unique. Art of Mind Reading is more of an oracle act. I am not going to say psychic because my view on psychics is that either everyone or no one is psychic. It’s basically a cold reading, looking at them and telling them about their life and that is the whole show based on that oracle act. Paradox took two years to write and I have done it 20 times. When you are in rehearsal you are going through the motions to get ready and every time I am thinking “this is boring audiences” that kind of attitude but then you do the show and it’s so the opposite they are so blown away. I always forget that when I am rehearsing.

Where do you want to get to with you craft?
I want to be able to go to any town or city in the world and do a show for a thousand people. That is kind of a dream. I don’t know if that will ever happen. Eventually I want to find the right people so I don’t have to worry about anything but the show.

Have you done a show outside of Canada?
Not yet. I got offered to do a show at the University of Southern Mississippi. They signed me on a contract but the problem is the visa, I can’t get the visa on time and it’s driving me crazy because my dream is to perform in the States; tat’s where I want to be one day, be on the college circuit for a bit. It sucks because I got my dream show; they are paying me lots of money but the damn visa, it’s bureaucratic.

What has been the key to your success?
Honestly, persistence. You cannot give up. If this is your dream and this what you want to do don’t make excuses, just do it.

What do you do when you are particularly discouraged?
It’s the show, when you have a particularly bad run and then you do a show, the reactions I get will outmatch every single aspect of the struggle. That feeling, that reaction, that high beats everything in my mind. A lot of times I have wanted to give up, but for whatever reason, something good and positive took me to the next level. When you are putting out a million things eventually one or two are going to click. It might not be now but maybe six months from now. You gotta keep pushing forward, you have to be stubborn, just do it and who cares about the consequences. Even if you fail you are ahead of the 90% of the people who haven’t even tried, at least you tried and that is really important in my opinion.

The show has never been about me, it has always been about the audience. Think about when you were a kid and you believed everything was possible, you believed you could accomplish anything. When you get older you loose that feeling, sometimes you get stuck in your job, it’s almost like a bad routine, where your dreams and ambition don’t exist any more and then you come to my show, and I try to get you to feel like a kid again, when you believed anything was possible. It’s the whole message of my shows.

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