There’s a bit of magic that resides in Lincolnton. It comes in the hands of Jason “Doc” Docherty.
“My parents went on vacation in Puerto Rico when I was eight or nine and brought me home a magic set,” he said. “Any little boy that age would be fascinated with a magic set. There was also a television show that came on in the mornings called “Mr. Wizard” that I loved to watch.”
It all started there.
When he was a little older, a friend gave him a copy of “The Amateur Magician’s Handbook,” by Henry Hay which taught him more advanced sleight of hand tricks and opened a whole new world for him.
“I visited the magic store in Charlotte and ordered things mail order and waited for UPS to deliver,” he said. “I just did it as a hobby but really wanted to perform. I started to do birthday parties locally for kids, mostly for friends and family. I remember selling tickets in the neighborhood and the only ones who came were Mom, Dad and Sister.”
After graduating from Lincolnton High School, Docherty was encouraged to try out for Carowinds. In early 1994, his father drove him down to Charlotte and he tried out.
“I did every single trick I knew,” he said. “I had a whole briefcase full of magic. My mom called me that Monday while I was in class and told me that Carowinds wanted to talk to me. They offered me a job to do two stand up and four walk around shows per day.”
I moved to Charlotte that summer and it opened up a whole new world for me. That December, my dad, who’s from Pittsburgh, discovered that one of his brothers went to school with Paul Gertner, who’s a very famous magician. I bought his book, “Steel & Silver,” which was a professional magic book. It made me go down the rabbit hole even further.
“Paul then invited me up to Pittsburgh so at 18 I got into my Civic by myself and drove all the way from here to Pittsburgh,” he said. “Another uncle surprised me when I got there and paid for my room. The next day Paul picked me up and took me out to eat for lunch. Then we went back to his house, and he performed his tricks from the book. It floored me.”
Docherty drove nonstop back to Charlotte to the magic shop to buy the coins he needed to do the tricks he saw Gertner do.
“Magic is probably one of the most written about subjects which most people don’t know about because they’re for magicians,” he said. “They’re very small print runs. It opens up your world and you meet people from all over the world.”
For the past decade, Docherty held a regular job and did magic on the side. He had a long term goal, however – to perform at the Magic Castle in Hollywood which is considered the capital of close-up magic since the 1960s.
Close-up magic is just that – the magician performs sleight of hand tricks right under the audience’s noses. They are much more intimate shows.
In 2017 or 2018, Docherty decided it was time to focus on this goal. He kept sending tapes and talking to the booker.
“I got a call in January of 2020 asking me to come in March,” he said. “I was booked for March 2 through the 8th. I did a whole week of magic in the close-up room. It’s only been 15 months ago, but it seems like forever now.”
The thought of COVID was just starting at that time, Docherty added. Masks were just here and there, and he was still shaking hands after each performance. The room that he was in was small and held 30 people.
“The way that the Magic Castle works is that there’s two people in the close-up room, an early performer and a late one,” he said. “The same in the parlor and the palace. The shows run from Monday through Sunday. On that Wednesday, word came that somebody at LAX was reported to have COVID and all the flags went up. I had another engagement in Vegas where I was to give a lecture, which still happened on March 11. I flew home on the 12th and then everything stopped on the 13th. I was the last full week of live performances at the Magic Castle.”
Magic is now Docherty’s full-time job. While he was off during the pandemic, he designed a show that has a hidden secret, but it’s about the spectacle and it’s a grand performance. This is the most involved show that Docherty has designed, and it’s aptly called, “The Spectacle.”
“It’s not a typical magic show, there’ll be a lot of amazing things happening,” he said. “It’s about the amazing beauty of life, being human and connected. A friend of mine once told me that you need to dream out loud because you never know when faith’s listening. My goal one day is to own a magic theater.”
Docherty will be performing The Spectacle at BrickTree Brewing Co. on June 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person. Tickets are available online at https://spectacleshow.wellattended.com. BrickTree Brewing Co. is located at 414 E Water Street in Lincolnton.