I was introduced to Lucas Simmons through his manager David j. Bailey in may when he performed the first of a series of charity events for elephant talk. I’ve known David for a few years at least up to that point and have always enjoyed hearing his opinion on music and art. I Didn’t really know much at that time about being a mentalist and what it entailed performance wise but I trusted that David had something very special planned because of his exuberant behavior on the phone. He seemed very happy to get Lucas in front of a new audience, and I was curious as to what he had up his sleeve.
My first impression of Lucas was that he looked more like a rock star than a mentalist. But then again I’ve never actually seen a mentalist before so maybe this is what they all looked like. He was sort of quiet and mysterious at first and to be honest with you, kinda creeped me out when he got too close because I felt as though he would read my thoughts and any doubts I had at that time. at the same time I couldn’t help but be intrigued. This was the calm before the storm
His 1st of 3 performances that day was in the early afternoon and the image was a little disturbing to say the least Lucas was being led into the boneyard by his manager and an assistant wearing a pillow case over his head and handcuffed.
Little did i know at that moment that Lucas simmons was about to win over the first of many audiences in Atlantic city and become a staple in the Atlantic city music scene. In the next few months he would make everyone (including me) a believer while skating that very thin line of insanity and pure genius.
But who is Lucas Simmons?
(below we try to explain in a recent q&a session)
Et-how did you get started on your path to becoming a mentalist ?
Lucas-I read a book, it really is that mundane. But this book isn’t a normal book that people would go to their library and read, or find in Barnes and Noble. Its like a bible for people like me, telling us how to operate and what to do.
Et-at what age did you know you had something special and this was something you’d like to pursue in life ?
Lucas-I don’t have “something special” like a lot of people think I do, but I do believe that it is my purpose in life to be creative, and I figured this out when I was about sixteen years old and started to really become more interested in experimental art.
Et- what are some of your greatest memories?
Lucas-My greatest memories are always of the backstage events. The wild and crazy stuff that the crew and I always get into. Everything from vomiting in rental cars, getting served spit sandwiches (we deserved it) at arbys, meeting prositutes, and just sharing in a crazy culture together. Dave, my manager and closest friend, and I have a lot of stories, and we love to tell them all.
If you’ve seen Lucas Simmons perform live, chances are you’ve seen his right hand man dave j. Bailey lurking in the background soaking in the environment around him, beaming with pride yet giving no clues as to what Lucas has planned for the evening.
David recalls his first meeting with Lucas up until this present moment in detail,
“My association with Lucas Simmons began in the summer of 2011, I had taken a position as a graphic artist for a friend who owned a Magic/Novelty business in a Casino in Atlantic City. Lucas Simmons was a fellow employee, a performing magician who was serious about making a name for himself. The Owner of the business for which we worked ended up unable to retain my services as an artist, making it clear that his financial standing were unstable at best. In my desire to help and retain employment, I devised a simple plan that would take his existing staff and inventory and create products and press resident performers in the two cities in which he had locations. It would have taken little to no start up capital and would have kept everyone working. My plan was turned down and through a series of bad decisions, that guy eventually lost his business. By then, Lucas Simmons and I had gotten to know each other, and seeing the potential in my plan, and I seeing the potential in Lucas’ creative approach to performing magic, and dedication to his craft; we decided to team up. Since our start less than a year ago, we have successfully turned The Madness of Mentalist Lucas Simmons into a local celebrity, a successful brand known from Atlantic City and Philadelphia”
Et-what are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself going national anytime soon with your touring..etc?
“Stay tuned, because there’s more on the horizon. We’re just getting started! I signed on in a marketing/ graphics position that evolved into a management position, id like to see us expand nationally, Lucas already has a following in Germany and India… we are in talks of doing a touring show, the details of which have not been solidified, but alot is coming together for the show and we’re excited about what the future could bring…correction: WILL BRING.”
NOW BaCK TO LUCAS SIMMONS…
Et-do you remember your first time performing in front of an audience?
Lucas-Don’t remember, its been a long time since I was nine years old, sorry.
Et-how much preparation goes into your performance before each show?
Lucas-Every time I take the stage for 45 minutes, you can assume there was at least three hours of preparation work leading up to it. I don’t use special apparatuses or tools, but I double and triple check that every envelope I handle is identical, every pack of playing cards is in perfect order, every paper bag is folded the same way, in order to try and avoid people saying “it was just a trick.” If I’m walking onstage and something is to be written down, you can safely assume I have at least 12 markers in each color, each that has been tested to insure all of them would write.
Et-if you weren’t a mentalist, what would you be doing instead?
Lucas-God what an awkward question. If I weren’t a mentalist? Well being a mentalist is something of a defining part of my life, but I’d like to think that my other creative outlets like painting and music would have taken a larger role in my life. I love art and I love creating it.
#7 It is training, but its not a training that is learned in spare time or from a mail order course like people seem to think. Its a complete dedciation to the art.
Et-what do you need to have in order to become a successful mentalist ?
Lucas-Complete dedication. No way around it, It has to be what you do, and you cannot get distracted from it.
et-are there any similarities to being a mentalist and being a magician ?
Lucas-While many magicians claim to perform mentalism, they are in reality performing things that look like mental magic. Many lack the technical foundations for the real stuff. They would be at a loss without a special apparatus or “gimmmick” as they call it.
Et-who are some of your biggest influences in your field, Any favorite mentalists?
Lucas-My favorite mentalists of all time are Theodore Annemann, Joseph Dunniger (who both were from the vaudeville era), Kreskin (Who I used to watch recorded tapes of growing up), and Derren Brown (a UK mentalist who is a huge star there, but unheard of here). That being said I’m friends with some of the greatest Magicians of my time who I have the pleasure of working with at South Street Magic in Philadelphia on a regular basis
Et-are there any ideas you’d like to try that you haven’t already for future performances?
Lucas-I have several ideas for things that I would like to try, but so far haven’t fully committed too. Some I have written for specific places, like television or fringe festivals, while others are more conceptual if you could follow my meaning. Its always been a dream of mine to perfect a theater in the round show like George Carlin did for his “Class Clown” Album. I think it would be a lot of fun for everyone to see how honest it all is.
Et-how many shows this year? Any standouts?
Lucas-In 2012…..Over 260. I was fortunate enough to work with some awesome theaters like South Street Magic and the Ocean City Rep along with touring.
Et-on a scale of 1-10 can you rank your skills at this moment as a mentalist?
Lucas-No comment, I don’t clap for myself
Et-is there still room for improvement and do you expect your abilities to grow stronger with age ?
Lucas-Every day I’m learning something new and creating something new, so I’d like to think as I get older (I’m only 22 now) I’ll develop more exciting material for everyone to enjoy
Et-also can you give us a brief description of your life, childhood &family encouragement or anything else that helped mold you into the person you are today?
Lucas-No comment on family or childhood. But I will say this, my influences are rather eclectic. I started reading HP Lovecraft at a young age, and so all horror is compared to his model, While onstage I try to be as bold and brave as George Carlin was to break the mold and be myself. I also want to do right by the punk culture. I’m a diyer and I strive to make the world a better place without the aid of big business. I’m also greatly influenced by films, such as Pulp Fiction, Deep Red, The Universal Monster Movies. Music also plays a huge part of what I do. I have 16,000 songs on my ipod (a refurbished custom purple classic bought from a very handy individual) but we’ll get into that in a minute
Et-and speaking of music, since this is primarily a music blog I’d like to know the impact music has had on your life 2) some of your biggest influences then and now 3) how it feels to be accepted in the Atlantic city music scene?
I LOVE MUSIC! I first heard “Punk” when I was 12 or 13, two friends of mine played some sex pistols, and I was hooked. A few hours later I had listened to CLASH, MISFITS, GERMS, and DEAD KENNEDYS! I was hooked like a smack addict. Then when I was 16 a band from Newark NJ’s album hit the nation, My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, and the song TEENAGERS had a profound impact on my life. Listening to it I felt like, hey, I have every right to feel this way, fuck these assholes. And I went into working on NJ’s Anti-Bullying Legislation, even speaking before the NJ Board on Human Relations (But thats a different day’s story). If you get in my car today, you’re likely to hear NOFX, STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO, FLOGGING MOLLY or some of my local favorites like LIVE NOT ON EVIL, and MIDNIGHT MOB. I’m happy to be involved in any minor way in the local music scene and getting to play events with bands like URETHRA FRANKLIN, THE CHOICES, POSITION 9, SURVIVING THE APOCALYPSE, MALCOLM TENT, and so many more talented bands is a real honor to me, and I’m honored to have been accepted by the scene.