By Taylor Rexrode
As students walked along Fountain Mall on Diadeloso, several stopped to see a man sitting on what appeared to be an invisible chair, suspended for 30 minutes in a restful pose with one leg crossed over the other.
Several students were confounded as they swiped their hands beneath the seated man, finding that there was no invisible chair or wires supporting the man’s weight.
Midland sophomore Jordan Causey said the “physics doesn’t make sense.”
The seated man was Max Major, a magician and hypnotist from Washington D.C. who returned to Baylor for his second Diadeloso performance.
“Performing at Baylor is amazing,” Major said. “This is one of my favorite events each year. When it ended last year, I couldn’t wait for it to be back. It’s just the energy of the whole place and the stage and the size of the crowd. It’s a really fun chance to connect with students.”
Major said his love of magic and performance began at a young age. His first paying gig which he calls his “big break” happened at 14 when a neighbor hired him to perform at a birthday party. From there, he continued performing through high school and college, working his way from private parties to corporate events.
He said much of his success came from his parents supporting his passion and from the business knowledge and life experience he gained from his years at the University of Maryland.
“College is an environment where you can try something and get your feet wet before you dive in the real world,” Major said.
He also said that there is no “magic formula” to making it in the show business other than perseverance. On top of doing magic shows during college, Major also said he did other night jobs like bartending to help pay the bills.
Then in 2006, a year after he graduated, he decided to take a leap of faith and perform magic for a living. He said that anyone should approach his or her passion with the same amount of risk.
“You need to force your own hand,” Major said. “The beautiful thing is that the worst thing that could happen is you have to get a normal job. There really isn’t any risk. The risky thing to me is never knowing what might have happened if you tried.”
Major’s risk paid off. Within two months, he said he had been more successful than he had in the previous two years.
Major said part of his passion for magic comes from his fascination with people, body language and psychology.
“I’m really interested in suggestion and hypnosis because that is the ultimate form, as a magician, of experimentation,” Major said. “I’m on the quest to really understand how these things work and what makes people tick.”
He said that his shows tend to involve pulling members from the audience to demonstrate hypnosis. He said unlike popular belief, the people best suited for hypnosis are those who are not gullible but are actually “hyper-focused.”
“It’s about conviction, about totally believing in an idea,” Major said. “If you think that you’re a ballerina, you actually believe it. That conviction, not being gullible.”
With shows that involve audience members and experimentation, Major said he can often run into problems.
“In what I do, failure is an option,” Major said. “But you roll with it. What you have in your favor is that the audience doesn’t know where the show is going.”
More than anything, Major said performing for others is what makes his job rewarding.
“It’s a win-win,” Major said. “They get to see something interesting, but I get this really human experience where they are in the moment and just enjoying the show.”