Dana Fleming

Dana Fleming, Magician; Clintwood, Virginia 

“I have been a magician since I was five. I saw magic on television. Doug Henning did a special on television in 1975, and I was glued to it. I got a magic set for Christmas that year, and I’ve been a magician ever since. I’ve had actual “real” jobs along the way. I studied Engineering and Architecture and Graphic Design, I’ve worked with survey crews, both on the computer end of it, and in the field doing land surveys and stuff like that.” 

“I was born in Wise, Virginia. The main topics of interest (here) are football, fishing and hunting, and I have very little interest in any of those. So, fortunately, I’ve discovered this extended family of artists and entertainers. But growing up in the mountains was fun, and I enjoy it. I love hiking and camping and that sort of thing.”

“There are a handful of (other magicians) in Appalachia. We have a club that meets in Johnson City, Tennessee that I go to every month with a few people from around here. There are only a few actually making money professionally.” 

“The music is what makes Appalachian culture what it is, I think. I love the music, the sounds of the hills…that high lonesome sound, they say. I love to dance and sing. I could learn to play, but I prefer the dexterity involved with cards and coins. I could play the notes, but I don’t really have a feel for music. I’ve got a different calling.” 

“(The music) provides not only a history lesson, but it colors your attitude in your daily life.” 

“I’ve managed to raise two beautiful daughters, that’s a wonderful thing. One of them (just) graduated. I’m just happy to be able to make a living, and stay in this area. That's the real triumph. In today’s economy to be able to enjoy your life, and put your kids through school, keep a roof over their heads and do something you love, and stay here, is the biggest accomplishment I’ve made.”

“I’ve had a lot of really lean times, performing and living in the car, going from one street festival to the next. I spent a lot of my twenties doing that up and down the East Coast.” 

“(Magic) brings out the child in everybody. It’s hard to fool children, not because they don’t understand, it’s because their sense of reality isn’t so set in. A kid doesn’t really get excited when something floats because it doesn’t surprise them that something floats. They see that on TV all the time. But for an adult, it becomes much more of a shock. Performing for children and kids is a weird kind of thing. It’s two different types of magic almost. Adults are my favorite to perform for. Performing for adults, it’s like a window opens onto their reality, and their mind goes into free fall. It’s such a remarkable thing to watch happen to people. They just light up, and it’s so much fun. I really enjoy seeing that sense of wonder in their eyes.” 

“I work in restaurants regularly; there would be people who had seen the same routine seven, eight or ten times. Like the bartender always got to see the same material a lot, and he would start to get in on the joke, and realize where stuff was coming in at. It’s fun to watch people as they catch on, and they become in on the gag. Everybody wants to go, “Show my buddy that thing you showed us.” Then you’ve got to show it to someone else, and eventually, they’ve seen it four or five times and they’re starting to catch on, but they still love it because of the complexity of it or the artistry of it.” 

“My friend, Tom Mullica said you can fool some of the people some of the time, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s enough to show a profit. That’s just the way it is. It’s about the appreciation of the art. I don’t have to fool you, I have to entertain you first.” 

“(In twenty years) I’m hoping I’m still doing what I’m doing now; just enjoying my life and performing for people as much as I can, and making people happy. It’s so much fun.”