Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:
"EACH MAGIC I see, I know the trick in it at that time," Lawayne Turner told The Gleaner in a recent interview at his home in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
He was talking about the time when he was about eight years old that he saw a magician doing some tricks at Coney Park, then located along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine. He told his father - a popular comedian named Sammy Question - who had taken him there, that he could do the tricks too. His father scoffed at him, but the younger Turner insisted.
When the precocious Lawayne reached home, to his father's amazement, he poured water into a glass and turned the glass upside down without spilling the water.
Eventually, the senior Turner became friends with the magician, who taught him some of the tricks. Sammy Question himself was now dabbling in magic, adding to his comedic skills. At the time, neither father nor son had any inkling that magic would be a major source of income for Lawayne, who wanted to become a pilot.
When Lawayne was in grade five, he went to live in Clarendon, where, in primary school, he was once beaten by a female teacher for not doing his homework. The thrashing wasn't the end of the story though. He wanted revenge.
"After she laid the egg, no teacher in the school want to teach me. Dem say mi a obeahman," he recalled.
There was pandemonium as the teacher fled from Lawayne's deriding classmates. The teacher insisted that Lawayne could not remain in her class. His father had to intervene making it clear that the egg that appeared to come from the teacher's mouth was a result of a sleight of hand, and not obeah. It turned out that the teacher was Lawayne's cousin.
Suddenly, Lawayne became famous.
"If a walk to the pipe, girls, boys walked behind me. It was like an army," he said.
They believed Lawayne could do anything. But he was also still feared. School vendors and canteen workers, he said, refused to take money from him, but gave him what he wanted, anyway.
He was now known as "di likkle obeahman from Kingston", which he didn't like. He preferred to be called a magician. He said girls were naturally attracted to him because of his looks, and being a magician helped, but there were those who were definitely scared and would have nothing to do with him.
The transition to high school, Ebony Grove Comprehensive, in Clarendon, was smooth, but his fame had preceded him, and performing magic at a school fête was to concretise his 'celebrity' status. For he was also a champion athlete and footballer, and participated in speech and drama festivals.
And up to that point, he didn't dream of prestidigitation as a career. Doing tricks was just for fun, he said. His father would control whatever money he would earn. Yet, he would get enough to go to school. He felt rich whenever he received a $100 note from his father. But high school was interrupted because of family matters, and so he went back to St Catherine with his father. And then life was no longer an illusion. It was real. The magic had gone.
MAGIC PAYING BILLS
Yet, it was magic that he turned to to help him face the realities of life. After nothing seemed to work jobwise and under pressure from his father to contribute to the household, he said, "I can do magic. So mi just go tek up magic." It was now time for him to work magic to pay the bills and to feed himself - serious business.
Since then, there have been ups and downs. He was known as the youngest magician in the island, won a magicians' contest in Canada, toured the Caribbean and England, and was once known as 'Turner the Magical Clown'.
"I like clowning more than magic, but people like to see magic more than clowning," he said.
He has delved into other ventures, some successful, some not, but fundamental to his welfare is providing fun and laughter, especially to children. "I'm a kiddies' person. Once the kids are happy, Turner is happy," the youthful-looking father of three declared.
Lawayne Turner manages his own company called Fun and Laughter Entertainment, specialising in birthday parties. He can provide magical and comedic acts, comedic dancers, a clown, face painting, balloon art, unicycling, bounce-about, Ferris wheel, go-kart, and more.
"The only reason I do magic now, it's just fun. I like making people happy. It's a job for now," he said.