I spent years performing on cruise ships around the South Pacific, Caribbean, Asia and Alaska. The happiest people I’ve ever met are from Vanuatu. Their outlook on life and family is inspirational and they are why I’ve developed my own philosophy of trying to have the “best day ever” every day. I travel back often.
Ever since I was a kid (growing up in Rosebery, Sydney) I wanted to travel the world, live in Los Angeles driving an old convertible (just like the movies) and be a magician. I feel very lucky to be able to do all that now. I love LA. I love that the greatest doughnut/taco is a walk from wherever you are and that you can hike into the mountains just two minutes from the bustle of Hollywood Boulevard. I also love diners. LA has great diners.
I worked in a hot springs town called Wakura doing magic in a hotel theatre. Here, I performed my first big illusion show, appearing out of boxes and making dancers in diamond headdresses vanish for rich businessmen and Yakuza – all of whom were much more interested in the alcohol and women than a magician.
I travelled across the country with my best mate on the proviso that every single decision on our adventure be decided by a game of chance. My mate lost the first game and wasn’t allowed to bring any bags on the trip (just a toothbrush in his pocket). In hindsight, not the smartest idea when dealing with international customs. I lost some major hands along the way which had me paying for our sea plane to Halong Bay, hotels in Hanoi and the most amazing seafood meal of my life.
I stupidly once said to my two best mates: “It’d be cool to say, ‘Last year I went on a motorcycle journey from Peru to Bolivia through Machu Picchu’, wouldn’t it?” We arrived in Lima six months later. We had close encounters in torrential rain with oncoming 18-wheelers; we had to bribe Bolivian police to pass a checkpoint along Lake Titicaca; rode through the middle of an angry riot with rocks being pelted around us – and gave our two-week-old motorbikes to local families in need at the end of our trip. It was the most magical experience of my life and I think about it every day.
James Galea is performing James Galea Poof! Secrets of a Magician as part of the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, from Thursday, March 29 – Sunday April 1, at The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne. See comedyfestival.com.au