Believing in 'Majic'
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.
Combine the hip-hop of Jay-Z, the humor of Pee Wee Herman, the business sense of Russell Simons, the kindness of Mr. Rogers and the magic of David Blaine, and you get one of New York's most highly sought-after children's entertainers.
Nakia Rattray, 27 (better know by his stage name Uncle Majic and Shock-kim the Clown), makes his living by making children laugh. However, while he's putting smiles on children's faces across the city, his business sense is no laughing matter, especially for a clown whose gross income was in the six figures last year.
Growing up in East New York, Brooklyn, Rattray said that his mother and father were prime examples to him. While others around him were involved in drugs and violence, he said his parents provided shining examples of how to be successful for their three children.
In school, Rattray says he was the class clown, always making his peers laugh. Often being sent to detention, he would do stand-up comedy routines, imitating his church pastor, in the auditorium to provide a more lively atmosphere for the other students while in detention.
"I would always manipulate teachers' minds," he said. "I would make them talk about what I wanted them to talk about. It got so bad that teachers would say, 'No more questions for you.'"
His class clown persona forced the school to put him in special education classes, labeling him with "behavioral problems." While several teachers gave up on him, there was one teacher who offered to show him magic tricks in exchange for good behavior. Rattray then discovered his passion.
"I started doing magic tricks for the kids in school," he said. "To this day, I don't know why he taught me. Other teachers told him not to teach me anything."
Leaving public school at 16, Rattray entered the Job Corps. There, he entertained fellow students with magic and stand-up comedy routines. His act became so popular, he began hitting the comedy clubs at age 17. Comedian Big War introduced him to comedian Talent, and Rattray made a splash on the club scene.
Incorporating magic into his stand-up act, he began to catch the eyes of audience members.
He said, "I would do magic tricks at shows, and people would ask me to do their kid's birthday parties. That's how my business began."
Rattray started getting booked to do children's birthday parties. His business became successful, with him making up to $1,000 per weekend.
His cousins soon gave him his current stage name, "Uncle Majic." Four years ago, he created an alter ego to dispel the perception that he was rapper by becoming Shock-kim the Clown and began performing the act at local schools.
As his name began to spread, Rattray's resume of celebrity clients grew. He started doing birthday parties for Wendy Williams, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons and Jadakiss' kids.
Currently, Rattray has expanded his business to a staff of 150 and offers the use of other things to entertain kids including a bouncing castle, cotton candy machines, face painting, costume characters and balloon animals.
"I live and breath children's entertainment," he said. "If you come to my apartment, it looks like a children's playroom."
Along with entertaining children, he's entered the marketing business by selling and producing advertising. Rattray is currently in the process of developing a children's TV show, buying paid programming time to guarantee airtime.
Giving back to his East New York neighborhood, Rattray throws pizza parties for kids in the projects and also makes motivational speaches about his career journey. He's also helped several families get jobs.
"When you give somebody money, you just give them the right to come back to you and ask for more," he said. "But if you teach them how to make money, then that's when you accomplish something."
Currently residing in the Bronx and a home in Pennsylvania, Rattray has plans to start a marketing company.
"If you can't be used, you are useless," he said. "God has truly blessed me."