Tag Archives: interview

Interview with Demonologist Rich Valdes!

This,my friends, is one of the most interesting interviews that I’ve had the privilege of doing. Rich Valdes has been a demonologist for over thirty-five years. He is such a legendary presence in the demonology community that he’s featured in a new show, Eli Roth’s Legion of Exorcists, premiering Thursday, June 1st on The Travel Channel. It’s a little different also because most of my interviews are by email. Rich was kind enough to spend some time having a phone conversation with me!

TPF: Hi Rich and welcome to The Phil Factor. I really do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. I want to be considerate of your time, so let’s jump right into the questions! Was there a point in your life when you decided to become a demonologist, or was it something that happened circumstantially?

Rich: I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but I was thirteen years old when I started taking an interest in anything and everything that was like demonic, and the Pastor of the church that my mother attended took notice of it. I had an affinity for it.

When I was about to turn eighteen he reached out to me. He said “I’ve always felt that you had a calling for demonology.” I asked him what that was because at that time I had never heard of it. He explained that it was the study of demons and theology and all the cult practices and religions. I was immediately hooked and I started studying with him for two and a half years before he passed away. Then I had to take a break from my studies.

TPF: How long have you been a demonologist?

Rich: I’ve been a demonologist now for thirty-five years, after nine and a half years of training through three different churches.

TPF: I was wondering how after your pastor passed away, how you continued your studies, because I don’t think you can get that at a community college.

Rich: No. No, that’s usually only offered in churches.

TPF: So the more you became involved in demonology, what surprised you the most?

Rich: What surprised me the most was how demons interact with us. They know more of us, the humans, than we know of them. It’s psychological warfare. Imagine if you would, having to battle something that has pre-dated mankind. They know our weaknesses and strengths even before we discover that we are up against one. So that’s what makes it so difficult.

TPF: What was the most frightening experience you’ve ever had?

Rich: Do you have time for this?

TPF: I have time if you have time!

Rich: (Chuckles) Ok, the scariest experience, well I wouldn’t say scariest, but it rattled my cage a little bit and made me realize that what I was up against was something that knew me better than I knew it. This was a case about sixteen years back, I was asked to take on. As a demonologist, you have to test and see if there are signs of demonic infestation, oppression, and possession. I contacted the husband of the couple. His wife was the one that was actually being tormented by what he felt to be something demonic.

I drove to Ocala from Miami, but before I did,  I called him and I stated, “Do me a favor. Do not say my name out loud. You will refer to me as “Frank”. “Frank Black”, kind of like my favorite character from Millenium. It’s one of the many tricks of the trade, and he referred to me as Frank. When I got there, he answered the door and referred to me as Frank. He took me upstairs to where his wife was. There was a little table by the window with two chairs.

She was sitting on one side. I put my briefcase down and I introduced myself, “Hi. my name is Frank. Frank Block” and she said, “We both know, we all know that’s not true. Your name is really Rich or Richard.” I was like, “No.” Admittedly I had to fib a little bit but I had to keep my poker face up. I informed her, “No, I’m Frank” and she said, or they said, I should say “As you please.” Then I continued with my testing. Let’s just say that she did not pass. Everything that I tried kept proving that there was something or things with her.

Toward the end, as I started wrapping things up, I looked right at her, but never looking right into the eyes, that’s one thing that we’ve been trained never to do. I dismissed myself and said, “Thank you so much.”  She replied, “No, we thank you, Richard Valdes.” That threw me for a loop. Of course, you always have to keep a poker face.

I went downstairs and said goodbye to the husband. I said, “Thank you very much.” I got into the car and drove three blocks down and I literally went through a half-pack of cigarettes. Let’s just say that I couldn’t drive anymore and I stayed the night in a roach motel and I took advantage of the opportunity to call my pastor and told him that we needed to get a young and old priest over here ASAP.

TPF: Wow! That sounds impactful.

Rich: Yes, it is impactful when you know for a fact that individual didn’t know my name and all of a sudden you’re there being exposed and all those testings that I used, they were repelled by whatever testings I used. It wasn’t Captain Obvious things like crosses or anything like that.

TPF: Has anything funny ever happened during one of your investigations? (this is me asking the dumbest question a demonologist has ever heard. He’s probably at the demonologist meeting right now saying to his friends “And then he asked me if anything funny ever happened! I ought to send a demon to his house to see how funny he thinks that is! What a maroon! “)

But this was his polite reply to me…

Rich: Umm, no. Not that I can recall. I’m always vigilant for anything and everything and the phenomena no matter how small they may be, end up towards the end building up to be something more.

TPF: You are premiering in The Legion of Exorcists, on The Travel Channel on June 1st, Could you tell us a little bit about that show?

Rich: The only thing I can say is that it is by far the first time that people will witness a show that is presented by theologians, individuals that are well-studied within the church or have degrees and have been certified and trained predominantly by the church. It won’t be by paranormal investigators, although I myself am a paranormal investigator. To have the experience as well as a demonologist, they brought me in just to give a different perspective. it will be the first show presented on the Travel Channel that we have individuals that are not being addressed as paranormal investigators that are talking about demons and giving their first-hand experience with demonic activity through the eyes of a theologian.

TPF: That was my last question Rich. I appreciate you sharing your time and experiences with me and my readers.

Yes, I know this was significantly longer than my usual posts, but Rich and his knowledge and stories were well worth it and one of the highlights of my Paranormal Month. If you or a family member does get possessed, just let me know in the comments and I’ll get you Rich’s number!

Have a great Sunday and thanks for reading! ~Phil


Check Out This Great Interview with…

Craig Boyack has a brilliannt concept on his blog. He doesn’t interview authors, his robot girl, Lisa Burton, with a fictional radio show, interviews the main characters from novels. Just recently my Time to Lie protagonist, Landon Bridges, made of go of it in his radio debut. Go read the interesting interview via Time to Lie, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Throwback Thursday! 6 Questions with Sharknado/TMNT/Brady Bunch Star Robbie Rist

This is maybe my favorite interview ever. We e-mailed back and forth for a week. He couldn’t have been nicer.


For my readers who don’t know Robbie’s name off the top of your head, you no doubt have seen or heard him in something. Over the last forty years Robbie has been quietly woven into the fabric of American pop culture like few others. If you haven’t seen him in a movie or TV show, you’ve probably heard his voice as a cartoon character dating back to his work as Michelangelo for the 80’s cartoon and 1990 movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the Final Fantasy X video game or more recently as Stuffy for the Disney channel’s Doc McStuffins.  He’s also appeared in too many shows and movies for me to list here.  Even better though, he has an awesome rock band, The Ballzy Tommorow! What gave me the idea to contact him for the interview was when it occurred to me recently that he has been part of two of the most iconic pop culture phenomena of my lifetime, The Brady Bunch, and Sharknado.


Phil: Robbie, welcome to The Phil Factor and thank you for taking a few minutes for my readers. When you got the part as the bus driver in Sharknado, what did you expect would be the public reaction to the movie?
Robbie: Well, I had heard about the poster for the movie from a friend who had gone to the American Film Market here in Santa Monica (The AFM is like a micro Cannes. People try to sell films there) and both of us being genre fans, we kinda lost our minds at the thought of it. I have said that the title of Sharknado says more in three syllables than A Trip To Bountiful does in 6. Then I found out my friend Anthony C. Ferrante was offered it. Anthony and I were working on music for another of his films when he told me he was offered it and I told him, “I don’t know why or how, but I really think you should do this movie. Something about it feels…….like something….”. So, I guess I thought the response would be pretty great, considering the way people reacted to the name. I wasn’t expecting Twitter to explode over it…..


Phil: You obviously were absolutely right. The name caught my eye and ear and I decided, good or bad, I had to see it. Doing music for movie soundtracks isn’t your only musical outlet. Could you tell us about your band? What kind of music do you play? What has been your best gig?

Robbie: Well, we have gone through a name change after losing an original member (Pandora’s bassist/drummer Karen Basset) so now we call ourselves Ballzy Tomorrow! As far as style, I have pretty much been doing the same kind of pop/country/psych thing for decades. It’s that kind of power pop music no one likes but I get a kick out of it. Best gig ever was playing The Rally in The Alley in Buffalo NY in the 80s. It was, like 20,000 people. Played with Spirit. Fun day.

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Phil: Aww,  it’s too bad I didn’t know about it. At the time I lived about ninety miles east of Buffalo and could have come out to see your band. If Ballzy Tomorrow, The Mockers, or the band you produce every come out East, let me know. Robbie, You’ve had a very diverse career. What’s your favorite thing you’ve done?

Robbie: Tough to say. I just like to make stuff. I mean, I am super proud to have been a part of so many things that hit the zeitgeist super hard like The Brady Bunch and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I think I am most proud of Doc McStuffins. Apparently it is set to cause a spike ion the amount of young women (specifically African American young women) who go into studying the sciences, especially medicine. Considering that almost every cartoon on the planet, McStuffins included, is in existence to primarily sell toys, I would call this a solid fight from the inside victory.


Phil: When Sharknado just blew up and became this huge thing, did anything changed for you?

Robbie: Well, not as far as my bank account goes, but some really great stuff happened like…..I had never had one of my songs re-mixed before.

Also, some young people did a vocalese version of the theme (which I couldn’t find). So, did I get more work out of it? Not really. But sometimes art is its own reward. Some people really reacted favorably to it.

Phil: The Brady Bunch and Cousin Oliver. How do you feel about people bringing that up constantly?

Robbie: Great! Hey. It’s on the resume. I respect the right of somebody to not want to be bothered but I don’t get that considering most people become performers to get attention.


Phil: We know what you’ve done and what you’re doing. What’s coming up for you in television or movies? Where and when is your band playing next?

Robbie: The band is actually two bands. We do songs that we write but we also do a weekly half 70’s tribute band/ half live band karaoke thing at a restaurant out in Moorpark California called Red Ball’s Rock and Roll Pizza. Happens every Friday. It’s pretty out of control. The original band plays a once a month residency at Canter’s Kibitz Room in Los Angeles.

I just finished three songs for the Sharknado 3 soundtrack!

Phil: Yes, you heard him right folks, if you haven’t followed my Twitter or Instagram, there will be a Sharknado 3 this summer! So, besides creating awesome music for awesome movies, what else?

Robbie: I have also been doing some comedy writing and performing with an artist out here named Lisa Orkin. She has a website called HonestlyLisa.com that is a comedic relationship thing. Every week we do these little minute long audio bits based on her real dating life. She’s pretty much a genius.

I also have a (what we hope is) comedic talk podcast called The Spoon which can be found at www.thespoonradio.com.

I’m gonna be producing a band from Barcelona in a couple of months called Suzy & Los Quattro. This will be my third go around with them. I’m also gonna be on an acoustic tour of Spain in October with my friend Seth Gordon from The Mockers

(Hey folks, don’t worry, The Mockers and Suzy & Los Quattro will be my next two Music Monday features ~Phil)

Robbie: As far as the acting side, I just won the gig as Mondo Gecko in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Doc McStuffins is going into its last year so…….I have no idea what is gonna come next. It seems to always be something…..I guess I can always go back to college…….


Phil: Awesome! Congrats on the Mondo Gecko role and congrats on the continued success of all your music ventures. Thank you again for taking the time you did. In the future, anything you’re working on has a home on #ThePhilFactor. If you want to follow Robbie on social media you can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also support Robbie by downloading the Sharknado soundtrack.

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

New Eyes: Author Interview with Steve Treu!


New Eyes is a new book by first time author Steve Treu. I know I don’t usually get into any deep thoughts here at #ThePhilFactor, but Steve’s got some really interesting ideas that may open some eyes. Let’s get right to it!

TPF: In a nutshell, what makes your book, New Eyes, and your theory different from all the other self-help books people have to choose from?

Steve: Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha and Albert Einstein all walk into a bar for a discussion. They walk out together as friends. That’s New Eyes in a nutshell!

This book is revolutionary in its depth and breadth. First it dives into quantum physics to identify the true source of our problems, and then it links together all of the world’s well-known religions to support the idea that evolving consciousness is the primary objective of the human species.

While it goes deep into uncharted waters, New Eyes was essentially written for the layman. I’m a former sportswriter and nothing in this book will go over anyone’s head. I didn’t write it to impress college professors, I wrote it so that everyone could have practical access to some of the greatest mysteries within this universe. In other words, as complex as New Eyes may sound, my goal was to keep it as simple as possible. Ultimately, the intention of this book is to inspire a paradigm shift.

TPF: Are you talking about spirituality from a scientific perspective or are you a spiritualist looking at science from a religious point of view?

Steve: Yes. Which is to say, both! The book makes the case that the two disciplines are not mutually exclusive, as science and spirituality are merely different languages that are describing the same thing. It begins with a scientific perspective, explaining the nature of reality through the lens of quantum physics, then shifts toward the non-physical perspective to shed light on the true meaning and purpose of spiritual teachings.

Unfortunately, religion has been greatly misunderstood and misapplied for centuries, creating conflict and division throughout the world.

Steve Treu

Steve Treu

TPF: If someone isn’t looking for self-insight or improvement, what would they like about your book?

Steve: Knowledge is power, and readers are telling me that they feel both after finishing New Eyes. The middle section of the book is filled with super cool concepts.  If you enjoy movies like “The Matrix” or “Interstellar” or “Inception” or anything of that genre, you will be fascinated to know that the world of science fiction is becoming science fact. There is surely much fodder for Jeopardy enthusiasts or trivia buffs in New Eyes.

TPF: What has been the most surprising reaction you’ve gotten to your book?

Steve: Good question. I’ve worked with over 3,000 clients in my life as a licensed professional counselor, nearly all with addiction or mental health issues. I have seen first hand how the concepts in this book heal people as they shift their perspective on life, with countless clients reporting that they feel “cured” from what had ailed them. So I am not surprised when I hear from them how they have been impacted by New Eyes. Plus, my 12-year-old son Aidan said he wanted to read it … and then I actually caught him doing so. That was surprising. (And also gratifying!)

TPF: What can you tell me about your company Quantum Revolution, Inc.?

Steve: As the name implies, we are starting a revolution of the mind that we intend to go viral. Reality-changing scientific concepts have been kept quiet for far too long.

Indeed, the book begins with a little story about a man from the 1500’s who is among the first to realize that earth revolves around the sun. Can you imagine not knowing that? Well, future generations will one day look back upon us, shaking their heads in amusement that we were unaware of some of the scientific facts that we have not been applying.

I’d hate to be the last one to find out that the sun does not revolve around the earth. At Quantum Revolution, we hate to see people struggling when both science and spiritual show that suffering is unnecessary.

As such, we are a mental health and addiction treatment company that utilizes such principles to help people heal. When they shift their consciousness, they improve their lives. Our goal is to make these concepts known to anyone who wishes to be on the cutting edge of modern science and spiritual awakening.

TPF: So what’s next for you?

Steve: I am already writing another book, called Hope Is Dope, which is really more of a basic manual for teachers, students, ministers and anyone else who is interested in taking part in this Quantum Revolution. We want to overthrow the way addiction treatment is done in this country by advocating a more love-based approach, one that features virtues such as compassion, wisdom, forgiveness and hope as opposed to shame, guilt, threats and punishment.

It is an empowering model, as each individual person needs to take complete responsibility for their emotional state as well as for their healing. This is a significant part of what New Eyes is about as well, that the world is healed on the level of the individual. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, each person who elevates consciousness facilitates the development of others.

Bottom line, Quantum Revolution Inc. is going to be working on inspiring people to see the world differently. We plan to do this through therapy, education, books, seminars, inspirational speakers, social media, documentaries, feature films, video games and perhaps a quantum theme park one day. (We like to dream big.) In the end, we hope that all of us can walk out of this place together as friends.

TPF: Thanks Steve. My readersand I really appreciate you taking your time to talk about your book, which is available in both paperback and e-book format from Amazon. You can also find his work on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram as quantum.revolution. For those of you celebrating the holiday today, Happy Easter and for those not, have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Throwback Thursdays! It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist To Give a Great Speech, or Does It?

If you don’t want to read the whole interview, just watch the YouTube video of this kids speech. BEST. SPEECH. EVER.  After I saw it on the news I tracked him down for the interview. If college students like this are the future of our country I’m feeling pretty good.

With about 2 million views this past week, you just have to watch the video below before reading the rest of the interview.

Over the centuries there have been many impressive inspirational speeches and quotes by men and women who have shaped history.  “I have a dream today!” by Martin Luther King Jr.  “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”~ Walt Disney. Last weeks Georgia Tech freshman convocation speech has people wondering if  “If you want to play theme music during your convocation speech like a bad ass, we’re at Georgia Tech! We can do that. I am doing that!” by Nick Selby destined to join that illustrious list? Only time will tell.

Hi Nick, and welcome to The Phil Factor. Typically when I feature an interview here it’s an author or other writing industry professional, but when I saw your video I knew I had to make an exception. I found your video both hilariously awesome and inspiring. For my readers, Nick is more than just a great public speaker. Nick is a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major at Georgia Tech. He co-leads the Mechanical Sub  team in Solar Jackets, which is Georgia Tech’s team that built and raced a solar-powered car in the Formula Sun Grand Prix. Nick is also a president’s scholar, representing the top 2% of enrolled students at the university. Needless to say, after the afterglow of The Best Speech Ever wears off Nick should be just fine.

TPF: Nick, how and why were you chosen to give the convocation speech?

Nick: I applied in May by submitting a written abstract online along with several other students. Mine and a few others were selected to also submit audition tapes of the full speech. I did so, and was chosen as the speaker.

 TPF: How did you come up with the idea to use the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Nick: Back in my hometown in Phoenix, I learned how to public speak with Desert Vista High School’s speech and debate team. One of my coaches there, Andy Stone, had performed a speech in college about sci-fi literature that used the idea of the finale theme music. When I saw that speech, I thought it was the most amazing thing ever, so I asked him for his permission to use the idea in my own conclusion. He very graciously agreed, and everyone loved it.

 TPF: Do you have a background in drama or theater?

Nick: I competed with my high school’s Speech and Debate team.

 TPF: How has your daily life on campus changed since your speech?

Nick: A few people have stopped me to ask for pictures or to compliment the speech. I’m really honored that people have enjoyed it this much.

 TPF: If you were offered your own sit-com would you drop out of college to pursue that?

Nick: Haha! No; engineering is my passion. I love speaking, and there are plenty of opportunities within this amazing field to utilize good public speaking skills.

TPF: Has there been any negative reactions or consequences related to your speech? (aside from dopes like me taking up your time with interviews)

Nick: There were a few news organizations who pursued the story that I had plagiarized the speech from my coach. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed—a simple phone call or checking of my Facebook could have cleared that up quickly. That being said, those accusations started because my coach is a really amazing man with a lot of friends who really care about him. How were they supposed to know that I had asked for his permission beforehand?

 TPF: If you could really do something outlandishly awesome with the technology you’re learning in pursuit of your degree, what would it be? The Iron Man suit or something else?

Nick: I understand that the science behind the Iron Man suit hasn’t quite caught up to the artistic vision, but science has a way of progressing society quicker than we might expect. Right now, I’m focusing on using the technology we’re learning to build a solar-powered race car with Solar Jackets and put a satellite in space with the PROX-1 research team.

 TPF: What is your ultimate, long term career goal?

Nick: I want my inventions to continue helping people long after I’m gone. While I don’t know what path I will end up in right now, my dream job is to work for a program like SpaceX or another company that pursues the impossible.

Nick, thank you again for visiting #ThePhilFactor. I appreciate you taking a few minutes for my questions during what must be one of the busiest weeks of your life. For my readers, as always, if you like what you read here please hit the Facebook, Twitter or other share buttons below. By the way, how do you like my new banner at the top of the page?


Liar, Liar Pants on Fire: The Interview with Magician James David


At 7:30 a.m. I boarded a flight to Detroit. I made my way down the aisle to the coach section where we were packed into our tiny seats like eggs in a carton. I found myself seated next to a young serviceman. Army I think. He was in uniform and had carried on a duffel bag as if he were headed back to his base. A moment after we had both gotten situated, a guy makes his way back from the first class section, stops at my row and says, “Go take my seat. I’ll switch with you. You deserve it.”  Woo Hoo! It’s my lucky day, I thought. He must be a fan of The Phil Factor. 

As fate would have it, he was talking to the young serviceman next to me. Little did I know that both the young serviceman and I were in luck that day. My new but extremely weary travel companion was magician James David. He must have pulled at least $40 in change out of my ear during the hour long flight. I’m kidding of course. His real trick was staying awake. He had performed until late in Buffalo the previous evening and then during the night drove over an hour to get to Rochester where his flight was leaving from and he hadn’t slept all night. He was exhausted but was patient and pleasant with the guy sitting next to him who kept peppering him with questions instead of letting him sleep. So now, a little over two months later I’m again pestering him with questions, some from me and some from my readers.

TPF: Hi James.Welcome to The Phil Factor. Thank you for taking some time for my readers. I’ll get right to the questions. When watching magic people enjoy the surprise seeing the impossible happen. When you watch other magicians, is it more fun to know how it’s done or is it more fun if you don’t?

James: It’s definitely NOT as much fun to know.  The enjoyment comes from the look on someone’s  face when I disturb their reality.  I traded my” inner-child” for the adrenalin rush of watching people become excited again. I really don’t know another job that transcends to most ALL ages, races, religions of people. Most 4 year olds to 104 year olds enjoy the art of magic.  That’s the enjoyment I get from magic now. I just really like giving someone a break from their day!


TPF: Did you ever have another career? How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to pursue magic as a career?

James: Hahah YES!  I have always been a “jack of all trades” kinda guy. I worked construction, bar tended, was a substitute teacher, varsity basketball coach, ran a basketball shooting clinic, and sold knives. Yes, knives! Shout out to all of the cutco reps trying to make that “$15/hr.” 

Previously, I knew that I was always meant to be a college basketball coach.  It was my passion. So when I was offered my first varsity coaching job I was so excited. While substitute teaching I took up magic as a way to  entertain the students so they wouldn’t mess around in class. It was so much better than the previous job I had,  which was roofing when it was -35 degrees outside for $8/hr.

I soon fell in love with magic and performing. My big break came when my neighbor introduced me to a famous magician out of NY. He happened to be here for a show in Stevens Point, WI. After seeing me perform,  he asked me what I did for a living.  I told him I was a basketball coach and was pursuing my dream of being a college coach one day.

Then he said it. The quote that changed my life. He said, “Do you want to travel the country and perform at colleges, corporate events, celebrity functions and make your yearly basketball salary in ONE show? Or do you want to have parents yell at you?  Ummm… no brainer.

 Did you hear that?  I think somewhere I just heard a coach just pick up a deck of cards.   🙂

TPF: Although I know that you’re now married with children, one of my readers wanted to know how magic affects one’s love life. Is it a repellent or a total chick magnet? (and when I say chick, I’m only quoting the reader who asked the question and of course meant chick in the most respectful way possible)

James: First, lets not jump to conclusions. He could have been talking about young chickens. In which case, a pocket full of corn can get him all of the chicks he can handle! Ok so… is this a trick question? (Sorry to be punny)  I mean, are you TRYING to get me in trouble? HaHa. Well, the answer to your question may surprise you. The answer is… BOTH. It can help AND hinder you.

Because I started to learn magic later in life, I wasn’t exposed to the typical “Pull a rabbit…” kind of magicians.  I was exposed to David Blaine. He was the first magician that made me realize you don’t have to fit a stereotype to be a magician.  He was natural and yet “unnatural” all in the same breath. Magic has opened so many doors for me to meet people. It can do the same for anyone. However, the common mistake is that a lot of people try to be something they are not. Magic is a personality enhancer. If you are a jerk, you will be a jerk that does tricks.  There is a fine line between confidence and cocky, funny and cheesy and doing it all while being charming. You want to be charming. Magic will open doors for you to meet women if that’s what you want.  But it’s how you use that skill to keep that door open or have it slammed in your face. 

Speaking of magic leading to meeting women, here’s a picture of James with Heather Graham. I think that answers any questions you have about magic and meeting women.


TPF: Another reader wanted to know if the digital age and newer technology has impacted magic performing?

James: Yes, it has DEFINITELY impacted performing. I can be exposed to thousands or even millions of people with just the click of a mouse. Everyone can see anything at anytime. The internet has become saturated with material. You can only do the same trick so many different ways.  It’s really hard to find GOOD new things to do.  That’s why you have to be creative. Which in turn leads to using technology to your advantage. There are a lot of cool tricks you can do because of the “smart phone” as well as other technologies. Just like any other business, you have to adapt with technology or die.  

TPF: Have you ever completely botched a magic trick in front of an audience? What is the worst magic fail that you’ve ever seen?

James: No, I’m a professional.  I’ve never messed up! Well, that’s what most magicians want you to believe. I MAY have messed up on stage, but did the audience know that?  Nope. Magicians have what’s called a “magic out.” If they would ever mess up, they just make it look like they messed up on purpose. It can lead them right  into the next trick. 

Or…. I could be lying.  Because that’s what magic is. It’s lying.  I am making you believe something that didn’t really happen. So the truth is, all magicians mess up.  Just not me.  🙂 Come on, you didn’t really think I was going to tell you that? Did you?

The worst magic fail I have ever seen was a guy performing “smash and stab.” It’s a trick where the magician puts a knife or steel spike under a cup.  The magician typically has someone from the audience mix the cups up and then the magician begins to smash every cup using his hand.   Obviously trying to avoid the sharp object.  Let’s just say I know a guy who DIDN’T avoid the sharp object.  Google “smash and stab gone wrong.”  You’ll see what I mean. 

TPF: How do you feel about magicians who reveal the secrets behind others tricks?

James:  It really depends on the situation. I absolutely hate it when  someone who knows secrets of magic exposes what you’re doing to an audience. ESPECIALLY if it’s another magician. If I’m caught because I am technically not good, then I totally deserve to be exposed. The truth is, most people don’t want to know the secrets behind magic. It wrecks the fun for them. I just think it’s common courtesy that if you are privileged enough to have been taught the secrets, you should keep your mouth shut. But that rarely happens. 

If you’re talking about the “masked magician” then that is a completely different story. I think this guy saw a hole in the market and took advantage of it.  Whatever his motives were, he made his family financially secure.  Do I think it’s right? Absolutely Not. The funny thing is, people may watch the show to learn the secret, but no one ever remembers how it is exactly done.  I’ve had a few people approach me after a show and say, “I  know how you did that trick!” My response is always, “Cool, so how did I do it? Not ONE time has anyone even come close to the correct answer.  So revealing the secrets behind magic does not bother me in the slightest. Chances are you will forget anyway.  And if anyone ever gets it right… Still no big deal. 

In a fist fight between you and David Copperfield, who wins?

James: David Copperfield.  He owns an island. You can’t fight a guy who owns his own island! I would just keep thinking, “Why am I fighting David Copperfield? I can’t believe he has his own island.”  I would be distracted. One of his body guards would sneak up and kick the crap out of me. You just don’t fight a guy that has an island. Everyone knows that. 

TPF: Doing my research for this interview, I found a video of you performing magic for ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew. What other interesting and fun opportunities has magic led you to?

James: Actually, let’s start here. I am a huge football fan and especially a Green Bay Packer fan.  Not only was I lucky enough to attend a MNF game, but it turned out to be one of the most historic games in the NFL’s history. The play that ended the “lockout.”

 On a plane I was sitting next to a guy who just happened to work for ESPN. His name was Rob, and we were both fighting the bitter cold and early morning sleep deprivation. Sound familiar? After striking up a conversation, we both realized we have a love for sports. We kept in touch over the course of a few months and eventually he invited me to a MNF game to entertain the ESPN crew. After doing this for a while, I’ve found that it’s not as much fun if you can’t share these experiences with your friends. So I invited Tom, my brother-in-law, who is also a huge Green Bay Packers fan. After the production meeting I got to perform for Coach Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, as well as the other crew members. During that performance we also met Gerry Austin. Gerry is one of the most experienced refs in the NFL and now the head replay official for ESPN.  After chatting for a while we went to our seats to watch the game. When that infamous play happened, “the interception/no interception” play, we realized they weren’t showing the replays on the big screen in the stadium. So when the ref came back after the booth review and said it was a touchdown, we had no reason to not believe it. We didn’t know anything was wrong until we got back to the airport to catch red-eye flight back home. We really wanted to see the replays on TV. I had a Delta sky lounge pass saved to finish the trip off  our already amazing experience. When the door opened and we stepped in, we couldn’t believe it. The first person we saw sitting there was none other than Gerry Austin.

If there was ONE person who we ever wanted to run into at that time,  it was Gerry Austin! Gerry invited us over to sit with him and have a beer. We peppered him with questions about the call on the field. As we were watching the replays on SportsCenter, Gerry explained the botched call. I then realized a guy sitting next to us was listening to our conversation. He had a Seattle Seahawks shirt on, so of course he had a different opinion on what Gerry was explaining. He began to argue with Gerry on his view of the call. Tom and I just looked at each other and realized, this guy has NO CLUE who he is talking to. After a few minutes of discussion between the two, the end of the story goes like this:

Seattle fan:  “It WAS a touchdown because he had one arm wrapped around the ball when he went to the ground. Tie goes to the offense.”

 Gerry: “No, it was an interception because the defender had BOTH hands on the ball and cradled it to the ground. One arm around the ball does not constitute possession.”

Seattle fan: ” Well, what makes you such an expert anyway?”

Gerry:  ” I was an NFL ref for 24 years, I reffed two Super Bowls,  I saw it on 29 different camera angles, and I’m also the head replay official for Monday Night Football! “

Seattle Fan: “oh…. I guess that does make you an expert.” 

This is a memory I will have forever!  I’ve also performed at a few children’s birthday parties.  

TPF: As far as magic tricks go, is there a white whale out there for you? Is there one incredible trick that no one else has done that you want to create and perfect?

James:  No, there really isn’t a trick that’s unattainable. My job is to create something that no one else has done. But I’m also a little bit different. I’m a sarcastic comedy magician. So the “grand illusions” that are out there don’t do me any good. I like to have fun with the audience. However,  I am currently discussing a concept with some close friends and confidants.  I guess you’ll have to wait and see what that is. I’ll get you some tickets to a show…..for half-price. 🙂  Ok.. you get it for FREE!

TPF: Awesome! Free tickets! Count me in. Ok, last question. (Yes, I know on our flight you probably wish I had said “last question” as soon as they closed the cabin door) Your name. A lot of magicians come up with creative names like The Astounding Incredible James David or Burt Wonderstone. Why did you choose James David?

James:  Well the story might be kind of boring but David is my middle name. My real last name is very hard to pronounce. When I started performing, people were butchering it. So I made the decision to just use my middle name and thought it would be a lot easier. Sorry to disappoint you.

Or…I could tell you the real story. I was on a fishing trip in the Florida Keys when a freak storm appeared out of nowhere. The captains name was David. His boat was called “David & Goliath.”  We were getting beat up by the waves and wind. Captain Dave decided to move the boat to the backside of the islands to get us some shelter. He accidentally got too close to the island and we got stuck on a reef. The waves were crashing into the boat and we started to take on water. We had to use a life raft to get to shore. Luckily there was an EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Indicator Radio Beacon) on the raft. It sent out a distress signal and we were picked up by the coast guard some 8 hours later.  I was so grateful to the captain for keeping us alive, I decided to use the captains name in my show.  Hence, James “David.”

Or…. I could be lying.  Because that’s what magicians do.  

Ha Ha, thanks James. It’s been a lot of fun talking to you again. If you want to follow James and find out when he might be coming to your town you can find him on Facebook and at his website MindGameJames.com. As always, if you’ve enjoyed #ThePhilFactor please share by one of the social media buttons below.  Have a great week. See you Thursday. ~ Phil

Interview with Jodyne Speyer, Author of Dump ’em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser

Hi Jodyne and welcome to The Phil Factor. Thank you for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for my readers about your book Dump ’em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser.

Jodyne: My pleasure and might I just say what a lovely first name you have. I’m lucky enough to have two dads and both of them are named Philip, although one of them goes by his middle name, Donald.


TPF: Well, thank you.  Although I can’t take credit for picking my name I have become rather fond of it. So, what was the impetus for your decision to write Dump ‘em?

Jodyne:  Like most people, I was terrible at ending any kind of relationship: cleaning ladies, dentists, hairdressers, friends, etc. I avoided those people I was too scared to dump like the plague. Unfortunately as the toll of people I was avoiding went up, so did my chances of running into them when least expected; like the checkout lane at CVS, the movies or my favorite restaurant. I was once cornered in Barney’s in New York City and forced to explain why I didn’t go back to see a former hairdresser that I really cared about, who just stopped cutting my hair evenly. It was awful running into her because at that point I had avoided her calls for a few months and here I was standing in front of her with a new hair cut. I didn’t want to lie, but my first reaction was to make up excuses and I just felt awful. She didn’t deserve that. She deserved the truth. I left that day with the clear intention of not wanting to be that person anymore, too scared to nip something in the bud when it came up. So I figured I would go to Borders (R.I.P) bookstore and find a book that would teach me how to politely dump people. When I discovered there was no such book, I decided it was time to teach myself, so I started gathering information and interviewing different people, both professional and personal. The more people I talked to, the more I got the consistent feedback that I should write a book. When enough people tell you that you should do something, you listen.


TPF: Was your intent for the book to be a therapeutic book that’s funny or funny book that turned out to have some therapeutic value?

Jodyne: Good question. I wanted the book to be both. I think everyone of us has struggled at some point with having to dump someone, and many of those stories are funny.  Some not so funny, but at the very least relatable, so  my intent was to share my personal stories,  but at the end of the day make sure to include practical tips and tools so my reader would know how to do it in their own life.  I genuinely wanted to share what I learned because I knew there were a lot of people out there in the world, like me who were looking for a kind and respectful way to end relationships.

TPF: Dump ‘em isn’t just about ending romantic relationships but relationships with anyone from your …ahem…manicurist/waxer to a neighbor to friends.  In your personal life, whom have you found is most difficult for you to dump and why?

Jodyne: Personally, I find friendships the most difficult to end, because unlike romantic relationships which we enter into knowing there’s a good chance things won’t work out, with friends we go into it thinking they’ll be there for the long run.  But like any relationship, sometimes they run their course. The problem is that sometimes only one person feels that the friendship has run its course. I’ve had friendships where the other person expects more from me than I am able to give, and not every friend  understands that.  When I was younger I had a number of toxic friendships; people that spoke disrespectfully towards me or who drained me emotionally and physically. I tried unsuccessfully in the past to to dump a lot of them, but most of them had such strong personalities that they wouldn’t let me! After researching and writing Dump ‘Em I learned how to dump those toxic relationships. I learned that not every break up has to be done in person, that sometimes the best way to end a relationship is write a solidly constructed letter.

TPF: You interviewed quite a list of luminaries for this book including Kato Kaelin, your sister Sarah Silverman, trainer Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser, Adam Corolla, and several professional experts. Of all those people, who surprised you and what did they say that you weren’t expecting?

Jodyne: Kato Kaelin surprised me the most. I knew I wanted to write a chapter about how to dump a houseguest since I used to live in New York City and I had never before had I been as popular as when I had my apartment in Soho. I had people I hadn’t seen since 2nd grade show up at my door hoping for a place to crash. Oddly since moving to Los Angeles, I haven’t had that problem, but I knew as soon as I decided to write the chapter on how to ask a houseguest to leave that I wanted to interview Kato and by sheer luck I happened to know someone who had his email address. I fully expected it to be the wrong email or just not hear back from him, but he ended up writing me back right away. I met him a few days later at the National Lampoon office on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles where he worked. Not only was he incredibly charming and charismatic, he was  funny and smart.  And the best part was that he actually had great advice about dumping a houseguest.


TPF:  Your columns in The Huffington Post have been about relationships, or rather the end of relationships. Between those and your book, one might think that you’re a pessimist about relationships. Is that the case?

Jodyne: Actually, quite the opposite, but I can see how one could think that.  I come from a broken home, so I saw first hand how relationships can fail without kindness. Observing my parents I thought all relationships ended either by fighting or by avoiding each other, so that’s what I did for many years.  However I craved a different type of closure, I just didn’t know how to do it.  My writing has always been personal and I think my path ultimately led me to write Dump ‘Em because I learned what was missing for me, that voice that stands up for myself in a kind and respectful way. I am in no way trying to say that dumping people is easy, but my book advocates that there is a way of doing it where everyone gets closure and that for me is a hugely important part in ending any relationship.

TPF: Did you catch any flack from former friends, hairdressers, trainers or others who may have recognized themselves as examples in your book?

Jodyne: Funnily enough I didn’t. I actually went on Rachael Ray to apologize to my old hairdresser who reached out to me numerous times to see if I was okay after not hearing from me for some time. It didn’t help that I kept hitting delete on my answering machine. In all fairness she did give me a mullet before I graduated from college. But still, I knew this woman and saw her outside of the salon and she deserved to know that I was going in a different direction with my hair and not to expect me back. See that’s the thing, I think sometimes we build up saying good-bye to a relationship as the most difficult thing ever, when the truth is it can be very simple, it’s comes down to how we say it, and I advocate for less is more. Don’t go into long lists of excuses as to why you are leaving the relationship, keep it short and sweet with a potential opening for a return, because sometimes when we leave a relationship, we realize that we want to return and so leaving the door open is a great way of knowing you can return if things don’t work out.

TPF: Did you ever speak to or hear from your former assistant French Fry?

Jodyne: Sadly, no.

TPF: I’m sorry to hear that. Your story about that particular relationship was heartbreaking.

Jodyne: Ugh. I know! That one in particular got me where it hurts because he did absolutely nothing wrong. whereas with other relationships we have a way of justifying our actions by thinking that person was an ass anyway. but French Fry was salt of the earth.

TPF: Well, who knows, maybe French Fry reads The Phil Factor and will see this and understandIt’s been a couple years since Dump ‘Em came out. Are there plans for another book of any kind?

Jodyne: I’ve been talking to people about turning the book into a television show, which would be a lot of fun.  I also just finished a screenplay for a production company in Los Angeles based on an article I wrote for the Huffington Post. I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve, but you’ll have to follow me on Twitter to find out!

TPF: I think a show based on the book is a great idea! I’ll follow you on Twitter and look for Dump ‘Em in next seasons Fall line up. Jodyne, thank you for visiting #ThePhilFactor and thank you for your time.  I’m glad you didn’t decide to dump me when I e-mailed to ask for this interview. For those of you that would like to read more you can find Jodyne’s book in both hard copy and e-book in bookstores and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the other online retailers. You can also follow Jodyne on Facebook and Twitter. As always, if you enjoy what you read here please share it with your friends by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or other share buttons below.

Indie Author Interview: Natalia Cherjovsky

Hello Natalia and thank you for visiting The Phil Factor. For my readers who don’t know her, Natalia is the author of the January 2013 release Humanity Revisited. The book is a collection of short stories that capture an important day or a life altering moment in time in the lives of her characters.


PT: Natalia, you’ve published short stories previously in a variety of periodicals, how is publishing a book of your stories different?

NC: The first huge difference is that this is the first thing ever that I self-publish other than my blog. Having no editor or publisher taking care of the details is a little more stressful. Also, when you publish in a magazine, there is a built-in audience. This is the first time I have to attempt to do my own marketing. I am learning a lot, but it is not without its stumbles. I love that this book showcases more of my talent and range than one short story might. It’s been a journey.

PT: You grew up in South America and have moved several times since you came to the States and you travel abroad regularly. Has your experiences living and visiting different parts of the country and world had an influence on your writing?

NC: Absolutely. I think you can only see the culture you live in fully when you see it from the outside. When you are inside and you have not experienced anything else, it’s hard to get what foreigners pick up on immediately. Also, having spent time in different towns and states has given me a good idea of the depth of cultural differences, which serve me well when creating characters and thinking about the setting for my stories. I don’t know what it is, but being on a trip always inspires me. I’m a born voyeur. I love people watching and listening in on random conversations. You can do a lot of that when you travel.

PT: Who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Bat Girl?

NC: Wonder woman does not have enough clothes on her body to be comfortable enough to fight. I am surprised she has not had more Janet Jackson moments thus far. I have to go with Bat Girl.

PT: I ask everyone this, if you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose only four books to read forever, which ones do you choose?

NC: I’d take my favorite book: We Need to Talk About Kevin, and then, I would select the three largest collection of one of each: short stories, famous essays, and cultural and media studies articles, just so I can have a little bit of everything I love.

PT: Of all the characters you’ve created in your stories, which has the most of you in her or him?

NC: Maybe Lexie Townsend. She’s a no-nonsense professional girl with a heart of gold and a lifestyle some people don’t get. She has some growing to do, but she’s someone I’d love to hang out with.

PT: If you could give some advice for other new indie authors from your publishing experience, what would you say?

NC: Make good friends with other authors. Few people in your life could ever come close to understanding what it’s like to write and publish. Other authors will keep you sane and they are a great sounding board for ideas. Writer forums are also a wealth of knowledge but beware the inevitable encounters with trolls who love to hate and preach. Learn your craft. Study up on the publishing world. Give your all to each story, but know when to stop writing the story and just set it free. Take criticism well, but trust your own instinct as well. Enjoy the ride.

PT: In addition to your fiction collection you’ve also published some academic papers. What type of writing do you enjoy more?

NC: Choosing one is like choosing one of your children. They both do different things for me. Writing fiction is like breathing and I don’t even think about it. It happens all the time. People talk to each other in my head. Academic stuff is more methodical, but it challenges a different part of me, and I am forced to research and ground my ideas, which is a great exercise. I wouldn’t want to give up either. But if I had to, I guess I’d give up academic writing, only because I still get to talk about these things in class.

PT: What can fans of your writing look for next?

NC: I will be rel-aunching Humanity Revisited since it was only available on Amazon until now. I will also be publishing my novels soon. In the meantime, read my blog for little bits of me.


PT: Natalia, thank you so much for your time.  For those that want to follow Natalia’s writing online you can find her on Amazon, Facebook, her blog, and on Twitter @NatCherjovsky.