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Reggie Gray brings his own magic to...


Reggie Gray brings his own magic to parties

He's considered the life of the party -- by those ages 10 and under that is. His friends know him as Mr. Personality or M&M; (Magic Man). His mother, Christine, and sister, Melanie, call him Reggie.

Four years ago, Reginald Kent Gray, of Northwest Baltimore, went into a magic store and purchased an instructional tape. Now this 15-year-old magician almost has perfected his craft.

Reggie is in the business of entertaining and has done more than 70 parties and 30 picnics and carnivals. He even founded his own business, ALACAZAM CO., which offers three action-packed shows for customers to choose from, Reggie says. "I can juggle pins, balls, knives and fire, but I stick with pins and balls for my act at parties because I don't want kids to be wrongly influenced."

Most important to Reggie, however, is keeping violence out of his act. "I take violence out of my shows. There's enough of that in the real world so I don't use it in my shows for entertainment."

His mother, who is with him at every performance, was the one who suggested that Reggie start performing for other people. "I realized early on that Reggie liked attention. He's very outgoing and confident. The kids [that he performs for] stroke him and he [in turn] strokes them."

In addition to the ALACAZAM CO. Reggie is also founder of the Young Magicians Society, along with school friend Matt Gutberlet. "Every other month we publish a pamphlet that instructs members on how to do tricks," Reggie says. When he's not performing, Reggie can be found practicing his latest act, or playing basketball.

It can be somewhat trying to watch "Jeopardy!" with Mimi Cox Owens, the kind of viewer who casually whips off the answer to 'Opera' for $100. On Tuesday, the Columbia mother of four will finally give her friends a chance to outguess her, when she appears as a contestant on the Los Angeles-based show.

She credits her appearance to her husband, Michael.

"After 10 years of watching me cream the people on TV -- it drove him crazy -- Michael forced me to try out for the show," she says. In fact, Mr. Owens drove her to two preliminary competitions in Atlantic City.

Chosen as a contestant in May, Mrs. Owens flew to the West Coast for the show's taping in July. As soon as she arrived at the set, the 39-year-old homemaker was assigned a contestant coordinator -- "they don't let you go to the bathroom by yourself" -- then played a couple of warm-up games with her two male competitors before meeting host Alex Trebek.

As a professional singer and former member of Towson High School's "It's Academic" team, Mrs. Owens says she was not nervous during the game.

So, will we see her compete again on Wednesday night?

Although the "Jeopardy!" rules prevent Mrs. Owens from answering, she will say she's pleased with her performance.

"I think the women players on "Jeopardy!" get a bad rap because they don't play as aggressively as the men," she says. "I played aggressively. As a stay-at-home mother, I sometimes wonder what kind of role model I am for my daughters. Girls are notorious for not wanting to go out there and take risks. So I played taking risks. I played hard -- and I didn't get timid about it."

Linell Smith

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