Ray Pierce could hand out hundreds of different business cards for different jobs and situations. He is a professional actor, singer, dancer, magician, illusionist, musical arranger, pyrotechnician, laserist, musical editor, stage manager, scenic designer, sound mixer, lighting designer, stunt coordinator, aerial director and rigger, creative engineer, magic director, tightrope teacher, fire-safety supervisor, COVID compliance officer, clinical hypnotherapist and trapeze instructor.
But since that does not quite cover all of his skills, he hands out business cards that simply say ,“I solve problems.” That is exactly what Pierce does for a living, and he seems to enjoy it as much as his clients do.
Born in Texas in a family whose members all go by their middle names, Pierce was made for the entertainment industry, although no one seemed to expect it. For one thing, he was painfully shy, and his father had a very practical job as a bricklayer, carpenter and engineer. “When I decided to go into entertainment, they thought I was nuts,” Pierce said of his parents with a laugh. But regardless, he was a professional actor by the time he was 12 years old, and that was only the beginning.
Pierce’s “I solve problems” business card is a result of his “‘wagon wheel’ theory of occupational interests,” as he calls it. With his passion for obtaining knowledge, Pierce spends nearly all of his spare time studying. “There’s not one day in my life that I’m not researching and learning and trying to fill in a little blank spot in my wagon wheel so it rolls smoothly,” he said. Pierce’s first purchase after becoming a professional actor was a tape recorder, which he used to teach himself how to edit audio.
When he first moved to California, Pierce sought to become a professional magician, which ended up creating a hub for the hundreds of other jobs that he would be asked to do over the years. “Everything that I learned in one field that related to what I was doing in magic could be applied to another field,” Pierce said. Studying magic – along with everything else that interested him – helped him to fill in the spokes of his “wagon wheel.” Pierce wanted to have credibility in whatever job he was doing. “Any time I’m not working, I am online just figuring out solutions for random things,” he said.
His broad spectrum of knowledge was particularly handy when he worked as an imaginative engineer, if you will, for a certain company that begins with the letter “D.” He worked there for about five years as an imaginative engineer and magic director and had to be familiar with everything he would encounter. At this job he met his close friend, Chris Kelly, who had also been working as an imaginative engineer. Although they met there in late 1996, they did not interact much and became closer when they began to work together in theater. No matter what they were working on, Pierce always came prepared. “He knew what was needed, how to do it…and he had the materials!” Kelly said, laughing. She also recalled that he would perform magic tricks backstage during shows to keep everyone entertained. She described him as “crazy without being insane.”
Despite Pierce’s outlandish jobs – including stunt coordinator for “Germany’s Next Top Model” and production stage manager, among other things, for “RuPaul’s Drag Race ‘Drive N Drag’” drive-in tours – he describes himself as “the most introverted guy in the world.” When he is not onstage, he prefers to be left alone or with a friend to have a deep conversation. But his life onstage has provided him with an excellent balance, allowing him to express himself in front of crowds.
Essentially, Pierce lives his life to make people happy. Of all the incredible jobs he has had over the years, his absolute favorites were clinical hypnotherapy and teaching trapeze. “Believe it or not, they both accomplished the same thing,” Pierce said. From his experience, both jobs had a clear therapeutic impact on his patients’ and students’ lives. “The first thing you do is learn how to fall; now you have no fear of progressing.” He used this as a philosophy in his own life, and so did his students. His most treasured memories of those therapeutic jobs were how they affected so many people. “The greatest joy in my life has been being able to transform somebody in some positive way to help them do something they didn’t think was possible in life,” Pierce said.
For questions/comments about this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @TheWhitOnline.