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Jack Regal: Changing the world by being himself

by Allison Stalberg

Jack Regal is an unusual soul in the city of Greensboro. He makes fire props, performs and teaches his skills to anyone who wishes to know. He also does most of these things for free.

Regal was schooled in the art by a Ringling Brother’s trained professional, Joseph Rodzinski. With the skills he’s learning, he hopes to bring performance arts culture to Downtown Greensboro.

“I saw him (Rodzinski) juggling and said ‘I wish I knew how to do that’ and he said ‘I’ll teach you,'” said Regal. “He’s been training me for 10 months now. He’s not just teaching me juggling, he’s been teaching me everything he knows. I started trying to develop myself as a performer so I could bring performance arts to the streets of Greensboro.”

Rodzinski is part of the reason Regal loves to do what he does for free. Rodzinski told Regal that skill should be shared with those who want to utilize the knowledge.

“I sort of took that philosophy and have been translating it to everything I do,” said Regal. “When people see me do something and say ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’ I’m like ‘Great, let me show you how it’s done. That way you can give yourself that joy.

“I’ve made almost no money at this because I perform and educate for free a lot. That’s because I want to see what the waves I push to the universe create. I’ve been watching those rewards come back to me over the last few months.”

To get to where he is today, Regal gave up living in his house and quit his job.

“I realized I was miserable,” said Regal.

“I was fairly successful in my field. I was a respected mixologist and chef. Working all day long for other people just to pay rent to someone I didn’t really like was miserable. It didn’t matter what I was accomplishing, I was wasting my money on nothing.

“So I looked around and said ‘Well, why am I raising all this money if I’m just spending it on nothing?’ So I decided to switch my entire life style. I spent the last three months doing whatever I want every day. I go wherever I want. I do whatever I want, having the personal freedom to make a choice about my life without having to worry about others as I make that decision.”

Regal has been living out of his car and the kindness of friends.

“That sort of lifestyle is not for many people, it’s really difficult. There are days I don’t have food or a place to sleep and there are other days where I have more amenities than I could ever ask for.”

Regal played with fire as a kid but he’s been doing it as an art form now for a couple years. He works with his own fire weapons to shock and awe his audience. One of his most popular props is a five foot flaming bastard sword, weighing 25 pounds with four feet of flame.

“I don’t have very much fear of getting hurt and people get hurt when they’re scared,” said Regal. “For most of the props that I build, I purposely leave really sharp edges on them. My philosophy is when you’re playing with something as dangerous as this…you have to get hurt.

“It gives you respect for the element you are playing with. I’ve set myself on fire a couple times but it’s never been anything severe. I’ve watched plenty of people light their faces on fire, I watched people get 3rd degree burns, I’ve watched people go down and almost die. That comes from too much cockiness or too much fear.”

Playing with fire and weapons is not Regal’s greatest crave. His passion is to create fires in other people.

“Once I started learning to juggle, I would go out on the streets and I realized I enjoyed showing people how to do the stuff more than I enjoy doing it for them,” said Regal. “I would much rather teach the skills that I’ve learned and the things that have been invested into me than just show off what I know.”

He not only spreads the art, but out-ofthe-box ideas about how one can live.

“Every single person in this world actually wants to be an artist, they just don’t realize it. Most people are just going about the day to day humdrum, the rat race they are trained to do. We’re told to follow these steps.

“You go to school, you go to college, you get a degree, you get a job, you get a family, you become successful at your career, you retire. This is all laid out for us as children. What inspires me is my personal desire to disregard that entire system. How is it that I can create the world around me? How do I change the world in my own little way?” As unusual as Regal may be, he is a product of Greensboro.

“I’ve grown up here. I’ve worked all kinds of places around here. This is my hometown. A lot of people ask ‘Why here? You can go to Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, you can go to the other cities where this is already happening.’ People always think I came from somewhere else and I came here with all these ideas.

“No, I’m a product of this city. I live here.

I should be allowed to express myself the same way everyone else in the city is allowed to express themselves. I’m from here; I’m just a little bit different. I have a feeling this is where I’m meant to be. Whatever opportunity I find…that’s just where I go. I’m just following the winds. I’m listening to my gut.” !

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