His illusions serve as the vehicle in which Caleb Johnson connects his story to his audience. No story he’s ever written has more personal meaning or powerful impact than the one he will debut at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte on Oct. 5 and 6 — The Ruse.

An illusionist for the past 10 years, Johnson’s career and life reached a turning point last year when he shared with his church community that he is gay. The revelation cost him his job at the church, where he had been a pastor for five years.

The following year was one of soul-searching and self-discovery.

“That definitely took a toll on my personal life, my motivation, and my business,” Johnson said. “I realized during that time that my audience was maybe limited to the religious community. I realized I had fallen for a trick myself, allowing my worth to be tied up in the faith community. It was the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life. It showed me that I was limiting myself to such a small segment of the world.”

The Ruse represents Johnson’s transformation and his drive to live his dream of being a storyteller and illusionist. His passion for storytelling started with his father, who often captivated people with his stories. Johnson said he learned so much about his father’s character through those stories. He realized he could reach others in the same way.

The Ruse, Johnson said, is about his Journey.

“I fell for a trick, and wore a mask trying to be who others wanted me to be,” he said. “In the end, I stumbled upon a really beautiful truth, that free to be who I am made to be.”

Johnson said the story will connect with people who struggle with living a life they don’t want to live, all because of other people’s expectations.

“It caused me to realize one I’m not alone, connect with other people in a real meaningful way,”

Johnson said he is excited to bring his story to live on a stage that has a unique story of its own at Windwalker, located at 125 S. Cochran in Charlotte.

“Caleb, his story, and his amazingly talented way of sharing that story through expert illusions mesh perfectly with the energy that flows through the Windwalker building,” said Kalli Dempsey, Windwalker board member. This will be the largest production we have brought to the Windwalker stage, and we are honored that Caleb will be debuting this show in downtown Charlotte. This is a must see event that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at Windwalker or online at winderwalkerunderground.com/events/theruse.