Monthly Archives: May 2013

Crossing Over From Free to Paid Shows

I’ve been grappling with the concept of free shows and exposure vs. paid shows. Now, free shows are okay to do. You are giving of your time and skills to someone or something else without expecting payment. This world runs on “I have something you want; therefore you will pay me for it”.

Paid shows are obviously okay to do. There is something about knowing you are getting paid a lot of money to perform that just makes you work harder than ever before to prepare and not disappoint. With a free show there is sometimes a mentality of “they are lucky to be getting me for free, so therefore if I make a mistake – eh it’s not the end of the world, after all, I am doing this for free.”

However, the problem with doing free shows is that if you do enough of them you will be known as “The Magician Who Does Free Shows.” It can be your trade name. “Come quick! The magician who does free shows is doing a free show!!!!” Until: “You have to see this! The magician who does free shows is doing a PAID show!!!! AHHHHH what is this world coming tooooooo?!?!?!!? Oh the humanity!!!!!”

So when does one know when it is a good idea to do a free show or when they should insist on a paid show?

If you are starting out as a performer and shows are few and far, then accepting free shows (not necessarily approaching someone and saying you will do a free show, but people approaching you and asking for a free show) not only gives you an opportunity to perform in front of live people and perfect your skills, but it also gives you exposure. You can hand out your business card to people and make connections.

However…

Once you have been around the block a bit (especially if being a magician is your profession and your income is based on the amount of shows you do) you are entitled to and expected to be paid what you charge without having to negotiate. I am not a working professional but I would think that your price for a show is fixed and only under extreme circumstances should you negotiate. You as the performer have spent countless hours sharpening your skills and you have talent! Your time is valuable. Every minute you are doing a free show you are losing an opportunity to either practice or do a paid show.

There are exceptions when one does a free show:

1)      A relative or best friend is running an event and the funds are low.

2)      Your Church or Synagogue or Mosque asks you to perform

3)      There is a charity event

4)      You NEED exposure

5)      You NEED to perform

You do not want to sell yourself short. You want people to respect you. Once I was asked to do a kids show and I quoted something quite cheap and the lady never got back to me. When I inquired with a friend of mine they said I got rejected because I was too cheap. Trying to do things for cheap or free might just bite ya in the ass. So make sure that your next show and future shows are signed on your terms and conditions and not solely on theirs.

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A little fun

I follow Richard Wiseman on Twitter and he uploaded this very interesting video. Take a look.

Before the explanation I was flawed. I had no idea where the ball came from and thought “Man… If I could do that…” But after watching the secret I realise I don’t actually know any ninjas. If you haven’t watched the video yet, do so now or watch it later and then continue reading.

Magic is simple. Well that is what I believe. As humans we are conditioned to think inside of the box and magic actually happens outside of said box. Therefore the secrets are quite simple but because they are so simple – one usually doesn’t think of them.

Well that just got me thinking a bit and I hope next time you perform or watch a performance always make sure the little ninja is in sync with you 😛

Well done Richard! I thoroughly enjoy your writings and clips. See more of Richard and Quirkology here: http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/blog-2/                 Quirkology

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Magic and Ego – Hey, Hey, Hey… Goodbye

Bill Malone, one of the most influential magicians of our time said it perfectly and this for me epitomises magic and the performer. When Bill Malone was asked to give one bit of advice for the up-and-coming performer he warns that you must not… MUST NOT get an ego when you perform. When one develops an ego, it is at that point that you stop learning. No matter how old you are or how experienced you are at anything… not only magic… the minute you think you know it all – you stop learning.

I personally have a huge problem with arrogance. In general I loathe arrogance, but especially in magicians. Nothing turns me off more than watching a magician with an attitude. It makes my blood boil. In a magic effect/show/encounter there is a lot of power up for grabs. Power can easily shift to the magician because they are performing somewhat miracles or things that “normal” people can’t do. But if a magician adopts an attitude of “look what I can do and you can’t” it makes the spectator feel inferior and stupid. If you adopt that attitude you will hear a lot of “I feel so stupid!” and other negative comments from your spectators.

However if you try to empower the spectator, make them feel a part of the magic and or course let them walk away with a positive feeling – then they will most likely remember you in a positive light and contact you for their next event. You as the magician do not want to be remembered as an arrogant, pompous and immature performer. It is very difficult to dig yourself out of a hole that you dug yourself.

So how does one achieve this? These are the steps that I believe magicians should take in order to be successful, in order to not be an APE.

1)      Your Attitude towards the spectator needs to be warm, kind, caring and of course friendly

When one’s attitude is positive, then the atmosphere is pleasant and enjoyable for all. This also ensures that your audience feels included in the magic.

2)       Your effects should have meaningful Patter

I believe that giving meaning to an effect invites the audience to feel a part of the effect. When someone tells you a story in detail you feel a part of the story, you feel the emotions portrayed in the story. THAT is what great patter is and should be.

3)      Make Eye contact with the spectators

This shows them respect. You are taking the time to recognise them. They are worthy of your time.

These I believe are fundamental principles that all magicians should incorporate into their effects. They seem quite obvious but often those are the hardest to remember.

I would love to hear how YOU as the magician maintain a positive rapport with your audience. If you are a spectator reading this I would love to hear how you feel when someone performs for you. Was it a positive or negative experience? How did that make you feel?

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An Evening In Honour Of Michelle and Milani

I was honoured and privileged to participate in a fundraising event held at Kelvin Grove, Newlands this past Saturday night in order to raise funds for Michelle (girl) and Milani (boy), ages five and six respectively who have suffered so much in their short years of life. Graeme Bunce and I were asked to do some magic for the guests before they entered the ballroom. We ended up staying a little longer and showing magic for the tables whilst they were getting their soup. The magic was great. The guests loved it. I had such a great time and I made a lot of new contacts. However that is not the focus of this post.

Michelle and Milani suffered extreme burns in separate incidents and spent many months under the care of the Burns Unit at Red Cross Hospital.

MILANI was burnt in a fire at the crèche he was at in June 2011 when the heater fell over. He has had to have many, many operations including reconstruction to his face and ears as his head was severely burnt. Although he has his down days, he is kind hearted and generally a cheerful little chap always ready to help any of the other little patients in the ward. Unfortunately, his family background is quite shocking and the hospital pretty much became his home as his mother does not want him anymore.

MICHELLE suffered 86% burns when their shack caught fire in April last year. Michelle and her mom lost everything. There were a few occasions when the doctors decided to just to keep Michelle ‘comfortable’ as they didn’t expect her to live . . . . but she had other ideas. She was called the ‘Miracle Child’ in the Burns Unit. Michelle is feisty and very bright and through everything she is still cheerful most of the time. She is slowly adapting to her ‘new way of life’ as her hands were also severely burnt and on one hand she just has stubs. Unfortunately, Michelle also has a very troubled home life and the people at the hospital became her ‘family’ as her mother doesn’t want her anymore either.

They are attending St Joseph’s Children’s Home, which has a school attached to it and the fundraiser was for their school fees as well as weekly visits to the hospital for redressing of the wounds.

The evening was well attended with representatives from many companies all coming to show their support for these two children. I was completely taken aback by the kindness and love that these people have for Michelle and Milani, whom they have never met. The magic wasn’t important. What was important was showing solidarity and unity for people less fortunate than us.

In essence that is what magic is… if done correctly that is. Magic is supposed to be an experience that says: “Let’s see what we can accomplish together”, as opposed to “Look what I can do” or “Look at the skill I have and you do not.” Magic gives people the opportunity to connect who seemingly wouldn’t under normal circumstances. Magic creates unity. That fundraiser created unity and hopefully they managed to raise enough funds for these two children. We can’t save everyone, but we sure as hell can try.

If you wish to donate please contact Anne Pickering on 082 809 8170.

So next time you perform, I want you to think about the type of environment that you are creating. Is the atmosphere one of unity or is it one of separation?

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What’s The Point?

I feel there are two types of magicians: Those who are born at the right time, fall in love with magic at the right time and are around magical people at the right time; and then there are those that unfortunately are not.

I was a little bit of both, more to the latter than the former… much more actually. I had some friends who went to the College of Magic who took time out to teach me (some effects I use to this very day), and then they slowly and unfortunately left magic behind them and there I was fending on my own. I had to learn from trial and error how to perform, what to say, what works, what doesn’t work and how to promote myself.

I sometimes get incredibly frustrated that I wasn’t born in a country where magic flourished, where the possibilities to have a mentor in real life were much higher than they currently are for me. Someone who I can call, who I can have coffee with, and most importantly whom I could learn from, INSTEAD of my mentor living in my television. I met my mentor once (I was incredibly lucky). I chatted to him for maybe 5 minutes and that was 7 years ago.

I read a lot about magicians on blogs and just in general. I also have been listening to a lot of podcasts about magicians and they speak a lot about their mentors and staying up late at a coffee shop or hotel room with them, just playing around with magic. These guys are famous, big in the magic community. So as much as I love learning how these guys got into magic, I ask myself… will I ever get there? Could I get there if the yellow – brick road was not paved for me like it was for them? Don’t get me wrong – these guys worked damn hard to get to the top, but I feel they had a little push, a little nudge to get them going.

I read a blog that spoke about dreams and how if you view yourself on a different playing field – different from your opponent, in essence the finishing line is really closer than you think. But dreams need to be worked on to become a reality, maybe they will maybe they won’t.

It’s hard to figure out where I want to be right now. Is there a point to strive for excellence when I wasn’t “brought up” the same way as R. Paul Wilson, Bill Malone, Jay Sankey and the like? Those guys were at the right place at the right time. I know what you guys will say. I know what I will say if someone was talking like this to me.

I know my future is what I create of it and my attitude determines my altitude – but when the evidence is smack-bam in your face against you, it is so much harder to adapt and think the “right” way.

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My Review on Penguin Magic

Every magician wants the best. Magicians who are serious about the craft don’t want the little box sets you find at tourist attractions. They want the Real McCoy. So naturally you will go to the local magic shop where the goods are most likely to be. I have found book stores to have some good magic books, however if you want props, DVDs and books – you will need to find a magic shop.

 

Some cities do not have such luxuries or if they do the goods come from overseas so they are incredibly expensive (this is not a knock to those shops – you gotta make a living). In Cape Town, there is the Magic Shop at the College of Magic, but the prices are too expensive for me. They have an extensive collection of products but it comes from overseas…

So where do I buy my magic? I buy online. I have one website that I swear by and that I will recommend to everyone. They are reliable, professional, sincere and honest. When I need magic, I turn to Penguin Magic.

What started out as an unfair dismissal turned into a blessing in disguise. Maxwell Murphy and Acar Altinsel started Penguin Magic in June 2002. They chose a penguin as their mascot because it looks like this bird was born with a tuxedo on so it is always ready to perform… hence the slogan “Born to perform” and Penguin Magic is born. It started out as a little “warehouse” (actually it was an apartment on top of a university) with boxes of merchandise from floor to ceiling (even in the kitchen! How they got to the fridge for food is beyond me :p). At first delivery trucks had to turn around in the parking lot but soon that turned into warehouses being opened in Las Vegas, London, and Sacramento, delivering magic products to 169 countries world-wide. I bet whoever fired them is kicking themselves!

Maxwell Murphy (left) and Acar Altinsel (right)

 

I started using Penguin Magic in 2004 and I haven’t looked back since! I have had 16 successful deliveries. The beauty about Penguin Magic is that their number one concern is customer satisfaction, which means that the quality of products need to satisfy crazy, opinionated, subjective creatures like us. Now you can’t please everyone all the time, but I can safely say that I am a satisfied and dedicated customer to Penguin.

One of the best qualities (there are way too many to mention) of Penguin is that if the customer is not satisfied they will send you another copy for free. For example: I ordered the famous colouring book and it got crumpled a bit from the post; I emailed asking them if they could send me another and they gladly and willingly said sure and I got the new book a few days later.

The famous Coloring Book effect

Penguin Magic is guaranteed to give you the best prices for the goods. Their website is user – friendly and almost all of the products come with a demo video and an extensive description of what the effect is as well as what some of the professionals think. Their customer-service team is super quick to respond to queries and tries every way possible to help the customer.

Penguin has a policy whereby if you find a product that is cheaper elsewhere, they will match it. I actually am making use of this clause when I buy next (hopefully sometime in May). I found a set of DVDs that were cheaper elsewhere and the customer-service team are matching it! Again: Always wanting what is best for the customer.

Penguin also gives the inventor inside of us an opportunity to come alive. If you have created an effect, you can record it and send it to Penguin. If they approve they will sell it on your behalf. Now Penguin won’t take responsibility for an effect that has been copied (unbeknownst to the best of their knowledge and resources) and the originator sees it and comes for your head, but they are willing to give the hidden Jim Steinmeyer’s or Juan Tamariz’s inside of us an opportunity to success.

Penguin has this practically yearly special where you choose five DVD titles or effects for $99. They have a wide selection that you can choose from and some of the DVD titles that you can buy were being sold for a $50/$60 for 1 – 3 discs. I remember buying 10 discs totalling something crazy like +-$150 for only $99. That never included international shipping but it’s minor in comparison. What a win!

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Penguin Magic does not have every magic product in the world, but they do have an incredible selection of single effects, DVDs, books, posters, instant downloads (paying for the secret but the props are available in local stores, normal cards/coins, or everyday objects), juggling material, Extreme Card Manipulation (see Card Artistry article), stand – up/comedy magic as well as a selection of music that you can play in your act. Those are only a few types of magic you can buy from Penguin.

Another gem of a creation that I have yet to experience but looks flipping awesome is the Penguin Live events. These events are two hour lectures on a Sunday (around midnight Monday morning here in South Africa) given by guest speakers – magicians who are known for their genius minds, creativity, uniqueness and entertaining personalities. You get a front row seat to a lecture that you can watch over and over again for $25. No shipping! They have had speakers like David Roth, Greg Wilson (not Greg Gelb, well not yet anyway), Gazzo, Dani DaOrtiz, Jay Sankey, Rob Zabrecky (cover of April 2013 Genii Magazine), Losander (inventor of the Floating Table), Shin Lim, Woody Aragon, and Boris Wild… to name a few.

Sometimes you find in huge companies, talking to the boss is next to impossible. Not with Penguin. I can and have dealt with both Maxwell and Acar on numerous occasions – be it mere questions on products or issues that I have had. They make themselves available for the customer and I can tell you, customers recognise this and appreciate it more than words can describe. 

I find international shipping to be very expensive. Even the economic international shipping is expensive and often the products are not insured and do not come with a tracking number, which often gives me an uneasy feeling. It would be great to see Penguin either try to make MOST of their products available for Flat – Pack free shipping (put the dvds in sleeves instead of boxes) or give free international shipping to orders over a certain amount. I think that way customers will be encouraged to buy over that limit so they get free shipping.

I would like to say thank you to the Penguin Magic team for giving me the opportunity to be the best magician I can be by making products readily available. Buying online is a touchy subject for most people, but with Penguin Magic I feel safe, my details are safe and confidential and I know should anything happen Penguin will help me as best as they can.

Keep up the great work Penguin and I look forward to future business with you guys!

 

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