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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wildest place or circumstances ever worked as a magician

A discussion came up about the wildest place or circumstances ever worked as a magician, below is my response ....

Hmmmm .... performing under challenging circumstances will make you a better performer. When starting out I sought out challenging circumstances.

For a year I was a hawker for Magic Zone, basically a kiosk (in malls and heavy traffic tourist areas) selling D-Lites, UFO's, sponge balls plus a few other items. I was getting paid to rehearse 8 hours a day, I learned to draw a crowd there.

After that for 3 years I was part of the live entertainment at a Movie Theater Multi-plex (24 screens). The theater complex was very popular but had patrons waiting upwards of an hour to see their movie. The theater thought live entertainment would be a good idea. We (myself, another magician and 2 stand up comics) did some crazy stuff. At first it was incredibly challenging, walking into a theater of 500 who have been waiting in their seats for 20 minutes for the film to start, they have no idea what you are there for and then try entertaining. After 6 months we were (somewhat of) a hit (patrons would come in and ask for us and the company tried to replicate what we were doing in their other multi-plexes). For the next 2.5 years it was just myself and 1 stand up comic. We created characters and played characters from hit films (launching a side business of appearing as Professor Snape). We were given free rein to preform what we wanted. We wrote our own scripts, became more skilled at improv and did our own costuming. There is nothing like the experience of performing a new routine 25+ times a day, 3 days a week for live audiences. On top of that we had to keep the material fresh as there were patrons who came to the theater every week.

For 6 months I was the featured Illusionist in a 1940's theme weekly burlesque review at a nightclub in Washington, DC. Imagine being the magician on before the very popular featured burlesque artist, in front of inebriated patrons, in a DC nightclub where patrons are paying $40 for a seat. 2- 3 times nightly. I was lucky and it went well.

None of those 3 positions paid extremely well but .....

The key thing is, these challenging situations gave me great experience that you can't get any other way.

Wild? ... maybe ... Rewarding? ... beyond measure

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thinking about hiring a magician? What does a magician cost?

Often I get calls or email from prospective clients asking about my services as a magician. They may have never hired live entertainment before so they might mot have an idea what a magician's fees are. The prospective client may be thinking they are hiring an hour (in my case the stage or parlor show is 45+ minutes) of my services so maybe it's like other skilled trades, mechanic, plumber or the like. Well..... when you hire Illusions by Vick you get a lot more than the 45 minutes.

Please allow me to pull back the curtain a little,
for the average client we send 8 emails back and forth discussing your event,
(plus time on the phone, I am always available to share experience, to answer questions, take requests or suggestions). This is some of the best times with a cleint, we get to know each other, I get to learn about special people and this time helps develop a special show just for your event
1 to 2 hours goes into developing the set for your show
I spend about 5-6 hours in rehearsal for each event,
plus drive time back and forth (let's say 30 minutes each way),
About one hour setting up before the performance.
Then the 45+ minutes for your show
About 30 - 45 minutes after the show cleaning up, loading out and speaking with guests
Conservatively speaking that's 10 hours devoted to each performance

That's before the 12 years training and intense study (lot of lectures, working with a director and many, many books). That's before all the specialized equipment.

For every show I use about $40 in combustibles/expendables (Among other things I purchase a dozen roses for almost every show even though I may only use 2 or 3).

Add in assorted operating expenses, gas (I drive a 32+ MPG car for many shows), maintenance, maintenance of equipment, insurance, liability insurance (other performers might not carry liability insurance, I do due to the venues I perform in and it's what professional performers have to do) and other assorted operating costs (dry cleaning, costumes and so on) .

Could I be that guy that goes around with a set show for every audience, who shows up 15 minutes before the performance, doesn't use combustibles/expendables and doesn't have special equipment?
NO! The performance would not be the same and I can't do anything less than a special, quality show....

Not every performer makes the same commitment to their clients, sad to say.

I hope you see the difference, you can read what clients have written about Illusions by Vick here or Google "Illusions by Vick"
I consider myself very lucky to have had such warm and truly wonderful experiences performing ... but that is the goal, to enhance a special event. It's part of why the show is the way it is.

One thing that can't be measured in cost is the amount of heart that goes into every show.

I understand some people in these challenging economic times may be on a budget and my services might not be the right fit for them. For these clients I recommend other options (I try to help everyone get the best possible entertainment program, even if it isn't Illusions by Vick) just be honest with me, it's nothing to be embarrassed about.

I hope this helped someone shopping for entertainment have a better understanding and perspective of what goes into your show.

Please always know, Illusions by Vick is here for you.
One of my goals regardless of who performs for you is in the end trying to make certain you have the best possible entertainment experience .... and that is priceless ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Magician Sits Down .. The Magician Stands up

I was privileged to have one of the most beautiful moments of magic ever in one of my shows last night ...... and I didn't perform it.
I had been hired to perform 45 minutes parlor(magical entertainment) at a 50th Birthday Celebration. The gentleman (Eugene) who hired me to perform for his wife's 50th birthday celebration and I had been communicating in email, along the way I suggested if he had a small present to present I could show him a magical way to present it. He liked the idea. We took a few minutes before the show to go over the presentation, I believe he had be practicing on his own(when I gave instruction on where to place it he made a remark that lead me to think he had been trying on his own).
I brought Eugene and his wife Katherine up to perform Anniversary Waltz (a card trick that can be a beautiful, fun moment) and when I was done Eugene said he had a trick that might top mine. (I sat down and directed a person with a video camera to a good spot for their special moment)

He did it perfectly, when the flash died away there was a very, very beautiful ring hanging from his hand on a fine chain. There was an amazing outpouring of love and joy, not just from his wife but from everyone present (about 30 guests). The laughter, applause, love and hugs went on all night as part of this very special celebration

If you wanted to imagine the perfect party, I nominate this evening. My words can't adequately describe the life and love that infused this event. It doesn't suffice to say that Ukrainians know how to party. There were at least 4 people there who were good piano players, a group of about 10 women got up and danced, sharp minds and great food & drink (I only tried the homemade cranberry vodka and I never ever drink at a show). These people define joie de vivre.

There is a lot more to these wonderful people then I will go into here but again .....
It was one of the most beautiful moments ever in my show ... and all I had to do was sit and enjoy!

Sometimes I say I perform because it makes others better people (when someone is laughing, enjoying themselves, amazed or having fun that is about the best someone can be), last night they made me a better person.