Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Know Thyself - Part 1

Ok, listen.  This topic is heavy.  It is not something that you can skim through without any thought.  If you do, you are really wasting your time.  I believe that what follows is critical in order for you to understand my philosophy of performing.  So don’t go any further until you have some time to think about what is said.

I also want to mention that not everyone is in the same place.  You may know exactly who you are and you may create magic that is 100% true to you.  On the flipside of that coin, you very well may have never thought about this subject in the context of magic.  I am going to try and approach this topic as if we are starting from the very beginning.  And off we go…

In order to make magic your own, you have to know who you are.  Period.  That is what it all boils down to.  Stop right now and think about it.  Who are you?  Wow.  That is a tough question for many people to answer. 

Do you know yourself very well?  Who are you as a person, as a member of the human race?  What are your beliefs, your values, your loves, and your hates?  Take a moment and think about who you are deep within; your authentic self. 

This is not an exercise that you can do quickly.  It is an undertaking that requires time and real effort to accomplish. 

Knowing yourself, from the deep personal beliefs that make up your core system of values to your funny habits and quirks that make you special and unique, is the first step on the path to creating something that is uniquely your own. 

Taking a self-inventory, stepping back for a moment and doing some inner-exploration is not some ridiculous esoteric new-age idea. 

No, it is the base, the rock that your creative process will work from as you take the steps to make the magic you perform your own.  As you begin to learn and understand who you are, you will naturally make choices that ring true for you.  You will choose material, subjects and approaches that speak to you and you will reject that which is not authentic.  You will throw away the junk that does not conform to your ideals. 

You will begin a filtering process that will guide you in your choices.  Learning about yourself is a deeply personal journey that will challenge you immensely and one that will give you great satisfaction as you create your own personal masterpieces.

So, who are you? 

Well, let me help start you in the right direction.  What do you love?  For instance, do you love sports?  How about movies?  Is reading one of your passions?  Or perhaps you love to cook?  Does your family give you great satisfaction?  Maybe you love someone else…or just yourself.  You must be honest with yourself. 

You have to look within to find subjects that strike a chord deep within.  What subjects get you energized and excited? 

Go ahead and write them down when they come to you.  You should definitely keep a journal or a notebook where you can express your thoughts and ideas. 

How about those little things that drive you absolutely crazy?  What are they?  What pushes you to your breaking point?  What makes you sad? 

Understand this, the answers that you seek may not come to you right away.  The first step is to pose the questions.  Once you have asked yourself the questions then your brain can begin to search for the answers. 

Once you have been made aware of the subject, you will begin to take notice of the things that influence you in your everyday life.  As these realizations come to you, you should have a notebook, a journal, a tape recorder, or a file on your computer set aside to record them. 

The personal truths that you seek need to be recorded and compiled for you to study.  These truths will help guide you on the path that you should pursue in your performing, your creating, and ultimately in your everyday life.

To continue this essay, click here for Part 2.  Until then...Make An Impact!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It’s Not About You

So, you’re looking for a way to make some money with magic tricks, huh?  Among the magicians I know that is one of the hottest topics around. Not only is it natural, there’s also something incredibly satisfying about getting paid for doing something that you love to do.
So, once you have some good experience and you are comfortable performing the magic, how do you make some cash with it?
Well, let me ask you this first.  Did you read the post titled Getting Paid to Do Magic and do what it told you to do?  Getting paid to do magic is really about taking action.  You can’t be scared to share your magic with strangers.  You can’t be scared to try and sell yourself to someone.  You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.  If you haven’t actually done the exercise in that post, click here, read the post and do what it says.  Once you’ve done that, come back and continue reading.
Alright, you’ve taken action and spent some time sharing your magic with family, friends and even some strangers.  Good for you!  That’s step #1.  In fact, you can never get enough of step #1.  Go do it some more and get some more experience.  Now, on to step #2.
Step #2 is to realize that when people pay you to do magic, it’s not about you.  Huh?  Wait a minute.  What? 
That’s right, it’s not about you.  It’s about them.  Every time I get hired to do my magic by an event planner, a restaurant, a private party, etc, it’s not about me.
Let’s think about this.  Let’s say that a mom wants to hire you for her child’s birthday party.  Why?  The reality is that she is hiring you because she thinks that by having you entertain her child and his or her guests you will make the child’s birthday extra special and super memorable.  She wants to thrill her little boy or girl.  By hiring you, it fulfills her wants and needs.
A restaurant doesn’t hire you because they love the tricks you can do for their customers.  A restaurant hires you to add value to the dining experience.  They want to make the rather lengthy wait for the food, seem like it never occurred.  They want you to keep people entertained so they don’t leave while they wait for a table in the lobby.  They want you to give the people a unique experience that they can’t get anywhere else.
A cruise ship doesn’t hire you because you can do great magic.  A cruise ship hires you because they have confidence that you can entertain their guests.  They believe that you can give the cruisers a fun experience that they will enjoy.  A cruise ship wants their guests to enjoy themselves onboard and they are hiring you to help provide that enjoyment.
Someone who stops to watch you do a street magic performance stops out of interest, but they stay because you are keeping them entertained.  They're laughing, watching intently, and enjoying the experience.  You are doing something that they find interesting, so they stick around.
It’s all about them.  When someone pays you, whether it’s in money or in their time and attention, you want to make sure that you are fulfilling their specific wants and needs.  This is the question you must ask yourself.  When someone wants to hire me, what is it they want or need?
If you can answer that question, not only will you probably get the gig, but you will also be ready to actually entertain the audience.  You’ll be able to speak “their language” and make everyone happy.
You see, it’s very easy to fall in the trap of thinking that it’s all really about you.  But if you keep in mind that the most important person in the world to someone else is themselves, then you’ll start seeing why this is such an important point.
I hope you enjoy and keep reading these posts.  As we delve further into these discussions, I’ll share specific information with you on how to work restaurants, do street magic, produce your own show, and more.  For now though, please realize that we are setting groundwork.  I want to get you in the right mindset, so when it’s time to go out there and get the show, you’re ready.  Don't worry, we'll get there.  Until next time...Make An Impact!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Thought I would briefly talk about originality in magic.  I say “briefly” because this is a subject I could go on and on about.
When I first started in magic, I mainly learned by watching video.  Because I was watching other magicians perform, when I learned the magic that was being taught, I used their exact same scripts, ideas, etc.  That’s actually quite natural.  Most beginners do exactly that.  They learn the magic as it is taught, then they perform it the same way.  No problem there.
After some time though, I think it’s important to start to imprint some of your own personality into your magic.  I guarantee that you have a different style than the person whom you learned the tricks from.  You probably have a different sense of humor, different interests, and different ideas for what makes magic good for you.
Your audiences want to see and get to know you.  They want to enjoy you doing the magic.  Your audience does not want to see you doing your best impression of Criss Angel, David Blaine or Jason Michaels.  They want to get to know you. 
That is one of the things that makes magic so powerful.  It’s a performing art.  Magic is not nearly as good when it’s seen on video.  It’s not, trust me.  Magic is best experienced live.  That‘s why it’s so important to not be a clone of some other magician.
As you learn more and more magic, find ways to share your personality.  Feel free to change the magic so that it represents your sense of humor, your view of the world, and your ideas.
I’m sharing a video on this post of Shawn Farquhar performing his multi-award-winning act Shape of My Heart.  Shawn recently won FISM (the Olympics of magic) and is a grand champion of magic.  I think it’s important to see how he used his own ideas and inspirations, along with numerous sleight of hand techniques to create a beautiful routine that his audiences go nuts about.
On a related note, Shawn is a personal friend of mine and he and I have talked about this routine before.  He put a ton of time and effort into creating it.  Unfortunately, numerous magicians have seen him do this act and have decided to rip it off.  Don’t do that!  I’m not posting this here so you can steal Shawn’s routine.  I’m posting it here to inspire you to use everything around you to inspire your magic.
Remember, be an original.  And never forget…Make An Impact!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Paid to do Magic

So, one of the most common questions I get asked by magicians is, “How do you make money with magic?” This is a great question.

The first thing you have to take into consideration is your bag of tricks. Do you have enough magic and is your magic good enough to warrant charging a fee? Well, if you are a member of MagicianMaker and have been learning the magic in the site, the answer is yes. The magic from MagicianMaker is hand selected to be top-notch magic that will amaze, but is easy to learn.

Next you have to consider who you are, what kind of magic you like, and where you want to share your magic. For instance, are you interested in performing for kid’s birthday parties? Do you wanna do close-up magic in a restaurant? What do you think about setting up a table on a street corner and giving street performing a real shot?

Let’s think about this. If you’re just getting started, who do you normally do magic for? When I first started, my first audiences were my family, friends, and my church group. Now, those audiences didn’t pay me anything, but I did get really valuable experience from showing my street magic to them and from doing actual shows as well.

In fact, one of the best things I can advise is to perform as much as possible for as many people as possible. Penn, of Penn and Teller, calls this “flight time”. The idea is that the more “flight time” a pilot gets, the better pilot he or she becomes. The same holds true with magic. The more you perform, the better you will get. And the better you get, the easier it is going to be to start getting paid.

So, do this first. Go out and perform your favorite magic for friends and family over the next couple of days. In fact, here’s a challenge. Find an open, public space. Go to a party, a coffee shop, wherever. Go somewhere there are people milling around and hanging out. Take one of your buddies and begin by showing your buddy a few tricks. See if you can build interest from the people hanging around. If they start paying attention to what you are doing, do some magic for them and try to build a crowd. It’s actually pretty easy.

If you have the guts to do that, you definitely have what it takes to start making some cold, hard cash with magic. So, get on that now. In the next blog post, we’ll deal with actually making some bucks. I’ll share real world advice that has worked for me over and over again. Until then…Make An Impact!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wanna Work a Cruise Ship?

Ever wondered what it was like to be a magician working on a cruise ship? Click here to get a play by play of the adventures.