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Topic: Do you get upset by the prop guys.. WHY?
Message: Posted by: Kevinr (Apr 8, 2009 12:05PM)
I see comments on Magic Café of people who are either upset (or mad they can't afford to do the same)of folks spending ALOT of money on very, very expensive props. I would like to get your thoughts on this..

When this is a business and your source of income you need to step aside... Get out of the picture.

I think its like a repair man who shows up at your home in a beat up truck and dirty clothes or the repair man in the nice new clean uniform and the brand new white truck that has just been washed. People are more willing to pay for the more professional looking guy... Its the perception of value.. Fact is the guy with the new truck may only have a years experince and the guy in the beat up trucks with used tools and worn clothes maybe able to perform the job faster and have many, many more years experince!

Sure we would all love to do magic WE want to do. BUT when this is your source of income (a job) its not about us. Its about taking care of the customer
Message: Posted by: mumford (Apr 8, 2009 12:37PM)
Like Eugene Burger says, there are a lot of different rooms in he house of magic. In music some pay to see Willie Nelson, others like Britney Spears or Tony Bennett.
Message: Posted by: Bradley Roberts (Apr 8, 2009 01:01PM)
If you cant afford the expensive props does not mean you don't have the talent. I know a few magicians that have all the newest stuff but have no talent as a performer and on the flip side some that have all the talent but not the props.

It comes down to this. The customer hires YOU the performer. If they like you and your act they will hire you again and refer you to others. They don't hire your props.

Cheers,
B-Rad
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 8, 2009 01:19PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 13:05, Kevinr wrote:
I think its like a repair man who shows up at your home in a beat up truck and dirty clothes or the repair man in the nice new clean uniform and the brand new white truck that has just been washed. People are more willing to pay for the more professional looking guy... Its the perception of value.. Fact is the guy with the new truck may only have a years experince and the guy in the beat up trucks with used tools and worn clothes maybe able to perform the job faster and have many, many more years experience!
[/quote]

And of the two, who's number would you pass on or book again.

Of course, the customer's perception is valid. And you do need the right tools to do a good job. I think there may be some concern in those that think just having the expensive equipment will make them a better performer like a repair man with a £2000 electric spanner which he uses as a hammer.

George
Message: Posted by: Chris LaBarge (Apr 8, 2009 02:40PM)
I will admit that I am the guy that doesn't have the flashiest of stuff. My props are old, my case is old, my website is horrible, and I drive a beat-up old car. I don't have a sound system and my business cards are generic and bland. I do however make sure that I am presentable and the kids are screaming for more. I think I have a pretty good show and therefore I spend zero on advertising and work every week because of all of the referrals and repeat business.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 8, 2009 03:12PM)
I'll give you my thoughts on the subject. I'd give you other peoples thoughts but I'm not a mentalist....yet. The issue as I see it is props vs magician, that simple. Kids magic is something that a person can walk into an 'entertainment agents' office and be handed five props, be told how they operate, and the next day be doing shows. No kidding, it happens all the times and there are many 'kid show magicians' who do no magic but just know how those props work and they make a living doing it. They don't get referals, they don't get called back, but it doesn't matter, the line of parents hiring magicians is endless and every month another pack of kids is turning five or six and are going to have their first and only magician perform. Tada, show over.

What bothers those of us who happen to be magicians in the classical sense and who REALLY understand how to perform a solid and entertaining show for kids is the prop guys are not only hurting our image but are snotty about it! The prop guys need their props because there is nothing else of substance to them. They couldn't perform a show without them and I, and many others, can walk in with what is in our pockets and have the kids rolling with joy. The prop guy walks in, does his 35 minutes, the kids stare at him and wonder what is next on the agenda.

That being said that does not mean a knowledgable kids show magician doesn't use props (I'm assuming by props you mean the stuff like Run Rabbit Run and the beautiful stuff Wolf Magic makes) when they fit the character and the show. The only actual prop I use in the sense I think you mean it is Hippity Hop Rabbits, I think it is a fun routine and gets the kids reved up as well as the parents. If you think a prop will fit into the show and the routine will work for the age group then you should try to get the best and highest quality one you can get so it will last longer and still function and look good.

In general props are okay but a prop only show, and I know of at least one guy here who did one for years and admits he has no magic abilities, is very often a mask to cover up a lack of skill and knowledge. The exceptions are very rare and I'm sure every prop guy here thinks they are an exception but when I see a routine list for a kids show and there are four Wolf products all I think is "man, he has money to burn, his show indicates he's a hack". When I see a show that uses an envelope, some rope, a couple silks, etc. and maybe one standard prop routine I think the guy knows what he's doing. Again, that is just me.

NOTE: I realize some here are rather dim, let me state clearly that I referenced Wolf products because, and this is good, it is the only manufacture that jumped into my head. They make beautiful props and many of them are suitable for kids shows.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Apr 8, 2009 03:42PM)
I am a prop guy. I admit it, but to say I am a hack because I like or own props is ludicrus. I have done, and still do on occassion, shows without a lot of props. Sometimes it is necessary. However, I prefer to use props at my stage shows when I can. I remember the feeling I had when I was younger, when I saw these beautiful, magical props that magicians had. They are probably partly responsible for my taking up this profession.

Bad things are often said about magicians.....both prop users and non-prop users alike. Many times I have heard bad things said about propless magicians, and that is ludicrus too. Simply because you choose to use, or not to use props does not make or break your act.

There are magicians that work out of a suitcase that think they are the world's greatest performers, but that are awful. I personally know a few that are just that way. I'm sure there are magicians that require truck loads of props to do their shows that think they are world's greatest also, yet their shows leave much to be desired.

Having said that, I believe that if anyone is doing a magic show that includes 4 Wacky Wolf products then I would probably think the opposite of what MagicSanta says he thinks. I would think that if anyone had that many nice, and yes, expensive props in their show that they must be very good. In my eyes, only an experienced professional, or at the very least, someone that cares a lot about their act and knows a lot about magic would spend that kind of money for their show. I do not know any beginners that own 4 Wacky Wolf props.

I feel that most magicians that spend lot's of money on props care about their act, and want to make it as good as possible. I have enough props to do me a lifetime, yet I continue to buy new things if I feel it will improve my show. Why would I do this if I were a "hack"? To me, a hack is someone who doesn't really care, only does enough just to get by, and is only in it to make a buck. It doesn't make sense to buy all these props, especially all these expensive ones if you are only wanting to get by and make a quick buck. If I were in it for those reasons, I would only carry in a suitcase. That would save me lots of time, money, and effort.

As for walking into an agency and them handing out magic props, well, I'll just say there are none that I know of around here that will hire an inexperienced magician that has no act or no props. Maybe if I could find one I'd be working more! :)

Regan
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Apr 8, 2009 03:49PM)
Sounds like another Big Props vrs. Pack Flat debate is brewing. I’ve been involved in a few of these and this is my conclusion:

Big prop magician: Can be an outstanding magician or a horrible magician or anything in between.

Pack flat magician: Can be an outstanding magician or a horrible magician or anything in between.

I am a big prop person myself for mainly the reason that Kevinr points out about getting repeat bookings. I swear by it. Not only big props but every one of my shows is accompanied by doves, a rabbit, many tracks of music, microphone and sometimes even a backdrop. I will admit that part of the reason has to do with what Santa pointed out (hiding behind them). But the another part is knowing my personality. I do not have a loud showy personality. My props are loud and showy, and quite frankly, I know how to use them to keep the kids entertained. Also, take yourself out of the birthday party situation onto a stage. Unless you’re the Jay Leno type, the bigger props the better. If you are the Jay Leno type and can entertain with nothing but a microphone, you have my undying respect. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a better entertainer than me…unless you [b]are[/b] Jay Leno. :)
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Apr 8, 2009 04:01PM)
A good performer will be good with little props or many props.

A poor performer will be poor regardless of whether they have props or no props.

I just feel bad for the poor performers who buy expensive props when they don't understand that it won't make them better.

In addition, think about your clients and what they care about. People may say "nice props" to you once and a while BUT what clients really care about is how much entertainment you provided. Perform a great show and be a great entertainer, and the audience will forget about the props and remember YOU (which is what you want). Perform a poor show and, well, they won't care nor remember anything for long.
Message: Posted by: Kevinr (Apr 8, 2009 04:13PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 16:12, MagicSanta wrote:
a kids show and there are four Wolf products all I think is "man, he has money to burn, his show indicates he's a hack". When I see a show that uses an envelope, some rope, a couple silks, etc. and maybe one standard prop routine I think the guy knows what he's doing. Again, that is just me.
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 8, 2009 07:08PM)
Wow Kevin, that was deep. I like the way you didn't put the entire statement. It doesn't matter because as I said, some here are rather dim...and they are here.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Apr 8, 2009 07:49PM)
Pack flat play big or lots of props makes no difference.It's the performance that's count.
To quote Scott Burton "A good performer will be good with little props or many props".
As Regan says, there are horrible performers who pack flat, but that goes both ways.
I myself carry very little props. The largest prop I have is my rabbit pan, mail box and top hat.
I have to pack light. My bad shoulder cant take the heavy lifting anymore.
It really doesn't matter how many props you have in your show, just do a good job of entertaining your customers.
The props whether large or small are tools to entertain the audience.
TrickyRicky
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Apr 8, 2009 07:51PM)
I agree that props don't make the magician. We all know that. But I do think the one with the "stuff" has an advantage when booking the show.

The birthday mom calls and the first magician says, "I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)

Maybe not fair to the magicians, or the best way to choose a magician, but that's the way people think.

If they could hire David Copperfield with his semi loaded with magic for the same price, he would be doing the show. Why? Because he does a lot of stuff.:)

Tom
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Apr 8, 2009 07:52PM)
How about dressing well, having nice props AND being a good entertainer?


Just a thought.


:)
Message: Posted by: noble1 (Apr 8, 2009 08:02PM)
Nice thought, except you have the order of importance backwards.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 8, 2009 08:29PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 20:51, TomBoleware wrote:
The birthday mom calls and the first magician says, "I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)
[/quote]

Luckily for the other guy 6 other moms felt differently...
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Apr 8, 2009 09:15PM)
"Luckily for the other guy 6 other moms felt differently...

Oh he didn't really have that many other shows, only trying to impress her.
It didn't work, she wanted the one with the "stuff." :)

I agree that the second go around it may be different, but I do think most first time buyers, or with those who haven't seen both, will assume bigger is better. "Stuff" has its place and it can be used as an advantage with some.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Apr 8, 2009 09:34PM)
Interesting...

Does "stuff" provide for a competitive advantage? I suppose this is similar to asking whether you will lose money to discount magicians. What I mean is that, in the short run, this other competitor will get a chunk of your gigs but it is the stronger entertainer who will be the one to get repeat business and referrals and grow a strong list of clients.

There is a big negative side to having a lot of "stuff". It can be incredibly inconvienent to the host - whether it be a birthday party, day care centre, or corporate party.

I once lugged around backdrops and larger props because I really wanted to supply a lot of "value". Then, I phased them out and focused on simply making sure I have strong material. Funny thing was that not a single client that hired me back ever noticed or mentioned it to me. They simply loved the reactions from my audience.

I have gotten hundreds of testimonials over the years and not one ever mentioned that they liked the "stuff" I brought. Not one. I really don't think people care beyond the "that's neat" level.

Develop your act, care about your audience, hold yourself to a high standard, and make 'em laugh.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Apr 8, 2009 09:35PM)
Ahhh....the kids birthday magician who has a 'truck load' of props. This is likely the same fellow who does major illusions then a 45 minute manipulation act tableside at 'classy restaurants', does The Last Trick of Dr. Jacob Daley and makes a teenage girl run in circles screaming prior to fainting, does 748 shows per year with no advertizing just based on referals, and has business cards that are actually a digital monitor that they can download their info on their exciting new props via satellite. You know the guy, the one who post questions like "I have a show tomorrow, what should I do?".
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 8, 2009 10:01PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 22:15, TomBoleware wrote:
[quote] I said: "Luckily for the other guy 6 other moms felt differently...[/quote]

Oh he didn't really have that many other shows, only trying to impress her.
It didn't work, she wanted the one with the "stuff." :)
[/quote]

Oops my bad, I didn't realise the other guy lied by default ;)

It must've been the prop guy who had 6 shows. Although, how he fitted them in with his 1 hour setting up time is pretty amazing.
I was kind of inbetween the two mindsets but I hope you snazzy prop guys can handle your props better than your similies ot fictitious examples.
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Apr 8, 2009 10:40PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 21:02, noble1 wrote:
Nice thought, except you have the order of importance backwards.
[/quote]

You not supposed to do them one at a time...oh dear.

:rolleyes:
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 9, 2009 02:06AM)
When I started out I made a huge backdrop and purchased a sound system (mixer, tuner, double tape recorder, cd player, 2 huge speakers, monitor, speaker stands). I used to bring the biggest props I had and even purchased an MPV and put window stickers to advertise.

I very quickly realised that it is not the props that make my show. It is the props that break my back. I decided that if I want a good show to last for many years then first thing I have to do is scale down (to save my health).

I created a show in a 'doc bag' + a smaller speaker and head mic and that was basically me. It was a bag for the audio equipment, a bag for the magic and another slim box with misc flat stuff.

Eventually I also got rid of the big car and got myself a smaller family car.

Ironically - up until today (about 10 years after I got rid of the car) it is still the car that people remember and ask me about. Nobody realy remembers the props I used to haul yet without expensive advertising and expensive large props I have built a good reputation as a leading childrens entertainer.

I don't know where I got it from, but I have the ability to make a lot of people very happy with things such as balloons, strings, sponge balls, magic wands, paddles, juggling balls and other bits and bobs and I use this to my advantage.

In all my years of performing NO MUM HAS EVER ASKED ME HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE. They don't care. They want to know how long my performance time is, if my act is suitable for their age group, how much I charge. I suspect an experienced childrens entertainer also has a verbal sales knack more so than an inexperienced entertainer and this goes a long way in helping to sell a gig over the telephone to someone who has not received reccomendations.

I would like to have a remote hands free chimp and toucan, a ladder levitation, and a black art stage and many other nice big stuff but cannot justify it unless my sole income was performing stage shows with a cast and offstage helpers/haulers.

For b.day's - keep it light and simple works best for me. No one is going to remember the big stuff - they will remember if your stuff put a smile on their face and made them laugh and involved them.

I think the one and ONLY way to achieve this is to enjoy performing more than you enjoy taking the money (if you enjoy hauling around and performing with big props and audience enjoys too - then that is fine).

I think the BEST tip any experienced childrens entertainer can give an aprentice is: teach youself to ENJOY performing for free (charities etc) and you will always enjoy performing.

THE PERFORMANCE MUST COME 1ST (this includes Personality, Showmanship and Acting ability - all can be improved!) before anything else. I would then go on to say: 1: costume, 2: sound 3: props (pretty much like noble1 said above)

Enjoy,

Dani
Message: Posted by: themagiciansapprentice (Apr 9, 2009 04:24AM)
Magic is like any other hobby that grows into a business .... we buy everything for a while. Then find what we want to use to entertain and stick with it. I use a range of props but am increasingly just taking what fits into a suitcase to most family homes for birthday parties. I feel more comfortable with that.

Yet bigger props are very alluring, I'm forever looking at the Chalet magic site or Creative Magic site and wishing I could justify buying them.

Each to their own. It's talent, humour and timing that count.
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Apr 9, 2009 05:34AM)
Like a few of the others on this thread, the amount I spend on props and the amount of stuff I carry has diminished over the years as I have grown as a performer. I don't think anyone on this forum (not even our loveable resident curmudgeon MagicSanta) has a problem with people buying or using big props - it's just the daft arguments that flashy props will make your show better and that clients care about how much expensive stuff you use. I'd venture to say that if you are constantly getting compliments about the quality of your props, it's probably because people can't think of anything nice to say about your act!

I've bought truckloads of flashy stuff over the years and most of it is now sitting on my shelves at home gathering dust. I am pretty ruthless when it comes to trimming the fat from my show. No matter how much it cost or how great it looks, if it doesn't get the reactions I expect from the crowd - it's gone.

I think a lot of us are just trying to stop newcomers from falling into the same traps that we did. My good friend Danny Hustle said it best when he wrote:

'A guy who is starting out should learn how to kill with the 20th century silks before he decides to move on to illusions that are far out of his league.'
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 9, 2009 06:41AM)
You know the best that truly first class entertainers do?

No props at all.

Just themselves. When you can do that, and hold children, then you know you are on your way to being a good children's entertainer.

Try it. Try a cameo slot in your show of just you.Ssee if you can do it, hold them without a prop at all. Work on it. Develop it. And when you have learnt how to to entertain an audience of children, taking them to fever pitch excitement and straight down to pin drop silence without a prop in your hand then you have learnt the real foundation on which to show your props, small or large, subtle, plain, or flashy.

And then you will know - not think or believe but you will know - that the props are really of little importance.

Really good entertainers don't actually need to learn how to do that. They are born with that ability. They still have to learn how to use it but they do have an advantage. That doesn't mean that others less fortunate can't learn how to be much better entertainers.

If you want to test your ability, put in a cameo of just you.
Message: Posted by: pjw (Apr 9, 2009 07:10AM)
Tony Said,

Just themselves. When you can do that, and hold children, then you know you are on your way to being a good children's entertainer.

Hi,
Fine if you want to be a "good Childrens entertainer"
I personaly want to be an "Excellent entertaining Magician" not "a childrens Entertainer . I aim to entertain every one WITH MAGIC regardless of age, also to me the terms "childrens magicain","stage magicain", close up magician etc are a load of rubbish. yes you need to perform material suitable for the venue and circumsatnce but if you are a magicain as I choose to be then I think you should be able to perform for any audiance any where but most of all you should perform mostly Magic.
Message: Posted by: RJE (Apr 9, 2009 07:58AM)
Interesting that this topic should upset anyone.

As has been mentioned by many experienced and competent performers here and no doubt elsewhere, if you are a good entertainer, fantastic entertainer, excellent entertainer etc... then whether you choose a lot of props or very few props or even no props, is irrelevant. Your choice.
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 9, 2009 08:42AM)
As a prop guy, (even in my days in stand up) I do have a bunch of "stuff".

Individually they pack small, but as a whole there is a lot to see in my show.

This includes (as I have written here and other places)

1. a stick
2. different musical instruments
3. 10 fingers (don't leave home...)
4. Puppets (as Annie and I are "Married with Puppets"
5. Magical stuff.
6. Noise makers including mosquito whistles (thanks Frank for my latest supply), cartoon sound generator
7. Glasses in many forms including glasses usually used for car repair, windshield wipers...

IMHO there is enough other stuff to rattle my brain than what another performer chooses to use.

Harris ("formerly a legend in his own mime, with Mime over Matter"
2 old to know everything with a bit of a smaller ego than I came into this biz with.

EGO---edging God out.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Apr 9, 2009 09:22AM)
It seems to me that a totally "propless" magician would not be a magician at all. Maybe a mentalist could do magic without props, I don't know? Maybe a ventriloquist could just use their uncovered hand as a puppet? That might work. If I were to try and do a magic show without a single prop then I would not consider it to be a magic show, and I would not consider myself to be a magician. I might be a comedian, or a storyteller, but not a magician. I try my best to fill my magic shows with a lot of things: magic and mystery, ventriloqusim/puppetry, storytelling and music, comedy and drama, and most of all...a lot of fun and surprises!

I try my very best to entertain my audiences, and I choose to use props in my shows. Like I have said, and many others have said many times, it is a personal choice. There are good and bad both ways. I do not want to bash anyone for whichever way they choose. However, it's not right to insult anyone and call them a "hack" just because they use lot's of props. And I cannot understand why so many propless guys seem to try and justify their way, and seemingly want to put down the prop guys. I personally don't care if you choose not to use props. I actually prefer it. That way there it may be less likley that my audiences has seen my props used before.

I also don't understand why these propless debates always end up going to the, ".....try to walk out on stage in front of an audience without a single prop and see if you can hold their attention for an hour....." type of thing. Like I said before, without a single prop, how could you be a magician? I'd like for someone to explain that to me. I'm not the sharpest tack in the bunch, so maybe I just don't get it. If you could kind of outline your hour show, and give me an idea of the magic effects you do for an hour without any props, maybe I will be enlightened.

I am not going to make a decision whether or not an entertainer is good or bad until I actually see the show. If I see a magician come out with a suitcase I am not going to automatically think he is going to be terrible. The same goes if I see a stage filled with props. I have seen too many good and bad performances to know that I should reserve judgement until after the show.

Props aside, entertaining with magic is an artform, to me anyway. I commend good magicians that use many props. I also commend good magicians that use few props. And as I previously said, I am rather glad that there are some that use few props. If every magician had and did exactly the same things I imagine we would all have less bookings. I will admit that I am a little jealous over the easier set-up, tear-down, hauling, etc. I would like that part of using fewer props, and someday I imagine the day will come when I may have to scale down. But right now, I choose to use a lot of props because I feel I have a better show that way.

Regan
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 9, 2009 09:27AM)
Can I do a show without props...

Yes, if that doesn't include musical instruments.

There have been a few times that I have done programs without props, but they were in the area of mental health. These days even in my mental health workshops, I use props...hence the title: "Doctor of Laughology".



Harris
still 2 old to know everything
Message: Posted by: Chris LaBarge (Apr 9, 2009 09:41AM)
Bottom line is regardless if you have a trailer load of props or do nothing but sponge balls and rope....we are entertainers. Call yourself what you may but the only thing that guides our shows is whether the audience is entertained.

Reagan,
I think what Mr. James is getting at is that if you want to see if you are a really good entertainer, try dropping your props for a couple of minutes during a show and try to entertain your audience. I guess this would work best if you envision yourself as an entertainer and not just a magician.

Like most kids magicians, I see myself as an all around entertainer and not just a magician. I can, and have, just been in front of an audience and had them rolling without doing one trick, but that's my style. I think doing bits in your show with minimal props are good to break up the pace a little. My best routine in my kids shows right now involve 3 pieces of rope (professors nightmare) and a volunteer and it stretches a good 10 minutes. Think of the best magicians in the world (Copperfield, Burton, etc.) they routinely do a small closeup routine or manipulations to break up the pacing.

To each his own...what matters is if the audience is happy.
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 9, 2009 09:48AM)
Chris...

Your style sounds a bit like mine.

I find it easy to go propless.(and hairless said Nigel)
Taking healthy risk (while remaining family friendly) is exciting. This is based on quips, a persons fun laugh, someone in the audience looking like someone famous, or something seen on the way to a show...

Example on the way to a show I saw a big dumpster in a house's drive with sign..Dump all your trash here....so I cleaned out my back seat...

Side advise...take time to learn from improvisational classes/troupes. I have done both.


Harris
who sometimes forgets his own advise.
Message: Posted by: Chris LaBarge (Apr 9, 2009 09:50AM)
Yes improv classes are great!

Think of the show "Whose line is it anyway" Take what you have and run with it.

I think kids are use to very dynamic multimedia experiences, we have to be able to compete with that.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Apr 9, 2009 11:50AM)
I'm currently performing from a single briefcase. Usually, I have a roll on, a rabbit, a funhouse, a sound system and a sidetable.

My fee is the same (albeit in pounds rather than aussie dollars) and the reactions seem the same.

However, I enjoy performing with all the extra props so I'll be putting them back in the show when I return home.
Message: Posted by: John C (Apr 9, 2009 03:19PM)
What is the point of performing a MAGIC show without props?

J
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 9, 2009 03:44PM)
I think the point Tony was making was that a good entertainer can hold their attention without props. It's a good exercise to see if you are your over-reliant on them. If the MAGIC is the only interesting thing in your show then IMO you've got problems.
Message: Posted by: Kevinr (Apr 9, 2009 04:24PM)
I think a kids show "prop" magician is the same as big stage illusion show. You know the big dogs who get all the credit. Except the kids show magician is actually working more. Most of the big stage illusion shows the assistants are doing all the work.

[quote]
On 2009-04-08 20:51, TomBoleware wrote:

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)

Maybe not fair to the magicians, or the best way to choose a magician, but that's the way people think.

If they could hire David Copperfield with his semi loaded with magic for the same price, he would be doing the show. Why? Because he does a lot of stuff.:)

Tom
[/quote]

SUCKS but SOOO TRUE!
Message: Posted by: pjw (Apr 9, 2009 05:32PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-08 20:51, TomBoleware wrote:
I agree that props don't make the magician. We all know that. But I do think the one with the "stuff" has an advantage when booking the show.

The birthday mom calls and the first magician says, "I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)

Maybe not fair to the magicians, or the best way to choose a magician, but that's the way people think.

If they could hire David Copperfield with his semi loaded with magic for the same price, he would be doing the show. Why? Because he does a lot of stuff.:)

Tom
[/quote]

Hi,
Tom I dissagree with you, if you tell a client

""I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

Then that's poor telephone/sales technique that's lost the show .
I also think most clients would be put off with you arriving an hour before the show.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Apr 9, 2009 07:47PM)
I agree that wasn't the best example.

Still my main point with Copperfield,(and maybe over emphasizing a little again) is it's very easy for us to forget why people hire a "magician." Why would the birthday mom hire Copperfield over most? Certainly not because of his birthday party experience. Not because he is funny. They would just assume he could do bigger and better "magic" for the kids.

Please understand, I admire and love watching those who can walk in and entertain without anything. But very, very, very few can do that and walk away and still be viewed as a magician.

Entertainment alone is not "viewed" as magic, comedy is not viewed as magic, clowning is not viewed as magic. The parent may say, "yes they loved the show, and the kids had a great time," but when you leave they will add, "he wasn't really a magician." Not saying that is a bad thing, it's just very hard for most to be perceived as a "magician" without using some magical items.

I just personally think getting too far away from the "expected" when you call yourself a magician is not as good as it sounds. You can put a lot of good entertainment into a briefcase, but don't fool yourself into thinking a big magic show will fit in it.

Bottom line, I guess is it depends on what you selling.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Clownboy (Apr 9, 2009 11:40PM)
I believe this has been the best handled and most balanced thread that I have read to date on this subject.

I know that there are extremes to both sides. People like to put labels on others from past experiences they've had. Bottom line is the prop doesn't define the entertainer no more then a car defines a person. It might speak of your personality but its whats inside that creates the "Magic" within a show.

Personally I buy larger props for two reasons. One is to obviously try out and see if it will work into my show. If I think it fits my style and will create a desired reaction I will keep it in. Otherwise it either gets sold or goes on my shelf.

Second reason I buy the props I do is to simply collect and enjoy them. I have props that were made in the 40's that will never see a show. Its simply to bring me pleasure when I get it down and play with them or to admire its history.
(These may be my retirement too but that becomes very last in my mind.)

And for those who still aren't convinced, I will say that there is nothing that could be said to change your mind. But its guy's that purchase these props that support the creators, and this my friend, keeps well made and entertaining props coming.

Cheers to you all!

Brad
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 10, 2009 01:59AM)
I remember a good few years ago a fellow magician in my neighborhood saw me perform my magic show for children (he always presented himself as an adult magician and we were about the only two magicians in town - there was another old magician that had worn himself out and was less saught after and a younger guy that was trying to sell everything under the sun - Magic for kids, illusions for adults, balloon modeling, origami, close up - quite similar to what 'pjw' is trying to achieve however he did not succeed here. A few years later the young guy left town and has since found his niche in Mentalism - he was one of the contestants on the Uri Gellar show and has now become quite successful in his field).

I think it is very important to find your niche and perfect it - this takes time but well worth it.

Sorry - a bit off theme here.

What I wanted to say is that the adult performer, after seeing my show, said that I am not realy a magician! I was quite young at the time and took this quite hard because since I was 6 years old - all I wanted was to be a magician and all I collected was magic tricks. A few years later (at 24yrs old) another woman once called me a 'story teller' and over the years (i'm now 38) some kids have called me a clown.

I admit I am a family and children's entertainer but I go by the name "Dani the Magician" and that is exactly what I am no matter what props I use, how big or how small - I am a magician - I perform magic.

No, I don't use I.T in my act nor do I even use a T.T. I've never even seen a Topit, never liked using a pull and have only ever worn a Jacket on the rare occasions that I perform some close up magic or table hopping (this is just a hobby because my true love is Entertaining Children).

I am a magician - I have various magic acts and these are what I sell. When I get a call for a potential birthday party or other event and am asked waht I do for children I tell them as my name states - I am a magician and I do magic.

Nobody up to date that has booked me to perform has ever had me do the performance before they actually booked it. This makes it VERY EASY for me to sell myself as a Magician (not a puppeteer, clown, story teller, juggler, comedian, singer etc).

This is where the nice thing happens: after being booked in advance and making the client well aware that they have booked a magician - I go on to tell them that my Magic Show is not only magic - it involves the children, it is full of humour, juggling, stories and puppets so they get that much more for there money.

Nobody who books me knows (unless they've seen me perform before) how much stuff I have, how big the props are etc and they don't seem to care as far as they are concerned they have booked a magician and I am a magician and I arrive with my magic bag/s and setup (quite quickly) and do the show. I have had many, many bookings after being seen aswell by parents at other parties and they know that what they have seen is what they get (no real big props).

Now in my show I have a zombie ball - I would consider this to be quite a large Magic effect.

I have a multiplying ball routine + a sponge ball routine - both of which are humorous and visible even on stage.

I have a board that I draw a picture of a top hat and a (drawn) rabbit pops in and out the hat - this is very visible and I would say very magic orientated.

I do this trick where I fold a handkerchief on my table top (folding table for quick and light setup/breakdown) and get EVERYONES attention when it Magically rises up and down - very magical.

I tell the story of the 3 pigs where at the end the wolf ends up in a pot and the last pig changes places with what was previously the wolf - this is not a regular story - this is a Magic story (I have other stories appropriate for different age groups).

I juggle a bit to break up the show and add some realy colorful puppets here and there and each of my puppets performs a magic trick of some sort.

I think you get the gist - The very first thing I ever learned when I started out to be a Magician from age 6 was what I would read everywhere from the Mad Hatter Magic club snail mail newsletter (there was no email back then if you can imagine that) or in all the instructions in all the Paul Daniels line of tricks (I had them all) - IT IS NOT WHAT YOU DO BUT HOW YOU DO IT.

If I do what I do for example the 'break away wand' - any comedian could take this prop and put it into his comedy act and take the **** out of one of the old men in the audience when the stick goes limp. I wouldn't do that, however I do get laughs, when I hand the stick to the kid and it 'breaks' and when I take it back I 'Magically' fix it - this is magic in my mind and sometimes more so or the same as balancing a child on a chair suspention.

By all means - if you feel at home using big props then be my guest - I am the last one to get upset by the 'props guys'.

I love big colorful looking props and have tried some but can't justify lugging them around when I get the same magic effect from smaller props that play just as well (funny, entertaining and magical).

sorry for the long post,

Dani
Message: Posted by: pjw (Apr 10, 2009 03:32AM)
Hi,
I must say my show is not propy or propless , I fall in between . my normal show is one journey to the car , that includes my outfit and rabbit. my set up is about 10 min . I do not think that puppets,juggling etc in your magic show are taking anything from you being a magicain in the eyes of a lay audience as long as like you Dani you do perform a decent amount of magic too.
I know becuase it has been said to me many times over the last 27 years pro magicain. people do resent/get put off by hiring a magicain who does not do much magic , overly stretching routines. maybe people are entertained but people do comment after .."well he was ok but he did not do much magic"

if you book an interior decorator and they just do a little in the house but spend most of the time sorting the garden out... would you be completely happy?

I am not saying that we must be magicains, but rather that if you list yourself as a magicain or kids magician then that should be the main stay of your act.

if not then you should call yourself a childrens entertainer and list magic as one of your things.

I am not saying it is any better or worse to be a childrens entertainer , but I think we owe it to the booker to be honest.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 10, 2009 06:01AM)
Thank goodness for George. He understands. As ever, most of the rest of you miss the point completely.

Sometimes I despair of this forum. I really do. With certain outstanding exceptions - and you folks know who you are - the rest of you don't have a clue. If you believe that to be a children's entertainer all you have to do is magic, magic, magic, then you are no better than some idiot who believes that all you have to do to be a chef is cook burgers.

Magic is a tool. One of many, many tools. For goodness sake, read Open Sesame and those first couple of chapters. It explains it all. All the tools you need to consider and include in a show designed to hold and entertain children.

And within magic alone, props are merely one of the tools.

Props are not the be all and end all of magic any more than magic is the be all and end all of children's entertainment.

When I read much of what is written here it only serves to prove once again that good entertainers - children, adult or family - good entertainers are born and not made.

Yes, you can learn. And decidedly yes - born entertainers do learn too, they have to, they aren't born complete and ready to go.

Everyone can learn, everyone has to, and for some becoming a children's entertainer is really hard work. It's an achievement. And those people are the good ones.

They are the ones who don't think, they don't believe, they know - and know unequivocally, that props are only a tool of the job.

For the rest, you won't ever know how good you are or how bad. Isn't nature kind?

Just keep spending the dollars, buying the biggest and flashiest props and they will do it all for you. No effort. No application. And no hard work. They should come with one of those worthless Diplomas which entitle you to believe you are now a fully qualified Top Children's Entertainer.

No doubt some here would believe that too. Self delusion can be a wonderful thing.

Happy Easter.
Message: Posted by: pjw (Apr 10, 2009 06:26AM)
HI Tony,
With respect I think it is you who are missing the point.
Not all of us want to be classified as a "childrens entertainer"
personaly I want to be regarded as a magician. not that I think it makes me any better than a childrens entertainer . just different.

I agree with you if you call yourself a childrens entertainer you could "stand in a bucket of sand and sing the desert song" so long as the kids love it.

though if you market yourself as a magicain I think your show should feature a fair sprinkling of magic.

With regards the props issue , I use ropes , silks, etc my biggest prop is the rabbit production which is quality props ribbons to rabbit.
I never use RRR , cartoon props etc cause I hate them!

I hope you see what I am getting at.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 10, 2009 07:02AM)
I'm clearly not making myself understood. Let me try again.

If you want to do MAGIC FOR CHILDREN you have to make it ENTERTAINING so that the children will ENJOY your MAGIC.

You won't achieve that by simply trying to blind the children with magic. Children don't respond like that.

Quote pjw:
"Not all of us want to be classified as a "childrens entertainer""

Fine. No problem with that. So don't pretend to be one. Go somewhere else and entertain other audiences. remember where you are:

"The little darlings
Topics on the challenging art of performing for children, including birthday shows,school programs, and magic with a special message."

Next.

Quote pjw:
"....if you market yourself as a magicain I think your show should feature a fair sprinkling of magic."

Agreed. And most children's entertainers provide copious quantities of magic. On the other hand, people calling themselves magicians have tried and failed for generations to entertain children with just magic.

No balloons, no puppets, no standing in buckets of sand if needs be, just magic pure and simple. It isn't successful. These are the magicians who give children a bad name. Difficult. No concentration. No wonder.

Quote pjw:
"I never use RRR , cartoon props etc cause I hate them! I hope you see what I am getting at."

I do see what you are getting at. I merely quote myself this time:


"...you don't have a clue."
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Apr 10, 2009 07:11AM)
But the point wasn't about whether or not you should have magic in your show. An entertainer does not have to be a magician but a magician has to be an entertainer. So, yes if you market yourself primarily as a magician your show should contain lots of good magic.
You're arguing a point that is valid but not relevant to the discussion. We're not saying you should take the magic out of your show just that if you were to you would still be entertaining. If it is not the case then the audience aren't watching you but are watching tricks that some man is doing.
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Apr 10, 2009 07:29AM)
My name's Colin and I'm a children's entertainer!

Wow it;s good to share...

Anyway. I used to do a two hour show from a roll on table, then I started doing ventriloquism so needed another case for puppets, then I needed a sound system. I some times use a back drop.
I like my props to look modern so I use Axtell puppets and I have several Wolf's props. I think if you are going to do Run Bonzo Run you might as well have the best if you can afford it. Does it play any better, no! Do I like it more, Yes!

I have now been booked gor a cruise and I need 4 different 45min shows so I relooked at some of the smaller stuff I have packed away. Going through it again I realise how much good stuff takes up no room. Maybe I can sell the flight cases and save my back!

What are your favourite packs flat plays big items?
Message: Posted by: pjw (Apr 10, 2009 07:59AM)
Quote;

No balloons, no puppets, no standing in buckets of sand if needs be, just magic pure and simple. It isn't successful. These are the magicians who give children a bad name. Difficult. No concentration. No wonder.

Hi,
Of course it has to be entertaining! I am not saying (if you will read my reply to Dani you will see)
That I propose a magicain should only do magic and not be entertaining!
you are simply looking at extremes. I make balloons , have lots of business and fun. Maybe I don't have a clue but I have well over 90% repeat busines and as Jonathan Goodwin (was magician now escapologist) who originates just a few miles from me said to me one day " I am not going to try and get in to kids shows because you pretty much got the market sown up down here"
I have done ok for the last 25+ years without a clue so I shall carry on!:-)
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Apr 10, 2009 08:17AM)
You're right Colin. It's striking a balance in a show. How many effects need to be shown on a table? A couple perhaps in a show. Otherwise things become visually too static. There are others which show in the hands but need a table on which to rest elements as you progress. But the emphasis is away from the table.

Flat packs.

Supreme Instant Art. I think it's one of the simplest and most direct painting routines ever. Angleproof. Lightweight too and plays big.

Works in the hand though it's useful to have somewhere - table, chair - against which to prop the picture whilst working with the volunteer. At certain stages they could even hold the picture for you.

Billy Day's Magic Lesson. Another participation item where you get the props into the child's hands. Simply a silks to flag in an expanding bag and a routine with knobs on. Any silks matching any flag. Like Instant Art, it's all down to the performer and their entertaining ability.

One more, and it's my standby routine, in the table at every show in case of need. The Washing Lines. It has many other names but is simply two lengths of coloured rope, a wand and four handkerchiefs, all tied together and then released. It uses two children and is limited only by the entertainer's ability. Infinitely flexible, it will make up as much or little time as you need and adaptable for any age, including three year olds. Needs hardly any room in the bag or table yet plays as big as you wish.

The great thing is, it makes you look good when dealing with very young children. Even a beginner can use this successfully. But to get the most out of it takes experience.

It doesn't sit on a table and work itself!
Message: Posted by: akolodner (Apr 10, 2009 09:42AM)
I have had clients call to make sure I'm bringing "that beautiful backdrop". When you are going into peoples homes I have found that aesthetics do matter. First impressions are important. Mothers care what guests think about their decor and temporarily we are part of that decor. I have found the more upscale the client the more it matters.
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 10, 2009 11:09AM)
As a kid in the field of magic one of the first professional words I learned was 'props'.

I believe I was the only (or at least one of the only) 6/7 year olds in my class that knew the meaning of the word 'props'.

Every thing in my bedroom was classed as a 'prop' and I recal our household carpenter helped me saw a hole in a small woodern cupboard that my Dad got me so that I could put my hand into my (bottomless) top hat and pull out my spring bunny.

Everything from the table to the bunny and everything else inside were 'props'.

when I entertained my family it was with all my 'props' scattered around me. I barely used the word Magic tricks only because I knew that all the other kids knew the meaning of the word 'Magic trick'.

It's funny - I have only ever realy nastalgically remembered this memory due to this topic so thanks all for bringing the magical, theatrical word back into my life.

for years now, speaking and performing in a different language (not english. I was born and lived in UK till I was 11) we do not have a translation for the word 'props' and as such have been using the words 'Magic' and 'Tricks' and 'illusions' to describe the apparatus I take with me to my show.

Come to think of it I guess I have been and still am a 'props guy' despite the size of the props I use in my show. The suitcase I use to pack my act in is considered a prop as it sits there on stage during the act. My table too. Hand held apparatus (balloons, strings no matter what) and boxes on table - all are props.

I agree pjw that a magician should display a fair sprinkle of magic in his show and have also performed in front of many audiences and have had to confront their opinion that there might not have been enough 'Magic' in the show.

Is this then considered Not a Magic Show? Perhaps so.

I have a solution for this:
I have 3 shows that I market:

a classic magic show - for all the family (or solely for ages 5 - 8)
a puppet and magic show - for all the family (or solely for ages 3 - 7)
an advanced magic and illusion show - for older children (ages 8 - 10)

All 3 shows have approx the same amount of props (i.e. 1 suitcase, 1 table, 1 chair and a handfull of fun filled routines inc required accessories)

All take me approx 5 - 7 mins to setup and break down.
All get approx the same response as I have my way of entertaining and have learned to perform for different ages.

So, I am a Magician and of course I AM A PROPS GUY.

I can't see a childrens magician being anything other than a props guy. Why would any children's magician want to be the magician that performs 'Nothing'.

Kids want to see props. it is visually exciting for them.

I am going to rethink the deco that goes into my show and costume (but gonna keep it as light as possible never the less).

Thanks,

Dani
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 11, 2009 05:23AM)
It seems everyone is missing one fundamental point - pacing. A great show will include stand-up comedy (intros, by-play, etc); amazement (magic, ventriloquism, etc); interaction (kids responding and getting involved); fast-paced sections, slower-paced sections. A wider variety of material provides a more balanced show. A couple of big props give folks some eye-candy, and something to talk about and remember for the rest of their lives (eg Flying Carpet).
I also like to include songs, and sometimes balloons.....again, these will create a show with more interest and diversity.
I do have a show in a briefcase, which also includes most of the elements I've mentioned....except for the big props. I choose to perform this show rarely, though I know I could "get away with it", because the show is still good, and holds the kids' attention.
Believe me, when the kids see a theatre set going up in their front room, they get VERY excited. When they see a Magical Treasure Chest, they get into a frenzy! As I've said before, to imagine that these things won't grab the kids' attention is rather arrogant. Just because you CAN entertain with no props, doesn't mean that you SHOULD. You may not be as good as you think you are.
Over the years, I've asked many kids about magic shows they've seen. Almost every time, they can't tell me the name of the performer. You know the good acts in your own area, because the kids talk about the performers by name, all the time.
Potty ;)
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Apr 11, 2009 10:41AM)
When you don't use large props you must use large TALENT. Am I the only one that thinks that the most important thing is TALENT?
Message: Posted by: mumford (Apr 11, 2009 11:44AM)
Of course talent is paramount. Beyond that, what's the fuss? There's more than one way to skin a cat.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Apr 11, 2009 12:03PM)
Al, I agree that you must you talent regardless if you use props or not. However, I do not think just because a magician uses props that one should assume said magician has no talent, or that he/she is a "hack" as someone suggested.

I am a musician and singer, and I feel that I possess some musical ability and talent. The guitar, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, etc. are musical props, or tools of the trade so to speak. Guitar is my main instrument, so I want the best one(s) that I can afford. I could play the same notes on a cheap guitar, (although it might be more diffiucult on some models! LOL) but it probably would not sound as good. It mught look as pretty in some cases, and the audience might not even see a visual difference. However, I would certainly know!

I sometimes perform without any instruments and sing a-capella at music gigs. I do not do this for an entire show, but sometimes for a song or two during my shows. When I do, the audience seems to enjoy the songs, but for my taste, I think songs sound better when accompanied by guitar (or other instruments) so I limit the number of tunes I perform without music.

To me it's the same way with magic props. I do some routines that require few props....and I mix them in at certain points of my show. In fact, my magic shows are always made up with a variety of different things. Magic is really only a small part of the whole picture. I personally prefer to perform with props, and I cannot see myself doing an entire show with hardly any props. (I probably need to make it clear that I am speaking of stage/parlour type shows)

If others like to perform a-capella, (or with hardly any magic props) that is fine. There are barbershop quartets and a-capella musical groups that are great! Not everyone likes that sort of thing though. Some people may rather hear a band with many musical instruments. Style, genre, etc. play a big role in music, as well as magical preferences. My musical performances would not be liked by some people. The same goes for my magic peformances. David Blaine fans, or Max Maven fans may not like my shows. Everyone is not the same, and thank God we're not!

I guess this was scattered. I hurriedly typed it, got interrupted, had to leave, then came back and tried to finish it. It may be a poor analogy, but I hope some of you get my point. Variety is the spice of life, and it does make the world go round! I say to each their own. It takes long enough for us to find our place in this world, and our niche in the entertainment field. I think we need to live and let live, and enjoy and celebrate the variety and stop trying to put others down simply because they perform differently.

Regan
Message: Posted by: magicbob116 (Apr 11, 2009 01:12PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-11 11:41, Al Angello wrote:
When you don't use large props you must use large TALENT. Am I the only one that thinks that the most important thing is TALENT?
[/quote]

And when you DO use large props you must STILL use large TALENT.
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Apr 11, 2009 10:36PM)
I can see several facets to this entire thread that most of us are not saying. To think that a magician who relies on props is somehow less of a magician is short sighted and smug. Yes there are guys who can go to an agency get a bag of props learn a script and go out and entertain children. My experience is that those agencies are short lived and generally leave a bad taste in the mouths of the moms who book them. (I know of at least one that was franchising themselves)

These are the folks who start out with a Moon bounce then add a costumed character a clown and a face painter then Market themselves as a one stop event store. They general get business for a year or two then the do not get the great testimonials and find them selves on the short end of the stick. also in this catagory are the moms who take a clowning class at the neighborhood rec center and suddenly are skilled clowns. These folks either Lern from their mistakes and get the proper training or the fall by the wayside.
There are tons of guys who can show you 100 different ways to pick a card lose it in the pack and then find it again. They get boring after a while and then they tend to be Obnoxious they too will fall by the wayside after a while.
The skill is not in the big box of props the skill is using props to support your script.
Aafter crushing my right hand and running my left hand through a table saw, I pretty much cannot perform the wonderful slieghts that I once could. I must use props and limited slights to accomplish my show. Am I less than any of my fellow magicians? I don't think so. Nor do my clients. Several of the folks following this thread are in my market and know that I have a great reputation both in the fraternity and more importantly with my clients.
This comes through Hard work and the skills that it takes to be a good actor and a good conjurer. I also find that the folks who ask the question if prop guys are "real" magicians when they themselves are new to the business are merely trying to hype themselves.
yes I own some very expensive props. Yes I use said expensive props in my shows. But each prop is carefully considered and must fit my script. I keep mentioning the word script here because it will give you a clue as to how to build a proper show. any theatrical venture must by definition have porps of some kind ( or the extreme absence of them) each piece must work for your goals in the show. if you are not doing this you are fooling your self into thinking you are a good performer.
BTW by definition coins cards ropes paper slips etc are all props. The object of a good magic show is to creat the feeling of wonder in your audince. If that is with a RRR or a HH rabit or a coin.
do I get upset with the prop guys? NO!
Michael Taggert Chairman
Magi whirl 2009
Immediate Past
President IBM ring 50
http://www.michaeltaggertmagic.com
http://www.magi-whirl.org
http://www.michaeltaggertmagicshows.blogspot.com
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 12, 2009 03:05AM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-11 11:41, Al Angello wrote:
When you don't use large props you must use large TALENT. Am I the only one that thinks that the most important thing is TALENT?
[/quote]
...but your talent will only develop by performing. You can perform the mis-made flag using a change bag - or you can perform the same effect with a large prop covered with bells and whistles (as I do). Is one better than the other? In my opinion, yes. Any performer would get a better reaction using the large prop, than a change bag.
Does it matter whether you create a show that is minimalist, or a large, colourful show with sound effects, puppets, and some big props? It will certainly impress your clients if you have a "big" show, and those who are passionate about performing are likely to want to maked their show "the best it can be" once they've performed a few years.
Fact is, that most of the guys I've seen who have "big" shows (by far the exception still, these days) are the ones who constantly work on new material, and aim to offer their clients a high-end product. Most of the guys I've seen with a small table show, continue presenting the same material for decades, with tired props and little enthusiasm.
You can't really afford to buy many expensive props if you don't have a good show - unless you happen to be wealthy. But after many years of performing you'd expect to have a good arsenal of props, if props are your thing. I started performing in 1965, so it's not really surprising that these days I have a LOT of props. I merely invest about 15% of my gross income (all tax deductible) into my shows. I see it as investment in my business. Folks who can't or won't invest in props sometimes seem to resent those who can....but it's nearly always sour grapes.
We all create our own market, and if yours is suffering, don't blame the prop guys who are taking all your work.....look at your minimalist show, and ask yourself if it REALLY can stand up to all the colour, glitz and wonder of those backdrops and big props?
Just my 2c...
Potty ;)
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 12, 2009 04:06AM)
I think Potty has made a really good point.

Your 2c.. my be worth a small fortune and I would suggest that any newbies starting out wanting to take their magic to the next levels and make this a long lasting carreer should listen carefully to what Potty is saying re investing.

I have my shows down to a fine act but you're absolutely right as over the years I have purchased very few new props (I lash out once every 3-4 years or so attempting to find some material that suits me).

It is not because I do not have a good show that I cannot afford or justify investing in big expencive new props. I would call it 'evelotion' as I have been (and I presume others have too) living a dyeing market over the past 6 years and have gone from full time to part time and not due to me or my show not being good (and not due to glitsier competition either) but due to the local hotel and tourism industry (my main market for 15 years) being affected by wars and financial predicaments thus have had to manage with less and less entertainment and demand has reduced from average 20 shows per month down to average 5 shows per month or less. Who could have predicted this?

I find it hard now to justify investing 15% back into that, not because it isn't worth investing but because the 15% simply isn't worth very much and wouldn't get me very many new props.

So YES - be wise with your investments but also be wary of passing trends and also study your markets carefully as even the birthday party market has ups and downs. Nobody realy wants to be left behind no matter if you work in the hightec industry, textile industry or entertainment industry.

If you can't find new props then it might be time to take your old props to a new market.

Striving for professionalism does not necessarily mean you have to have the top end props.

In my opinion, Professionalism is being likeable, presentable, having a good fun show, a way with the audience, being well groomed, well spoken, punctual and add to that a script and your props (whatever they are and however big and colorful they may be) and you might find that you have a low cost, smaller outfit that involves less space in your own home, less stress on your back yet plays really well and gets great reactions if not similar to that of larger props.

So,
a. don't be afraid to invest
b. try not to be dependant solely on a single market
c. determine if you are going to be competing against glitsy shows or if your show is simply going to be 'your' show and maintain that standard
d. strive for professionalism no matter if you have a $500 or a $100 show

I have never been so involved in one single topic on magic Café and I suspect my posts here are part due to the fact that after 15 years I am now looking back and thinking about how my shows might have looked today had I invested 15% back into them over the years like Potty. Would I have more shows? I don't believe I would have. Would I have a better name for myself? I don't believe I would have. Would I have a nicer looking outfit? probably yes.

Two wrongs don't make a right!

Just enjoy what you're doing.

Dani
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Apr 12, 2009 07:35AM)
I think everyone here would agree that David Copperfield, Lance Burton, and Siegfried and Roy are highest paid magicians of our time. They are not big prop people, they are [b]huge[/b] prop people. Now, I’m not suggesting you cannot be successful unless you use big props (Ricky Jay is just one example) but doesn’t that put this debate into perspective. I do believe that a bigger flashier show, [b]in general[/b], commands a higher fee.

Now there are magicians out there that will buy every prop in sight and put it in their show. They seem to think that if you simply out spend your competition you will be more successful. Their show becomes a collection of fancy props, nothing more. They need to be challenged to change.

Then there are other magicians who fall into a rut. They have an act that people seem to like but do very little year after year to improve it, update their equipment, costuming, etc. If you’ve never read about the Great Zucchini from the Washington DC area, he is a perfect example of this. These people need to be challenged to change also.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/AR2006011801434.html?repost

As magicians we can’t hide behind our fancy props, nor can we hide behind our ego that tells us we’ve ‘arrived’ and no longer need to improve. Perhaps there are some reading this thread that fall into one of the above catagories and have found this thread very helpful.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 13, 2009 03:39AM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-12 09:35, Ken Northridge wrote:
Now there are magicians out there that will buy every prop in sight and put it in their show. They seem to think that if you simply out spend your competition you will be more successful. Their show becomes a collection of fancy props, nothing more. They need to be challenged to change.

...I sometimes wonder who all these guys are, who apparently have wads of cash for props, but a lousy show. If it's a lousy show, it would seem surprising that anyone could justify throwing more and more cash at it.....presumably, profits would be minimal, so this means they must be losing money by buying stuff.
Judging by the shows I've seen, those guys with the fancy props, are the ones who have a far more interesting and varied show. They have afforded the expense because they are good entertainers, and they get lots of work. Repeat bookings are guaranteed all-new material, and there's always another "toy" the kids won't have seen.
Of course it's horses for courses, and props have nothing to do with YOUR inherent ability to entertain....so if you don't want to spend on your show, of course that's fine. Every show will find it's own market.
;)
Message: Posted by: cardone (Apr 13, 2009 10:36AM)
Well put Potty ! I want the audience to know where their money went . I have 3 different size shows I offer . One is a basic and the next 2 get fancier . I tell the buyer that the quality of each show is the same ...the difference is in the size of the props used . I have done shows that have an audience in the 1000 + range . Silk to egg will not work in these venues. I need things that fill the stage with flash and color and play big . It is true that the performance chops must be up to the size of the props used too . I have many routines that use almost no props . Repeat bookings need a few new surprises and I am ready to roll with this .
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Apr 13, 2009 01:31PM)
Quite often, there simply isn't the space to use a lot of showy props. I know of some guys in my area who are constantly ducking behind a roll-on table to get the next prop. I don't duck behind anything - people can see my face throughout the show. There's no "dead air" while bringing out a prop.

I use compact props that can be seen from a distance. The audience knows that I'm doing the magic, rather than the prop. People will pay more for the talented performer, rather than the prop guy.
Message: Posted by: RJE (Apr 13, 2009 02:01PM)
Repeat bookings are guaranteed all-new material, and there's always another "toy" the kids won't have seen.

This is exactly the reason that we are constant, though discriminating, consumers. Our regular clients are guaranteed an entirely new show each season. One client, a seasonal resort, gets an all new 90 minute show each year and we are now in our 5th consecutive season with them. Our Christmas clients get an all new 45 minute to 60 minute show each year. Our festival/fair clients get an all new 45 minute to 60 minute show every year. And so on.

There is of course some overlap and props/routines are used for more than one client. However, in the last couple of years, we have had to put a sizeable addition on our house, buy a large cargo trailer and a new truck to haul it, as well as dedicate various rooms in our home to transport and accomodate our props and illusions.

It is how we like to do business.
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 13, 2009 03:21PM)
There is no argument here. Nothing is written in stone and everyone should decide his/her performing preference. Personaly, I have successfully performed needle through balloon, sponge ball routine, a paddle effect and other similar sized props in front of audiences of over 100 people (I very rarely perform in front of audiences above 100) however my average show has approx 40 - 60 children and adults.

Big fancy props are very nice but if you can get your audience to focus on yourself (as a prop if you wish) then you have/are the largest prop in your show + it isn't static sitting on or behind a table.

Keep up a good pace and keep your audience focused and you might find that you too can change your act once a year w/o having to lug a cargo trailer around and adding a spare room.

Again, this is not a competition or an argument but I have had repeat bookings year after year both in the private and comercial sector for my audiences who invite me back specifically because they liked what they saw and want to see it again. Granted the 3rd and 4th year running I change my show for them but I do my best to leave the big stuff out so that:
a. no need to haul massive props in a truck
b. no need to make very big investments
c. no need to store or sell off loads of unwanted items that don't make it into my show
d. I have a minimal setup/breakdown time
e. I can go from one show to the next within a matter of minutes


[quote]
On 2009-04-13 11:36, cardone wrote:
I tell the buyer that the quality of each show is the same ...the difference is in the size of the props used . [/quote]


I too have 3 shows and each is slightly larger (with regards to props) than the other however all my shows are the same price and as such I make no mention of the 'size of the euiqpment I use in my show'. It should not be a concern (unless of course your 3rd show requires a truck and 2 offstage helpers!).

If you can do it yourself then just do it. If you want to charge extra for a rabbit or a levitation illusion then go for it however I have a different theory for audiences who can afford and want to pay more for a 'better/bigger' show - I add time. For example
30 minute show = X
45 minute show = XX
60 minute show = XXX
If the driving time exceeds 15-20 mins each way I add XXXX

I decide the size of the props and what my show is worth and this is what I do and what I charge.

having said that I would love a hands free chimp :) But think about it - I perform about 8 - 10 shows a month @ $250 per show and based on Potty's 15% re-investment plan this means I can afford approx $35 dollars per show on new props. So $350 dollars a month. The chimp alone (without any other props) would cost me about $8000 (inc customs etc) so that means that it will take me 230 shows to cover the expense! I just cannot justify it as much as I want it + it means having to double the amount of stuff I take with me to a show just to add another routine (albeit could be 10 - 20 minutes) and based on cardones quote I could add an extra $30 to the show if I wanted to but even then I can't see this type of thing working.

I just can't see how spending so much money on so many new props has helped you achieve a better income. Maybe a flashier looking show but where does all the income go at the end of the day? I would imagine in 5 or 10 years you will be paying the price either to add another extension on your house (if you're lucky) or trying to fix a bad back!

Keep it light and keep it simple always works best for me.

(sorry for long post again)

Dani
Message: Posted by: John J Walton (Apr 14, 2009 07:33AM)
All

Just want to throw in my thoughts on the subject. This is all relative to the different people involved. I searched out these Wolf products mentioned previously and was shocked to see the prices. I never see myself buying that type of item. I agonized over spending 200 on a Fraidy Cat Rabbit. Some people might think that is excessive but I was able to afford it and thought the way I would incorpotrate it into my show would be enjoyable for the kids.

For me and hopefully everyone else the most important thing is entertaining and interacting with the kids. How we do that is up to each indivdual. I don't what to wow some kids with a big fancy item. I want them to go away with a memory for life and hopefully a few of them will take up magic as they get older.

Using an inexpensive item like a Stiff Rope (I love it) or getting a kid to use a silk to wipe away the drawings in a Coloring book or use a wand to magically fling paint into a coloring book is what I try to incorpoarte into a show. The price or "status" of a name item is not relevent to me. How much the kids get out of it is.

I have been a "Prop" guy since I was 10 years old. I admit I love them. This year I am getting serious with Slieghts and thumtips, etc. Using my hands more to become a "real" magician. I want to start using the "basic staples" of magic because I feel they are just as entertaining as expensive props if the person performing them is good.

John
Message: Posted by: RJE (Apr 14, 2009 08:02AM)
Everyone who has chimed in on this thread is correct in their point of view. All of us perform what we do based on its entertainment value for the audience we are working for.

2 examples of our larger family shows would be:

Our resort contracts are for 10 to 12 consecutive weeks with one 90 minute show each week. The show always includes a minimum of 2 large stage illusions, a dove act and a number of other effects and routines. The resorts are large and have repeat guests/customers annually. The guests fill out satisfaction surveys at the end of their stays for the resorts. These surveys include a ranking of the various entertainers at the resort. The resorts use this information to help plan their operations for next year. Our rankings have gotten us hired for many consecutive years and opened the doors to other resorts to perform at. These contracts are valued in the 10's of thousands of dollars each summer. The resorts we are engaged by will not hire you back in consecutive years if your show is not entirely new.

Quite a few of our fundraiser shows are held in large theaters with seating ranging from 750 to 3000 people. Again, for these shows we include a dove act and full sized stage illusions. These contracts again provide us with 10's of thousands of dollars each year.

On the other hand, we do also perform shows that do not require stage illusions and we can leave the trailer at home. For example, we can fit a 60 minute adult banquet show in our VW Jetta, complete with sound system.

So, to each their own.
Message: Posted by: solrak29 (Apr 14, 2009 11:59AM)
I found this post interesting but there is something I am missing...

What is the definition of big prop guys (like what is a "Big Prop")?
My guess here is illusions and dove magic and giant size Fraidy Cat Rabbit.

What is the definition of the small prop guys?
Is the guy who works out of the case, and uses close up stuff...cards, coins,
smaller version of your standard kid show props...

Ken and Cardone seem to be big prop guys, but these guys do monstly
big type of shows. Ken, does a lot of schools with auditoriums and stage
type of performance and Cardone, from recent posts, tends to do the same
but at different venues. I can see where these guys tendancy are to
Big Props. I can also see where you fees would change for these type of
shows.

Myself, I perform in Middle America's living rooms where space is minimal
at best. Especially, if you need your audience situated properly. So in
my case, I can only see "small" prop being feasible in this case.

So I am guessing, it is where or what venue(s) you are catering too?
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 14, 2009 01:15PM)
This is, I believe, the most balanced discussion on this subject here at the Café. I'd like to mention that RJE (two posts above), is rather a superb entertainer, with a great style and original routines. Check out some of his Youtube clips, and you'll see what I mean. Here is a master of our art, and he's happy to carry a big show.
Last year was exceptional for me.....as a lover of magic props, and following the thread about the Remote Animatronics Puppets from Axtell, I just HAD to get one!The expense was really more than I was ready to meet, but also the potential of these puppets is enormous! Then Chance Wolf came out with The Flea. Another outrageously expensive item. Yet, as a devotee of Chance, and all things beautiful and magical, of course, the funds were found to get it. 15% of my income is substantial, but not that substantial!
OK, I admit, I'm a big kid, and I love buying toys. Darynb puts up some powerful reasons NOT to have a big show, and I can't deny the truth of what he says. Putting out a big show is fraught with complications.....there are props to maintain (at least two of my props need repairing every week), there are the transport and set-up issues, the cost to justify, the space required for a bigger set...etc....
So, WHY do some of us LOVE to put out a "big" show? Because we can....there is no other reason. I believe that if I spent no money on props, although my gross income would be less, my net income would be more. Would that remain the same over decades? Probably, because the no-prop guy has NO maintenance or ongoing costs, whereas the prop-heavy guy does.
Silly Billy travels to his gigs on the New York Underground. He also commands a reasonably high fee for his gigs. Small show (I mean it fits into a suitcase), big fee.
A simpler way to think about this, might be to consider backdrops. They offer nothing directly to a show, but everything indirectly. A bakcdrop is a prop, its only purpose is to enable the audience to see and enjoy the show more fully. A great performer would easily work without a backdrop.....but would he prefer to have one? Of course!
The problem with big props is, how to make them entertaining? Someone who can only do fancy finger-flicking might have trouble getting mileage out of a big colourful box.....
;)
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Apr 14, 2009 01:49PM)
Hi Doug
I like it, we have big props because we can! Who made your back drop.
Also I travelled a lot lighter when I worked in London and never knew how far the venue I'd have to park.
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 14, 2009 05:22PM)
I like the idea of 'focus'. I am always focused on 2 things during my performance:
1. the audience
2. my routines

I like your idea Potty of the backdrop - it makes sense. I used to have a massive backdrop (for stage shows) - it was roughly 20ft long by 8 ft high but I made it in 3 sections so could use all 3 for large stages. just 2 for smaller stage or 1 part if I had a tiny stage or living room. (those were in the days where I had a stage hand and the lucky kid was making a fortune off of me for doing almost nothing 3 times a night)

At one point I also had a jetset but found it to be too flimsy with a wide spread tripod leg that would always find my feet in a living room b.day party and I just didn't find it sturdy enough out in the garden albeit breaks up small and light. It wasn't long before I learned that I could do my show and get my audience to focus on the things I was focusing on (remember - them themselves and my routines) and take them on a more propless journey (with props but not very large ones).

I am now re-considering a custom made backdrop in my setup - this could be light and compact and quick setup - possibly (more than likely) adding an overall professional touch. Can someone point me back to the direction of the topic on good backdrops? can someone recommend a good sturdy (packs flat & light) model?

P.S I too just watched one of RJE's videos and hats off your stage looks 'beautiful', props shine and very classy act. This is appealing and I can imagine children literally adhering themselves to you (not just your props!)throughout your show. Keep it up as in my opinion (as much as I don't justify these props) I sincerely hope many children get to experience a show that looks like yours.

Dani
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 15, 2009 02:03AM)
If you read the threads about backdrops, one product comes up top of the list for birthday party and small shows....go to http://www.magicbackdrops.com - and bear in mind that the photos on the site don't do the beautiful products justice,
Potty :)
Message: Posted by: RJE (Apr 15, 2009 05:45AM)
Thank you for the kind words Potty and Dani.

I agree, backdrops can really help add to a performance as well as providing a backstage or wing if needed.

For our backdrop stands, we go to this web site http://cart.owens-originals.com/PROFESSIONAL-PHOTO-BACKDROP-AND-BACKGROUND-STANDS-s/26.htm They pack up into their own compact carrying case and are quick and easy to use.
Message: Posted by: danryb (Apr 15, 2009 06:16AM)
Your right - the 'magicbackdrops' website and pictures do not do justice.
They seem to have a new size larger backdrop available which I think I would prefer.

I also like the stands at 'owens-originals' and could get my own curtain made for me localy. Price might be more reasonable albeit setup/breakdown might not be as afficient.

The point is adding a backdrop prop to a good show could make it better.

Thanks for the links.

Posted: May 2, 2009 10:30am
Just FYI if anyone's interested, I have been intouch with Jeff Jones from 'Magic Backdrops' and he will have a special offer on his Backdrops in August with Free worldwide shipping!

I asked him if this is supposed to be kept back till August or if he wants me to share the news here on the Café - so here it is:

http://www.MagicBackdrops.com
All pre-orders that ship out in August will receive FREE WORLD WIDE SHIPPING.
All orders must be paid in full by august 1st.
This offer will extend to all orders taken throughout our August conventions.
*This offer applies only towards our backdrop product lines.
*This offer must be mentioned at time of purchase and prior to shipping.
*This offer is subject to change without notice.

Just thought I'd share that with you if you're interested in this product it could save you a few bucks on shipping.

Dani
Message: Posted by: muzicman (May 6, 2009 12:36AM)
I do not get upset at the prop guys 'cause I'm one of them!!

I love my "TOYS" and I really like sharing them with others. Like Smartini and Potty, I have passion for quality props. I do not care what they cost, as their value to me is 10 fold. From Wolf props to Axtell, my audiences deserve the best. I go over the top and my props are one of my vehicles.

I've been crucified by people that know nothing about me because I have expensive props. It's unfortunate for them they feel this way. Those people that actually know me realize I'm just a big kid... with money!

Posted: May 8, 2009 5:41pm
Here's a pic I took last night in my home office. It's just one corner but it shows a few Axtell, a few Wolf products, and a few other "props". Total tally is over $50k worth of props in this one room alone.

http://noobscss.com/sushi/buster.jpg
Message: Posted by: kimmo (May 11, 2009 08:30AM)
Wow - we should have a competition to try and name them all!

I spotted:

Axtell Animatronic Toucan
Wolf Blow Yr Stack
Wacky Waccoon
Gumball Recombobulator
Axtell Vern
Axtell Drawing Board
Wolf Chicken Sword
Axtell Chimp
Axtell Mini Chimp
Wolf Outhouse
Gumball machine
Message: Posted by: Kevinr (May 11, 2009 12:58PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-13 14:31, Alan Munro wrote:
People will pay more for the talented performer, rather than the prop guy.
[/quote]

Tell this to Copperfield and Lance Burton...

Known fact the nicer and larger props WITH (and I do mean with)a good story line will be percieved by the client as worth more money than a great magician with some rope, cards and a small bag of items...

[quote]
On 2009-05-08 17:41, muzicman wrote:
Here's a pic I took last night in my home office. It's just one corner but it shows a few Axtell, a few Wolf products, and a few other "props". Total tally is over $50k worth of props in this one room alone.

http://noobscss.com/sushi/buster.jpg
[/quote]

You are a big show prop guy for kids shows?!?! Addicted to Wolf and Axtell products.. Ahhh .. look out.. How can you afford all those products.. 50k worth? How dare you do this....

Ok I am just messing with you..

Cool stuff brother wish I had the cash for all that AWSOME!!!
Message: Posted by: muzicman (May 11, 2009 03:56PM)
I'm impressed Kimmo, you spotted the Wacky Waccoon and it's in the ATA case (Under the gumball machine)!! My office is FILLED with magic, the pic just shows one corner. I am addicted to quality props and each one is not just an investment in my shows, they are also a tax writeoff! The props themselves do nothing by themselves, it takes me to present them in an entertaining way. Buster, my Toucan is a sidekick and I couldn't imagine doing a show without him now that I have him. I feel so fortunate I was able to afford him and give him a home.

I have a lot of respect for the guy who can face an audience with nothing more than a deck of cards and a rubberband. I feel audiences have an expectation of a magician with props and I do not scrimp when it comes to this subject (as you can see).

I find that the only ones that get upset are those that feel threatend by them. Those that are not able to afford them will always get upset by those that can. I made a comment in another thread that it's like the local moped club gets upset because I drive a Ferrari. I know a VW will get me from point A to point B but I prefer something that others do not have. I'm unique, just like everyone else!
Message: Posted by: cinemagician (May 12, 2009 12:15PM)
This is a good thread.

I have only done a few childrens shows in the last year since I returned to performing magic(close-up) about three years ago.

For a while there I was turning down shows mostly because I felt that since I did not have any fancy props the impression would be that the show was not worth the money.

In the show I just did last weekend I used very little in the way of props building most of my show around some of the classics of magic- linking rings cups and balls misers dream sponge balls etc.

The mom came up to me imediately after the show, handed me my check and said, "You were awesome". I was paid more money than I charged for the show.

I still feel that I would like to add more in the way of nice looking props and tables, backdrop etc. to the show but my anxieties about my lack of toys has gone away a least a little bit.

As I go forward I will add more stuff but now I know I don't really need it- the performance and the interaction with the kids is the main thing.

I also feel that puppets, vent dolls, gadgets and sight gags are fine but that if you advertise yourself as a magician at least a good percentage of the show should be "magic".

-Mark
Message: Posted by: kimmo (May 12, 2009 01:12PM)
Muzicman - I spotted the Wacky Waccoon because I've owned one! as I said earlier in this thread - I used to be the big prop guy! I've also owned a Wolf Funhouse, Water Wheel, Over 15 different Axtell puppets, Remote Drawing Board and more rabbit productions and vanishes than I can remember. My garage, loft, shed and every spare room in the house is full of props! I'm a big kid myself and I love toys as much as anyone.

However, these days I find what excites me most is connecting with the audience and leaving the big stuff at home. My buzz comes from the fact that I no longer feel the need to lug all that stuff with me. I feel liberated that I am no longer constantly searching for the next big thing that will improve my act. In the old days I'd put a new item in and then immediately begin looking for the next! All my Wolf props were bought over a three month period - it was like an addiction. I'd then feel crushed and disappointed when reactions to new props were average at best (No fault of the props, just the fact that I was focused on acquiring them, rather than developing my act)

I have no problem with guys who use big props - they just didn't suit me. I found my style and now wouldn't go back.
Message: Posted by: muzicman (May 12, 2009 01:35PM)
Well, I'm certainly impressed you spotted that!

I don't lug all these around. I also have $15k in intelligent lighting and 3 size PA's for various venues. My largest PA fills a full size van or pickup alone! I also have a full BA stage and BA illusions that rival big box illusions. The time, cost, and expense of moving all this equipment makes it impossible to lug it all around.

Smaller shows with no lights, and just 1-2 props is fun.

I recently went to my local [url=http://www.guitarcenter.com/Default.aspx?source=4WWRWXGT]Guitar Center[/url] with my 14 y/o daughter and her friend. What started with just me playing to a backing track I dropped on my Rolly in their accoustic guitar room, turned into a room designed for 20 people filled with 30+ people and 3 of us trading off licks with the dancing egg. My daughter said as we were leaving, "Dad, you can pretty much entertain anywhere doing anything can't you"!

To me, it's not what you have, but what you are. I'm a born entertainer. I also enjoy entertaining myself, and these works of art are something to behold, and enjoy and own.

My props will soon be in their own theater, the way magic should be displayed. All the lights and sounds of "theater". BA illusions perfectly executed because the lights are spot on controlled along with the music from a central professional mixed 24bit computers PCI interface (digital 5.1 sound). The talking deer head is the emcee, Buster is the sidekick, all my glow wire and exotic costumes. No travel. This is the show I want and these props just reinforce my presentations and add visual variety. Not to mention they are reliable!!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (May 13, 2009 03:49AM)
Muzicman, your set-up sounds awesome! I sometimes wish I had my own pirate ship, with a built-in theatre!
In response to Kimmo's post, I'd suggest Kimmo, that you still are a big prop guy...at least if you still have two puppets, and the RC Drawing Board at your shows...along with your puppet trunks. With those you manage to fill the stage most effectively. What's very useful though, is that several of your routines are small items which play big, which means you give the impression of having a BIG show, without having to hump too much gear in.
If you think of puppets as large props, they can highly entertaining, and routines tend to be considerably longer than your average large magic prop.
Message: Posted by: 8thking (Jun 14, 2009 05:23AM)
Props or no props it is about entertaining kids and if you can do that it doesn't matter either way the only way it matters is on your back lugging things in and out of your trunk
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Jun 14, 2009 06:27AM)
[quote]
On 2009-05-11 13:58, Kevinr wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-04-13 14:31, Alan Munro wrote:
People will pay more for the talented performer, rather than the prop guy.
[/quote]

Tell this to Copperfield and Lance Burton...

Known fact the nicer and larger props WITH (and I do mean with)a good story line will be percieved by the client as worth more money than a great magician with some rope, cards and a small bag of items...
[/quote]
I'd hardly call them untalented or mere prop guys! What I was talking about was the "performer" who uses a prop as a crutch. The performers that you mention are ones who dominate the props that they use - that's a skill in and of itself.
Message: Posted by: cardone (Jun 14, 2009 11:03AM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-14 12:59, solrak29 wrote:
I found this post interesting but there is something I am missing...

What is the definition of big prop guys (like what is a "Big Prop")?
My guess here is illusions and dove magic and giant size Fraidy Cat Rabbit.

What is the definition of the small prop guys?
Is the guy who works out of the case, and uses close up stuff...cards, coins,
smaller version of your standard kid show props...

Ken and Cardone seem to be big prop guys, but these guys do monstly
big type of shows. Ken, does a lot of schools with auditoriums and stage
type of performance and Cardone, from recent posts, tends to do the same
but at different venues. I can see where these guys tendancy are to
Big Props. I can also see where you fees would change for these type of
shows.

Myself, I perform in Middle America's living rooms where space is minimal
at best. Especially, if you need your audience situated properly. So in
my case, I can only see "small" prop being feasible in this case.

So I am guessing, it is where or what venue(s) you are catering too?
[/quote]

Yes I do large venues but I also do living room shows ... and I still book the large scale stuff ....Imagin 2 performers that both have great performing chops one has fancy gear and a back drop.. and the other uses a rope and a coloring book . Guess what ..the perceived value is going to be different . I know because I have booked living room shows in NYC at 3 times the rate of the highest paid famous kid show entertainer. Why ... people tell me after the show it was like a Vegas Magic show in their home ...and that the last show they had was overpriced for what they paid . Now my show was much more money ..but it didn't matter. Both are highly skilled entertainers . I just saw a need to send the show over the edge and give them a show of 1001 wonders that can happen in a small space and make more money doing so . I have a basic show but I book the bigger ones about %40 of the time ...

Posted: Jun 14, 2009 12:06pm
Oh by the way ...this is a great thread and we can all learn from these posts and find ways to raise the value of what we do .....I think some of the best biz chat on the Café is on" The Little Darlings ".... thoughts?
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jun 15, 2009 03:38AM)
Don't forget that for many entertainers, a big show is the result of years of performing. As you can afford to add new props, backdrops, and so forth, you can do so. It kinda goes hand in hand with moving up to bigger shows than your average living room... though these shows are so common, they can always be relied upon for a basic income.
Message: Posted by: muzicman (Jun 15, 2009 05:37AM)
It's really easy to get into buying props if you are naturally entertaining and making excess money from your shows. My wife, who is also my accountant, advised me last November that I needed to spend nearly $6k before the end of the year or be prepared to give a large chunk of it to the IRS. It just so happened that Steve Axtell was making these new Hands Free Puppets. I like supporting the manufacturers of quality products that I like and can use.

When I was 6 years old, I talked my mom into trading 6 books of S&H Green Stamps for a full size, 6 string accoustic guitar. The guitar was terrible quality, and had big fat strings that were 1/2 inch off the fret board. I did not know how to play it. I did not think of myself as a musician, but I had to start somewhere.

I learned how to play chords and finally songs I liked. Soon I was making my own music. By the time I was 8, I was ready to get a new guitar. A Fender accoustic was my choice. I got a shoeshine box with 4 1/2 S&H Green Stamps books. Instead of getting up and watching cartoons like other kids my age, I'd head to my towns auto row early in the morning and convince every car salesman that they needed a shine. I only charged .25 cents. Some would give me .50, some would give me $1. One gave me $10 (cause he sold 3 cars that day!).

It took me 3 weekends to get enough money to get that new Fender guitar, and I loved it and I still have it. I bought it in 1969 when I was 8 years old.

Now some people can entertain with an old beatup garage sale guitar, I am one of them. I actually tuned and played a cheap guitar recently that was NAILED TO A WALL in a mexican restaurant. When I played it, it resonated against the wall. All the staff that worked there, including the owner could not believe it. They had never seen anyone do that before and was quite surprised how good it sounded. I did 3 encores at their insistance!!

Now I could entertained them with my 1967 S&H Green Stamp guitar, or my 1969 Fender I bought with my hard earned money, or any of the other 14 electric and accoustic guitars I have in my collection. But I didn't have them with me. Also, the quality guitars I own sound better and are easier to play that that first one I got, or the one nailed to the wall in my local Mexican Restaurant. Keep in mind, I CAN ENTERTAIN WITH THEM, but I prefer my better quality, more expensive guitar if I'm being paid to perform. I don't need it, but I prefer it, and I believe in the end, my audiences will appreciate it, and my clients will feel they got their moneys worth.

The same is true with my props in magic.

By the way, S&H Green Stamps were given by retailers for purchasing products back in the 60's. From gas to groceries, you seemed to always get them. You could pick products with books that you would fill with these things. Anyone else remember these things? My mom would put them in a drawer in the kitchen and I'd lick them and stick them in a book and look at the catalogue to see what I could get. I was really poor back then, and money was tight. Both those items I got changed my life, but only because I worked at it. A guitar is like a magic prop to me and vice versa. Just because you have it, does not make it entertaining. What makes it entertaining is what I do with it.
Message: Posted by: themagiciansapprentice (Jun 15, 2009 05:46AM)
An amusing tale
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Jun 15, 2009 07:48AM)
Muzicman,

I like the way you put that and yes, I have similar memories about Green Stamps.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Jun 15, 2009 02:06PM)
Muzicman, in the UK we called them "Green Shield Stamps". I still remember chucking out about a million of them years after the company folded! You obviously had a great love of music as a kid. When I was that age, I used to spend all my cash on magic props! Sadly I didn't realise the joys of things like guitars back then, and magic props were rare as hens' teeth - so Green Shield Stamps could offer nothing to me....
:(
Message: Posted by: magoben (Jun 26, 2009 05:40PM)
I believe the cutting edge magician and the best combination to get the most of your show is combining props, talent and image.

I'm studying advertising, and if we think in the "commercial" part of magic we all are like a product. For example, when you are in a supermarket and you are searching for a new product, you'll tend to choose the product that look best and seems to solve "your problem". It's the same with us, if the people doesn't know us they will search for the atributtes and benefits that may solve their "entertainment problem".
Message: Posted by: Kevinr (Jun 26, 2009 07:26PM)
[quote]
On 2009-06-26 18:40, magoben wrote:

I'm studying advertising, and if we think in the "commercial" part of magic we all are like a product. For example, when you are in a supermarket and you are searching for a new product, you'll tend to choose the product that look best and seems to solve "your problem". It's the same with us, if the people doesn't know us they will search for the atributtes and benefits that may solve their "entertainment problem".
[/quote]

True.. I think the days of caring in a "bag of tricks" and wearing a pair of jeans and white shirt and saying we are the best are long gone..