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Topic: Nightmare Gig
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Apr 19, 2013 01:30PM)
I had the worst gig in the world the other day. MAN it was bad. The client wanted too much, wanted to pay too little and had crazy expectations and was completely disorganized. I just got back from a trip to LA, so I needed to make money for my family, simple as that.

It was the most difficult gig I've ever been on. Just unbelieveable and even with that I pulled off every trick successfully. It was sort of like a challenge game. Can you beat someone else in chess if you're not allowed to use your queen? Something like that. In this case what was asked for was extremely difficult and curve balls just kept coming and coming at me because the people planning the gig made so many mistakes.

There's a funny side story to this. I found this out when I went to the office of the establishment, a friend of the DJ was there. Apparently the client demmanded that the truck keep their lights on when unloading. Then the client (after unloading) pulled the DJ's (there were four on the crew) inside and wanted to go through every detail of the gig. Despite many protests by the crew that they needed to move the truck, the client persisted in going over every detail inside. When they got done doing that and went back outside the battery had died. That should give you an idea of the type of client we are working with here.

In any case after the gig they complained to me and wanted their money back. Here was my response.

I'm not going to waste a lot of time on this.

I'm just going to explain it to you simply.

1. Magicians don't create what happens in your mind. You expected me to create things which existed in your mind, rather than fulfilling the requests you gave me. The requests you gave me was to make the tiara appear. I did. The request you gave me was to make a cake with lit candles on it appear. I did. What you wanted was for me to create a magic effect exactly as you saw it in your mind. That's just not possible.

2. The reason you and your wife weren't amazed is because YOU KNEW what was going to happen. It's not amazing to see a cake produced magically when you KNOW a cake is going to be produced magically.

3. Special requests are extremely difficult to fulfil. That's one of the reasons you were turned down by more than five other magicians. The other reason you were turned down by so many magicians is because you were so incredibly hard to work with. I got complaints from several other magicians that you would call them late at night, that you would continually harass them for lower prices and that you would be unsatisfied unless they gave you exactly what they envisioned. That's why no one else but me was willing to work with you, because I'm a very patient individual, and they all told me this explicitly "I'm not going to work with them, it's more trouble than it's worth."

4. Enclosed below is the email you wrote me on Saturday. I was not informed prior to this time that there would be a '16 inch round platter. Before this you told me it would be a 9 inch round cake. 9 inches and 16 inches is very different. I had to scrap the entire illusion and start from scratch. AND I STILL DID IT.

5. We had discussed specifically what the candles would be. They were not as described. You told me that you would have big number candles on the cake (for her age). When I got there, you only had a single tiny candle which would not show up well to a large audience.

6. You accidentally hired two magicians for the gig and when I showed up, security told me I wasn't supposed to be there and tried to escort me out of the building. You tried to play this off on the phone to me as if it wasn't your fault. Having THREE different people (you, your wife, and a party planner) try to hire a magician for the SAME GIG and then negotiating people on price and then leaving different magicians hanging is disgraceful. This goes beyond rude.

7. I told you I needed 30 minutes to set up. Because of the debacle above we had to spend 10 minutes sorting it out, eating into my set up time.

8. You told me that the cake would already be on the stage behind a curtain. It wasn't. It was still in the kitchen, and I had to get the cake to the stage without anyone seeing and completely set up the whole illusion IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE OF 200 people. AND I STILL DID IT.

9. You told me that you only had room for a 10 minute act, and that I would be paid in cash right after the performance. Neither was true. The gig went on for another HOUR and Murray did not pay me right after, I spent that time continually searching for him. I enjoined you to have me do a 30 or 45 minute act, as this would have made more sense, but you kept telling me "We only have 10 minutes". So your claim that it would just be "10 minutes" was false all around. You made me wait an hour afterward to get paid.

10. When I was finally given the money after the gig, it was shoved at me so hard I had to take a step backwards to regain my balance before you rudely walked off.

11. As far as people at the party saying the magic wasn't good, I simply don't believe you. People laughed, clapped, and gasped in astonishment. I was asked for a card by people there. The other magician who was there expressed interest in working with me again. It just doesn't wash. The reason that you didn't enjoy the magic is that you wanted to tell me exactly what to do and then have me somehow make the magic real to you when you already knew exactly what was going to happen.

12. Finally you asked for your money back. After all that. After hour long consult calls with you that I had to do through an interpreter. TWICE.

There is NO ONE in the washington DC area who could have pulled off the performance I did that night. I want you to do this. Call a magician and tell them that, for $200 they have to make a large cake appear and that they only have 3 days to come up with a way. Then the day of, give them new, different measurements for the cake. Then tell them they have to set up the entire thing IN FRONT OF a live audience. Then tell them the cake is going to be in the wrong place, the candles are going to be wrong and that there will also be another magician hired for the gig who you will have to sort out when they get there.

What you don't understand is that there was NO ONE, NO ONE who could roll with all those variables and roll with those punches the way that I did. And I did it politely, I did it successfully, I did it without complaint and I did it with class. I'm sorry the performance wasn't up to your high standards.

If you don't believe me, ask any other magician to do all that and see what kind of answer you get.

Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Apr 19, 2013 01:48PM)
This is one of the more fascinating reads ever on the Café. Thanks for sharing!
Message: Posted by: Dr. Delusion (Apr 19, 2013 02:57PM)
Wow!! It's unreal what they asked of you.
They should have been extreamly happy with your performance. It's just silly that they acted that rude to you.
Congrats on overcoming everything and giving them more than they desrved.
Thanks for sharinr.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Apr 20, 2013 01:36AM)
Thanks guys. It was all I could do not to respond in anger. But I'm glad I didn't respond with anger and instead responded with facts. I was proud rather than angry that I had completed the act successfully (it went off without a hitch, used an square circle made out of cardboard boxes.)

Getting acknowledgement and support from other magicians in the art form is what makes doing magic worthwhile. We've all had bad gigs, this was one for the record books.
Message: Posted by: Cliffg37 (Apr 20, 2013 08:58AM)
Watch your back Chris,

I obvioulsy only know this story from your side and not theirs. Are they the type to take you to small claims court? Let me know if they do as I can share advice and experience. Meanwhile, Kudos for pulling it off.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Apr 20, 2013 04:16PM)
I wish I had 100 customers who were that bad.... as it is, I have had over 150.... No need to re-repeat old stories but anyone who has read some of mine, will attest. As my mentor Jim Swoger used to say "Anything that can happen usually does"

Ok, One, I don't believe I've written yet - So. I showed-up to the holiday party for the Allen Coal Company. I insisted on having a space to set-up that was private. The secretary sent me into a small room and said the light switch was a string hanging, in the middle of the room. I bumbled around until I found the string, pulled it and Lo And Behold, the closet was a sample room. It was filled with bituminous coal. My ALL WHITE tuxedo had brown coal dust on it and so did my hands, face and hair.

I took my tux off, covered it in coal dust and performed the show wearing a brown tux. When I came-out I said Normally I wear a white tuxedo but in your honor, today, I dressed like you".
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Apr 20, 2013 06:14PM)
I think they are the type to spend $5000 on a DJ and $200 on the entertainment and expects David Copperfield while paying for sponge ball magic.. If they took it to small claims court that would be unbelievable and the story would be likely more than worth the yuks and trouble. Who knows. What people feel they are entitled to has no limit. They at first asked me "We would like you first to appear on stage out of nowhere." I think they literally thought I was able to fly around the room and do cartwheels. Who knows? I had their daughter escape from handcuffs (Without her knowing how she did it), made a Tiara appear on her head without her knowing it (Similar to Card on Forehead routine), had her discern what would be in an envelope from jumbo cards randomly picked by spectators and finally made a gigantic 9' tall 9' round cake appear with lit candles on a 16 inch platter all in the space of 10 minutes.

I can see the plaintiff now "Your honor, he failed to shoot fireballs out of his eyeballs and laserbeams from his feet. We want our money back!"

Now THAT would be a story.
Message: Posted by: magicbymccauley (Apr 20, 2013 06:16PM)
Jay, did you ever salvage the tuxedo? That story is really funny but I bet the drycleaning bill was less so. :)
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Apr 21, 2013 10:10AM)
Brown coal? We have black coal over here. I thought all coal was black? Or is that a PC thing that you can't call coal black? Should it really be 'coal - minority group of a woody descent".


Note that PC as in politically correct, not the PC that we provide at work - see if you can guess what that PC stands for ..... answers on a post card..... I bet no one gets it!
Message: Posted by: landmark (Apr 23, 2013 10:01PM)
Class, Chris.
Message: Posted by: magic123 (May 25, 2013 09:39AM)
Sorry , But I would NEVER tolereate being treated like thie No Way ! NEVER !!
You arrived , did what was exxpected . fufilled you part of the contract .

My Next step would be small Claims court for damages , hardship, abuse and any thing else I could slae them with ,
as there is simply no reason to tahe to take this .NONE !!

The more acts bend over & take this kind of treatment , the longet acts such as this will be associated
w/ street performers , the Circus & a come ove a do a few tricks for little Bobby attitude.
You were a Guest at there event , you should have been treated as such.

Message: Posted by: Daryl -the other brother (May 25, 2013 12:37PM)
On 2013-05-25 10:39, magic123 wrote:
You were a Guest at there event , you should have been treated as such.

He was not a guest, he was part of the hired staff, being paid as an entertainer. As such, he went above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of him. I believe the right thing was done. Take your fee and defend your right to keep it.

Small Claims Court? For what? There was no damage (he was paid his fee) and what kind of price would a judge put on hardship and abuse (good luck proving that) when the entire show was for $200.00?
Message: Posted by: Brent McLeod (Oct 16, 2013 10:16PM)
Chris-You handled it very well
you walked away with dignity and experience..learn from it for future gigs

At some stage or another weve encountered difficult clients but we make
it better for ourselves as to contracts & payments etc etc.....
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Nov 20, 2013 08:03AM)
That story is absolutely flabbergasting!!! I have no idea how you did not totally lose your mind!

You are one AMAZING magician!
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Nov 21, 2013 09:33AM)
The worst thing about people like that is that the procreate.
Message: Posted by: Rainboguy (Nov 21, 2013 09:45AM)
With a written and signed entertainment contract stories like this, even thought they DO happen, become more rare....just my 2 cents worth.....

And another comment....you might want to re-examine your fee structure and ask for more........then....stand by your minimum fee........
Message: Posted by: malaki (Oct 25, 2017 09:58AM)
Exactly why I no longer give discounts for shows. The less they pay, the more they expect.
Message: Posted by: top_illusionist (May 12, 2018 03:06AM)
Wish I could tell my story about a show in East, L.A. with the heckler in the audience that turned out to be celebrity Shaun W..... Or how about my encounter with another magician heckler at a gig in which he turned out to be the paying client. I'm sure we've all had our shares of highs and lows. Don't let it deter you fellows. Keep your spirits up.
Message: Posted by: malaki (May 14, 2018 08:27AM)
[quote]On May 12, 2018, top_illusionist wrote:
Wish I could tell my story about a show in East, L.A. with the heckler in the audience that turned out to be celebrity Shaun W..... Or how about my encounter with another magician heckler at a gig in which he turned out to be the paying client. I'm sure we've all had our shares of highs and lows. Don't let it deter you fellows. Keep your spirits up. [/quote]

This, unfortunately, is also nothing new.
Houdini and his contemporaries used to show up at rival's shows just to make trouble.
I like to think that we are a bit more civilized toward one another these days...