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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Helping hands » » Paying my assistant (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Illusionist01
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Okay,

So I recently entered a talent competition with my magic act. Here is what my act was: It was a total of 5 minutes long, and the first 2 1/2 minutes was just me with my bird routine, and I used my assistant by giving her the birds...that is all she did for that first 2 minutes; she put my birds in the cage. Then the last 2 1/2 minutes was the Zig-Zag Illusion, which my assistant was the girl I sliced in three pieces. Now we ended up winning the competition and here is what the prize was...

$500.00 plus free dance or voice lessons for ONE person.

Now, the question I have is how should I divide the money? As far as the dance or voice lessons...they are worth a lot of money, but really would not benefit me since I do magic and not sing or dance. I figured that I could let my assistant have that. Now all that is left is the 500 dollars, which I don't know what to do with. At first I figured I would just split it, but when you take everything into consideration, the act was basically all me...she was just the assistant.

I am new to the whole assistant thing, so I have no clue as to what average "rates" are...so if anyone could shine some light on my situation, that would be fantastic.

Thanks a lot.

Alan Smola
Alan "Ace" James
cigam3d
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Hmm well when she signed on what was her expectations? I mean she is doing just as much work if not more than you are with zig zag. I guess it depends on what you promised her when she signed on
Illusionist01
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Well see, the thing is that she is my girldfriend, so she never really signed on or anything, I just asked if she wanted to be in my act, and she graciously accepted. But I don't want to just blow her off and give her nothing...yet I don't want to give her more than what I should. Do you know what I mean?...because I really could use all of the money myself to help improve my act, where as she will just probably blow it all on clothes and stuff. If anyone else has any input, I would love to hear it.

-Alan
Alan "Ace" James
Big Daddy Cool
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Give her half the money. Then YOU HAVE TO take the dance lesson. You must learn how to move! It is essential!
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
www.johnpyka.com
magicmanrob
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I agree you must get movement experience and the lessons would be a great start. All in your cast would greatly benefit in fact why not try to bargain a deal and forgo the 500% with the dance studio to get you both in dance lessons. If she is your assistant and you plan on her helping you in the future you will want her to have the same movement skills as you and vice versa. That's what I would do.
Big Daddy Cool
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And normally I would agree with that. But it sounded like this was a one-time thing.

BDC
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
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gsidhe
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Alan,
PLeased to meet you! Good to see another Michigander on the Café. Real close by too! Done a few shows down in Kalamazoo, Bangor, Battle Creek and such!
Just a quick bit of advice though...And it might sound a bit harsh, but it is a pet peeve...
Don't ever say "the act was basically all me...she was just the assistant."
That is egotistical to the extreme.
I don't care if she was on stage for 5 minutes or 5 hours.
No assistant, no cutting anyone into pieces. You are left on stage with a big pretty box. Wouldn't that be one heck of an act?
Yes...You deserve the lions share of the $ made. You invested in the props, developed the act, booked the job, you have the greater investment.
However...You say she had a total of about 5 minutes stage time...Out of a 5 minute act...
So she was up there just as long as you were...And as we ALL know, they do all of the work in the Zig Zag. So basically, you pulled birds out of your costume, while she got stuck into a hot cramped box?
Here are some other considerations...
How long did it take her to get ready so she could look good and enhance YOUR act?
Did she wear anything or buy anything special to look good for YOUR act?
Did she help to make YOU look good?
Did she spend any time at all rehearsing with you for the act?

The fact is, you are not paying her for 5 minutes of work. You are paying her for all of the above.
So what if the $ that you pay her is spent on clothes? It is the fact that she spends $ on this that made her look good for your act and helping you win the money. Do you think your act would have done as well if she was dressed like a bag lady?
Here's the split as I see it...50/50 and you take the dance lessons or 20% her 80% you, and she takes the lessons.
Either way, take some money out of what you keep and buy her some roses. Not carnations man...ROSES.
And thank her for being a great asset to your act.

Gwyd
Ms. Morgan
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Gwyd...
So well said. On behalf of the ladies of magic let me say "Thank You". You are a true Gentleman.

Ms.M
World Magic Award's "Escape Artist of the Year"
www.EscapeChick.com
www.illusionbiz.com
www.WackyDracky.com
gsidhe
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An absolute pleasure to say what I think Ms. M.
I only hope he gets it.
Gwyd
Donald Dunphy
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One of the keys here, is to think about if you would use the income from a contest win differently than if you had the income from performing the show professionally for a fee.

I would tend towards treating them both the same. Now saying that, I have never had income from a contest win. It's been many years since I performed without pay, as well (I occassionally donate a show to a charity).

However, because I run my own magic business, and have made income from shows for many many years (20+ years), and I have to declare it for taxes, and I have to itemize every expense on a ledger for my accountants, I have a realistic view of what part of my business is expenses. That's about half of my gross annual income. 50%.

(Now that might change down the road, but it has been at this level for quite a long time now. And it might be totally different for you. I know some entertainers that, in reality, have expenses closer to 100% or even more of their earnings.)

And those expenses are various: props, expendables, costuming, cleaning of costumes, promoting and advertising, phone bill, cell phone bill, giveaways, vehicle maintence, vehicle purchase, vehicle licensing, gas, business insurance, automotive club, vehicle cleaning, part of storage in the home / remote locker, meals on road, lodging on road, time and labour involved in setting up show arrangements, etc, etc.

Now, of the other 50%, which is in essence the NET INCOME after expenses, then it is fair to pay the assistant / performance partner half of that salary.

So, overall, based on a realistic understanding of all expenses in my business, the right thing to do for me is to pay an assistant 25% of the overall show fee. I get 25% as my salary. And the other 50% takes care of expenses.

I disagree with the idea of looking at show income as a net income, when it really is a gross income. This is a trap that a lot of magicians and other business owners fall into.

Again, I'm not saying this is what you need to do in this case. You need to evaluate for yourself whether you want to treat income from a contest win the same as you would treat income from being professionally paid for a show. And you also need to work out your expenses in a realistic way, so you have an idea of what percentage of what you earn needs to be put back to take care of those expenses.

- Donald

P.S. It might be a good idea to clearly communicate your reasoning to the other person, if this is the route you choose to go. Otherwise, they think you are keeping 75% as your income, when that is not the reality of the situation.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
AlanSmola
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Hey everyone, thanks for the help on the subject. I was completely new to the assistant thing so I will accept your criticism with a smile. Please don't make me out to be some magician though who treats his assistants with disrespect, because I don't, she is my girlfriend and I love her to death; I am just new to the whole thing that's all, so I appreciate the new knowledge. (Now I know why lots of magicians go solo, it's MUCH easier in the end)

-Thanks, Alan
Bill Nuvo
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I would take the dance lessons. It can teach you a lot about movement on stage and showmanship too (depending on the lessons). Growing up I took many things that I considered essential about learning about performing. You can often learn more from non-magical sources than magical. Don't knock dancing just because you are a magician.

Just think how much Ballet helped Fred Flintson in bowling (and if you don't know what I am talking about...I am too old)
fredmoore
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There was an illusion act (married) that divided the money as such:

1/3 to the magician
1/3 to the assistant
1/3 into the act.

This way there was no fighting over who gets what and there's still money to improve your show.
www.moorefred.com


"Find A Job You Love And You
Add 5 Days To Your Week!"
jimhlou
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Give her half, Alan - Could you have done the show without her?

I don't know how long she's been your girlfriend, but if you really want to keep her, treat her like an equal.

Jim
Unidan
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Or look like the ultimate boyfriend and just give her the money.
Father Photius
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Really, even with a girlfriend, you should treat her where your act is concerned in a business like manner. You should have reached an agreement with her over payment. But in the absence of that, and since you personally don't see the voice and dance lessons as valuable, I'd give her 1/3 of the fee. Or find out what the standard model fee in your area is and pay her that. In the future show her the professional courtesy of negotiating a fee to pay her in advance. Unless, of course you want to give her a lifetime contract, as many magicians have done(Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell, Johnny and Pam Thompson, Harry Blackstone, Jr. and Gay, etc.), in which case, she gets it all.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Rupert Bair
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Take her to a expensive restaurant, buy her some nice flowers and give her the lesson.

And tell her your going to buy a new illusion with the rest of the money so you can win more comps.

=)

So...I wonder what he did in the end.

M:C
Big Daddy Cool
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Quote:
On 2007-08-21 09:17, Matt Colman wrote:
Take her to a expensive restaurant, buy her some nice flowers and give her the lesson.

And tell her your going to buy a new illusion with the rest of the money so you can win more comps.

=)

So...I wonder what he did in the end.

M:C


Matt,

That is a horrible idea...
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
www.johnpyka.com
CMG
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Use the money so BOTH of you can take the Dance/Voice lessons.
The Donster
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Let your assistant have the lessons and give her half of the Prize Money. I myself am still waiting to hear from an Assistant. It's amazing how hard they are to find, and yet they never seem to contact you or stay in touch.
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