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Potty the Pirate
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[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.
;)
cardone
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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 .
Alan Munro
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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.
RJE
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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.
danryb
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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 .



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 Smile 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
John J Walton
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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
RJE
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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.
solrak29
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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?
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Potty the Pirate
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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.....
;)
ColinDymond
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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.
danryb
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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
Potty the Pirate
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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 Smile
RJE
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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/PROFESSI......s/26.htm They pack up into their own compact carrying case and are quick and easy to use.
danryb
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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
muzicman
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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
kimmo
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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
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Kevinr
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Quote:
On 2009-04-13 14:31, Alan Munro wrote:
People will pay more for the talented performer, rather than the prop guy.


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


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!!!
muzicman
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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!
cinemagician
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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
...The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity...

William Butler Yeats
kimmo
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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.
VISIT MY ONLINE STORE!: www.kimmomagicshop.com
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