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danryb
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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
pjw
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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.
Tony James
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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.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
pjw
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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.
Tony James
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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."
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
magicgeorge
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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.
ColinDymond
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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?
pjw
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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!:-)
Tony James
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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!
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
akolodner
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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.
Arnie Kolodner
danryb
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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
Potty the Pirate
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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 Smile
Al Angello
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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?
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
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mumford
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Of course talent is paramount. Beyond that, what's the fuss? There's more than one way to skin a cat.
Regan
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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
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magicbob116
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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?


And when you DO use large props you must STILL use large TALENT.
B. Robert Pulver

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Michael Taggert
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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
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Potty the Pirate
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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?

...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 Smile
danryb
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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
Ken Northridge
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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 huge 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, in general, 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/con......l?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.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
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