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168 Posts

Profile of magicman222
How many illusions do you have in your shows? How did you guys find the right music, right dances (if you do them), a place to do them, and all the money to buy the illusions, and Special FX? Was this a risky investment or did you buy them for cheap from someone? Are there any good book about starting illusion shows? thx soo much
Michael Messing
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Inner circle
Knoxville, TN
1815 Posts

Profile of Michael Messing
Lots of questions there. Let me start out by saying the best way to figure out what's involved in performing illusions is to work with an illusionist. That way, you'll get the inside scoop without having to spend a lot of money. That's especially important if you decide you don't like it. (It's a lot of hard work. Long set-up and break-downs. Heavy equipment to haul. Large vehicle needed, etc.)

I learned a lot about performing illusions by working backstage at a magic convention for 14 years before buying my first real illusion. It was a great learning experience. I helped set up illusion shows for all kinds of performers.

My typical small illusion show has three illusions in it. Zig-Zag, Metamorphosis and Electric Incisor (an audience participation illusion.) My larger shows add a Blammo Box and Harbin Chair Suspension.

I bought two illusions to start with: Metamorphosis and a refurbished Crystal Box (both from Chalet Magic.) When I bought them, I already had a contract for an illusion show six months away so it wasn't a risk. The illusions were mostly paid for by the first show. (The buyer had seen me perform my stage show and was comfortable that I could add a couple of illusions in that period of time.)

I suggest you look for a copy of Paul Osborne's "Illusion Planning" book. It give you a good start on what to look for in illusions and how to plan an illusion show. The entire booklet was reproduced in Paul Osborne's "Easy Build Illusions" book that just came out a couple of years ago. You can purchase it directly from Paul at: Click on books and look for the title.

I'm sure others will give you help here.

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Special user
549 Posts

Profile of M-Illusion
That's a tough situation. A lot depends on what you're able to invest, and what your potential clients are willing to spend on a show.

The number of illusions in my show vary on the show being presented. It is usually between 7-12, plus audience interaction and a few other smaller routines.

Finding the right music is just a matter of sitting down and listening to a lot. I have illusions that I've been doing for years that I still haven't found the right piece for. Many times, it will change over a period of time.

As for financing everything, I was lucky, early on, to have found some incredible investors. From there every dime of profits went right back into more equipment. I still use investors quite frequently for larger projects. (I.E. buying a truck, etc.)
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22891 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
Could you please explain the investor. If you have a show how soon do they show a return on their investment? Do you guarantee a profit percentage or what?
Bob Sanders
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Grammar Supervisor
Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
20522 Posts

Profile of Bob Sanders
This may take several books!

Essentially, I have two shows. One is twenty-two minutes and the other is two full hours with an intermission. Of course, modifications do get made. In a two hour show there will be six major illusions. In the shorter show one to three illusions depending on the staging.

Money was earned from working as an entertainer. That covers a lot of territory ranging from being talent in commercials to full stage productions. There are a lot of shopping centers, malls, nightclubs, company picnics, and trade shows in between. While Lucy and I enjoy grand illusion best, places where it is appropriate are vanishing. Many stages today are merely platforms with poor lighting, the most basic of curtains and no trained support. More theaters are torn down than built and flat seating is too common. Most of the illusion shows are platform shows and trade shows.

For a long time I enjoyed doing magic within fashion shows at better hotels and theaters. Good clothing is rare stuff today. The people who buy it now have it made for them or shop overseas.

The venue is changing. The audiences are less educated, less mobile, more informal, and often enjoying free tickets furnished by whoever sold them a car, a trailer, plane tickets, or the time-share. At least half of the tickets to stage shows are really premiums for something else. Most of the people in the audiences today are seeing their first live magic show ever. (Most have seen plenty of television.) Theme parks hire full-time staffs at low rates and they own the show.

There are still fairs, conventions, large meetings, country clubs, etc. Illusion shows rarely enjoy any edge there over smaller shows. Many of these are booked today to "fill the slot" within a small budget. It is common for the promotion to cost much more than the act.

The advice you were given to work with a show for several years first was very good advice. Most of real show business goes unseen by the public. In practice, there are only a few illusions that will ever fit a given individual performer and his audience. Be very careful what you buy. Even so, more props will be stored than used. Props from the top of the line manufacturers are much better deals than "bargains" from others or homemades. They are investments. Good investments hold their value.

Do not be afraid to use the same props as other illusion shows use. Stars use the same brands of guitars, as do hobbyists. The difference is the ability to draw and hold an audience. That is your job!

My observation is that grand illusion pays much better than close-up. Grand illusion with livestock pays better than just grand illusion. One-man shows like close-up get more bookings but they ultimately make less money. Stage shows are almost always at night, on weekends and holidays and require travel. Working for a piece of the gate is often smart. It does require some investment, usually an agent, and a very dependable cast. It is not a good place for beginners to start. For them it would be very risky.

One-man shows are a great way to get started. There is plenty of work. The props and costumes are not expensive and you seldom need your own stage crew. As you add to your show, the types of clients you serve can change. Then you will be in a position to make a new decision. Many performers still find it easier to succeed one table at a time than to satisfy hundreds at once. That again depends on what you want to offer. Stage and TV magic are very different. I have Ph.D. course work in film and TV production. Even worse, I have some experience. I like to do commercials but I would not enjoy being a television magician. I need the live audience. I have friends that sincerely disagree and jump at the chance to do TV magic. I'm glad they do.

I hope this helps you scope things out. There are many opportunities in magic. Grand illusion is one of them. It's not for everyone. Your magic needs to fit you and your audience.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz
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Inner circle
7444 Posts

Profile of hugmagic
Presentation is everything.. Check out an old Mickey Hades Publication by Burling Hull.Illusion for the 1,2, 3 performer show.

I agree with Magicmikey about working backstage and learning what to do and what not to do. Are you going to truck this illusion in crates or spend time building it every show? How many assistants will it need? What kind of staging, lighting, music?

There is a lot to consider.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
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