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Atlanta, GA
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Profile of onebark
This is an especially sensitive subject, and seems to often draw lines between age groups.

I, too, was enchanted by dreams of stardom in my teen years…not in magic but in music. Fortunately I was really wasn’t good enough to ever achieve anything close to stardom. Yes, fortunately:

We have been sold a load of goods. We are told to follow our dreams, shoot for the stars, and achieve your potential…and it’s the wrong advice. This religion is a 20th century creation. Do you know what you end up with when you follow that philosophy? A life filled with me, me, and me. I’m not that important. If I am consumed with stardom then the only thing I will be filled with is the pursuit of MY life and statistically speaking, I will never find it. I spent much of my late teens and early twenties hanging around young people who wanted to shoot for the stars, and they left a legacy of broken relationships, selfish decisions, and a genuine lack of concern for the suffering or problems of others. I am not generalizing; I am relating observations made over a life of associations with many different types of people, including investment bankers, performers, salespeople, and developers.

You may be thinking that I am filled with pessimism, but that is the exact opposite of what I have learned. In fact, it is the ultimate optimism. You do not need to force your potential. A drop of water will find its way to the ocean eventually; it just takes a little longer for some. Strive for stardom? It will come if you have the potential and ability. But to make it your single goal could lead to a life of emptiness. You will miss the meat of life that gives it purpose.

What about a life of doing what is right, rather than what feels good to me? I realized the cost of striving for stardom, and it lost its luster. Nights of endless working, which means…how would I spend time with my children? What would that mean to my wife? How will I tutor immigrant children at the local elementary school? That’s what it takes to be a star. That’s the cost. Those of you who are working professionals know what I’m talking about, that there is a tremendous elusiveness and cost to stardom, and it has a price that can never be fully paid.

After many years of working a regular job and securing a strong marriage, I now have returned to the performance arts with a maturity and freedom I never knew. I now can choose for whom I perform magic, when I will do it, and how much I will charge (maybe even donate the performance!). I understand people better, I understand business better, and I have a rich history of life to draw upon in my performances. I do not have the stress of trying to pay bills with performance. If you have the dream and potential to perform, then be patient, and in the meantime, do what is right.

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Profile of jeffF
I appreciate this post. Certainly, Ron has a lot of uncommon wisdom even if he dropped out of high school. I suppose for most of us, we shouldn't give up our day jobs. For myself anyway, magic is better as a hobby or a part time avocation. My day job allows me to make the purchases that interest me (like out smokin). Jeff
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I have a life, or I would have more than
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Profile of nums
I started in magic as a hobby and when I met my wife (she was not my wife when I met her) she convinced me I was good enough to make money at this ....She got me my first gig over 10 years ago and 4 years ago went full time. I am 39 years old and am lucky enough to be given the skill and gift of gab to do this for a living. I am just a small time childrens magician who also twists a lot of balloons...I have said many times before and mean it that if this becmes a "JOB" I will quit and go back to work where I get paid benifits,vacation, and weekends off. In the mean time I love the fact I get to play for my money...

Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
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Profile of Lee Darrow
Success or fame? The two are not necessarily the same thing. How many times have we heard of a major star winding up in bankrputcy court because they got ripped off by managers, divorces, the tax people or whatever?

Sure, they may be a household name, but they are broke and no one will hire them for anything more than a pittance.

Success, however, has many different definitions - probably as many definitions as there are people out there in the world.

For some, success is a mansion, chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and millions in the bank. For some, it is the cheers of a bunch of kids at a birthday party who run up and hug you after a show. For some, it's the paycheck at the end of a trade show, a pat on the back and a contract for next year.

And for some, it's the satisfaction of doing the show well, the applause, the laughter and the gasps of amazement. For some, it's their way of bringing forth the Word of their God and for some, it's a great way to pick up a desireable partner for some adult-level fooling around. And for many, as Ron points out so well, it's the acquisition of knowledge and the application of that knowledge (like successfully foling someone with a new sleight or routine).

But, if one is going to make a living out of doing magic there is one ingredient that is more important in many ways than any other - persistance.

Unrewarded genius and talent is almost a stereotype. One hit wonders abound - and the vast majority of them quit pretty soon. Big splashes on the publicity scene happen and are gone. Persistance is the only thing that will keep you going. If you aren't out pounding the pavement every day, calling on potential clients, marketing your act and perfecting your act, you will not succeed as a paid professional entertainer.

And even then, you may well never make the mega-bucks of a Lance Burton or David Copperfield. But you will have a much better chance of being able to live a comfortable life, pay most of your bills on time and stay well fed.

Like Ken Brooke used to say, "It's better than digging roads!" But to think that it's not work is delusional. I work harder at being a good magician and stage hypnotist than I have at any other job I have ever had. And in 36 years, both pro and semi-pro, I always strive to keep learning.

Just some notes while sitting here contemplating a late lunch...

Lee Darrow, C.H.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
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