Performing Magic & Illusions for Events

The event industry is likely the first industry that a budding magician or illusionist will find work in. Unless born into an entertainer’s family, it is unlikely that your first show experiences will come from theatre shows, cruises or casino showrooms. Probably, your first one hundred shows will come from events. For 80% of the professional and semi-professional magicians in the world, all of their work is from special events of all kinds.

Just like any working professional, I have worked every event imaginable, in the best and worst of conditions. At this point in my career, most off my event work is for high end corporate& special events where I present an event illusion show.

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The Purpose of Events

As an event entertainer, the first thing you must be well aware of and understand is that when you are booked to perform at an event, your sole purpose is to entertain and add value to the event.

The event is not being held because of you and the event does not revolve around your show. You are there to support the event program by performing the highest quality show for the guests and making the overall event experience memorable for the guests. Even if your show is the highlight of the event, you have to be conscious of the fact that you are not the (sole) reason why guests are attending the event. Naturally, this does not apply for celebrity entertainers whom an event might be organized especially for.

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Besides your show, most event programs will be full of different activities ranging from formalities like speeches, award presentations, video presentations and lucky draws to special items like other entertainers, performances by the company staff or games by the show host.

If you are performing for a corporate launch celebration dinner, the focus is on the successful launch of the company and the interaction of the new corporate team. If you are performing for a wedding banquet, the focus is on the union of the bride and groom. If you are performing for a family event, the focus is on creating activity and an event for families to spend time together and bond.

The implications of the above are that for event performances, you will not always get your preferred performing conditions or the ‘star’ treatment that you might expect if performing your own show in a theatre.

If you are one entertainer of several, you will have to share the stage and backstage with other entertainers. Technical resources (for e.g. lighting arrangements, staging configurations etc.) will also be shared and maximized to cater to the general needs of all the different entertainment performances.

Specific staging such as stage position, backdrop design, props and banquet seating arrangement will generally be given priority over your preferred setting.

At times, you will have to be your own ‘problem-solver’ as the client may not have time (or desire) to tend to your every need as he/ she has a dozen things to attend to.

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Performing Conditions for the Event Magician

Presenting a magic show at an event is vastly different from staging a show in a theatre or casino showroom. Each event offers different challenges to the Event Magician due to the dynamic and fluid nature of the event environment.

Performing conditions for the Event Magician are generally less than ideal. In fact, if you can present a good magic show consistently for events, you would have no problem staging shows for theater, cruises or showrooms. There are much more limitations in staging a show in an event setting than an entertainment or performance venue, since the latter is designed to accommodate shows & performances.

Event venues cover any establishment that opens up their place for private bookings. In most cases, the venue will be closed to the public if a private booking is made. Event venues include hotels, convention halls, clubs, pubs, restaurants, tourist attractions, museums, art galleries and boats. As mentioned most events are not centered and designed around your magic show.

The exception is, of course, if you are a highly celebrated magician who has been invited to perform for an event. In which case, to a certain extent, the entire event will be crafted to your performance needs. If your typical performance booking is of the nature just described, most of the material in this section will not apply to you.

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Depending on the scale of the event you are booked for, typical performing conditions for the Event Magician can include:

  • Limited Stage Size
  • Limited Backstage Area
  • Small Set-Up Area
  • Varying Degrees of Technical Support
  • Little Control Over the Position & Distance of the Audience
  • Difficult Access to the Performance Area from the Loading Bay

As an event entertainer, you are also expected to set-up and clear off stage as quickly as possible. As mentioned before, your show will seldom be the only activity in the event program. The event organizers will want the program to run as smoothly as possible with as little disruption and ‘dead-time’.

The key to staging a successful event magic show is to be as self contained and professional as possible. The other is to ensure that you have a clear and comprehensive technical rider (list of technical requirements) that are met by the client or event organizer.

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The Event Audience

In a theatre show, paid admission or not, the audience is expecting to be entertained and is in the mood to be entertained. They would also be aware of the starring performer(s), even if they do not know anything about him/ her.

For an event audience, as far as they are concerned, they are there to attend an event, either at will or obligation. The entertainment is generally incidental and the audience would likely not know who you are unless you are a name act. If you are doing a public show in a shopping mall, you will not even have a ready audience and will have to stop, draw and hold ‘traffic’ for your show.

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For corporate events, the demographics of the audience can also be tremendously varied. In a large corporation, you can have a mix of production-level workers with a few tables of top executives. For international events, you may have an audience comprising of 20 nationalities with a significant percentage not being able to speak or understand English well.

For family events, you will have a mix of kids and adults. Skill and experience as an entertainer will be necessary to effectively entertain across the age group.

The nature of event audiences is that your show has to be designed to continually capture and retain the interest of the audience, more so than a theatre show audience.

Your show and material must be designed with the event audience in mind. If you are a general events performer, your show must be able to adapt to any audience or you must have different acts that cater to different audiences.

If you are an event magician or illusionist, you might want to check out my two-volume “The Event Magician” book available at  magic shops worldwide or direct from me here.

Buy my books/ DVDs HERE and use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.

Evolve Your Magic & Yourself Before it is Too Late by ‘Magic Babe’ Ning

J C’s Note: 3 years ago, I wrote an essay called “The Magic Evolution & You”. Ning has expounded on this issue with her own thoughts, mirrored by her ever evolving magic, style & image. Just check out how much her magic and image have changed in just the last 5 years. Here is the essay in her own words:

Question: David Beckham, Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Leonardo DiCaprio… What exactly do they have in common?

These stars are all hugely successful mainstream artistes who have kept themselves in the spotlight by creating their own unique brand of entertainment (sports, music, comedy/ talk show, acting, etc) that hold a wide mass appeal. These individuals have also put much effort and thought in constantly revamping their style, image and chops to ensure they remain interesting and current to their audience.

As fellow entertainers, we magic folk can certainly learn much from our sassy commercial counterparts. Magic performers need to do the same constant evolution, prob­ably not at the same radical level but it is so very essential for your magic to be current, relevant and mirror mainstream pop culture entertainment.

Shift and dare to change, or be left behind in today’s fast moving world where the Internet is a double-edged sword. Like with any art or entertainment form, the image of magic evolves over time. The trend of today’s magic is incredibly different from the style magic from just last decade. If you are still performing for today’s audience in top hat and tails, producing silks from a classic change bag, or making a rabbit appear, you are unfortunately behind about three decades.

The recent movie, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”, poked fun at magicians and showed how “out of times” and “out of sync” they are with modern pop culture. In fact, the movie showed how lame magicians generally are. Sad… but true.

The-incredible-burt-wonderstone

The only thing constant in life is change, and I’m sure that you would have noticed that the image of magic worldwide has always been constantly evolving. Every two decades or so, there is a dynamic shift in the presentation of magic. The look of magic is usually set by the most influential magicians of that particular time. Top performers like Robert Houdin, Harry Houdini, Channing Pollack, Doug Henning, David Copperfield and more recently David Blaine & Criss Angel have all been responsible for creating the image of magic of their time.

If you acknowledge your show is not in line with modern audi­ence’s expectations of magic today, there is hope yet because you see the possibilities of growth. Set aside your pride and ego for a bit and challenge yourself to explore what can be done better, since you are a living reflection of the image of magic as much as any other magician.

Now, I am in no way encouraging or even suggesting that you should be a clone of David Blaine, Criss Angel or whoever that may be the hottest flavour of the time. Jumping on the fad bandwagon will just make you look like a carbon copy and part of the indistinguishable ‘me-too’ crowd. So, bad idea to be a cookie cutter! You owe it to yourself to be your own person.

Consider for a moment, without pride or ego… When was the last time you revamped your act or added an act that elevated your performance so that it is reflective of current times? Have you been performing the same material for the past 10 years and not given it a commercial overhaul? And, I’m not talking about technical refinements or changing the colour of your cards/ silks/ birds/ canes/ parasols, so please, don’t even go there, unless you’re a jackass. Then I’ll personally come over to smack you in the face with your plastic appearing cane.

Thanks to globalization, our world is getting smaller and life seems to move faster every single day. Social media, the Internet, growth of new economies and countries influence pop culture trends and trends. There are fads and there are trends. Fads last months, trends last longer. Trends used to last around 5 to 10 years, now they last just 2 to 3 years due to the speed the world moves. Of course, this is dependent on your target market but I’m using international standards as a benchmark. People are easily bored and want to be wowed by the next ‘in’ thing.

What’s needed is to identify and pick elements, which reflect the current evolved image of magic as well as pop culture and infuse it into your style and/or act. Here’s some tried and proven things I’ve personally utilized in my commercial magic career, that you can also use to spruce up your unique image and brand of magic. Dedicate some soul-searching time to consider…

Choice of Material:

Is your choice of show material and props used considered current to your audience  If you are performing an act still using cassette tapes, Walkmans, old-fashioned bulky TVs, ancient typewriters, bulky mobile phones or other things that society has pretty much considered “retired”, your act will inevitably look dated. That is, unless you’ve structured your show to be themed in a “blast from the past” type of feel.

While some things may be respected as iconic and classic in magic, do bear in mind that while these are things magicians embrace, the rest of the world (i.e. mainstream public and media) may regard otherwise when they see top hats, canes, and rabbits. Don’t fall into this trap because when you follow the herd, you step on a lot of crap.

Structure of Magic:

Is the structure of your act just like everyone else’s? Certain acts have almost a template feel to them and the only difference (to the lay public) is just the magician performing it. At one time, everyone was doing doves, zombies and cards. Then it was the incorporation of canes, silks and snowstorms. Now, one of the magic fads is the CD manipulation act.

Can you honestly say you have a uniquely different product, or does your act/ show have the same formulistic structure that other magic acts commonly have? Can you change your act or show order, so it breaks the conventional rules or typical structures of magic shows? Award-winning mainstream movies like “Memento” and “Usual Suspects” did not follow conventional storytelling of film making and stood out from the norm. Use that for inspiration, to shine out!

Dressing:

What do you wear when you perform? Are you still in a 1990s Matrix-style black leather trench coat or god-forbid 1940s black tuxedo or even worse, painfully shiny 1970s sequined jacket? Are you in an obvious costume or dressed in something more normal? Where do you get your clothes from? A high-fashion retail outlet? A costumer? Does your mother/ wife/ girlfriend dress you?

Sure, I understand that magic attire has specific needs, but that is still no excuse not to have a current look that is fashionable or stylish. Consider what celebrities wear. Would they get their outfits from the same place that you do? I’m not asking you to shell out tons of money for designer wear and don’t be a wise ass about Lady Gaga’s Kermit the frog get-up *wink*

Hairstyle:

What do you sport? Does it feel dated? Is it the same hairstyle you’ve had since the 1980s? On the flipside, is your hairstyle too extreme for the general audience? If you are losing hair, do something about it! Comb-overs maybe only work if you do comedy, but you really don’t want your audience feeling sorry for you.

Grooming is important, and whoever said your hair is one’s crown­ing glory, really got that right. But! Here’s a tip from a female of the species. If you are seriously losing hair and can’t get a good wig or hair plugs, just consider shaving it all off. Grow a nice goatee, stay in good shape, tweeze your brows… You may just look sexy and badass. Women love that. Trust me!

Music:

Music is always an accurate reflection of the current time and a fitting piece of music for an act or routine makes a good act, great. Besides creating the perfect mood and feel for your magic, music also puts a time-stamp on your act. If you are do­ing a deliberate classical, themed, or period act to a time period, your music choice will be specific. However, if you are doing a general magic act or illusion, then your music needs to be up­dated every 5 years.

Please refrain from copying the music from other people’s per­formances, though you may find it perfect for whatever your intended purpose is (a similar act or otherwise). If I collected ten bucks every time I hear that particular soundtrack from string-quartet Bond blasting in a magic performer’s show or card manipulation act, and gave all the money to World Vision, I think my adopted kid in Mongolia can afford a PhD by now. LOL!

Script:

How do you write your lines, plan your story, and work on your all-important script? Where do you research jokes or lines?

Unfortunately, many magicians tend to use the exact same lines and this is evident if you attend magic conventions or magic production shows. It does get old quickly for an educated audience and that obviously, works against the performer. Ensure that your jokes are “fresh” and your script is topical. Throwing in current buzzwords are good if they are in context because people like that.

That’s something the most successful comedians and speakers use, so it’d be wise to follow in their footsteps.

 Case Study

As I think it is always important for one to practice what they preach, I thought I would share with you my own process that I have used to evolve my image and magic as my stage character, ‘Magic Babe’ Ning.

When I first started out professionally, I was pretty clueless about most things. Dressed in a dark trench coat, I wore a white long sleeve shirt and black leather pants.

Early Ning

Subsequently, I swapped my conservative top for something a bit more showy. It was a bareback silver sequined number that is held together only by 2 strings. One tied to the back and the other at the nape of the neck like a halter. Obviously, it sold sexiness much more than the previous costume and I used it because my skill sets to agents and bookers were already established. Every year, I changed my wardrobe to keep it fresh; from a sleek black corset, fitted with boning within to a sexy red vinyl corset to a black sequin bare-backed top, which I had professionally customized for a better fit.

Linking Coat Hangers

Earlier last year, I had my long tresses chopped off, a big sacrifice since most women regard long hair as a symbol of femininity, and instead I had my hair layered short with shocking purple streaks. I was completely comfortable being in my own skin. My attitude oozed that, and that gutsy part of me was reflected. FLY Entertainment, my artiste management company, supported the move and the media and fans loved it. Comments started coming in that they liked the fresh change. Now, my hair is actually hot pink! Something, I’ve always wanted to do at least once in my life.

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Besides my image, my material has also evolved over the years. The illusions I perform with my partner J C Sum are constantly being tweaked, whether it is a change in choreography, update in illusion design or update in music. We also add/ replace one or two illusions every two years to our show.

My favourite illusion “Crystal Metamorphosis” went through multiple changes over a 3 year period. An illusion we are quite known for “360 Sawing” has gone through two complete redesigns to make it even more deceptive. You can watch us perform the 2nd version in the recent NYE 2011 taping of Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde in Paris and the 3rd & current version that we performed on Italy TV.

le plus2009 – 2011 Design

Italy TV

2012 – Present Design

However, my personal solo acts have also evolved since over time. I started with softer acts like a cut & restored rope performed under UV light and a linking coat hanger routine. Now, I perform more edgy acts such as a razor blade act, but with the addition of eating a torch of fire. I also added a “Human Block Head” routine (nail up nose) but with a 4” drill bit. This fits my more matured and edgy image.

For the longest time, I performed my “Straight Jacket Striptease” routine with a custom burgundy straight jacket. The routine has now been improved to a double straight jacket routine where I’m strapped up in two regulation-looking straight jackets. I still perform the “striptease” part but with two jackets “wink”.

straight jacket striptease

straight jacket striptease

For the sake of your pursuit in magic and for the sake of the art, please evolve!

Best of luck with your journey of evolution in magic!

If you enjoyed this article, you can check out my original books/ plans/ DVDs HERE and use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.

Recommended Books & DVDs for the Modern Illusionist

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Updated as of 15 Feb 2014.

This comprehensive list of books and DVDs was compiled for the modern stage magician or illusionist in mind. With that, I’m speaking of magic artistes and entertainers looking to present illusions to a modern audience and to be relevant in today’s pop culture and entertainment marketplace.

It is for magicians looking to build a strong foundation in the art of illusion so that you have relevant and quality information that you can use to present cutting edge illusions that do not look like that came from the 1980s or before (unless you are intentionally performing a period piece for a specific show/ audience!)

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all illusion books, manuscripts, booklets and DVDs for collectors or for the sake of listing every illusion resource in existence.

If I have not included a specific title in the list, it could be because of the following reasons:

1) The information is not accurate or is not written well (including bad designs, untested overly conceptual material, wrong dimensions or just not workable material)

2) Illusions/ Methods/ Techniques explained are not authorized for public domain or are detailed without permission from relevant creators

3) Information/ Illusions are too outdated and irrelevant for the modern illusionist

4) Some books have questionable material that looks good on paper but there are no working examples of the fabricated illusions or the author has no proven track record that demonstrates that his/ her conceptual designs will work

5) I have missed out a resource or am unaware of its publication

The list is based on my professional experience as an international performing illusionist, illusion designer and author for a significant number of years.

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While it is impossible to perfectly organize titles into fixed categories to cater to all tastes, I have organized the list based on applicability for the beginner, intermediate and advanced illusionist. There will be some overlaps in the intermediate and advanced books but illusionists at this level will be able to discern which book would suit their needs better.

I have given my personal comments on most titles so that you can understand my perspective when making the recommendations.

Now, onto the list…

FOR BEGINNER ILLUSIONISTS

Before you embark on learning how illusions work and how to build illusions, it is advisable to understand the performance, staging and presentation of illusions as well as be educated on standard illusions and plots. In the excitement to learn secrets, most people do it the other way around. The books under the first section “Staging, Production & Performance” should be essential reading for any illusionist.

Staging, Production & Performance

  • So You Want to Be an Illusionist – David Seebach (Must-read for All Illusionists)

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David’s book gives you an overview of his decades of experience as an illusionist. He has owned and worked with many illusions built by top builders. In this spiral-bound book, he shares his experience and tips on working on these popular marketed illusions but does not reveal exact working methods or construction details. There are also nuggets of information spread out throughout the book. This is a good book for beginners but I do feel his approach, style and material may be considered a bit dated for today’s contemporary illusionist looking for mainstream relevance. But, with this caveat in mind, this book is still an invaluable resource and a fantastic introduction to popular marketed illusions.

  • On Stage with Illusions – Duane Laflin (Must-read for All Illusionists)

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Duane Laflin’s “On Stage with Illusions” is a well produced, clearly written book peppered with photos of Duane performing the illusions on stage with his cast. In a nutshell, this book is filled with sound practical advice and solid information on producing, performing and managing a large-scale illusion show. From choosing an illusion, producing different types of shows to examining what makes an illusion show work, Duane leaves little information out. He also includes many miscellaneous practical considerations that do not fall into any one category but are invaluable to any working illusionist. These tips will save you time, frustration, money and effort! These include choosing assistants, how to prepare them to work on an illusion show, how to conduct rehearsals and scripting a show.

  • The Illusion Show Business – Stan Kramien

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Stan shares his experience, routines and advise on producing and routining a full illusion show. There is much to learn and understand from this veteran professional on how he approached his work. However, bear in mind, some approaches and techniques may not be as effective in today’s market. There is some information that is a bit dated but easy enough for someone to discern and update/modify to be relevant.

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The Event Magician Vol. 1, is a detailed guidebook on producing a stage show specially for an event setting. However, all stage craft and techniques apply to most standard performing conditions. In fact, it is my belief that if you can consistently successfully perform in challenging event conditions, you can be successful in most “show-friendly” environments. This book was also written for the modern magician in mind. It covers all aspects of performing magic at events including understanding the nature of events, choosing material, planning the show, formatting the show, designing the staging, ensuring technical support, packing & transporting the show. There is a specific chapter dedicated to the Event Illusion Show.

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Methods, Design & Building

The following 5 books offer some basic illusions with basic instructions on the construction. The prices of these books are fairly low (compared to modern illusion books) and thus, are great for first time builders or beginning illusionists looking to experiment in illusions. A lot of the designs are dated but studying the basic building plans is a good start to your illusion building education. For the modest investment, you can’t really go wrong and will have more than enough material to experiment with basic illusion performance principles like working with larger props, timing, sight-lines and teamwork.

  • Complete Course in Magic – Mark Wilson

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  • Tarbell Course in Magic (Vol 1 – 8. Technically, Vol 1 does not contain any illusions but you might as well get the whole set as these books are a staple reference of any respectable magic library.)

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  • Victory Carton Illusions – UF Grant (Recommended for New Illusionists Looking to Spend Less than US$10)

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  • Grant’s Illusion Secrets – UF Grant (Recommended for New Illusionists Looking to Spend Less than US$10)

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  • Modern Illusions – Tom Palmer

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You can buy U.F. Grant’s books in the form of PDFs, as well as Stan Kramein’s ”The Illusion Show Business” from http://www.lybrary.com under the illusion category. There are several illusion ebooks/ manuscripts available in Lybrary but beware, some are not very good at all.

  • Begin to Build Your Own Illusions: Illusion Systems (Vol I – IV) – Paul Osborne

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  • Classic Illusions (Vol 1 – 3) – Paul Osborne  (Must-read for Illusionists Looking to Build Classic Illusions in the Public Domain)

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  • Easy Build Illusions – Paul Osborne

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  • One Man Illusions – Paul Osborne

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  • Professional Illusion Building for the Home Craftsman – Dick Gustafson

osborne building

Paul Osborne’s “Begin to Build Your Own Illusions: Illusion Systems” books were once the foundation texts for illusion builders. They cover many basic building techniques and illusions. But, many of the designs are now very dated in look as well as material and finish. However, the books are still a solid reference. His more recently released books have more contemporary designs and many practical illusion solutions. For new illusionists, I would recommend reading “Easy Build Illusions”, “One Man Illusions” and his “Classic Illusions” as a start. He has also several specialty books for holiday and Halloween illusions that are worthy of consideration.

  • Solo-X – Andrew Mayne
  • Illusion Book – Andrew Mayne
  • Illusion F/X – Andrew Mayne
  • Illusion Tech – Andrew Mayne  (Must-read for Beginner Illusionists)
  • The Secret Illusion Show – Andrew Mayne
  • Voodoo Box, Bisection, Sword Basket, Razorwire and other individual booklets – Andrew Mayne

mayne illusion-builder-pack

Andrew Mayne has a collection of books and booklets that are easy to read and comprehend. He offers many ideas and solutions to illusions that can be built on a budget. His first few books, “Solo X”, “Illusion F/X” and “Illusion Book”, offer more professional-level illusions although most designs do not come with building plans or dimensions. Significant prototyping is needed to build any of the illusions. His newer booklets (Sword Basket, Voodoo Box, Bisection, Razorwire etc.) offer contemporary material that is a great introduction to modern illusioneering. These booklets are modestly priced and targeted for new illusionists or illusionists on a budget. They are good way to start experimenting with larger stage effects with minimal costs, effort and time to create. While most of these illusions will not be suitable for most professional-level shows, many of his “low tech” solutions will work very well for amateur or “weekend warrior” shows.

jcsum pack flat

“Pack Flat Illusions” book is a specialty book on modern large stage effects and illusions for kids & family shows. The illusions require some basic wood-working and building skills to put together and you will be introduced to basic illusion principles applied to simplified props.

Corporate Illusions Made Easy

These are a collection of illusions for corporate entertainers and do not require prior illusion knowledge to understand, build and execute the illusions. In the first illusion book of its kind, it also includes an extensive discussion on presenting illusions for corporate events, the role of the “Corporate Illusionist”, how to go about building the illusions in the book as well as incorporating corporate messaging into the illusions.

  • Illusions In The Round – Don Arthur

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This is a collection of practical illusions that can be performed surrounded and are reasonably easy to build from wood. While not as dated in design as Paul Osborne’s Illusion Systems series, the illusions need to be updated in look. The illusions were designed to be performed in the circus center ring environment and feature practical methods and designs but do not have a cutting edge and modern look.

  • Darwin’s Inexpensive Illusions – Gary Darwin  (Must-read for Illusionists Interested in Black Art work)

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For Black Art work, this is a very good resource and easy to read. All illusions are based on two basic methods but Gary gives you a lot of variations and explains all the illusions with hand drawings that are easy to understand. This book is excellent for the first-time illusionist or even seasoned illusionists looking for ideas to add material to a theatre show. Note: You will need a proper proscenium, stage curtains and control over lighting to present these illusions. There is a separate DVD that compliments the book.

  • Conjuror’s Optical Secrets – S. H. Sharpe (Must-read for Serious Students of Illusion)
  • Conjuror’s Pneumatic/Hydraulic Secrets – S. H. Sharpe (Must-read for Serious Students of Illusion)
  • Conjuror’s Mechanical Secrets – S. H. Sharpe (Must-read for Serious Students of Illusion)
  • Conjurers’ Psychological Secrets – S. H. Sharpe (Not directly applicable to illusion design and performance but is part of the set of four)

sharpe

Sharpe’s series of books provide important technical information and fundamental principles that will provide an important foundation for more sophisticated illusioneering. These books may feel a bit dated in terms of the writing and presentation but the material is timeless and quite technical.

  • Magic of Robert Harbin – Robert Harbin

harbin

A classic and collectible book on illusions & large-scale stage effects from an acknowledged genius in illusion design and presentation. Among other illusions, it contains the plans and routine to Harbin’s famous “Zig Zag Girl” illusion. While hard to get, it is a good read and shows how ahead of his time Harbin was.

  • Secrets of My Magic by David Devant

devantsecretsofmymagic

This is a big book and contains many illusions with methods that are precursors of current classic illusions. Besides multiple illusions, there are also many stage routines and plots that are also the starting point of routines performed by modern magicians of today. It is currently available as an e-book from Miracle Factory for less than $10.

  • Magic On STAGE by Wally Reid

wally reid

I think this is an underrated book and not widely known. It contains a section on a few illusions that are practical, workable and fairly easy to build. Besides illusions, the rest of the book is filled with stage apparatus magic routines and props that I think fit the stage magician looking to increase the scale of his/ her show. As the book was written 30 years ago, you will need to dress up the props to look modern and contemporary.

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FOR INTERMEDIATE ILLUSIONISTS

  • Device & Illusion – Jim Steinmeyer (Must-read for All Illusionists)
  • Technique & Understanding – Jim Steinmeyer (Must-read for All Illusionists)
  • The Complete Jarrett – Guy Jarrett, Jim Steinmeyer  (Must-read for All Illusionists)
  • The Magic of Alan Wakeling – Jim Steinmeyer (Must-read for All Illusionists)
  • Conjuror’s Anthology – Jim Steinmeyer
  • Modern Art and Other Mysteries – Jim Steinmeyer

steinmeyersteinmeyer modern art

ALL of Steinmeyer’s books should be in any serious illusionist’s library. He is the undisputed most prolific illusion designer of this generation. He has created more modern illusions used by professionals worldwide than any other designer in history. His vast collection of books includes hundreds of illusion designs that will educate on all levels – design, method, psychology and presentation. His work will be most appreciated by intermediate illusionists and above. Even experienced professional illusionists learn new things each time they reread his books.

  • The Base Book – Rand Woodbury (Must-read for All Illusionists)

woodbury base book

  • Illusionworks (I, II and III) – Rand Woodbury

woodbury book

  • Diversions – Rand Woodbury

woodbury diversions

Rand filled a void of modern illusion content in the early 1990s. His designs and concealment methods are contemporary and still hold up to this date very well. His book, “The Base Book”, is a must-read introductory text on this essential tool. The rest of the books contain dozens of cutting edge illusion designs that are suitable for the intermediate to advanced illusionist. You will find many ideas to inspire your own illusions and his modern approach to aesthetic deceptive design should appeal to the modern illusionist. His Illusionworks DVD (Vol 1 & 2) compliment his books perfectly.

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“Illusionary Departures” contains 35 illusion designs & presentations and covers a wide genre of illusion effects designed for the modern beginner to intermediate illusionist. It contains full building plans, dimensions and material lists and is a good resource for illusionists looking for ideas and practical illusions, regardless of the scale of your show. Most importantly, the 2012 edition of the book contains an approach to base designing and fabrication that is different than traditional base building. The resultant prop is very deceptive, easier to construct, lightweight but extremely strong and durable.

  • Paragons and Paradoxes – Milan Forzetting

forzetting

This is the only book from Milan and it contains many innovative ideas to get you thinking. The building plans are sufficient for the intermediate illusionist to understand. Milan is a builder as well and his solutions for various mechanical devices are clever and not too complicated, such as collapsing spring-loaded panels for the sides of illusion props. He also shares his personal insight on the art and business of performing illusions which is yet another valuable perspective of being a professional illusionist.

  • The Black Book – Paul Osborne

osborne black book

  • Illusions: Evolution and the Revolution of the Magic Box – Paul Osborne

osborne illusion book

Both these books are critically acclaimed books and filled with ideas to inspire and fill shows. While not complete blueprints, there is enough information for intermediate illusionists to figure out how the illusions should be built. You will get a wealth of ideas to stimulate your own create thought or find material to add to a show for a relatively affordable building cost.

  • The Illusion Paradigm – Paul Osborne

illusion-paradigm-by-paul-osborne

This is a collection of different contributions from established professional illusion designers and builders and the book focuses on the fabrication of illusion props. As it was published in 2013, the fabrication techniques are up to date and the semi-experienced illusion builders will find value in the collected knowledge.

  • Grand Illusions by Jonathan Pendragon (CD-Rom)

pendragons cd

This CD-Rom contains a PDF file of interview transcripts on Jonathan Pendragon’s thoughts, approach methods and general tips on illusions, performance and presentation. It can be viewed as a written alternative to his DVDs and contains valuable information for the contemporary illusionist. However, if you can, get the DVD set recommended below.

  • The Great Illusions of Magic (2 -books) – Byron G. Wells

great illusions of magic

These books are a bit dated but complete with very detailed blueprints to many illusions. You will need to have some experience in building to understand and be comfortable building the illusions. I have not actually built anything based on these technical drawings so I cannot verify how accurate the dimensions are. I do think they are a great reference for many popular illusions but I personally see this set as more of a collector’s item.

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FOR ADVANCED ILLUSIONISTS

These books contain technically advanced illusion designs that will require an experienced builder to build. Most of the designs require a knowledge of fabrication with wood, metal and plexi-glass. The techniques, methods and staging are also more sophisticated and complex.

The books cover illusions of all genres including vanishes, productions, mutilations,  escapes, transpositions, teleportations and even large-scale illusions with motorcycles and cars. The material would fall under the “modern” illusions category in terms of design, aesthetic design and materials. Any one of the books will be of good value to the modern illusionist and I recommend you look at the contents of each book and read reviews to see which ones interest you.

  • 4e Illusion Design – Mark Parker

parker 4E

  • Vivify – Mark Parker

parker vivify

  • Advanced Illusion Projects – Tim Clothier

illusion projects

jcsum urban

jcsum equilateral

jcsum ultimate

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SPECIALTY ILLUSIONS

These books cover a specific genre of illusion or a specific illusion. Each book is dedicated to the method(s), designs and presentations of a specific illusion and are worthy of study if you intend to perform that genre of illusion. Due to the specific nature of the books, they are more suited for the intermediate illusionist & above.

  • Two Lectures on Theatrical Illusion – Jim Steinmeyer

twolecturesonillusion

This book combines two of Jim Steinmeyer’s titles: “Discovering Invisibility” and “The Science Behind The Ghost”. In Steinmeyer’s usual scholarly approach, he details the history and workings of two specific illusion techniques; namely, the use of mirrors in magic and “Pepper’s Ghost”. It will take you multiple reads to digest this information.

  • Walter Jeans Illusioneer by Peter Warlock – The Million $ Mystery

walter jean

This fairly thin book focuses on the history and workings of the Million Dollar Mystery. It goes into the full history and background of the effect/ principle as well as explains the workings and method. However, there are no exact building plans. The reader has to draw up plans in order for the whole apparatus to be constructed. It is a simple concept to understand, however; building the actual prop itself is very tricky and staging it is not straightforward either.

  • The Magic of Yogano Levitation Systems

yogano

Yogano shares his original levitation and suspension systems in this book translated into English. It features his famous levitations and includes construction plans of these mechanical wonders. I have not actually built anything based on these technical drawings so I cannot verify how accurate the dimensions are. I do know magicians have built some of the systems from the book but I’m unsure if the plans were from the English version of the original French version of the book. You will require an experienced builder as well as metal and electronics worker(s) to build these illusions.

  • Encyclopedia of Suspensions & Levitations – Bruce Armstrong

suspensions

As the name implies, this is a comprehensive tome on the subject with a listing of all known methods of the illusion (as of its writing in 1976). You will have a wealth of information on hand but actual detailed construction plans are not included and you will have to work it out yourself. In most cases, you will need a good metal worker to fabricate the parts/ apparatus needed. To make the “encyclopedia” complete, S.H. Sharpe covers the history of the levitation. A valuable resource on the subject.

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GENERAL READING

The books in this section are for general reading on the subject of illusions and/ or illusionists. No exact methods are detailed as they are not explanation books but are enjoyable reads that will give you insight into the history and personalities of the illusion genre. Many were written for the general public and not just for the magic community.

  • The Master Illusionists – Mark Walker
  • Magic Of Lee Gabriel – O. Mcgill
  • Art and Artifice – Jim Steinmeyer
  • The Glorious Deception – Jim Steinmeyer
  • Hiding the Elephant – Jim Steinmeyer
  • The Last Greatest Magician in the World – Jim Steinmeyer
  • Ralph Adams A Lifetime in Magic (Book and video)

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DVDs/ VIDEOs

There has been very limited information shared on DVD when it comes to grand illusion. For every one thousand DVDs on close-up magic, there is probably only one DVD on grand illusions. One reason is the cost of filming and editing a meaningful illusion DVD. With close-up, you could film a DVD in a small studio with some footage on the streets. To film an illusion, especially in a live setting, you would need a full stage set-up with a live audience and all the technical requirements that go with an illusion show.

Furthermore, the barriers to entry into the professional illusion market is much higher than all other genres of magic. The high investment cost is why many illusionists are less compelled to share their knowledge, expertise and experience. So, it is understandable why illusion DVDs are hard to come by.

I have organized illusion DVDs into three categories.

Performance, Presentation & Approach

In my opinion, any serious student of illusions must watch the DVDs in this section and get a good understanding and appreciation of illusion performing, routining, presenting and thinking from the experiences of different performing professionals. They augment the information in the books recommended in “Staging, Production & Performance”.

  • The Magic of the Pendragons (4-Vol Set) – The Pendragons (Must-watch for All Illusionists)

pendragons

At their peak, The Pendragons was the top illusion team in the world. In the 1980s and 1990s, their approach to illusions was fresh, modern, physical and enthralling. This DVD set, released in 2009, gives you an insider’s view of their incredible body of work with detailed explanations to their “Broom Suspension”, “Sword Basket” and famous “Metamorphosis” illusions. Considering these are staple illusions for many starting-out professional illusionists, this information is already worth five times the price of the DVDs. While the mechanics are not explained in full, they also give insight and history on “Clearly Impossible”, “The Levitation”, “Blammo”, “Impaled”, “Shadow Box” and “Interlude”. Throughout the explanations, they shared nuggets of information that can only be earned through years of professional performing.

  • Behind the Illusions (2-Vol Set) – J C Sum & ‘Magic Babe’ Ning (Must-watch for All Illusionists)

jcsum behind

As the name implies, this DVD explores approaches in design, presentation, performance and routing of modern illusions. It uses ten stage illusions as examples to highlight different teachings and covers all aspects of performing illusions. The material is contemporary and the presentation/ feel is modern so it is highly relevant to the current performing illusionist. As a big bonus, you are taken behind the scenes to a live mega illusion stunt. Note: No detailed secrets or building plans are included in the DVD as that is not the focus or objective of the DVD. Look for reviews on the DVD set as there are many available online.

  • Enigma Tech (2-Vol Set) – Franz Harary (Must-watch for All Illusionists)

harary enigma

Franz has one of the biggest illusion shows in the world and is also one of an elite group of illusionists who only perform their original illusions. The first DVD of this set is a conglomeration of different content from Franz’s Magic Planet series. But, it includes a commentary where he gives some back-story and basic philosophy behind some of his designs and productions. Vol 2 is the valuable education as it is basically an entire live show performed in sequence as opposed to chopped up segmented edited performances. This allows you to see how the show was produced and flows. Any illusionist, new or experienced, will learn a lot from watching this alone and listening to his commentary  You will get ideas to see how you can improve your show production or avoid some elements which you think will not fit your style.

  • Rand LIVE Celebration Tour ’91 – Rand Woodbury

woodbury live

This is a great video to see Rand Woodbury in front of a real crowd performing both illusions and some stand-up material. I am always interested to see if magic authors practice what they preach and in Rand’s case, he does. He is the consummate entertainer and this shines through in his live performance  You will see some illusions detailed in his first “Illusionworks” book. He also films some “to-camera” segments sharing his approach, dealing with situations on stage and general performing of illusions. As in the case of any video that shows world class professionals at work, it is always an education to see what helps make them successful. Even though the footage is from almost 25 years ago, the illusion designs still hold up although, naturally, the music and costuming will feel dated.

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Illusion Plans/ Building/ Method

  • Illusion Works (4-Vol Set)  – Rand Woodbury  (Vol 1 & 2 are Must-watch for All Illusionists)

woodbury dvd

Illusionworks is probably the first ever video series on modern illusion design and is an education for any serious illusion student. Volume 1 & 2 especially are a must-watch as Rand actually goes through the building process of steps and bases and then the performance of the illusion utilities applied to actual illusions. However, take note that dimensions given are not accurate and it is always advisable to make a mock-up out of cardboard or waste plywood first. When the videos first came out, it was the first time innovative cutting edge illusion secrets were revealed and the techniques are still relevant today. The information on these DVDs is invaluable and you will learn a lot.

  • Building Your Own Illusions, The Complete Video Course – Gerry Frenette (6 DVD Set) (Must-watch for All Illusionists)

gerry building

This is a great set of DVDs and the only instructional video of its kind that teaches you everything from handling tools, materials, building techniques and painting. A must-have if you are new to illusion fabrication. Even if you do not build the illusions yourself,  educating yourself on building techniques will help you supervise builders who you may commission to build for you. This is especially if you are not having a professional illusion builder build an illusion but a cabinet maker, carpenter or prop maker.

  • Illusion EFX – Andrew Mayne. (Recommended for Beginner Illusionists)

mayne efx

In typical Andrew Mayne style, this DVD offers many illusions for the new illusionist with economical illusion designs and ideas that you can experiment with. Most illusions can be built within a day and there is enough variety to build a mini show out of the material shared. If you like Andrew’s style of simplistic illusion design, you can also look at his assorted DVDs on individual effects such as Bisection, Levitator and Shrinker among others.

  • Inexpensive Illusions – Gary Darwin

darwin inexpensive

This DVD is a compliment to Gary’s book recommended above.

  • Mark Wilson on Illusions (3-Vol Set) (Highly Recommended for Beginner Illusionists)

wilson illusions

Mark Wilson is the founding father of magic on television and he presented a tremendous amount of magic in his television series in the 1960s. On these 3 DVDs, he shares the techniques for many of the illusions including suspensions and levitations. The first DVD features illusions that can be made from cardboard or plastic corrugated board as Grant’s Victory Cartons-style illusions. He also shows the application of illusions for the television camera. While these are not camera tricks per say, they use the fixed perspective and size of the camera frame to create remarkable results with “easy” illusions. As all the material shown is from Mark’s illustrious professional career, you will need to apply your own creativity to update the illusions to look modern and fresh for today’s audience.

  • Doll House…Plus! – Dennis Loomis

doll-house...plus-

I have to admit that I have not watched this DVD before but I have read and heard only good things about it. It gives you comprehensive explanations and plans to the “Doll House” illusion as well as the “Sword Temple” (also known as the “Temple of Benares”). The Sword Temple is an excellent first illusion for a new illusionist, as I highlight in my essay here; so that alone is worth looking into the DVD. The “Doll House” split-load method is also a standard hiding position in magic that is used in many illusions. Understanding the dimensions and how the “Doll House” is built to be deceptive is a good introductory education to the application of other illusions as well.

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Performance Only

While the DVDs in this section do not explain any illusions or methods, I think they are an excellent education for all serious students of illusion. Many of the DVDs include commentaries or interviews with insight or background information on the illusions/ shows. One route of learning is through observation and modeling after excellence (as well as not modelling mistakes), so these DVDs make good references.

  • Magic Planet (Vol 1 – 6) – Franz Harary

harary magic planet

  • Live in China – Franz Harary

harary china

  • Theater of Illusion – The Spencers

spencers

  • Magic Circus (Vol 1 – 6) – Mark Wilson

wilson magic circus

  • Illusion – David Copperfield (with commentary)

copperfield

  • The Lee Grabel Archival Project (4 DVD Set)

Lee Grabel

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If you have a recommendation to make or would like your book/ DVD to be included in the list, please email me at jcsum(a)conceptmagic.biz. However, I reserve the right to include/ exclude any publication based on my personal subjective criteria for the list.

Buy some of the books/ DVDs highlighted above HERE and use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVD, plans & downloads.

The Successful Illusionist

Anyone thinking of embarking on a career (whether full-time or part-time) as an illusionist will no doubt dream of bright lights, their own stage, in their own theatre or perhaps their television special. In short, making it big as an illusionist.

The ‘luck factor’ plays a significant role to becoming successful. For purposes of this discussion, let us suspend our belief and exclude luck as a factor.

So, what makes a successful illusionist?

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

Illusions

The basic techniques and methodologies of illusions, are less likely to be huge factors. But the presentation and application of the illusions will be. There will be new innovations and discoveries but that has always been the case.

One constant that I think (hope) that will come back with the next thing in illusion is motivation and good story-telling in illusion performance. (I don’t consider ‘cheesy’ plots where the magician is ‘captured’ by bad guys and put into a box etc necessarily good story-telling unless it is performed WELL in the right context and the right theatrical environment.)

Good close-up workers (not necessarily the new-age ‘Street Magicians’) strive for credibility and motivation for all the actions. There is story-telling, from subtle to elaborate, in practically every effect. All illusionists should read Darwin Ortiz’s ‘Strong Magic’ and apply it to their illusion performance craft. Of course, I recognize the need for ‘no-brainer’ visual bubble gum in the context of a larger show. But, I do not think 50 illusions performed in succession make for a good presentation of illusion.

Target Market

This is the single most important factor in making a particular style/ presentation the next thing in magic. If you are working only out of a small market segment, no matter how original and commercial the style is, it is unlikely it will catch on. The ‘next thing’ means it has to be seen by many and then perceived to be good and the rage.

Like it or not, mass media markets (Television, Internet, Movies, Radio?) are generally what make the style of today. If you are going for any mass media market, being right up there with the latest in pop culture and trends is a must. Predicting what the next trend will be a lot trickier. Movie and music genres/ styles can give an indication of what might work. Examining financial successes over the past twenty years might allow for some educated guesses. Entertainment trends, like fashion and business, are cyclical.

However, it is also highly possible to establish oneself in other mainstream markets first, then crossover to mass media markets. This is generally the route many have taken as well.

What is your target market for your type of illusion show? Cruises, Showrooms, Music Concerts, Resorts, Special Events? What are the hottest shows (out of magic) in your respective market? Can magic emulate those formulas or use magic to elevate that formula?

Take advantage of the medium to create something different. In recent years, that is what has happened with magic on TV. The medium has been used to great advantage (or deception) to create an apparent new type of magic.

Many successful magicians all over the world have become the best because they created the ‘next thing’ within their respective market segments.

Differentiation

This will help narrow what the next thing will be; as it is a certainty that the next thing will not be a ‘me-too’ act. The ‘me-too’ syndrome is just as prevalent in magic, as it is in other entertainment forms. The true fact is; there are so many illusion clones out there. I personally do not understand the phenomena but I accept that it happens. Ethics aside, I find it difficult to see how one can except to get wide success by being a dime out of a dozen. It think there is a market for one clone of another act but multiple clones?

Again, please understand that I’m speaking from the point of view of working outside a small market – as this is relevant to the quest of creating the next thing in grand illusion. If you are working for laymen within a fixed population threshold, yes, it makes no difference if you look the same and perform the same stuff as another person outside this market. However, if you are looking to make an impact at a national or international level, you will be judged by experts in the entertainment field; world-class talent brokers and show producers. Trust me when I say that good agents/ producers have literally seen it all… or at least, anything worth seeing.

Just to illustrate this, here are some specific illusions/ presentations that make informed individuals thing we ‘magicians/ illusionists’ are just the same.

Packing Crate-style Sub Trunk – 9/10 illusionists feature this. Origami and Interlude are close seconds and thirds as well. I’m not knocking the illusion, it is a brilliant illusion but everyone does it and not all well, unfortunately. I think it is fine to do it in your show amongst other illusions but don’t put it in your promotional material. (Again, I stress, I’m not knocking the illusion. I’m just stating this in the context of the discussion).

I don’t perform the Sub Trunk for this reason – because everyone is doing it and it will be too embarrassing for someone to point this out. How do you answer this question: “Why do all you magicians perform the same ‘tricks’?” I guess a possible answer is: “Just like musicians, we perform various classics with our own interpretation. While they look the same, they do feature our own unique styles and presentations.” The problem is, not many see magic as a mainstream art as we do, thus would not take that answer as a credible one. Another ‘problem’ is inherent with the magic art. Secrecy is a what separates magic from any other art form. The thing is, most laymen also think that the secrecy is kept among magicians as well, especially in the area of grand illusion. They do not naturally assume we know each other’s secret methods. Thus, it is surprising to them that we can perform the same illusions. But, I digress.

Kevin James Snowing Routine  – Specifically, the tearing of the napkin paper into the snow flake, his story about a child’s first impression of snow and snowing method/ effect (animator). Or Peter Samelson’s Snowing Presentation with the traditional snowstorm & fan. Again, both a beautiful, logical and motivated piece but has lost its novelty. For the record, I’ve personally seen the exact presentation performed on videos and live performances by magicians/ illusionists in the UK (3 performers), US (12 performers), Singapore (3 performers), Hong Kong, Australia and several from Europe. I’m sure there are many more out there.

The ‘Copperfield’ Look – The tucked out shift over T-shirt can be seen on many performers trying to look the same. Sigh…

The Sentimental Grandfather Story – Everyone has a grandfather who inspired them with the first magic effect they learnt etc. Some can pull it off, most cannot. Not because they are incompetent but it is just not their style. They are doing it because others are doing it.

Are the above examples only apparent because we are learned students of the illusion craft and are aware of all that goes on in magic. Not really, because these examples (except for the last one) were highlighted to me by an international show producer.

To understand the business/ commercial upsides of being different, Jack Trout’s ‘Differentiate or Die’ is a very easy must-read.

Longevity

This does not really answer the question but it is something to consider. While working towards being the ‘next thing’, which can be a hit & miss thing as mentioned above, it is wise to consider longevity in the business. Translating a short-term fad into a sustained success can be a challenge given today’s ever-changing world.

It is possible to do very well with a ‘safe’ style that has a long shelf –life with sustained appeal but is unlikely to be the next BIG thing. But, that is not the topic of discussion anyway.

I guess the key for all is to present good magic, preserve, work hard and constantly innovate. Remember, what is often an overnight success or tomorrow’s trend has actually been in development for the past decade.

Related article: Why do Illusionists Perform the Same Illusions?

If you enjoyed this article, you can check out my original books/ plans/ DVDs HERE and use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.

Selling an Illusion Show

As an illusionist, how do you get shows? How do you sell your magic and make your show commercial?

I am aware that many budding illusionists are interested to do paid shows. Here is a selling point which you might find useful when you are pitching your services to a potential client.

I am assuming the following things first:

  • You have some form of illusion act that is suitable for your target market.
  • You have rehearsed this act diligently in front of your faithful mirror, friends and family. You may even done a few shows.
  • You are mentally prepared to give a full show to entertain an audience.

Understanding Magic as a Service

You must first realize that what you are selling is invisible. It is non-tangible. You have no fancy hardware to show, no buttons to press and the prospect cannot examine it before purchasing your service.

Imagine, you have to convince and assure your prospect that you will do a good job – all she has is your word that you will do a good job. We are use to be able to test products and even try them out for 30 days if we like. In our over populated product market and skeptical society, your word may not be enough. We need another approach.

The traditional way to sell your show is to tell the prospect how happy it will make her guests, how the show is value for money, how your show is self-contained and relieves the worry from her etc.

This is fine but may not be enough. You must try to penetrate the mind of the prospect. Marketing and selling is about communication to the mind.

When selling a service, which is intangible, try as far as possible to attribute it with tangible qualities. Spawn by the product era, we are conditioned to judge things by its tangible qualities.

For example, when you buy a new car from a new dealer. The main factor influencing your choice would be the car. The design, colour, motor, CD player etc. After sale service may not seem like a big factor initially, right? However, after you buy the car and receive excellent after sales service and treatment, you would most likely recommend the dealer to friends and would probably buy your next car from them as well.

Well, the same type of strategy can be applied to magic and specifically your illusion act. So, what tangible qualities does magic have?

Tangible qualities can be things like the props you use, costumes, stage setting, magic furniture etc. Have action photographs of you performing for a live audience with your props. Do not just have a picture of you smiling and standing on stage. Have tangible items such as illusion props, stage settings and costumes. Photographs and descriptions of these tangible items help sell the show. How often have you been more impressed by a photo of a magician with a cage and tiger than a magician just smiling and posing?

Your show descriptions should detail elements that the audience can visualize – impressive modern props & sets and elaborate colourful costuming. Also, when writing your show description, ensure that you describe visual effects that can summed up in a single sentence. For example, ‘a girl vanishes in a blink of an eye and reappears in the audience’ or ‘the illusionist levitates and vanishes in mid-air’!

arena stage 1

At this point, many must be yelling their heads off. “What? Props, costumes, what? You are in the business of selling you, not your props and costumes! The client should book you for who you are, not what you have!” I would agree with you in an ideal world but the truth is, the psychology of buying is very different from what you would want. Marketing is perception and often people buy what they perceive is good. So, it is important o make them perceive you are good and not reply on them forming their own conclusions. You have often heard the term ‘packaging’ when it comes to the marketing of music stars – YOU are no different.

Understand this: What you market, sell and make money from are different things.

MacDonald’s advertises and markets their burgers heavily and sells fries, but makes money on their drinks. Likewise, you can advertise and sell your props, costumes and other tangible qualities to your client during the point of sale. But during the show, they will receive much more in terms of entertainment and the intangible qualities which were harder for them to perceive or fully understand initially.

So, getting bookings is not just having a good act! To get more shows, you need more than just to improve your act. You could have the best act and still not get shows. Fight fire with fire. A marketing problem must be solved with a marketing strategy.

Understanding that your magic is a service and using methods to sell a service such as attributing tangible qualities to it will allow you to penetrate your prospects’ minds.

Recommended reading:

The Event Magician