Official Blog Of Geraint Clarke. Creator Of Bespoke Marketing Campaigns, Magic Tricks, Cardistry Moves and More…
back to performing magic

HOW TO GET BACK TO PERFORMING MAGIC

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Before last weekend, I hadn’t performed professionally in a long, long time.

 

I said yes to charity gigs purely for my own supply of good karma, but with a pompous crowd, I ended up showing more tricks to the bar staff.

 

It’s funny how people judge you when they know you’re there for free, or the friend of the organizer. It’s almost if they look down on you as someone lesser than them. Earnings wise, I was probably on more.

 

Morality wise, I was richer still.

 

It’s why I’d always previously ease a table into my presence at a wedding with “The Bride and Groom have hired me as your entertainment this evening”

 

The word ‘hired’ informs them I’m getting paid, and using the names of the Bride & Groom would ensure their attention through the glory of reciprocity.

 

They’ve been given a treat for free, the least they could do it watch.

 

It worked out nicely.

 

SIDENOTE: I’d also NEVER say magician, as my opening trick is two card monte, they think they’re gambling for drinks. The last reveal hits them harder and then magic is introduced as the culprit.

 

WHY DID I STOP PERFORMING?

 

I used to have an agent who booked me for gigs and regular residencies to top that up. At the time I was bold, performing Molecule 2 one card productions and psych forces to a 50 person strong crowd without fear of failure.

 

However, through experience I learned that most people booking a magician didn’t really know what they were asking for.

 

Most booked me for the same time the wedding band or DJ was on, making communicating with an audience very hard.

 

Some booked me to entertain the kids, thus becoming an overpriced babysitter.

 

Like a bitter old man I started to increase my parameters of performances all the more.

 

No kids magic = 30% of my bookings lost

 

High prices = 50% of my bookings lost

 

Won’t perform whilst the band or DJ is on = 10% of my bookings lost.

 

It become financially unsuitable for me to carry on performing. I’d lost the love for it… and let it go.

 

FALLING BACK ON A FULL TIME JOB

 

After leaving that life behind, it became easier to guarantee my income with a full time job. Would I prefer to drive to the father of the groom’s house 2 weeks after I’d performed to collect my final 50% payment? OR would I rather sit back, relax and trust that it’ll be in my account on the 1st of every month?

 

I know which one sounds easier to me.

 

I was also charging £300 for the hour, which some less flush clients thought was too expensive, seen as their son was a surgeon and earned less.

 

“He saves lives and he only earns £80 per hour”

 

Time is money, so I started to get comfortable telling someone my fee was £500-600 for the two hour gig and willing them to go to someone cheaper, just to get off the phone.

 

Being an artist, people assume you can work for exposure, mates rates or good will.

 

I’d never question my plumber.

 

“How much for the new bathroom mate? £3,000? … Can you do it for £300 cause I kinda want a Holiday to Mexico too?”

 

“p.s. The Mayor is coming over for a shit, so it’s great exposure for you”

 

There’s only so many times you can lower your value, before you start to feel worthless.

 

SO WHY THE CHANGE OF HEART RECENTLY?

 

I’ve always performed casually, to friends, family or acquaintances.

 

I don’t count that as performing. You have an introduction, and often they ALREADY like you based on your personality and not your skill.

 

Sometimes Ellusionist asks me to help perform a trick in public to help demonstrate what the effect is, as it goes on sale.

 

During the Sven Pads trailer filming I started to realise I’d lost my comfortable performing style. I was tense. Even if it didn’t show on film.

 

I was shaking like a shitting dog and I could feel the disapproval from behind the camera with each performance.

 

Something needed to change. I needed the confidence back. What happened to the man who performed Kaos card through window at bars? What happened to the man who used to boldly drop cards on the floor and move his spectators around to reveal they were standing on the card the entire time?

 

My lack or performing eroded my skills like a fast-moving torrent. I needed to get them back.

 

HOW I GOT BACK INTO PERFORMING MAGIC

 

I’d love this to be a glorious story about bumping into Richard Branson in Harrods and making his phone disappear, so he called over Jay-Z to watch and then I got hired for the Superbowl.

 

It didn’t happen like that.

 

I actually used the power of Facebook. I offered a FREE gig as a contest in a local hub. I’m sure your town or city has one too.

 

This hub is for local residents to share their businesses and discuss issues in the community like “This guy parks like a cunt, he’s taken up 2 spaces”.

 

Over 200 people commented on it with their events to enter.

 

The power of FREE is intense.

 

So how do you turn that into money? I’ll tell you.

 

NOTE: It’s important to understand that money shouldn’t be your motivation here. It should be driven by your desire to get better.

 

So…

 

After offering 1 lucky winner a free gig, I had over 200 dates for events with people requesting entertainment.

 

I knew where it was, when it was, how many guests there were. That information is GOLD.

 

I counted… 56 of them ‘inboxed’ me desperately for consideration. I told any unlucky winners that I wasn’t able to do their event for FREE, but I was able to offer them a consolation prize rate of 50% off.

 

People WILL take you up on this offer.

 

It’s not a great method for full-time performers, to lose 50% of your margin instantly, but if you’re getting into, or back into performing, then it’s a guaranteed easy street.

 

For me, the money isn’t important. It’s the chance to perfect my skills.

 

I can’t continue to sell magic to magicians without practicing what I preach. My integrity won’t allow it.

 

I opened my magic drawer to see what I could build a routine out of and wrote down all my available options. I’m sure we all have one of these at home, buried deep like the ark of the covenant in Indiana Jones.

 

MY AVAILABLE OPTIONS

  • Sven Pads
  • Lo-gone
  • Venom
  • Decibel
  • Loops
  • Fob
  • Ring Flight Revolution
  • Imagination Coins
  • Forge
  • 11p Trick (Pot of Jam)
  • Little Hand
  • Sponge Balls
  • Spectator Card To Pocket
  • Double Cross
  • Crazy Mans Handcuffs
  • Ambitious Card Routine
  • Two Card Monte
  • Angle Z
  • Lapse
  • Coin On Shoulder
  • Invisible Deck
  • Cipher
  • Xeno
  • Multiple Selections found with deck vanish closer.
  • Regeneration with old train tickets

 

Then I condensed that down into Card Magic, Coin Magic & Other.

 

Card Magic =

  • Ambitious Card Routine
  • Two Card Monte
  • Angle Z
  • Lapse
  • Spectator Card To Pocket (Gimmick)
  • Invisible Deck (Gimmick)
  • Multiple Selections found with deck vanish closer.

 

Coin Magic =

  • Coin On Shoulder (No gimmick)
  • Imagination Coins (Gimmick)
  • Forge (Gimmick)
  • 11p Trick (Pot of Jam) – (Gimmick)

 

Other =

  • Loops (Gimmick)
  • Double Cross (Gimmick)
  • Crazy Mans Handcuffs
  • Sponge Balls (Gimmick)
  • Little Hand (Gimmick)
  • Ring Flight Revolution (Gimmick)
  • Sven Pads (Gimmick)
  • Lo-gone (Gimmick)
  • Venom (Gimmick)
  • Decibel (Gimmick)
  • Fob (Gimmick)
  • Regen (Gimmick)
  • Cipher
  • Xeno

 

Then I condensed the gimmicks down, for pocket space reasons. I don’t want to turn up like a Sherpa climbing Everest for 2 hours work.

 

I needed to be clever about my pocket space.

 

As you can see the highest gimmick to non-gimmick ratio category is ‘Other’

 

This category is where I could afford to strip tricks out.

 

Card Magic was the least gimmick heavy category. Angle Z gimmicks can be made on the fly, so I don’t count that. ‘Spectator card to pocket’ gimmicks can live inside a normal pack for whenever, so they can come too.

 

Venom can achieve more and has less chance of breaking than loops, so I opted to take that.

 

Ring flight meant carrying another set of keys to my car keys. With minimal pocket space, it was out.

 

I kept doing this until I had really powerful magic and minimal pocket space. Here is what I took with me:

 

Card Magic =

  • Ambitious Card Routine
  • Two Card Monte
  • Angle Z
  • Spectator Card To Pocket (Gimmick)
  • Multiple Selections found with deck vanish closer.

Coin Magic =

  • Coin On Shoulder (No gimmick)
  • 11p Trick (Pot of Jam) – (Gimmick)

Other =

  • Double Cross (Gimmick)
  • Sven Pads (Gimmick)
  • Venom (Gimmick)
  • Cipher (Lives on my phone, which I have on me, so great)
  • Xeno (Same as above)
  • Regeneration

Here’s what I actually ended up performing:

 

Card Magic =

  • Ambitious Card Routine
  • Two Card Monte
  • Spectator Card To Pocket (Gimmick)
  • Multiple Selections found with deck vanish closer.

Coin Magic =

  • Coin On Shoulder (No gimmick)
  • 11p Trick (Pot of Jam) – (Gimmick)

Other =

  • Double Cross (Gimmick)
  • Venom Ring Levitations (Gimmick)
  • Cipher
  • Xeno
  • Regeneration

 

11 effects in total, with a 4 effects per group average.

 

My 5 core effects were:

 

#1 Two Card Monte by Eddie Fechter

#2 Ambitious Card Routine – learned from Crash Course 2 DVD years ago.

#3 Cipher by Will Jones, Lloyd Barnes & I

#4 11p Trick by James Brown (Still Fancy A Pot Of Jam DVD)

#5 Regeneration by Blake Vogt (with old train tickets and not cards)

 

Those tricks were performed at every group and condensed into a phone (which you always have on you), a deck of cards, some old train tickets in my wallet, 22p in change and a pot of jam.

 

Now I’m not saying that’s the best routine ever, but it’s the one that suits my personality the most, and the one that gets the strongest reactions.

 

I’ve TRIED really hard to love sponge balls and omni decks, but I just can’t bring myself to perform it.

 

I have hand tattoo’s and a vocabulary that won’t suit bringing out sponge balls or a plastic block.

 

The man who tells you what star sign you are, isn’t the man to make a joke about you holding his big red balls. Or if he is, that man is probably on the register.

 

For audiences who were dying for more, I performed the remaining effects at random from my available 11. Not all, I tried to keep it fluid and perform what I felt the audience would respond to most.

 

The thing about diversifying during your routine, is it allows you to show more than just card magic.

 

When I was a teen, I was often asked “Do you do anything else other than cards?”

 

It wasn’t a rude question, but if a spectator has to ask, you’re probably not doing your job properly.

 

Hopefully by copying what I did above, you can build or refine your own routines to be perfect for you.

 

MY NEXT STEPS

 

Yesterday I got asked to perform to 30 guests at a Birthday party in a Restaurant for a 70th Birthday party.

 

Each table was different, but I stuck to my 5 core effects.

 

The reactions were great, but I still noticed I was rushing quite a bit, given the awkward layout of the tables.

 

Brad Christian’s famous line to all of us on staff is “60% slower”

 

Whenever casually performing at summit’s to strangers/waiters it’s his biggest fixation.

 

On set, he exudes his disapproval for a fast performance with mere body language.

 

Taking that advice on my Ambitious Card Routine was the single best improvement I’ve made in a decade. Each time I push it in slower and slower. Sometimes setting it down on the table and squaring it up with tiny touches until the tension builds to absolute silence.

 

A roar sounds better following silence. An applause is often a welcomed release to intense concentration for your audience.

 

The higher you build those moments, the easier it is to signal the end of an effect. Not only is this useful for applause cues, but it also allows you to get away with more when the effect is over.

 

Palms can become lazier and more natural and if done correctly nobody is chasing you when they think the routine is over.

 

It’s given me a new perspective and I know my love for performing magic is coming back.

 

The real question is, how long will it stay?

 

But I’d love to hear from you. Have you lost your love for performing? How did you get it back? Do you feel like you can after reading this… Leave a comment below 🙂

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Tom Pumford

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