Chances are you’re just like me..totally obsessed with magic. It’s become your passion and you work at improving your skills at every chance possible.  You seek out friends who also love magic, read books on the subject, watch magic DVD’s and practice your magic tricks like crazy.  Because of this, you will have perceptual vigilance about magic. You probably will be the first to notice magic sets on sale as you walk around a superstore. You will spot magic shows advertised on TV far more often than non-magicians.  Because of this “magic glasses” view of the world, it’s easy to assume magicians are everywhere and common place.  The truth is that most people are as blind to magicians being all around then as they are to everything else.

A friend of mine runs a wedding photography service.  It’s amazing when we compare how often her subject, “wedding photography” is searched compared to “magician for hire.”  Read some books on ventriloquism, watch some shows and read some blogs on the subject for a week or so.  You will start noticing how much more popular it has “suddenly” become.  But type in “how to do magic tricks” in YouTube and it may depress you.  You will find countless children performing close up magic tricks in their bedrooms with varying degrees of success. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list?  Did you end up with a full cart, but not a single meal?  Lists are beneficial for even the quickest shopping trips.  Similarly, even the smallest events require detailed plans, and shopping lists are no exception!

There are a surprising amount of supplies that must be obtained for small events.  Sure, many of them can be acquired from your own stash (scissors, a stapler, etc.), but others need to be purchased in advance.  On the cruise ship where I perform, Holland America, there is a Port And Shopping Guide, whose entire job it is to plan the shopping in for passengers while in the ports.  Don’t make the mistake of running out last minute assuming you’ll figure out what you need as you go.  Not only will you forget key items; you’ll also almost certainly violate the budget that you so carefully created after reading about Event Blunder #11. Read the rest of this entry »

Each week I present an informal magic class. This usually takes place on The Holland America Maasdam cruise ship where I’m currently performing. It’s where I met most of you! I call it “The Alexander Magic School,” but that’s just a tag line to draw people in. I should really call it, “All the New Secrets I Have Discovered About How To Perform Magic That Produces Gasps of Amazement!” I hope you are one of the lucky few who will be on the ship this week because there is nothing as thrilling as being in an environment filled with enthusiastic, optimistic, problem-solving-oriented people thinking about great magic!  My class would be worth attending, even if it didn’t include any magic training. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Let me explain: I know the world is chock-full of people categorized as “Negativity On Steroids,” so each of us need as much contact as we can get with people who are the polar opposite of that toxic mindset. Just being in the same room with these positive-thinking people causes the naysayers of this world to change their thinking, and get on with their dreams.

Sorry for that short digression, but I think a positive mindset is vital to our work as magicians.  We are the weavers of dreams!  Incidentally, I’m making arrangements to have this week’s class recorded on video, showing all the details of the tricks and the discussion. These videos will be your opportunity to get as close as possible to these enthusiastic, optimistic, magic-minded people involved in a discussion of all things magical with me.   You’ll get a sales letter in the near future offering you a chance to buy the videos.  I’ll let you have the entire package at a 50% discount. Read the rest of this entry »

Many of you Alexandrites have asked me about stage fright and how to overcome it.  It’s a good question and you might be surprised how common pre-performance nerves actually are.

Nervousness or stage fright as it’s sometimes called can get the better of us if we allow it to, causing us to forget our patter, be distracted by other thoughts, or lose confidence.  We all know the signs: heart pounding, hands trembling, knees knocking, voice wavering.  I hate being nervous for a theatrical reason.  To me the audience is like a pack of animals, and like animals they have a heightened sense of awareness, a kind of mob instinct.  As science has shown us, if we are nervous we emanate a different smell.  I think an audience is aware of your fear.  Instinctively, they start to worry for you, and as such your entertainment level is lessened.

Actually I used to be quite nervous when I started.  When I was part of the junior magicians program at The Magic Castle we used to have a thing called workshops, where we would present our latest trick to the audience.  I was showing a new card trick to the group that I had practiced a few times, but not enough.  As I began shuffling the cards, to my horror, my hands began shaking so badly everyone noticed.  As the years passed and I worked my way through doing magic in restaurants, I noticed that whenever I slowed my breathing rate down, I gave a steady relaxed performance.  This isn’t to say that my performance wasn’t dynamic.  It was.  But I was in control. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m no chef, but I’ve worked enough events to know that the most fragile element at a live event is THE FOOD!  It’s also the easiest thing to screw up. This is because food is so temperamental.  It has to be served exactly right.  If you doubt this, just watch any episode of Top Chef. It can be overwhelming. So you can cook. Everyone you cook for confirms your food is fantastic, and you might even save a little money by doing it yourself. Great. You might figure that you’re ready to cater the event and utilize your best dishes for the task. In all but a few cases, this ends up being a huge mistake. Large menus lack focus. When you try and offer EVERYTHING to your guests, they become confused.  What’s worse, they’ll take more time choosing their food than enjoying the event.

Catering the event yourself, or worse, choosing the wrong caterer, can be stressful.  Like most other things on this list, planning well in advance is the key.  Below are ten tips to use to ensure you’ve hired the right caterer and to make the meals at your next event work: Read the rest of this entry »

Many of you Alexandrites have asked me about what the future of magic will look like, how technology will fit into it, and how we should adapt our magic to match it. Friend and fellow magician Paul Gertner wrote what I think addresses your concerns appropriately in an article called “Creating A Future.”  It is reprinted here with his permission and well-worth a careful read… Read the rest of this entry »

If you don’t have a contract, you have no insurance that the vendor will show up and deliver the goods.  Just one vendor failing to perform the agreed function at the specified time can throw the whole event into a downward spiral.   Securing the contract with your vendors is a good idea for you, for your client and for the vendor.  While your event should go as planned, remember Murphy’s Law.  You don’t want any unpleasant surprises leading up to, or on, the day of the event.  Grill your vendors with a few questions before you sign a contract with them.

How much time will they need to set up? While you’ve established the date and time of your event, you may not have discussed what time the vendor needs to arrive to set up.  Once that time is determined, you’ll need to clear it with the venue and make certain that they’ll have access to the venue’s event coordinator during that time, in case they have any questions or problems.  It’s likely you will be busy during this set-up time, so it’s important that someone at the venue is available to them. Read the rest of this entry »

I received an email about the subject of originality in magic and thought we’d discuss it a little.  The question he sent was, “Just what is originality?”  After all, none of us invented the Origami, Zig-Zag or the Thin Model Sawing In Half.  Taking it further, we didn’t invent double lifts, the pass, or even card tricks!  Isn’t it impossible for anyone to be really original?

This is a great question, and please allow me to get very “Our Magic” in my answer.  First there are darn few “High Artists” in our craft.  See my blog on False Art.  Look at the upper level, Angel, Penn & Teller, Copperfield, Cabanaro, Blaine, and Brown, to make a short list.  Can you think of a more dissimilar group of people?  Each of these people have highly defined “characters,” and we as an audience know exactly what to expect from them.  Give each one of them the same trick, and you KNOW it’s going to look different in each of their hands.

Still, most of us will never reach those heights.  I know I never will.  So it’s a “natural artist” for me.  But the question remains, how can I be “original” with the same moves everyone has, and I didn’t invent? Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s say your client is having an event and he tells you that he’s “told everybody at the office about it.”  You’d be surprised how often clients think that this is enough!  When attendance looks bleak, I’ll often ask them what they expected to happen.  What about invitations, flyers and a landing page with links, I ask?  In her book 101 Ways To Promote Yourself, Raleigh Pinskey says, “Without promotion, something terrible happens –NOTHING!”

When social media was limited to MySpace, back in the day, traditional event planners would say, “I don’t have the resources to support social media.”  Then and now, this area of event planning costs very little.  In fact, it’s often free!  The only thing it will cost you is an investment of time.  Starting early can really help.  Why not think strategically, re-inventing yourself while earning the respect of your client?  You can do that by mailing post cards, but it’s cheaper and faster with Twitter.  Depending on the event, you may wish to build up excitement beforehand.  Having appropriate signage – such as a large poster on an easel, a photograph with a bio, or even a promotional video playing on a television for people to see as they arrive – are excellent ways to build buzz.  Your guests should look forward to the exciting program you have planned.  But a “white label” website put up online by you for your client is a better way.  There are a lot of places online to promote an event.  There are networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  You might get coverage in the online version of your local newspaper.  Maybe a local blogger will write a post about the events.  Put a video promoting the event up on YouTube.  In every case there will come a point at the end of the article, post, video, or tweet where someone will want to learn more about the event.  Where do they go for that? Read the rest of this entry »

I recently attended my third 4F Magic Convention in Batavia, NY.  I spent some time with coin magician Michael Vincent of England.  He is simply amazing and extremely knowledgeable about coins.  I bought his 4 DVD set Rhapsodies In Silver And Other Mysteries.  He makes some great points about being our mentor and wanting us to work through things and figure things out. Vincent refers to this set of DVDs (all three Volumes – 10 DVDs) as a mentoring series to take a person up through the ranks and teach them how to be a magicians (the way magic used to be taught pre-pants-on-the-ground generation). I LOVE this. He seems to assume that we already have a certain level of knowledge and that (in Disk one of this volume in particular) the performance of the show is just to show us how to do a show and that we should already know the secrets to Linking Rings, Hanging Coins, etc.  As for the performance itself, barring a couple of awkward moments, it was a beautiful performance, and one that you can truly learn from even if you don’t know the secrets.

I myself, have quite a collection of coins.  Silver, gold and copper fill my collection.  I do magic with the Morgans.  I also like to use Kennedy half dollars.  Some of you have asked me if coin magic is difficult.  I can tell you that it’s certainly more difficult than card magic.  The reason for this is that cards are malleable and coins are more rigid.  The hand must conform to the coin unlike the card that conforms to the hand.  But before we go any further, I want to recommend a great book called New & Modern Coin Magic by JB Bobo, a thorough treatise on Coin Magic that you should go out and get your hands on right now.  I thought it might be interesting to give a brief history on coin magic.  You may find this fascinating, and perhaps seldom discussed. Read the rest of this entry »

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