It Takes Guts, Damn It!

You need to have the right attitude; not just to perform magic but to sell yourself.  Now, I know you’ve learned some great magic, even purchased some apparatus and begun performing shows.  But are you getting booked for shows?  The reason I ask is that I’ve received a few emails from you Alexandrites who have decided to start performing professionally.  I congratulate you for taking the steps necessary to get there.  But you’ve told me that you are having a hard time getting shows and making money.  I’d like to try to fix that here.

Look, there are so many magicians out there who are better than you, even better than me.  The problem is that they don’t know how to sell themselves.  They actually think that by having a website and a Facebook page they will become professional magicians.  They don’t know the one important thing, that it takes nerve, and if you don’t have the chutzpa to do some of these things, you simply won’t make it as quickly as you had hoped to.  There is nothing here against your morals or principles, but you have to have the nerve to try these things.  You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start somewhere to be good.

You see, I don’t care what city you live in, if you do these things and can’t make $2000 a week then you’re simply not hitting it hard enough.  These methods are proven.  I have been doing magic since I was 13; have been making money at it since I was 14.  I began busking for tips in Newport Beach restaurants as a teenager and doing local shows.  I got $60/night which was pretty good money back then.

This is not a blog on how to make money, it’s on how to get the jobs.  I came from an upper class beach city and as a young man I’d walk into one of the big hotels like The Four Seasons and check out the hotel events schedule in the lobby (every lobby has one) and I would see who was going to have a convention, a trade show, a seminar, or any big events.

Let’s say the event is a trade show.  All of them have the same format.  In one of the main rooms or halls they have booths set up very much like a magic convention’s dealer room.  This room is open till around 5 pm. At that time everyone is invited up to the hospitality room for cocktails until dinnertime.  Then everyone goes to dinner. Afterwards the cocktail party may continue.

Now your job is to get to this cocktail party.  How do you do this?  Look around the halls, you’ll see bellmen pushing carts of h’odeurves or booze and they are taking it to the hospitality rooms.  Follow one and he will take you right to it.  If you don’t find a bellman just simply ask the hotel operator where it is and she’ll tell you.

When you find this room, the doors will be open and there will be salesmen inside waiting.  Wait for a few people to walk in and walk in right behind them, bring your own sponge balls, cards, rope, or whatever and start entertaining.  Do about 10 minutes of magic and then look for a boss or sales manager.

You take him to a corner and you tell him “My name is __ and I’m here to entertain your guests.”  This guy will jump at the opportunity to get these “TALKERS” off his back.  Tell him you want $50.00, $100.00, $25.00 or whatever, just name your price.  They will take it out their own pocket to keep you there.  As the cocktail party begins to thin out and as everyone is going to dinner, stop and find that guy and tell him you know how to work a trade show during the day.  Tell him you’ll work at their banquet.  Just do whatever well and they will like you. This will be the beginning of a trade show career.

I have done more hospitality rooms, cocktail parties, and trade shows using this method than you could shake a stick at.  And I accomplish this with a little nerve.  The only way you’ll know how well this works is to have the nerve to try it.

At one time they used to use women at the cocktail parties to keep the guys entertained.  But now a lot of women are becoming buyers and executives.  The trade people have to look for other gimmicks and frankly they are dumbfounded as to what to do.  So as soon as you walk in, they are thoroughly delighted.  Magic is one of the best gimmicks in the world, but keep that in mind.  Magic is used to soften up a prospective buyer as a form of entertaining sales pitch, not too hard core, and this sets them up for the real sales force to give them the inside scoop on the product that you and magic got them interested in.

Now you’ve got it made.  They like you.  They see the advantage.  Now they come up to you and tell you that their next show is in Brownsville or whatever and want to know if you can do the same thing there.  You name your price plus expenses.  Now you’re really in, and all it took was nerve.

When you have made it you must remember that you are now the company you represent.  You are as important to the company and its sales as the president of the company himself.  Don’t do an evening show of magic.  Do an effect that will gather a crowd and be an interesting pitch about why they should consider this product and when through with this effect show them to a salesperson who should be on hand at all times.  It is his job to do any important pitching of the product.

I make the customers talk about the product; use reverse psychology.  After the trade show your job is to be in the hospitality room and here is where you can show how clever you are.  Entertain them, talk with them, and remember you are the company.  If someone wants to talk to you about the product, be familiar enough with it to be able to talk intelligently about it, but if they get too involved, show them a salesperson.

After a cocktail party the sales force will have dinner at various restaurants in the area (you’ll be invited). Go along with a small crowd of buyers and join them for dinner.  Do some close-up magic at the table.  Don’t flood them with magic.

After dinner it’s back to the hospitality room and more magic.  Then later in the evening comes the midnight snack.  Then at the midnight snack you’ll be doing more close-up with the bigger clients.

You’ve just done a trade show.  For long-range work you can Google upcoming trade shows in your town.  For example, I go to and pull all the events coming to Las Vegas.  I contact these companies and then buy a badge and meet them at the trade show when it happens.  Don’t forget to visit your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for a list of upcoming events.  Go to Convention Centers and get a list from them of upcoming conventions and trade shows.

In order for these techniques to work there is one major tip.  This is important if you want to make this your profession.  If you do this against your parents’ or your spouse’s wishes you will have a very hard time making it.  Sit down with your family and tell them that you want to take a year off and try to make this your profession.  Let them know that you’ve got your work cut out for you.


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