Paul Pleasants is one of the busiest working professionals in the business. A past winner of The Hickson Cup for Stage Magic as a member of the Ipswich Magical Society, where he is still a member, Paul has been described as a 'human dynamo' and is an accomplished and versatile magician. We managed to grab five minutes with Paul, just before he nipped out to do another show
Q: How important is it to be versatile? Can you make a decent living as a specialist in one area of magic?
I think it is very important to be versatile as people I think demand much more for their money, plus the more you can offer the more chance of being busy as I always am. I do think you can make a decent living as a specialist, but you must be at your very best.
Q: You do everything from juggling, kids, cabaret, stand-up, illusion - how do you manage to juggle that lot? Are you ever conscious of being seen as a jack-of-all-trades?
Being busy doing all kinds of things makes life very interesting as one day I can be working a large venue as a cabaret stand-up, act the next day I could be doing a child's birthday party, to me it's all work and I enjoy all of it, so yes I am a jack-of-all-trades.
Q. What are your views on agents? Do you market yourself?
Agents, a good question! I have worked for very good ones, and yes as everybody knows some bad, but sometimes you have to go with it, but most of my work comes from recommendations, which is very flattering. I
think it is very important to be a member of equity as I have been for many years.
Q: How would you sum up your own performing style?
I like to think my performing style is fast, fresh and funny. I was told by a very good magician to use your magic as a way to entertain, but let your personality come through.
One of my best remembered night would be working close up to a room full of millionaires with just me, a pack of cards, some coins and rope and bringing the house down! What a good night... but there have been many.
Q: Worst night?
Worst night, I try not to have them.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
In 5 years I hope to still be working as I am today, but maybe in TV, have my own TV programme...films...who knows?
Q: Who are your own influences?
My own Influences would be Paul Zenon by a long way. I just love his style. I would so much like to be able to meet up with him!
Also people like Ted Lumby and the late Len Blease both played a big part for me. Ted Lumby has always been there for me, always ready to help and what a great pro he is. Thanks Ted!
Q: Favourite magic book?
Fav magic book? It has to be Mark Wilson's complete course in magic, such a good book to get you started in magic.
Q: Favourite magic DVD?
I have to say The Art of Hopping Tables, by Mark Leveridge, because there is so much magic, and the art of performing to people on their terms. You can learn so much from that DVD. A must have.
*Please note, Paul Pleasants and Mark Leveridge are not related!
Paul Pleasants may have found the career direction he is happy with, but there are many out there who are uncertain. We asked Paul Zenon to give us some potted advice for those performers just starting out on the professional ladder.
I think that anyone starting out should try as many types of magic as possible in front of as many audiences as possible - there is no substitute for 'stage time'. A major factor is finding an individual style and character that plays to your strengths. I'd suggest getting a close friend, preferably several (separately), and ask them to be genuinely honest, if not brutal, about what they think are your strengths and weaknesses in terms of personality, social interaction and dress. Also what they think sets you apart from their other friends. This should give you a good idea of how you actually appear to the world rather than how you think you do. You've only got to see a videotape of yourself caught doing your 'cool' expression to realise that it might actually look like you've got a nervous affliction. Sadly, although many performers are David Copperfield, Lance Burton or Derren Brown in their heads, they might more closely resemble Joe Pasquale or the geek magician from League of Gentleman in reality. There's nothing more ludicrous than a middle-aged bloke with a paunch doing that illusionist leg-flick thing to a Phil Collins soundtrack or a seventeen year-old doing mentalism as a brooding Lord of the Rings sage-type character. At the end of the day, your stage persona should really be an exaggerated version of the real you, minus some of the bad bits. Simple though that sounds, it's hard to do as it's almost impossible to be objective about yourself. Once you've discovered your character and what sets you apart from other performers, then the props and costume that you might be wearing should almost suggest themselves. And the tricks -that's by far the easiest bit! ms
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