I was watching a magic video recently that focused on performing in restaurants. After revealing a few excellent tricks, the host interviewed the performer to ask a few pertinent questions, like: How do you find work? How do you prepare? And what do you charge?
The star of the video, a line entertainer, offered a few-suggestions that I thought were not on par with his magical performance. Then he admitted on tape, "Well, I've never really had to look for work. I'm hired by a huge resort and casino, so I've got all the time 1 need to prepare, and 1 can pretty much do anything 1 want." 1 le did offer a few ideas on getting jobs, but he admitted they were merely ideas, and that he had never actually tried them in the real world. That was my cue to start speeding through the tape, since I'm still stuck working in that "real world."
Not long alter thai, I purchased an audio tape that claimed to offer ideas for making $75 an hour performing table magic in restaurants, flic tape contained a lot of very basic information, then the host, who is normally an excellent teacher, admillcd that it had been several years since he worked restaurant magic, and that he was not using many of his ideas in the real world. Once again. I was stuck with my "real world" problems. I perform on a regular basis, and have had to learn the hard way what works and what doesn't. Restaurant magic is a unique venue, different from performing in a stage show or at a sit-down convention competition. Hearing someone who doesn't work lable-lo-table talking about my particular brand of magic made me remember that there is a dearth of good resources to which the restaurant magician can turn. as I pondered those two tapes, it occurred to me that there are a number of part-time professionals who could use a handbook on restaurant magic.
There arc plenty of excellent books on tricks. As a matter of fact. I don't know whether to be thrilled or despondent at the number of magic books and tapes being released. It used to be that there were a few excellent resources coming out every year, and we would all wait to snatch up a copy as soon as it was in print. Willi the advent of desktop publishing there has been a boom in nearly every publication market. It seems as though a sig-nificant magic book is being published every other week, and it's impossible to stay on top of them all. I lovvever, there is a need for an up-to-date book that explains in simple terms how to make a living performing in restaurants. Not a book of tricks, though I think you'll find the few tricks we have included are absolute winners, but an instructional book that can help you move from part-time performing to full-time pay.
We have tried to cover all the topics we think you'll need to know about, and we've boiled down the text so you won't have to mine the dross to find the gold. Our goal has been to create a true handbook, rather than a lengthy philosophical tome. The chapters in this book are short, but that's because we've tried to cut out all the unnecessary stuff you so often find in magic books. Each chapter contains all the practical information you need to know to be successful. And we've tried to say it plainly, since one of our pet peeves is the condescending attitude toward part-timers that you lind in so many magic books. Both of us were part-time performers at one point, but we wanted to be full-time. We know the frustration of hearing someone say "part-timer" and "amateur" as though they were dirty words. Yet both the authors arc full-time performers and creators. One of us has gone back to part-time performing because he has small children at home and doesn't want to travel quite as much, but both of us spend our days entertaining people, and we want to help you do the same.
It seems like most people think of restaurant magicians as kiddie performers, making balloon animals in pizza parlors for shrieking kids. Thai's not the case, although both the authors of this book have worked pizza parlors, made plenty of balloon animals, and endured our share of charming and not-so-eharming children. There's nothing wrong with working those places, though it's a lough way to make a full-time salary. It's possible to go beyond that venue, move into better restaurants, and begin making contacts with people who can offer you other performing opportunities. So if you enjoy working kid shows and kid restaurants, more power to you. Certainly there arc plenty of fellows who have combined that with birthday parlies and school assemblies to make a good living at magic.
But if you are interested in working more for adulls, increasing your number of private parties, and gelling involved in trade shows, then you'll like this little text. As people have looked at drafts of this book, they've said tilings like, "You're really giving away your secrets, aren't you?" The answer, of course, is "Yes." Why keep it a secret? There is plenty of restaurant work out there. Our society hasn't reached any sort of magic saturation point. As a matter of fact, with our culture's increasing need for entertainment, I believe there will be more of a call for good magicians than we have seen in the past thirty years. So this book is designed to help you become a successful entertainer in restaurants. Now let us tell you a little about the authors.
Jim Pace began working restaurant magic in 1982 and never found a good enough reason to slop. I le has had several locations, all of which have lasted two years or more, and he currently can be seen at I luber's in downtown Portland two nights per week. He also performs at trade shows and private parties, most of which come to him through his restaurant contacts, and he demonstrates magic several days each week at Callin's 1 louse of Magic, the big magic store in the Portland area. Jim is one of those fellows you don't hear about often enough — a full-time magician who does a number of things to keep himself working. He's not a star on the Tonight Show (yet), but he is an excellent performer whom audiences love. Like most professionals, he has learned the secrets of succeeding as an entertainer. Magic is not just a hobby lor him; he makes a pretty good living at his craft. Jim knows how to succeed in restaurant magic, and he is willing to share his secrets with you.
Jerry MacGregor is a full-time writer and performer. Me has a degree in acting and a Ph.D. in Organizational Development (whatever that is). Chip, as his friends call him, began working restaurants in 1978, has toured the eounrty as an actor and stand-up comic, and has appeared on several comedy specials. The author of more than twenty
books, and the editor of scores more, he wants you to know that all the stylistic llair in this book is his, and all the good ideas belong to Jim.
One of the difficulties in co-authoring a book is in keeping track of who is talking, Jim or Jerry. You will notice that we sometimes switch from the first-person "I" to the third-person, either "Jim" or "Jerry." We ask your indulgence in this. When reading the first-person you can consider the "I" to be a composite of the authors, or as one of them suggested, a genie who is talking.
Jim Pace and Jerry MacGregor... Vou figure out which is which.
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