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Topic: Bartending Magician
Message: Posted by: magicmanci15 (Feb 14, 2007 09:11AM)
My mom asked if I was interested in going with her to a 2 week bartending school. She doesn't speak english well, so I would go with her to help, while also learning the tricks of the trade. for like $250, you get lifetime bartending job placement, a bartending certificate(?), plus the two weeks of hands on training in real bars and clubs by experienced servers.

So I was thinkin. With bartending under my size 32 belt, I could probably approach many places as a: Bartender that does magic, or a magician that bartends, opening more doors. I know this is not a new aspect of performing magic, but I don't know too much about the bartending magician, so any info or sources on the subject could be nice. It doesn't feel like it would be a longshot at all. And with the right approach I don't see why a club/restaurant/bar wouldnt hire me as the magicians who bartends. What are some of the important differences between tablehopping and behind the bar?

I would probably charge more than tablehopping and perform less, so that me being at whatever place I like would become an event whenever Im there for the patrons. So one night at a restaurant, one night at a bar, and one night every week at a nightclub would be my ideal "work week" Any and every thought on bar magic or anything else is much appretiated.

Ivan
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 14, 2007 10:20AM)
Magic bartending is not as easy as it sounds.

Always keep one thing in mind.

GTFM
Message: Posted by: patrick flanagan (Feb 14, 2007 10:48AM)
As a "magic bartender", keep in mind that your MAIN responsibility is to sell drinks. Until you build a reputation, people won't come there to see you. They will come their to drink. Ernie Spence and Heba Haba Al, magic bartenders from the Chicago area in years past, are two guys of which I am talking about. After they developed their reputation, people would go to the bar, mainly, to see them. However, they still never lost sight of the fact that GTFM is rule number one. Everything else is secondary. Get The F****** Money, I believe was Heba Haba Al's motto.
Patrick Flanagan
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Feb 14, 2007 11:15AM)
As a bartender your priority is to serve and do other bartending duties.
You are behind a bar and that's where you can keep several props and ditch things.
Because of damp bars there is a good excuse for using a close up pad.
Sexually explicit tricks are often more acceptable here.

Also, it's likely that you will be getting bartender wages and relying on tips.

The work of Don Alan, Jim Ryan, Heba Haba Al, Matt Schulein, Eddie Fechter, Karl Norman as well as Doc Eason, Scotty York, Bob Sheets, J.C. Wagner, and Tom Mullica are worth looking into.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Feb 14, 2007 11:16AM)
If you are going to tend bar, and as these guys have said; TENDING BAR in the primary focus, I think the school is a good idea. I know several people that have tended bar, and the ones who attended the classes have all recommended them. One of my buddies who took the class as a kind of lark because he wanted to pick some part time money, now owns a nice little Irish joint here in Milwaukee and does really well with it.

I ran across this Bartending "College" rewiew just last week on a local online magazine.

http://onmilwaukee.com/bars/articles/bartendingcollege.html
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Feb 14, 2007 01:25PM)
I spent 18 years behind bars...and I mean that in a good way. Get out there and give it a try. I think I'd like it more now that smoking in bars has been banned in my city. Magic behind the bar can be very rewarding, both in picking up extra gigs and in the $$$$$$$$ it brings in. I was clearing upwards of $300/night in tips (besides my $20/hour wage) for a 5-6 hour shift, and the magic would help. If you're truly interested in following this..remember that it's not all "Cocktail" (the movie)...it's a lot of work. Learn to tend bar REALLY well first, THEN bring in the magic. There's a lot to learn from Doc Eason! Go to him, grovel at his feet, learn from him as though he's a Jedi Master.

Steve
Message: Posted by: magicmanci15 (Feb 15, 2007 07:40AM)
Im guess Ive got some work to do. Stevethomas, is a 5-6 hour shift behind bars with an hourly rate at lets say $20, what a bartending magician might try to start out at? Also, at what point while serving drinks, and making sure everyone is happy do I actually show magic?

I really like the fact that most of a 6 hour shift will be serving drinks while a less than half of that would be magic. Would the initial management approach differ greatly than in restaurants? doesn't seem like it should, but thanks for all the help everyone.

Ivan
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 15, 2007 09:56AM)
Your hourly rate is about 6 bucks an hour. AVERAGE mind you.
Message: Posted by: Rimbaud (Feb 15, 2007 10:44AM)
Here are three good places to start:

1. The Doc Eason DVD Set
2. Fechter (The Book by Jerry Mentzer)
3. The Magic Of Matt Schulien (The book by Phil Wilmarth.)
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Feb 15, 2007 11:46AM)
The folks above said what needed to be said. I want to add to the list above the rerelease of the Scotty York bar magic videos in individual disk and also a nice three disk set. The Magic Menu has some great info in it as well and you should be able to get copies of the, dang brain...Magic Arts Journal I think it was by Ammar.
Message: Posted by: JeffMac (Feb 15, 2007 12:09PM)
Jc Wagner has some good stuff on his Commercial magic Series. He even throws in a couple pointers about serving and doing tricks.
$6 an hour is your average paid wage (odds are you'll work for less than minimum)
But the tips can be amazing. My bartenders average 35 and hour when tips are included. Mind you they wouldn't have much time for magic. The best time for a magic bartender is early in the night while trying to hold the inital crowd. If you sell it that way you will find tons of bars willing to hire you. The most difficult thing for a bar is the inital crowd in a night.
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Feb 15, 2007 12:15PM)
I think a better approach would be as a sort of... special guest bartender who is there to primarily entertain the guests..maybe make an occasional drink..but the slinging of drinks is left to the regular bartender/s.

This allow's you to be seen as a unique 'entertainer',and hopefully get compensated accordingly.You better have all your ducks in a row though,as far your Magical entertainment and people skills are concerned.
It is not as if you can excuse yourself..and move onto another table..if the going gets tough.It's almost like being trapped in a steel cage. :)

Bartending as noted is hard work.[a typical shift is more like 7-9 hrs.]I know..I was one for 10 years.This was good though because it gave me an avenue to hone my magical skills before a live crowd.[when I had the chance]

I highly reccommend Doc Easons DVDs to see how a real pro operates in this environment.

Best.
Rich
Message: Posted by: ldl1017 (Feb 15, 2007 01:26PM)
I would lidten to Steve and Danny about the place to start. Like Steve I have spent at least 20 years bartending at various locales. Everything from bowling alleys to sandwich/pizza places to 4 star restaurants and Country Clubs. Learn to bartend for a couple of years first. Get to the point that the bartending is second nature and then work some magic in. I second Danny...GTFM!! It's what Doc lives by and he'll telll you on his DVD's. If you ever have the opportunity to meet or see Doc live/lectuer, jump on it. He's a great guy. I performed with him at the 1st and 2nd Houdini Days here in Wisconsin and consider Doc a freind. Also on the list of material would definitely be Magic Menu and anything by Scotty York. Good luck.
Lou

Posted: Feb 15, 2007 2:31pm
Whooops! My bad. Looks like Magicsanta all ready mentioned Magic Menu and Scotty York. I'll just second his advice. Yes, MAJ was by Ammar. Great stuff!
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Feb 15, 2007 04:15PM)
Rich (Paleo) point about being a 'guest' bartender. I always loved this way of doing business IF you are in the right type of area. You approach it like a restaurant magician would. You are there to perform magic and back up the bartenders rather than being a bartender that does tricks. Just make dang sure that you are not costing the regular tenders their tips, make it so they are making more.
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Feb 15, 2007 04:55PM)
Correctomundo Santa! In fact that is a good sales point...any tips that come your way will go to the BT's.This also can justify asking fo a decent hourly rate or overall fee.


Rich
Message: Posted by: magicmanci15 (Feb 15, 2007 05:17PM)
Thank you all very much.
Message: Posted by: JeffMac (Feb 16, 2007 03:28AM)
Just wrote a massive post and accidently closed the window. So I going to go with points as I'm not going to retype everything
- Guest bartenters don't work they look the same as a regular bartender and customers want a drink from them not a trick.
- There will always be slow periods behind a bar and a talented bartender can make as much on a slow night as a packed night. It is the perfect time to pull out your magic.
- Anything you can do to get a crowd to stick around at the begining of a night is gold to a bar. Use your magic to start a crowd and you will become invaluble.
- Bartending is easy I've trained over a 100. You need to know how to open a beer, pour a draught, make a bar shot(rum and coke), make 10 cocktails that are popular at the bar your working in that order and really that's about it. I could train a monkey to make drinks but I won't just hire anyone off the street it's a pesonality job either you got it or you don't. And if you can entertain people early in the night odds are you got it.
- The #1 key to being a performing bartender and I've done it from flair to magic put out the drinks when they are ordered and don't hold back the pace of the bar.
I don't care how entertaining you are the job is to sell drinks and what you do around that is a bonus and that's all.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 16, 2007 09:01AM)
Jeff, yep. Simply said yep.

GTFM. Heba, as far as I am concerned not only one of my teachers but one of the best ever always drilled that in our heads. When you are behind the bar the only thing that matters to the manager (whose perspective you gladly have shared with us) is to keep the money flowing. IF that is a trick now and then great, IF not, put them away.

See as a "magic bartender" you have to be able to do things that you can stop immediatly and get a drink. You have to be able to be interupted, as drinks selling keeps the lights on. You have to be very flexable. Few of us are. Doc, Bob Sheets, Scotty York, they all have a different deal than you are speaking of.
Message: Posted by: patrick flanagan (Feb 16, 2007 11:05AM)
Agreed Danny, Tom Mullica, Doc Eason, Bob Sheets, Scotty York, JC Wagner....they may have pushed drinks at some time in their careers (and maybe still do), but what they have shown in their videos is nothing like what a magic bartender would do in the real world. I love their work, but the performances on their videos is what a "guest" magic bartender would do. They would be stationed at one area of the bar and perform a set for as many patrons as they can get crowded around that spot. It is more like a formal close up show. Real world magic bartenders may have a card picked, mix a few drinks, have the card returned, pour a few beers, reveal the selection, and wash some glasses in the sink. It is very casual, professional, but casual. I remember a two-part sieres that Jaime Ian Swiss wrote in Genii about maybe 10 years ago about the magic bar scene in Chicago. I'll have to look through my copies and get the exact months it appeared in. Great article which gave some background on the magic bar , and the magicians that made it work. It has been many years since I've performed while tending bar. But, it was a lot of fun.
Patrick
Message: Posted by: JeffMac (Feb 16, 2007 11:46AM)
Again you can do full routines while working as a bartender you just need to know the time and the place. I have often worked a slow night and can mix drinks and perform at the same time. If the bar is slow as all bars are at some point you can pretty much get away with anything. It's all knowing when to put the gear away and get to the Full on bartending
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Feb 16, 2007 11:52AM)
[quote]
On 2007-02-16 04:28, JeffMac wrote:
Just wrote a massive post and accidently closed the window. So I going to go with points as I'm not going to retype everything
- Guest bartenters don't work they look the same as a regular bartender and customers want a drink from them not a trick.
- There will always be slow periods behind a bar and a talented bartender can make as much on a slow night as a packed night. It is the perfect time to pull out your magic.
- Anything you can do to get a crowd to stick around at the begining of a night is gold to a bar. Use your magic to start a crowd and you will become invaluble.
- Bartending is easy I've trained over a 100. You need to know how to open a beer, pour a draught, make a bar shot(rum and coke), make 10 cocktails that are popular at the bar your working in that order and really that's about it. I could train a monkey to make drinks but I won't just hire anyone off the street it's a pesonality job either you got it or you don't. And if you can entertain people early in the night odds are you got it.
- The #1 key to being a performing bartender and I've done it from flair to magic put out the drinks when they are ordered and don't hold back the pace of the bar.
I don't care how entertaining you are the job is to sell drinks and what you do around that is a bonus and that's all.
[/quote]

Hi Jeff:While I agree with what you have stated,what I was referring to was as Patrick said :A special Guest Bartender who may make the occasional cocktail but is there to entertain.It'as a different thing completely.
Now this may not work in some areas,and the venue has to be right for it...but I know it works because I did it myself several times back in the 1980's.In fact I was asked to do it by a couple of owners who frequented the Pub where I tended bar fulltime.

Also,at that time there were other popular bartenders who were asked to 'guest bartend'... who had no real talent other than a great personality,and who everybody liked.They usually just interacted with the guest's and the regular bartender/s,for a fun evening.

It was all a way to promote the biz.Usually a sign was put in up announcing the guest bartender.

They were fun times.

I bet you if push came to shove,I could go out today and get a gig as a Magical Performer at a club that had the right bar set up.

As it stands I have 5 steady restaurants...and with my private gigs...that's enough! I can be ambitious...but not that ambitious. :)

Best.
Rich
Message: Posted by: montemagic (Feb 16, 2007 12:03PM)
Simon Lovell is also worth looking into. In his Man of Danger series you see how your personality plays better than your magic, but I don't think he is actually tending bar.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Feb 16, 2007 12:55PM)
I didn't like the term Guest Bartender when I used it. Hired out as a performer the same as a band is, pick a term you like and use it.

I will stand by the being in the right area aspect. I think to be a successful bar magician you need to be in a place that rotates patrons. Eason worked a major tourist area, Chicago, blessed Chicago, is a convention town w/ tourist as is NYC and Atlanta. Regular patrons kill because they don't want to see the same stuff over and over and that is a big beast to feed. Find the right type of place with the right type of clients and you can work a joint for years. If not then you best be a noman to find different crowds.
Message: Posted by: PaulGreen (Feb 17, 2007 09:12AM)
Hi,

Check out http://www.frankzakmagic.com

"This site is dedicated to close-up magic and bar magic. I have been performing close-up magic for over 30 years. Since 1990 I have been performing bar magic. Bar magic, in my opinion, is different from all other forms of magic. All bar magic is close-up magic but not all close-up magic is bar magic. All of the magic that is offered on this site has been repeatedly audience tested."

Frank is one of the very few that has done it! Experience counts.

Enjoy the search.

Regards,

Paul Green
Message: Posted by: chrisgq (Feb 21, 2007 05:40PM)
I am also a trained bartender and had the exact same thoughts....I could do magic for customers while I was behind the bar. I guess it could work in a small pub, but I worked in a multi-bar nightclub and came to one conclusion.....there was NO time for me to do any tricks...lol. I was way too busy to ever do magic, so take into account the type of bar you are going to work in.
Message: Posted by: JeffMac (Feb 23, 2007 10:47AM)
That's Kind of what I was thinkin when I was saying a guest Bartender wouldn't work. If you are in a busy bar anyone standing behind that bar is a Bartender and should be getting drinks. If the bar is slow paced enough as a pub then it is easy to throw a second person back there to just do magic. However if it is that slow a accomplished Bartender/Magican could easily pull both off.
Message: Posted by: John Gerard (Feb 23, 2007 10:20PM)
I work at a small pool-side bar with primarily japanese tourists as patrons. Selling is of primary importance. Tipping is not part of the japanese culture, so I have actually found that magic is the only way for me to get at least $10 in tips by the end of the night. On really slamming nights, sales will be up but tips will be down. I have started adding effects that can play to multiple groups. Magician's insurance policy plays very well when you want to entertain during a brief respite from mixing drinks. My boss has been very supportive of magic, given that most of our money is made from a transient group. Holding the initial group is what will help boost sales for the night, and it is a great compliment when I get repeat business from people only visiting for 3 days total.

It's a hard job, and not for everyone. I work every night for at least 7 hours. My hands take a beating from all the washing I do, and in my case I have to perform up to japanese service standards.
Message: Posted by: Review King (Feb 25, 2007 11:56PM)
Bar Magic looks glamorous, but behind it is an enourmous amount of hard work. Fran Zak in Las Vegas is a REAL Bartender. He stocks the bar, gets ice, makes drink for patrons and waitresses.

He's a wonderful Magcian and a sweatheart of a guy. But he works hard.


Christopher
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 26, 2007 12:07PM)
Well I have been relativly quite, because my opinion is that the vast majority of magicians have never seen a real bartending magician. I learned at Schuliens. Even WE didn't tend bar there, which is where many point to the advent of "bar magic". Matt was a bartender so was Charlie, and Heba Haba, the godfather of bar magic didn't even tend bar at Schuliens.

Heba told me once that the problem with being a "magic bartender" is that you have to be great at 2 very difficult skills. Bartending, and ALL THAT GOES WITH IT, and magic. Very few can walk that line. Bob Sheets, Doc Eason, and so forth, but few and far between.

To just learn to bartend in a 2 week course, and then think you can do that AND magic, well is a bit ambitious in my opinion.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Feb 26, 2007 12:18PM)
The Stevens DVD discusses some of this. Having to stock stuff, go get ice, keep drinks full, get people to buy more drinks, cleaning glasses, kicking pepole out, arguing with drunks, then hope to get in 20 minutes of magic on your shift...

I think people watch the doc eason DVDs and think that all one must do is stand behind the bar and tell Doc's jokes and do some card tricks.

I don't think the bar will hire one extra person just to stand back there doing tricks.
Message: Posted by: Clarioneer (Feb 26, 2007 04:14PM)
Purchased Franks his set of notes On the Boards at $15 dollars mad not to some nice ideas and workers from someone who does this day in day out and tripped over himself trying to help - great guy and was happy to email pdf which meant I got them immediately and at no postage cost - bartending magic - short, punchy and keep it simple...
Message: Posted by: JeffMac (Feb 26, 2007 06:32PM)
I think part of the problem too is that Bartenders arn't what they used to be. It's becoming harder and harder to find a true professional bartender. I've been in the buisness for over 10 years and know maybe a dozen true professionals. Calling the guy at applebees a bartender to me is like calling a fry cook at McDonalds a chef.
Unfortunatly more and more that's what as become then norm. So really you can get by making the odd drink and calling yourself a bartender.
But if you do know what your doing and you dedicate yourself to both skills it can be done and you can make very good money doing it
Message: Posted by: magicmanci15 (Feb 27, 2007 07:25AM)
OK, so Im starting the bartending classes next week. After two weeks of that, Im gonna get a job as a bartender, only. Ill do that, and every once in a while try to slip in some magic, all the while getting better at serving. Ill work as a bartender for 6 months or more, then evaluate myself and decide if I think Im ready to do both. Im looking forward to the journey. I have a lot of books to read, and dvds to watch. Thanks everyone for all the input and kind words.

Ivan
Message: Posted by: blink_inc (Feb 27, 2007 09:49AM)
I think that you will do well with it.

Go for it and just pace yourself.

will//