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Profile of magicguy
Hi! I’m pretty new to magic, and in a situation where it would be nice to make an extra hundred here and there.

Is there a good source for me to learn magic routines right away? Like from videos or books?
Kenz Krazy
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Finding a local magic club is a good place to start. Smile
Scott F. Guinn
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These are the kinds of posts where I offend some people and make them think I am a snob or an elitist, but I think this is very important.

If you are new to magic, you have no business whatsoever learning a routine right away and then going out and charging a couple hundred bucks to perform it. I don't know why, but somewhere along the way, people got the idea that it is easy to be a paid professional magician.


You simply MUST pay your dues! Musicians, tradesmen, etc, don't expect to go out and earn a living after reading one article on their chosen profession, but people seem to think that is perfectly legitimate with magic.

You need to learn how to routine and construct a show, how to present the magic in an entertaining way, how to dress, speak and act effectively, how to be likeable and entertaining, what to do if a trick goes sideways on you, how to handle an audience, misdirection, where your act will be booked, for what audiences and what venues you will perform and how to go about getting them, etc, etc, etc.

What you don't seem to understand yet is that the actual TRICKS are the LEAST important part of a successful magic act.

The big problem here is that there are all these beginning magicians who have taken none of this into consideration, and they run out and perform for money, and their acts are TERRIBLE! It is clear to the audience that they haven't put any time in learning their craft, and these "magicians" end up fooling only themselves.

What's worse is that this type of thing makes it that much more difficult for the true pros to book shows, because it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of that audience toward ALL magicians.

Tom Hanks has a great line in the movie, "A League of Their Own": "It's SUPPOSED to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It's the HARD that makes it GOOD!"

I would encourage beginning magicians to seek out a mentor, to build a library of books (not just on magic, but on etiquette, grooming, grammar, sales and marketing, handling people, theatre production, etc).

Spend at LEAST a year or two finding good material, learning it, adapting it to your style and mannerisms, putting together a good script for it and routining it in a logical manner. Then perform it as often as you can for free for as many different groups as possible.

Give these people performance critiques to fill out anonymously, where they rate you in a number of areas (appearance, presentation, entertainment value, professionalism, age-appropriateness, etc) on a scale of 1-10. When you consistently average over 90%, you are ready to start charging. This may take several more years.

I know this sounds like a lot of work (it is) and not much fun (but it is) and the long way to go (it is), but it's also the best way. You learn your trade, you get performance experience, you discover what works and what doesn't and how to read and handle people.

Does it work? Well, it's what I did. Once I started charging, I have always guaranteed a full refund if my show didn't meet or exceed expectations. In 12 years and literally thousands of shows, I have never once been asked for a refund!


Scott F. Guinn

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"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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That is a good point, and I agree in the most parts, but also remember, Rules are ment to be bent, traditions are lost, and short cuts are always to be found. There are a lot of books and videos which have great Birthday party routines in them from many great pros...... so my question again is, any good videos that you guys know of? Smile
Mr Phil
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Dear Magicguy,

Please take the advice you see here.

I understand the lure of buying a video and doing someone else's stuff. But what works for one performer is not always funny or amazing done by another. We family entertainers have too many clones out there as it is.

Spend your money on books both magic and other related topics and read them. Practice and rehearse until you can do it in your sleep, in other words... Learn your craft!!

You will find it looks a lot easier to perform for kids than it is and if you lose them you are in for a long show.

Read the posts here on the Cafe regarding bad shows. We are not trying to discourage you from making a few extra bucks but earn it yourself, don't be a clone. Don't cheat the clients with a half a** show.

Like others have said in this thread, there is no other profession where you think a video or a book will be all you need, Imagine your MD or a teacher watching one or two videos and then going out to ply their trade.

Free plastic surgery anyone? I saw how to do surgery on a video,

Mr Phil
Mr. Phil & Co. Quality Family Entertainment, Guaranteed! (603) 286-3029 Snail Mail to: P.O. Box 31 Tilton, NH 03276
Peter Marucci
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Heed Scott’s words, Magicguy.

Sure, rules can be bent -- but they have a way of snapping back and slamming you on the butt when you least expect it.

I have said this hundreds of times:

A lot of performers think that kids’ shows are an easy way to make a few bucks.


Doing magic -- well -- for children is probably the hardest thing you will ever do in magic.

You say there are always shortcuts to be found.

More than 2,000 years ago, Artistotle told Alexander the Great that, despite the fact that he (Alexander) was prince of Macedonia, there was "no royal road to learning."

Same applies here.

Learn the basics; learn to do them in your sleep; understand -- REALLY understand -- what it is that you are doing; and then -- and only then -- are you ready to start learning about doing paid shows.

Note: I said "learning about doing paid shows" not actually "doing" them.

Scott gave you excellent advice, above.

But, judging from your reply, you don’t appear ready for it yet.

Which means you are far from ready to do paid shows.

Although I have this terrible feeling that you will go ahead and do them anyway.

And, I suspect, magic will be the worse for it.


Peter Marucci
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Profile of Wallace
Sounds like a case of someone wanting to run before learning to walk!! Smile
Wallace B
Dennis Michael
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I saw magicguy’s post when it first was placed on this BBS. I was going to reply, then I thought, no... he sparked a nerve! Many others will surely jump on this one.

Having been in magicguys spot in the early 50’s, while in school, I did talent shows, and only followed the routine that I bought with the trick. I was presenting a set of puzzles, which I knew the secret to and I wasn’t going to tell. I become very unpopular, fast!

I joined a magic club, and that is where most of the learning came about. I went to the M.A.E.S. Convention in Reading, PA. I think in 1956, and learned more. I won my first contest several years later by pulling a rabbit out of a motorcycle helment. Henny Nelms was one of the judges. Again learning took place.

There were no videos, and only books or the magic mentors within the magic clubs and conventions. I learned theather at college, and realized magic is not important when it comes to entertaining, it is a means to entertain.

Now 40 years later we have video mentors, like Ammar for excellent close-up magic, we have McBride for stage magic and tips on stage presence. (Need to study all of his work to get the most out of what he has to say.) There is David Ginn and Sammy Smith’s videos and books for excellent Kids magic routines. (Expect to pay about $1,000 to get most of their video and books.) Kids Shows by Bobo is good, as well as many other books suggested in this section of this BBS.

This is Generation X, where the "kids" have instant everything; T.V.s, Computers, Cell phones, video games, VHS, DVDs, cars, college spring break trips to far away lands, etc. Why not expect instant magic!

Magicguy is going to do his thing, he’s going to falter like many of us have, and he’s going to reinfoce the age-old notion of bad magicians. This is a fact! There will be many more like him in the future, copy... try it... fail, copy again, try again, and fail again, etc. How many have gotten into the business, only to see it as a quick means to make a buck or two, then leave it. There is no way to stop it

I mentored three individuals, worked hard with them, gave them some of my most treasured magic, only to find it faded. It lost it’s mystery, the secrets are known, and the thrill was going. Magic was work, it involved travel, business decisions, bad times, and making a living in the field was very difficult and hard work. The love of magic was going. I realized it was never there in them in the first place!

We older guys can see and read what magicguy is saying and doing. He has some interesting posts in table strollers section and he got his foot into Planet Hollywood.

All of the suggestions above are right on target. Entertaining children is so different than entertaining adults. They’ll break him for sure, if he doesn’t know what to expect or plan on, what is expected to happen. It’s an art form where the unskilled will experience the reality of entertaining children. The kids will eat him alive, on his first show! No mercy for the magician!

What I would give to witness that!

My advice, Magicguy, video tape that performance and send it to the Funniest Video show and you’ll probably get your hundred bucks.

Dennis Michael
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Profile of kingmedia
10 years ago, as I was getting back into magic after 25 years of performing music professionally, I was offered the opportunity to perform at one of my daughters friends birthday parties... as a magician. I had learned a dozen tricks or so [crystal casket, coloring book, thumb tip and silks, etc.] and thought that this might be a good chance to break into the field and pick up a few bucks. Even with my previous experience as a performer, in both music and theatre, I was a horrible flop. Kids shows can be a most rewarding gig. My advice is to pass on the videos, hunker down with a few good magic books and practice. BTW, I made $40.
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Hey Magicguy... I am going to take a different tack here. The best way to learn effects fast for a kids show is to buy easy to perform kid show effects. Most of these effects come with routines including what to say. A lot of stuff for kid's shows that come with routines already can be quite expensive as they tend to be large and colourful - although not all.

Effects like Hippity Hop Rabbits and Run Rabbit Run are good, What's Next is easy to do as well - depending on the age, Stratospheres can work etc. These tricks and routines are easy enough to learn (you will need to do a bunch of shows to make your money back however) but the real challenges with kid's shows are:

a) your performance and ability to be entertaining (kid's have a very short attention span and you will need to be amusing and engaging for them) so.. even though the tricks come with routines, you will need to be able to pull them off and perform them in an entertaining style - many magicians on this post have already referred to coming up with your own routine -> this is a natural outgrowth of doing an effect as you will find that the "Standard" routine that comes with it does not "flow" well out of you cause it is not something you would normally say or do -> so you need to figure out how you can do the routine but in such a way that it is natural to you and entertaining to the kids - ok I think I beat that one to death

b) kids will throw you off - part of the "fun" of performing for kids is that they are unpredictable and can often be aggressive - being able to "manage" the roudy ones or challenging ones (who actually figure out how you did the trick if you have not practiced enough) and then tell everyone how it worked or ones that won't sit down or ones that keep getting up to look behind your magic table to see the tricks etc. You need to be able to manage the kids and STILL BE FUN AND ENTERTAINING - this is tough and can only come with practice and experience.

I started doing kids shows when I was 12 - but I practiced magic for about 4 years before that and would just go through routines in my room in front of a mirror many times until I felt comfortable doing it - then I would do shows for my family and my parent's friends when they came over to refine what I had come up with and to get more comfortable.

Performing when I was 12 was, I am sure a novelty for the families that hired me - but they were VERY impressed and I got MANY repeat bookings all the way up through high school and university because I practiced my a** off and took the steps required to become a good kid show magician.

So.... perhaps you are a natural with kids and performing - I don't know anything about your capabilities - and perhaps you can buy some kid show tricks and do a bang up job - but hearing from the others here and from myself it is a tough job so be sure if you are going to charge some bucks to perform that you give 'em a good show.

Performing magic for kids can be very rewarding but be prepared not only for yourself but for the kids and for the parents that will be paying you.

Mitch Solway
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I think all the others summed it up well enough that I can just say, the best advice I can give would be listen to them. Smile
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I won´t repeat all that the others have said.

Kids can crucify you in a short space of time if you're not up to their standard.

It's not just doing magic, it's treating them as equals and not talking down to them.

Before you attempt kids or any magic in public I suggest you practice until things seem to go well. Then practice some more until things go perfectly. Then keep practicing. In any form of magic you can not practice enough.

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I have to agree with everything that the others have said here.

I read it, heard it, and believed it from the start. Still, once I did my first couple of shows, I realized what others had told me was true. I will always be grateful (and I acknowledge this great man after every show) to OldeRabbit for his mentoring me, and pointing me in the right direction when I wanted to venture out into the world of performing magic for kids.

I have been challenged, humbled and rewarded many times over, yet it is by far the hardest and most mentally taxing type of magic I perform. This is because I care about how my audience will respond.

It's not only about the magic, or how good your sleight of hand is.

Kids like to laugh, to participate, to have fun.

Easier said than done. If you don't entertain, you'll learn all to quickly the wisdom of those that have gone before you.

There's also this fine line between entertaining kids and insulting their intelligence, and you need to be aware of it at all times. The last thing you want is to come across as stupid and irrelevant.

My last advice, find the Book "Performing Magic For Children". Read it, learn it, and believe it. Once you've learned the rules, and played by them a few times, feel free to modify them to suit, but don't go in right out of the box and try and reinvent the wheel by saying rules are meant to bend... not until you've been there.

What I have learned up to this point by being in the trenches, is this: Spectator management, dealing with children of all age groups and maintaining their interest, entertaining, involving, and participation, are almost more important than the magic by itself is. Magic by itself to children can challenge them, and you'll never win a challenge against 35 children, and you'll surely lose in the eyes of the parents who hired you.


Nutty Norman
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As you posed your question in 'The little darlings' Forum, I assume that you are hoping to make some money by performing Magic for Children.

This is my advice, and I earn my income as a Children's Entertainer, you will not make a great success of it if you are doing it solely for the money. You have to have a genuine love for this branch of Magic.

You have to thoroughly enjoy entertaining children because if you do not enjoy it, they certainly will not. Children will spot any insecurity or insincerity and home in on it. I have seen it happen to Magicians who just think that all they have to do is learn a few Magic tricks.

It is worth remembering this - 'It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it' and you do not learn how to do it from books or videos.

When it comes to entertaining children, If your only interest is making money from Magic, I would suggest you consider another branch of the Art.

Keith 'Nutty' Norman
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Have a read of my cautionary tale posted in food for thought - the best/worst thing to happen during a show. My worst thing was entirely due to me not understanding what was going on, I knew the tricks alright, but had absolutely no clue about what and when to perform. Just a thought
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Profile of p.b.jones
people wanting to jump in to paid performances like this is one of the reasons why so many magicians dislike childrens magic. One would assume that this would be the easiest way to start getting paid performances. However, performance wise it is probably one of the most difficult area's.
there is a big difference between performing and doing tricks, lot's of good close up performers lack the performace skills required to hold a larger audience.
many so called close up magicians that be-little childrens magicians do so because they could not hack it. if you dig deep you will find that most tried it but did not really like it. What they mean is they could not do it succesfully.
often performers try to do a childrens show before they are ready, they do a few magic tricks and someone asks "oh your a magician can you do my daughters 6th party" they accept and attempt to put together a show from others work and they flop big time!

I never performed a paid show until I was 19
I started magic as a hobby age 8 (manipulations, close up, cards ext)
even with this experience the first few childrens shows where an eye opener, over 20 years on and I am still learning.

the chances are if you try to do paid shows now you will flop and chances are this continual flopping will put you off and you will be a close up magic hobbiest for ever!
(nothing wrong with being a hobbiest but it does not seem to be your goal)
Sir T
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I really do not think, I can add much to what has already been said,(and said rather well) but I will give you my take on this, for what it is worth.

From May until the end of September, I work with children and young adults. I have a six year old daughter who is on a local swim team. I spend six days a week at the pool, watching, talking playing, with them. The age range at the pool is 5 through 18.

Working with Children is not as easy, as you may think. I would offer up, that you take a part time job at a day care or someother kind of youth program. The reason, trial by fire. There is no better way to relate to childern, then to deal with them on a personal level.

There is also another reason, it gives you a chance to work on your patter and routnies. I never thought about getting into magic, I was just doing my ballooning working on my patter, between heats. I picked up a trick or two worked on them and then tried them out, the bug bite me.

I have not done a paid or free magic show (ballooning is another issue) yet. I have a lot books and videos, on different subjects, and I can say for the most part, there is no short cut. Sure you can get a gimmick instead of spending hours learning the slieght, but that is about it.

If doing Childern magic is your thing, GREAT! Work with Childern every chance you get! Run do not walk over to David Ginn's Site and Sammy Smith's site and buy a book or two and then practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.

But to answer your question, I like Sammy's and Daivd stuff, but that is just me an unknown, but rather knowledgable nobody.

Kevin Smile
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Profile of amshake
I didn't even finnish reading this thread because I didn't want to forget what I thought of... and that is a major point I feel is important... Don't be discouraged buy a lack of money for shows.. I have some friends who are new to magic that don't perform at all and say they are just gonna practice.. well.. take a few bookings for free.. get infront of people and mess up.. kinds are brutaly honest when they want to be and you can learn alot from that. I had never performed (in 13 years of practice) untill I got a job working at a small shop and had to demo tricks infront of tons of people a day, then bookings came in.. take a couple for free and realised that I had developed a routine that worked... then I started charging.. and as scott said... I offer a money back guarentee... and have never given the money back... no need!!! So.. practice.. thats true.. it takes years!!! thats true.. but you do need to perform, you can do a trick perfectly to yourself, do it once for someone and that will be the first time in months you have messed it up.. always works that way!!

Adam Shake
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Profile of Cacoal
Hey MagicGuy,
I was in exactly the same situtation around 11th grade (7 years ago... Wow I'm getting old). I'd just done my first longer show, 45 min for my high school, when I was contacted by the town council to be part of their entertainment series and put on a full length show for some good cash. First of all one of the other acts of this "performance series" was "THE ARROGANT WORMS!" an amazing group of performers. Needless to say I was a little (ok, Really, really!)intimidated and well to be kind I stunk! The key to giving a good performance is WORK! WORK! and still more WORK! You can't expect to just rip off someone elses act, nor can you just throw one together from nothing (not at first anyway).
If you've not already learned how to put together a routine on you're own, you're not ready to perform yet. To be honest, even once you have learned this you're first performances will probably still be weak. So please, don't disrespect, other magicians or your potential clients by giving them a watered down version of someone elses material.
Gee, This seems to have turned into a bit of a rant, Sorry,
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Profile of mr.t.ricks
hi MagicGuy,
I did my first kids show in 1992
a few month before that my wife got me a book on magic
from a local book shop, I read it cover to cover learnt all the tricks
got hold of a hand full of magic props.
the first show was for a work colleges daughters 6th birthday
I arrived and started the show I thought this would be easy was I so wrong
I have the photos on my wall in my office to remind me never to be cocky again.
after that my next was in 1995 after 3 years of practice and a number of free shows
for friends and relatives my second show was ok ish.
now in 2002 I am a full time pro and guess what I am still learning my craft I pick up
things at almost every show I have added new things and taken out the old
then I have put them back in and so on.
even the top magicians are still learning and so that's how it is.
don't treat our art as a quick way of making a few $, £, treat it with respect in the end
it will pay dividends.
but first you have to earn it the hard way

Smile Smile
regards to all

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