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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The December 2002 entrée: Banachek » » Life as a full time pro mentalist » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mr Amazing
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Dearest Banachek, you're obviously an experienced performer who has worked hard and long to the position where you are today. I was hoping to hear a little about the things that are *not* mentalism per se, more specifically what is "everyday-life" for a full time mentalist?

For instance, during an average week, how much time do you spend on:

*travelling
*marketing (licking envelopes? phone?...)
*actual performance time
*focused rehearsing
*searching new material
*socializing etc w colleagues
*...
* and a biggie: What's the ratio between work time and family/relax time?

And what happens during the high and low seasons?


It would be great, to say the least, if you could elaborate a little on these questions. I hope they're not too personal or so, it's just really really really valuable to hear for us guys turning full time.

It is just amazing to be able to ask one of the worlds leading mentalists questions like this. It is extremely generous of you Banachek! THANK YOU!


Sincerely,


Matias
Banachek
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I will try to answer this. It is a hard one since the last five years my performances have primarily colleges and seasonal. During the season I am working there is no time for anything else. Often I go four weeks straight with no more than four hours sleep between, performing, flying and driving. It is grueling work. As a result when I get home I spend the first week just laying around and sleeping in late.

I have four kids, 22, 20, 17 and 18 years of age, all college age, they take up most of my money, which is one reason I have to work so hard.

I spend little time actually practicing. But I am lucky that way. Some people can just play a piano with no practice; others have to work at it. With my schedule, often the practice for a new effect comes in a live performance. Due to my experience I know how I can make an effect work even if it does not work well and move on, and I also know where in the structure of a show I can put an effect.

Often I will play with an effect live on stage and never use it just so I feel comfortable with it. Lets say I needed to sleeve an object during a routine for an effect. Rather than do it in that effect, I will carry the object on stage with me and sleeve it a few times during my show. Just so I get comfortable with it. If I need to use a new wallet and load it, I will load it a few times but never do the effect that comes with it. The audience has no idea at all I am practicing. And if I fail at the move it does not matter since it is really not an effect I am performing. Keep in mind this can only be done if you already have a full show.

As for researching new material, I just do not do that actively. It usually happens when I am influenced by some thought that my own brain kicks into action. For instance I recently had a conversation with that brilliant thinker Ted Karmolovic. His creative juices were addictive and caused me to think of my own ideas again. This is how I garner effects. Once in a while I see something I like and play with it. For instance, Ian Rowland had a great effect at the Asylum convention I think I will play with. But I never actively say "I need something new? I am quite happy with the show I have already and if something new comes along it usually has to replace something I like. As a result the show gets longer rather than shorter or the same length. And this is not always a good thing for a mentalist not to know when to stop. We have a reputation already for going on to long. Kind of like my postings here Smile

As for sending items out. In the magic book business I have Scott wells to take care of that. In the college market I have an agent to take care of that, and in the corporate market many agents. I hate the selling end, but that may have to change soon since the college market is burning me out and I plan on heading back to the corporate market.

As it stands now I send out promo packages to agents to use, but the web site has slowed that down somewhat, most of what they need is there.

As for family time, when the kids where younger it was hard for the wife to get away, when they were real young I traveled less, made less money too. I coached the soccer teams, took my daughter to mothers day out (they changed the name to Fathers day out for me since I was the only dad there) Most of my shows were in town and at night so I could spend the days with the kids. Back in those days I would attend a convention or two and take the family, we had many working vacations where I would work for a yacht company or some such in the Caribbean and spend a few extra days there with the family. Now the wife will fly in for a few days on the long trips. Lately a little harder since she is selling real estate (anyone moving to Houston? shameless plug)

Thanks for the kind words by the way
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
Mr Amazing
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Banachek - truly interesting to read. Particularly the "live no-performance" practice.

What would you say are the up and the down sides being a full time mentalist such as yourself? (Except for the gruelling work of course) For instance, I know many performers suffer from solitude (thus the high rate of alcohol problems in show biz).

What does your beautiful wife Heidemarie say about your career? (Maybe she ought to be here to answer that one Smile )

Again, thanks!

/Matias
Banachek
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hmm, afraid to let my lovely wife come here Smile

I love solitude. So being alone never has bothered me. I can see how drinking can easily become a problem for many performers especially if you are working clubs. On top of that, drinking is considered to a way to socialize "hey, lets go have a drink after." Often the drinks are free, everyone wants to buy the performer a drink and who can say no to a free drink. I have leant to say no. Luckily my schedule as of late has been so grueling that I often have no time for socializing let alone a drink at all. I have a lot of driving to do and love sleep when I can get it.

On top of that I did most of my drinking back in my early days.

I had an alcoholic stepfather so in many ways that kept me away from alcohol. It usually does one or two things to have an alcoholic parent, gets you far away from it, or pushes you to it. When I was in my late 20's I did go through a party time. But was real careful since I managed clubs and never partied while working like many managers did. Yet since I managed a club, drinks were once again free at other clubs. Everyone wants to impress the guy who can get him or her a job at the hottest cub in town.

I often think that the traveling has managed to keep my marriage together for 15 years. Just when we are mad at each other I leave and then she misses me. Smile Luckily she has had the kids to keep her busy so that has been a plus.

But now thing may change, I may have to take her on the road with me a lot more than before. We have a few projects in the works that will facilitate that.

Wow, looking back at this post I see I spent a lot of time on the drinking.

The up and down sides: People think I get to see a great new different city every day. Not true. I get up around 5 or 6, drive an few hours to an airport. Check in my rental. get to a location, get a new rental, drive a few hours to the next location, unpack, steam my clothes, do a teaser at the school, get my show ready, do the show, go back to the hotel at about midnight and do the same thing the next day. I see very little. But as said before, every once in while I will make a business trip a pleasure trip, just like my trip to England last month.

And I guess this would be a great time to thank all those folks over there that made me so welcome. Sorry I was not more awake, I had driven 4 hrs all night to get my van home to fly to England and had no sleep on the plane, I have never learnt that knack.

I can lay claim to the fact I have visited almost every single state. I have driven the full length of most of the major interstates in the US. I have met with and interacted with many Cultures and countries. I have appeared upon two Japanese specials and numerous European specials.

My family was reunited as a result of a British TV special I appeared upon. So yes there are ups, there are downs, but even the downs are a wonderful experience even if just for the learning once gets. I truly believe that you give to get. If I died today I have lived a good and a full life and as Martha Stuart says, ?that is a good thing.?
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
Mr Amazing
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It's almost embarrasing to thank you so briefly as this, but I just want you to know that I (we) greatly appreciate the effort and time you put in your sincere and open answers. Especially now that we also understand we're competing with those scarce sleeping hours and your wife about them Smile

Thank you!

/Matias
Banachek
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thanks Matias,

however, I am home for the holidays and December and June and July slow down for me, so I am getting plenty of sleep now, almost too much.

Thanks again
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
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