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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The January 2012 entrée: David Kaye » » Using livestock? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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David Kaye
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Andy Hart asked me: What are your views of the use of livestock, particularly rabbits, in kids shows?

Andy,

Here is my answer. I don't use livestock. That is mostly because I live in Manhattan and it is difficult to have a home for the animals, and also, I take taxis and subways to my shows (no car) and no one wants me to carry animals in taxis or subways. But the lesson is that you don't need to have a bunny or birds to become successful entertaining children.

However, here is where I recommend it. If you have strong competition in your market and they do not have an animal, then if you DID have an animal, it would give you an advantage when your clients have to decide between you and your competition. So as an easy way to increase your bookings I think it is a great technique.
David Kaye / Silly Billy
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Bob1Dog
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Very interesting.

I'm a beginner at childrens magic and I love performing for the young ones. I've only done a few shows and I'm not in it for the money (read that: I'm retired enjoying a wonderful hobby in a very slo-o-w-o-w market whith few magicians in the area). But every time I approach someone (day care, library, even senior centers, invariably someone will ask me "Do you produce bunnies?" Or, "Do you produce birds?" I usually just tell them that I have a small home and I don't have the room or the time to tend to them. And, I can't make them disappear when I take them home with me!

But I agree, while animals are fun, you don't have to have them to have FUN with the kids. Or anyone, for that matter.

Thanks for the insight David! And your Seriously Silly Billy DVD is a superb instructional. I use your approach to Magic Coloring Book and it REALLY works great!

Best, Bob in Delaware
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
David Kaye
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Thanks Bob. I can add another thing. If people are actually asking you if you have the bunnies, you can say something like, "I think putting animals in cages is unethical and I wont do it." Or "To do the trick the bunny gets squished in to a small space that is very uncomfortable (not completely untrue) and he is in pain until the magician makes him appear. I just wont do that to animals." Okay, a little too lefty for some of you? But there is nothing wrong with having an opinion, and an opinion that gets you out of that question with honor.
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Matt Adams
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Lol. I dunno about "getting out of that question with honor" but it DOES make you look better (perception is everything) than the guy who's using bunnies! Smile
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Powermagic
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David the problem with a line like that is that it insults the person asking. If they are all happy and excited and say "do you make a bunny appear," and then you show them up by getting all animal rights on them, you could embarass them and ruin their experience. Better to say you are allergic or that AFTER the show the car might get too hot or even that you travel too much and can not fly with them. All of these are softer than the PETA angle Smile


Now you said if your competition does NOT use live animals you suggest an animal.

BUT what do you think if you get calls asking if you use an amimal , because that is what they want, and you do not offer one? It would seem many people who book their own private party are convinced that the guy with the rabbit is going to have a bigger or better show. Getting the gig is what I am talking . They see 4 guys, 3 have animials and you do not.(Oh and one of those guys produces a mouse, rabbit AND SNAKE) Sight unseen you all have equal marketing on your web page, 5 star reviews, ect. So how can one trump the rabbit and move them over to booking your show? I should mention that you do not want to deal with live animals. I had asked this to Café members once before without much agreement- WHat trumps the rabbit?
David Kaye
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Power,

All your suggestions for evading the bunny are excellent. Allergic is a good one. Too hot in the car is also good. But I don't think it is insulting. It is usually the kid who wants the bunny, not the adult. So you are not insulting the adult.

Your second paragraph: I hate to keep coming back to this, but if your show rocks then no one will care about a bunny. Look at Zucchini. No one cares that he wears a t-shirt and shorts. Because the kids love him. The same with me and you. Have a killer show and the rabbit will not be an issue.

But this conversation relates only to people calling you out of the blue - never heard of you before. Those are tougher to close than word of mouth people. If you are going for that market, then you need to compete. But with good word of mouth they wont care.

I say all the time, if you want to compete you need something killer that your competition doesn't have. It could be a bunny. It could be a chair suspension. not the mom has to decide between a bunny or having their child float in the air! Boom! What else... I get inside a giant weather balloon, Every child gets a free dvd worth $20 that teaches them how to do magic, I will make the birthday child appear from an empty box at the start of the show.

If you are competing head to head, get something that makes you differnt from the rest.
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Powermagic
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OK all good on paper but what you just suggested is what you said I should not need to do, and surely what you do not do. You also said it is not about the props but you are saying I have to consider props? I respect your opinion so am asking for clarification.

For example. only 25% of my current business is referal or word of mouth. THere are 100s of childrens entertainers in my area for people to choose from so they have not reason not to try someone new the next year.

You have to admit there are allot of GREAT entertainers out there that CAN do just as good of job as yourself. I knwo we like to think we are the best but the reality is, there are highly qualifed entertainers that to audience are also good.

I have a a few that use a chair suspension, and bunny and dove also including balloons. For a birthday I did nto want to carry a chair suspension unless they paid a premium. And I also do not feel I want to care for animals. Some of these guys also have back drops from magicbackdrops.

Oh did I tell you that those show are only charging
200-250 for an hour and giving candy and prizes. It has been very hard to compete without that stuff. I started adding more time and more complex balloon sculptures.

I feel MOST children magicians who do home parties and small groups get their shows from ads on the net or other paper marketing.

It seems so EASY if you are willing to care for an animal . I always felt it was CHEAP.I see so many guys use up performing time by letting the kids PET the bunny. Boy they love it and parents are happy because the chilrdren are happy. But that does not make it as good as they think it is.

My issue is that parents DO weigh the STUFF they get when comparing. If all is equal and someone makes the B day kid float, or give a party bag vs a single trick or if one guy brings a rabbit and the other does not, they will take what they feel is a higer value. Now we know that the amount of stuff does not mean the show is good but not is not how the average mom is booking in my area.

So how do we sell that we are better, when allot of guys can appear good and professional on their website ,video clip and reviews but offer the animal, the mini illusion or both for about the same cash?
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When people ask the price I always add "including a live appearing bunny rabbit, etc." and then if there is hesitation, you can negotiate taking the bunny off the list. Gives some room to work with. I very rarely have people tell me to leave the bunny at home. It surprises me how much people like hearing I have a rabbit.
If I didn't have the bunny then those excuses would fit me perfectly. I don't think they come off as rude at all, but it does depend on your tone I suppose.
solrak29
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I currently do not perform with animals for various reason (more so for the animals sake), but
I've often considered simply having an animal as part of the show as a prop itslef. What mean
is just have the animal in a comfortable domain and not used in a production and/or prop,
but as the prop for show and tell...

Perhaps as an extra, or while doing balloons, I could pull the animal out for people to see and pet...

that's it.

Its just a thought though.
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RNK
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I must say, since I have added my buddy Sal to the show (my rabbit) he has been a HUGE hit. Kids and adults just LOVE him. Having Sal in my show has increased my bookings tremendously. Anyone who is wandering if adding livestock to their act would increase their bookings, through my experience I would have to say - yes it would.

Best,
RNK
Ed_Millis
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One user here has told me he has a connection with a breeder. The breeder keeps and maintains the rabbit; when he needs one, he simply rents it. The animal has a nice home, the magician has a great upsell prop, and all go home happy.

I'm thinking about that one myself.
Ed
Matt Adams
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Quote:
On 2012-01-17 11:32, Ed_Millis wrote:
One user here has told me he has a connection with a breeder. The breeder keeps and maintains the rabbit; when he needs one, he simply rents it. The animal has a nice home, the magician has a great upsell prop, and all go home happy.

I'm thinking about that one myself.
Ed


Wow, that's a fantastic idea. I think you definitely need an "in" though because most places won't do this for you, I wouldn't think. They are WAY too concerned about their animals!! I am all for treating them nice, but a couple places I talked with are crazy! (I think they want ME to live in a cage and let the bunny sleep in my bed!!)
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Powermagic
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One shop told me they can not do that since they do not know if the rabbit would pick up a disease that could show up later and then they can nto resell the rabbit.
David Kaye
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I don't know much about rabbits, but I think it is true that you need to train your rabbit from birth to be in the tight dark places that magicians put them into. So renting an animal as needed might result in a lot of pee in your dove pan, or worse. Ask about this when you talk to your keeper.

Back to Power. I can only answer you this way. What if you went to the movies and there were four movies showing. Love Surrender costs $6, Midnight Romance costs $7, Summer Love costs $8, and Race Cars Crashing into Things costs $10. Each is exactly 2 hours long. Each has comfortable seats. And, let's say, each one "has a bunny!" Which do you pick.? The cheapest? No. You Pick the one you want to see, regardless of the price.

Two Lessons:

Art and Performers are not interchangeable. And don't let your clients maker you think that. If you do something that makes you unique then that is enough reason to choose you, or spend more for you.

Every show is an opportunity to convince 20 kids that they should hire you for their party. Make them love you and the kids will make the decision, not the mom.
David Kaye / Silly Billy
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Ken Northridge
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Quote:
On 2012-01-18 02:20, David Kaye wrote:
Every show is an opportunity to convince 20 kids that they should hire you for their party.

This attitude is a real insight as to why you are so successful. With your reputation you could rest on you laurels and still get bookings. But the fact that you have this drive is telling. I consider every show an audition for future shows.

Concerning livestock, everyone needs something unique to set them apart from the competition. That something should be commensurate with your personality, what you enjoy and do well. Mine happens to be livestock. I love working with animals and absolutely love the reaction I get from the audience. The objections to working with animals from PETA folks, or whatever, are so rare its barely worth mentioning. Its been my ‘something’ for 35 years. So, I’m very happy to hear about the many magicians that won’t work with animals. You can leave that to me. Smile
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David Kaye
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Excellent. That is what I am trying to convey. Livestock is your "thing." And you can do livestock better than anyone in your market. So when a mom asks another mom who she should hire , "and btw, my kid loves animals." You're the guy who is recommended.
David Kaye / Silly Billy
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Regan
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Quote:
On 2012-01-16 00:47, David Kaye wrote:
Thanks Bob. I can add another thing. If people are actually asking you if you have the bunnies, you can say something like, "I think putting animals in cages is unethical and I wont do it." Or "To do the trick the bunny gets squished in to a small space that is very uncomfortable (not completely untrue) and he is in pain until the magician makes him appear. I just wont do that to animals." Okay, a little too lefty for some of you? But there is nothing wrong with having an opinion, and an opinion that gets you out of that question with honor.


David, I think you are a genius, and I respect and admire you. Having said that, I disagree with such a tactic to, "get you out of that question with honor." In fact, I would say this a very dishonorable way to address such a situation. Many fabulous magicians with wonderful acts do shows with animals all the time. To do something like you suggest seems like a total put-down to any magician using animals. I know it may be common practice for some, but I always thought it was normally coming from lesser-known entertainers who had trouble booking a full calender and would do anything to try and get ahead of the competition. What's wrong with simply saying, "No, I do not use live animals, but I guarantee you that I have an excellent show that you and your kids will enjoy"?

Often used or not, it still does not make it right. Magicians need to stick together. Magic suffers enough because of bad magicians, among other things. In my opinion magic or magicians do not get the respect they deserve, and tactics like this do not help matters. We also have enough problems with animal rights groups and so forth. I for one love the animals that I use in my shows. They are my pets first...magic partners second. I care for them deeply, and I am very, very careful to ensure they are well-cared for and that they are not being harmed, or even being made uncomfortable. Most magicians that I know who use live animals in their shows feel the same way.

I just don't think it's alright to suggest that animals are being "squished", or made to be "very uncomfortable" by any magician. There are many that will tell potential clients anything to get booked, even at the expense of others. I think that in the long run it hurts our art.

Regan
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I am a HUGE fan of you David. I must read your book once a month with the DVD. You have a great perspective of the industry, and you convey that enjoyment that has to be there in every performance.

With that, I do have to agree with Regan on answering a customer about live animals. I think we all have to avoid saying anything that would make any other performer look less professional. Also, it can make the customer feel uncomfortable with the mention of the subject.

We as magicians need to promote our "craft", and make potential clients have a good feeling about magicians. If someone had a bad experience with a magician, then they will be less likely, as anyone else at that function to hire another one.

Thank you David for taking the time and answering our questions this week. Much respect.
David Kaye
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Okay... Good enough. How can I attack you guys if you compliment me so much at the outset!

Good for you and a reasonable criticism. I would say that I don't think sharing your personal views necessarliy condemns those who don't agree with you. That one man is a vegetarian, because he doesn't believe in the slaughter of animals, doesn't make all meat eaters bad people. It is just an expression of one's opinion.

But, I will give you that: It may seem like you are attacking other magicians. Then use one of the other "outs" previously mentioned in this thread.
David Kaye / Silly Billy
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Howie Diddot
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I would like to add that if you are going to use a rabbit in a routine, the Federal Government requires you to obtain a USDA licensee to “display” the rabbit in your show; the price for the licenses is under $50.00 plus you need to get a vet to look at the rabbit and fill out the paperwork

USDA Phone number 970 494 7478
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