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Theodore Lawton
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You have said in many posts that you only perform in upscale restaurants.

Would you be willing to share you views on approaching a potential restaurant and how you sell yourself?

You say many times that you perform mainly for adults in better venues.

How did you arrive at this stage in your career? Did you always approach performing this way? It sounds like a great gig!

Thank you in advance...

Theodore-
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Dannydoyle
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If we can all understand that I am only stating an opinion and what works best for me. I am not saying it is right for everyone, or anyone else. Other ideas are just as valid and I respect them.

If we can also avoid the usual bs that goes with this I'll be happy to answer.

First of all I am not sure it is even a method anyone could duplicate if they tried. I actually learned to do magic at Schulien's restaurant in Chicago, from Charlie Schulien. (Matt's son.) This was a saloon/restaurant and definitely did not cater to kids, but did serve them.

We worked AFTER the dinner and sat at the tables with the guests. (No unfortunately this idea is not original with me.) So the idea is we were asked for. The waitress took requests and created a list and we showed up when dinner was over. 7 minutes or so and out. We did not work like most do before salad and such. We were a feature.

So I didn't end up at that part of my career, I started there. Like I said not certain anyone could duplicate this method. I spent 10 years working there. It was literally almost the only way I can work. (Pretty sad actually when you think of it.)

When I started traveling working comedy clubs I got away from restaurant work for a bit. Too busy. But then when I got back to it I never wanted to work at family places. Why one may ask? The answer for me was pretty simple. IF the goal was to get exposure while making money and booking shows from being there I wanted the people booking me to have money. It was that simple. It was a simple business decision. You are not nearly as likely to be taken seriously for corporate work doing balloon dogs. (Yes there are exceptions.) I wanted the higher end work. It is a perception thing. When the appetizer costs $55, then the magician who is at that restaurant every night is going to be expensive to get to come work your event.

I also don't do kids shows. I almost NEVER got asked to do so simply because of the perception. Perception is GOING to happen, I simply want to be in charge of that perception. I have never been a product of my environment, my environment is a product of me.

That is pretty much how I came to that part of the career question.

As for how to approach, it is a different feel to go for those places. What not to do is almost as if not more important as what TO do. As I said you should control the perception, and do it from the very first impression. I would not use any of the ruses that you see about performing for the bartender or wait staff. I would make an appointment. Also LEARN about how a restaurant works! Be able to speak intelligently about how a restaurant functions.

I DO NOT tell them I am going to "increase business" or help the bottom line or any of that nonsense. It simply is not true in most cases and certainly not in the beginning. For example if you are going to charge just $100 they have to make that up by selling food and drink. This means they have to sell between 4 and 5X the amount they pay you just to be EVEN! So the claim of increased business is simply not easy to back up. (I always get argued with about this, but in high end restaurants it is REALLY tough to back up.)

Dress well for the appointment. You should belong in the restaurant. (Personally I would avoid name tags and such.) I am not a big fan of offering a "free night" though I would not caution against it either. Be prepared to do something impressive.

I sell them on the idea of "ambiance" not money. They pay piano players, and all sorts of ambient entertainers so hitting them on that level does not immediately give them stomach cramps about spending money. I also tell them FLAT OUT that NOBODY is going to come to the restaurant the first time because a magician is there. They will however come BACK if they enjoyed the ambiance and magic and feel of the place. Sell them on a sense of "fun". DO NOT FOCUS ON MONEY.

Often they will be worried about turning and burning tables. In most finer places they have coffee and desert. So it is pretty OK to spend 7 minutes with them during that period of time. As soon as desert hits, bamo. It often puts a period at the end of the night and gets them moving.

To get tables to want to see magic have one trick to do in your hands. Stop by as soon as they have given their order and do the one trick. Tell them if they want to see the whole show you will stop by after dinner to let the wait staff know. Or if they know they want you to write it down you can stop back. This creates your list. Also have table tents announcing your presence. Most high end places won't allow pictures and posters and such. A small table tent or something they can pass out with the menus and specials will do.

That covers some of it. If you still have questions feel free.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Gerry Walkowski
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Danny,

I don't perform close-up magic and have no desire to do so, but your suggestions are great.

Thanks,

Gerry
Ken Northridge
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I’m not sure if this comment will be helpful or not, but it has occurred to me that these high end restaurants are becoming increasingly sparse, almost non-existent. Today it seems chain restaurants rule, and if there is a local restaurant they have a sports theme, or try do everything they can to appeal to a broad range of clientele, not exclusively high end.

I did a couple of these high end places but that was over 20 years ago and they are both closed now.

Let my briefly share my experience at the Bacchanal Restaurant at Caesars. They not only had a strolling magician, they had TW0 strolling magicians! Plus some other type of strolling entertainment like a harpist or guitarist, and two hostesses that would massage your back. Then there was an appearance and speech by Caesar, Cleopatra and their Roman Guards, preceded by thunder and lightning! Then they would then personally greet all of the guests.

I guess my point is if these restaurants are rare it will be much more difficult to find work in them as a magician. Of course there are exceptions, but I would think the magician who is aspiring to work in restaurants today would do better to have a repertoire of sponge bunnies and balloon dogs. Smile
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
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Dick Oslund
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Hello Danny! In the '70s, I visited Jay Marshall whenever I was in town. After my first visit, he gave me a key to the Carmen Street door! (I think that Charlie Miller and I "held the record" for "inhabiting" the Charlie Miller Suite!!!

Jay and I would attend the meetings of the Showmen's League. Early on, Jay and I visited Schuliens. It was my first time! Chuck came by, and did his "stuff"! It was great! Over ten to twelve years, we visited often.

Your post above is "right on"! It's readily apparent that you understand that show business is spelled: "$how bu$ine$$"!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Mindpro
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One of the things that newer magicians should see, understand and take away from this thread, its responses and several other of the threads here in Tricky Business and in New To Magic is this - not a single person offering this great advice has once mentioned the tricks or magic effects they perform. Magic is not about stringing a handful of tricks together and calling yourself a magician (this is what 7 year olds do). It is about so much more.

Especially when really striving for any kind of success (other than just personal fun or fulfillment). As you will soon find it is about sooo much more and your performance material only being a small portion of the greater picture. Your performance material is your product. The rest comes from these other essential components.

Also, notice when someone successful talks or discusses someone else successful, rarely are their tricks or performance material discussed. Unless specifically know for something specific or as the creator of something uniquely special, it is about them, their personality, character, their operation, their connection, relationship and their experience and knowledge of entertaining and the entertainment business.

This is also why there is a great difference between a magician and an entertainer. Someone who is setting their sites on just being a magician could really be selling themselves short and missing a much greater and significant picture (as we have seen here many times over the years).

Also listening to heading advice from someone content on only interested in being just a magician could also be quite limiting as well. It is quite easy to see Danny and Dick (and others) are much more than just magicians.
Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On Jul 26, 2018, Ken Northridge wrote:
I’m not sure if this comment will be helpful or not, but it has occurred to me that these high end restaurants are becoming increasingly sparse, almost non-existent. Today it seems chain restaurants rule, and if there is a local restaurant they have a sports theme, or try do everything they can to appeal to a broad range of clientele, not exclusively high end.

I did a couple of these high end places but that was over 20 years ago and they are both closed now.

Let my briefly share my experience at the Bacchanal Restaurant at Caesars. They not only had a strolling magician, they had TW0 strolling magicians! Plus some other type of strolling entertainment like a harpist or guitarist, and two hostesses that would massage your back. Then there was an appearance and speech by Caesar, Cleopatra and their Roman Guards, preceded by thunder and lightning! Then they would then personally greet all of the guests.

I guess my point is if these restaurants are rare it will be much more difficult to find work in them as a magician. Of course there are exceptions, but I would think the magician who is aspiring to work in restaurants today would do better to have a repertoire of sponge bunnies and balloon dogs. Smile


Rare or not he specifically asked about it.

But I can't possibly imagine this being remotely true.

In Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and way too many other places to list high end places are the norm. Maybe the two you worked twenty years ago have closed and that is your experience. Maybe in your area this is how it is, but as a rule across America it is absolutely the opposite.

And if one wants to work them sponge bunnies and balloon dogs is not the way.

Would it be easier to just find a chain restaurant with a family night? Sure. Go for it. But that was not his question.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Theodore Lawton
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Thank you for the detailed reply. I appreciate it. It's a lot more to think about going forward.

Your career is definitely different from most other restaurant magicians I've heard from. It's very eye-opening and just goes to show that there are many ways to approach what we do.

EDIT...
I just had a question though, and it is about tricks. I understand your point about balloon dogs in a fine dining restaurant, but would you be willing to share some of the tricks you DO like to perform in your establishments? I'm just curious about what fits the bill for the way you want to be perceived. For instance, what would be your "in the hands" trick for your introduction to the table you mention above, etc.?

And also, what is your manner of performing? Are you serious? Funny? How do you present yourself?

This is turning out to be another very interesting thread!
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Dannydoyle
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The largest problem with mentioning which tricks is that I don't want to offend anyone. I have some REALLY specific ideas and know what works well in the places I work. So again if we can proceed with the idea that it is nothing but an opinion I am OK.

As for an in the hands trick it can literally be anything. Vanish a handkerchief with a TT up near your face.

Again as for what does fit it is easier to think in terms of what might not fit and why. BUT the effects are really unimportant, and I can't stress that part enough.

I think any effect using a paddle move (With the POSSIBLE exception of the Color Changing Knives depending on the routine.) should be avoided. I am not a fan of ANY of the Royal Magic stuff. Anything that looks like it came from a magic shop I don't generally like. (I had my Chop Cups made for years to avoid this exact thing.) I am not a fan of packet tricks. All of these things to me are just not the right perception for me.

Now as for what I do use again my background is different so what I do use is probably FAR different from most. As I said I learned the Schulien tricks DIRECTLY from the Schuliens. Heba Haba taught me a classic force and Card Under Glass. Jim Ryan taught me his effects and I love his Ring Rope and Rod. Don Alan taught me the Chop Cup. So the huge majority of the effects I use, while in print, I learned directly from the originators.

But as for the "perception" I don't like doing one effect with one prop. Obvious exceptions such as Chop Cup and Ring Rope and Rod exist but you obviously have to move on from them with something else. I don't use things that need reset, I don't use many gimmicks. As a matter of fact my 50 minute close up show had literally only a Chop Cup that involved a gimmick. It is just easier for me. I don't like the idea of taking out one deck of cards, and doing an effect. Then taking out another and doing one. Then a packet trick and doing one, and so on.

As for sponges, I have recently stopped. Just not a fan any more for reasons I won't go into here. They GET RESULTS without question. I have other reasons for the edit if you PM me I will share.

I am not a serious performer at all. BUT I am also not a fan of the need a line for everything style that is just so popular today. I am more irreverent and flippant than anything. I think too many magicians try to be too funny. I was guilty of this and again recently changed gears a bit.

One reason I simply do not like the idea of a line for everything is that a person ends up waiting to spout lines they remember, instead of relating to the people. It actually puts distance between you and your audience instead of being closer.

Close up magic is about relating to your audience. The effects I choose are tactile. (Ring Rope and Rod is a great example of this.) I involve them as much as possible. Handling props, picking cards, things that happen in their hands. This is one reason I shy away from gimmicks simply because most can not be inspected. I want them involved in the experience, not just watching it from afar. In high end restaurants this is VERY important. In family places often it is all about the kids. But when you are in a place where everyone is waiting for you it is very important for them to be involved in the experience. This is probably the most important aspect of choosing effects. (I would argue that it always should be done this way.)

I have not mentioned it but The Magic of Matt Schulien is available in a PDF. You could go for 40 years with the effects in that book and easily have a wonderful career.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Theodore Lawton
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I'd love to get my hands on a copy of the Matt Schulien book. It will have to wait for now.

I respect your thoughts and opinions of what works and what doesn't for you. I look at the reasoning behind your decisions and it helps me to look at what I'm doing or might do. It's very educational and I'll keep these things in mind going forward.

Much appreciated!
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
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