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Profile of JJDrew
I have done a number of free shows for various groups and, rather than feel like I had done a nice thing, generally walked away with the feeling that I had been taken advantage of. That sense of "Wow, they have plenty of money to spend on everything else, but couldn't be bothered to pay me for my time and hard work." More than once, the entertainers were the only ones not being paid for their presence. Usually such shows were preceeded with the line "You won't get paid for THIS show, but it will be good publicity and help you get connections for OTHER shows." I learned the hard way that the only connections you get from doing free shows are to people who want you to do more free shows! You can't make a living if you never charge for your work! Where will the madness stop?!!

I was nearly ready to give up on the free show thing altogether, as magic is my only source of income and I am not at all rich. If that makes me sound petty and stingy, fine, I'm petty and stingy, but I was sick of working my butt off for nothing just because people don't understand the preperation, time, and expense involved in putting on a show.

Until today. I finally get why someone would want to do a show for free. I accepted the request primarily because the planner admitted up front that I had nothing to gain from doing the show, and I appreciated the honesty. That and because there was such a sad story connected with it that I couldn't refuse.

Ten brothers and sisters with different dads and the same mom. The mom died of cancer and none of the dads will take responsibility for the children, who have been split up between six different foster homes. The oldest of the boys turned 13 today and they had a birthday party for him at the CPS building and got all ten kids together again. The birthday boy was just the nicest sweetest kid you could hope to meet and the whole group was fun to perform for.

Here's the saddest part, though. The birthday boy got, among other gifts, a bicycle for his birthday, which he won't be able to use until he finds a foster home. Since they couldn't find a foster home for him, he has been staying at the only other available place, a juvenile correctional facility! He hasn't done anything wrong at all and they stuck him in juvi! He can't have a bike there and they're also going to hold the pair of shorts he was given as a gift because he has to wear the institutional uniform, which includes a shaved head.

Not only that, but he had one wrist bandaged, and his fingers were all swollen. He explained that he had fallen during football practice (he's very good at sports). He hasn't even been to see a doctor about it! Don't they have any medical care in juvi? Judging from the swelling in his hand, he could easily have a broken bone in there, and nobody has seen fit to take him somewhere for X-rays! I wanted to take him home to live with me, but seeing as I live in an art gallery with four roommates and five cats, and have little to no money, I don't think they would let him come here. If I fit the requirements, I may even go through the training to become a foster parent. How can they let a nice kid like that go to juvi?!

If anybody ever deserved a free magic show, that kid did. I don't even think of it as free, it was a birthday present. I can't believe I let my prior experiences sour me on free shows in general, I just needed to choose my venue more carefully.

Did a free show and glad I did,
Pakar Ilusi
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Profile of Pakar Ilusi
What's the world coming to?

At least you brought some joy to him on his birthday!
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
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