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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The October 2004 entrée: David Parr » » Becoming a successful, professional magician » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Hi David,

what advice can you give someone who wants to become a professional, successful magician? Which ability is most important? How do you develop those abilities?

How did *you* become a magician? I read your biography on http://www.davidparr.com/bio.html, but still have some questions. At what age did you start, how many hours did you practice per day. When did you decide to become a magician? I know you are also actor, director and author. So how important is magic for making a living to you?

Do you recommend to offer a wide variety of different shows, or to specialise on one single "killer" show?

Do you prefer sleight-of-hand (because you are able to work under virtually any conditions, with just a deck of card and some coins) or self-working tricks (because you have so many gigs that you don't really have time to pracise all those knuckle-busters)?

Do you recommend specializing in any of restaurant magic, birthay parties or trade shows or to do anything and everything that pays?
I think restaurants are a great opportunity to get experience and a somewhat more regular, though low, income.

What about free performances? Does it help your publicity and reputation? Can a professional afford to work for free?

David Parr
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Hi Dominik. You have asked so many interesting questions — enough to fuel at least five more discussion topics! I will try to address them briefly here, but if anyone wants to discuss any of these issues in more depth, start a new thread and we'll discuss away!

My interest in magic began when I received a magic set (the Mattel "Showstopper's Showcase") as a holiday gift when I was seven years old. By the age of twelve, I was working the "library circuit" — performing magic for children's groups at public libraries all over my home town.

I don't recall how many hours a day I practiced; I've never had a rigid practice schedule. I do remember spending entire sunny afternoons in my room working on magic while other neighborhood kids were outside playing. I don't recall having a pivotal realization that I wanted to be a magician. By the time I was a teenager, magic had been with me for half of my life. I grew up with it; it was a part me. Becoming a magician was simply a matter of continuing down the path I had been traveling.

Magic has been my primary source of income.

Offering a wide variety of shows might net more money, but from an artistic standpoint I think it pays to specialize. It is difficult to be very very good at everything at once — children's magic, bizarre magic, mind reading, comedy magic, escapes . . . That said, I think it is important to be able to perform magic in many different situations: a formal stage show, an informal gathering, standing up, seated, surrounded, with a table, without a table. The fact is, laypersons expect magicians to be magical no matter where they are.

For the sake of my peace of mind, I lean in the direction of sleight of hand rather than mechanical props. Wondering whether humidity has made the gears stick in some gimmick is a kind of torture I try not to put myself through too often. Nevertheless, I like my methods simple and direct, so I can concentrate on the theatrical aspects of the show. Self-working magic sometimes get a bad rap. I prefer to think of it as "hands off" magic — magic in which it appears that the magician has no opportunity to use sleight of hand. I love this kind of magic.

The idea of "doing everything that pays" does not appeal to me, personally. For me, magic is a means to express myself creatively. If making money is my sole motivation for performing magic, why bother with creativity? Why spend hours doing research and agonizing over scripts? Plenty of people will pay to see perfunctory demonstrations of props from the local magic shop.

I can't recommend any type of magic as the "right" one to pursue. Do what pleases you most. Bear in mind that restaurant magic is usually a means to an end. I know of very few magicians who make their livings solely by appearing at restaurants. To the great majority of restaurant magicians, the restaurant is a showcase for their talent and a place to meet potential clients. I can't offer any advice on children's parties because I lack any real experience in that arena. And there are magicians who are far more qualified than I to offer advice on the trade show scene. Sorry I can't be of more help there.

Performing magic regularly in restaurants while I was in my twenties was a very useful experience for me, a time of much growth and learning. It taught me how to develop a rapport with people in a brief period, how to focus people's attention with distractions in the room, and it helped my material evolve quickly.

Early in one's magical development, it is good to take the opportunity to perform whenever possible, regardless of whether a check is waiting at the end of the show. I think money often gets in the way of growth in magic, especially early in one's experience. Getting that check after the show encourages me to believe that the show was a success, when in fact it might have been a complete mess.

As a professional magician, I have occasionally donated my services to certain charities.
Matt Graves
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It sounds like you "grew into" being a magician rather than plunging into it headfirst. This provokes much thought in my mind . . .
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Thank you very much for your detailed replies, David. Following your advice, I split my questions into separate topics.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The October 2004 entrée: David Parr » » Becoming a successful, professional magician » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes)
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