First visit to Conjuring Arts Research Center

It is October 9, 2018 I just made my visit to Conjuring Arts Research Center (CARC) early in the morning. It is a not-for-profit organization, based in New York City in the United States, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts. World’s first and greatest place to do research on all things related to magic and conjuring. A very unique center in its kind. Sounds interesting right? Same for me! as I was very eager to be there.

Bill KalushI was fortunate to have a tour through the center by Bill Kalush․ He is the Executive Director of the center, lifelong student of sleight of hand, magic and it’s histories. He is a co-author of book The Secret Life of Houdini. Luckily for me, I was able to get this book from NYU Bobst Library.  Probably, no one knows about legendary Harry Houdini more than himself. Also, the center owns many unique materials, such as top secret diaries of H. Houdini, the very first books about magic. Some of those are the only copies ever existed. We have been walking through the hall talking on magic and at some point we end up by the equipment used to digitizing all the paper materials. Despite the books the center own a large number of papers, letters and other personal materials from famous magicians. It was very interesting to see how magicians were using technology in the past. This is the most interesting part, as my current research includes all aspects and intersections of magic and technologies.

In a moment later, I met one of the greatest magicians, legendary David Roth, who was working on a curriculum for his upcoming on-line magic sessions. It a pleasure meeting someone who has shaped the close up magic, particularly coin magic, in a new way. He is an author of many books and video instructions, which I was fortunate to have. David Roth

To be continued …

Look and feel

The term “Look and Feel” is generally used in technical industry like software design, graphic user interfaces, etc. But I want to use it in this context too, because it’s clearly expressing the meaning it was used for. I consider you as a magician.

Firstly, dress how you want to be addressed. Before even speaking you are being judged by your look. Surely, I don’t insist you to have a tux¹edo with a classic bowler hat, but your look should be something that fits you as a character. Try to be stylish. I’m sure a good friend of yours can advice you what really fits you. You must be pleasant and acceptable for the public. Do not wear oversized cloths. Make sure those are clean, neat and tidy. I prefer to have less fire papers and Svengali decks rather that save on cloths. Even if you are going to transform it to add Topits¹ or few extra pockets. Always take care of your hands and fingers. Always breath fresh. Of course, this is something you should always be attentive on, but in case you are a magic-man – TO DO with TOP PRIORITY.

If you are working in a restaurant or on a cocktail party, visually you must be different from others. It should not be confusing, otherwise you can be requested to change the ashtray or bring the check.

Advice for advancement – Read the chapter called “Appearance” from Darwin Ortiz – Strong Magic.

¹ A Topit is a utility device used by magicians to dispose of objects secretly. It plays a similar role in the magician’s toolkit to pulls, holdouts, servantes, and techniques such as sleeving or lapping. Topits were employed by pickpockets and thieves during the 19th century. This primitive form of the topit was called the “Poacher’s Pouch”. The art of Topit has developed, like some other forms of magic, in symbiotic relationship between magicians and grifters, both considered sleight of hand artists.

Restaurant magic. Getting started

I will try to keep my posts interesting not only for magicians, but also for layman. Very often layman people ask me questions about diverse interesting topics and subjects, so I want to cover most of them in my posts.

Let’s say that YOU are a magician doing some close up magic. Is the restaurant magic an easy job ?

Level 1: You

Firstly, ask yourself, have you sufficiently prepared to perform in front of saloon customers ? I don’t mean only technically. Sure, you need to have a good repertoire, but that is secondary. Also, if you have performed hundreds of times for your friends, it does not mean that you are ready to start. Your friends are quite far from acting like restaurant customers. So, if you love astonished face expressions of your friends, it does not mean that you can easily handle the customers. You should understand how much inner freedom you have, so you should act towards your personal liberation. You should understand human dynamics. It is vital to have a strong interpersonal skills. The first opening trick is never done with sponge balls or coins or any other close up worker prop. The opening effect is the performer. If you are a magician, please, once and for all, bare in you mind and realize deep down in your bones, that the performer is more important than his magic. It is very hard to achieve, but you have to be an interesting person. People are being connected with people, not with tricks. You will be praised and rewarded, if you are being remembered by your persona and character rather that by your “Two Card Monte” trick. If your audience love and accept you, they will probably love your magic. I’m pretty sure, that If you are a jerk, your magic will also be a sh*t.

If you are done, go ahead ! Level 2: Venue

It is time to find a venue – the most challenging part of the plan. I do not recommend to use a brute force method and visit every cafe offering your services. You have an option to chose the audience that you want. After that you get in touch with the management. It should not be very direct, like “Hi, I’m a magician, you need me.”. I recommend you to spend couple of days visiting the venue. Try to understand the flow of customers and staff. Then, you should seek out the right person to talk to. He/she must be from top management. Always talk to general managers and directors, so your voice can be heard.

If you are done, go ahead ! Level 3: Sales

In the business, you do not get what you deserve, but you get what you negotiate. Do a research, keep on learning on service sales and negotiations. Read about how to get successful deals. A good friend of mine is writing on negotiation and strategy. I have found it very interesting to use in my job. Make a list, just for you, what you can offer to a restaurant. Make another list, why that very restaurant can be beneficial for you (except salary). You may consider the following benefits:
  • Promotion – E.g. the restaurant runs a Facebook page, which can be used for your advertisement. Your promotional leaflets and business cards can be set on the tables as an advertisement.
  • Audience – E.g. I have a chance to meet the audience sector I want. You may want to perform for beautiful kids, active and enthusiastic youth, maybe for tourists or like CEO kind of people.
  • Location – Do you want to reach the place to perform in 5 minutes ? If the venue is nearby, you can save a lot of time and money on transportation.
  • Opportunities – Opportunity never knocks twice. Suppose, you are going to perform for about ~30 people a day, 2 hours, 3 days a week. By the end of the month you have up to 350 people in your connections. The smallest interest that you can get are the private show bookings on customers’ events.

Offer the management to have a free test performance, so both of you understand if it works. I suggest to invite your close friends on your first performance. It raises your confidence, makes you feel more comfortable in the venue and, finally, you are sure you get the first applause. Keep that fact secret from the management, because you are a magician, and your show is getting started.

Do not forget to get the book I’ve suggested in the previous post, it is vital.
Good luck with your first restaurant performance. HM

Restaurant magic. Introduction

What is restaurant magic ? How to start, etc. ?

Let’s start with definitions. It is obvious from the title that Restaurant Magic takes place at the restaurants. Generally, it is a kind of magic show where THE PERFORMER walks through the restaurant or cafe, approaches to the tables and does ~15 minutes of close up show. Unlike some other types of shows, restaurant magic is something that mutually beneficial both for magician and the saloon. Also, the term “Table hoping” is commonly used within our field.

There is one drawback in restaurants! And that is THE WAIT ! Everyone wants their food to be ready as soon as possible. And the time that customers wait is very important for the management. I’m pretty sure that the art of providing quick service is to minimize the wait time. This can be achieved in different ways. In our case this can be carried out with the help of magician, as he can entertain people while they are waiting for their order. And 15 minutes may appear as couple of minutes.

On the other hand, usually restaurant management agrees to have a this kind of show, because many of them value unique dining experience. It is good for their PR, and if they have a proper marketing campaign, they can “use” the magician to involve customers. In this case, maybe, it is not as important exactly when are you going to approach the table.

IMPORTANT: It is not about magic tricks. Here the magic is not a priority, while the service is a top priority. It’s all hospitality. A magician is an extension of the hospitality function in a restaurant.
Books are uniquely portable magic
Stephen King

If you want to be a better magician doing restaurant magic, go ahead and get the book “THE SECRET OF RESTAURANT MAGIC, EUGENE BURGER, 1983”. Do not look at the year, this is always actual. I’m sure e-book also can be obtained from internet. ~30 pages of pure secrets spiced with author’s unique style of writing.

My next post will be on how to find a job and get started.

Notes, thoughts, revelations and confessions: Preface

Hi, I’m very happy that you came across this post. Let me explain what means preface and what is this all about. Recent events in my life forced me to have a little cozy place, where I can write my thoughts and feelings about magic, magicians, the culture and the art itself.

For a beginning there are several things I assume:
  • You have already know that magic is a huge part of my life.
  • My posts will be interesting both for magicians and laymen. For those who do not know, magicians call laymen people who are “not magicians”.
  • You love reading.
  • You value advice for advancement.
  • I have had a chance to show you at least one trick.
  • You follow me on some social platforms like Facebook, Instagram.
You may stop here if:
  • You cannot afford yourself a constructive feedback, healthy criticism and professional advises.
  • You don’t have a sharing culture. This is not about Facebook sharing and opening secrets, this is about sharing the knowledge and experience for a small magic community.
If you are still with me: Currently I’m a part time magician. I do mostly close up magic, stand up magic, restaurant table magic. The atmosphere of my performances I will describe as a positive minutes of wonder and joy. As a magician I do not have a special character, I’m acting as I’m. I prefer to strengthen my own personal qualities rather than building a specific character. I have a lot of interesting facts and discoveries that I want to share with you in future posts.
Stay tuned.
Hayk Mikayel.
The story is just beginning.

Close Up Show @ Alibi Club

Close Up Show performance @ Alibi Club, Yerevan.
Love this style of performance, it is more informal and friendly. Multiplying rabbits, ambitious cards and many more classic effects.

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