The hard part of magic—getting paid for it—is ably demystified in this straightforward debut primer.
Kraus, a renowned magician who has been performing in paid shows since the age of 12, reveals the secrets behind a few nifty tricks and steers readers toward books, magazines, magic shops and clubs that will teach them the nuts and bolts of the magician’s craft, but his focus is on helping neophyte magicians turn their passion into moneymaking gigs at children’s birthday parties. He emphasizes showmanship as the key to a successful party business: flamboyant costumes (sequins will spruce up the classic top hat and tails); a commanding stage presence (Kraus recommends the performer listen to recordings of his or her voice and practice modulating it); and jokey patter (he includes an extended script for his own “mystery trick” bit that rivets the attention of restive youngsters). Thematic storytelling, running gags and catchphrases help, too, as a way of drawing kids into the unfolding magical effects. Kraus analyzes the niceties of tailoring a show to the audience’s age and attention span—very young kids may not get jokes or register the magician’s apparent defiance of physics and logic—and offers strategies on how to cope with the young volunteer who suddenly dissolves in tears, the disruptive brat who needs to be disciplined or the heedlessly talkative parents who need to be diplomatically shushed. Due attention is paid to the all-important topic of advertising and promotions (sending self-written public relations profiles to local news outlets desperate for filler is a surefire trick), and there’s a thorough discussion of contracting and record-keeping, complete with sample forms. Kraus writes in a clear, humorous style, sprinkling in his own entertaining anecdotes of stage fright, a prop that sliced open his thumb and a flash paper (highly flammable paper) incident that almost burned down the house. Magicians in the making will learn a lot from his vast experience and engaging presentation.
A reassuring guide to turning a magical hobby into a profitable business.