Clubs, Magic That is…. by Mike Rogers
There is a popular belief in magic that the professional magicians, by and large, have little or nothing to do with the local magic clubs. This may or may not be true, for we all know professional magicians who are extremely active in the clubs, while conversely, we know other professionals who have absolutely no involvement with the clubs. Yet these same professionals, while shunning the magic clubs, might be quite active in attending magic conventions.
For the purpose of this article let’s assume my opening statement to be true, and that most professional magicians do not involve themselves with the local magic clubs. Are they elitists, snobs, or just too good to become involved? Is their knowledge and skill level beyond that which might be seen at the clubs? I think the answer is “No” to all of these questions. The professionals enjoy magic and the fellowship of magicians just as much as any other magician. So what keeps them away?
If we were to ask for the answer chances are the reply would be something like this: “I don’t work for other magicians, other magicians don’t pay my bills, blah, blah, blah…….” We’ve all heard this before, and though it may be true, the one giving that reply is quite often not a professional magician in the true sense that his entire annual income is derived from his magic. There’s a good chance he also has a day job, and the flippant reply simply serves to pad his ego while alienating others.
My guess is that the answer from the true full time professional is that he simply does not have the time to attend the magic clubs. When a professional is not out doing what performers do, performing, every waking hour of his time is spent seeking work, adding to his existing work, improving his repertoire of performing material, and doing all the mundane things required of one being self employed. He has to be a book keeper, a tax expert, an investment expert, a phone receptionist, a secretary, an artist, a carpenter, a painter, a technician, and a general handyman. He doesn’t have time to sit with fellow magicians hashing out different versions of the current hot trick making the rounds. Time spent in endeavors such as that is time not spent trying to make a living. For every performing hour of his career hundreds of non performing hours are devoted to making that single hour possible. If it doesn’t work he doesn’t pay his bills.
It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy magic or fellowship, it’s simply that after spending every day pursuing a career in magic, when it comes time for the monthly magic meeting he probably just doesn’t think about it. I doubt that it even crosses his mind. Through it all it might seem that he loses interest in magic, doesn’t keep up with the trends, and never knows who the new hot whiz kids are on the block. An argument could be made that if he’s is indeed a professional magician he has a responsibility to keep up with such things. Perhaps so, but there are only so many hours in a day. If his station in life is to support his family with a performing career, priorities quickly change. It’s not like the guy having a day job while working a few gigs each week when the phone rings.
A comment I frequently hear from local magicians is that such-and-such professional was working in their town and didn’t even bother to call. Moreover, I hear from them that they always invite so-and-so to call or have dinner, yet they never hear from them. As a result the working performer is quickly viewed as a snob, a phony, or at least, one who doesn’t care. He might even be considered as one who violates a friendship. Before passing judgment think of this. Chances are he has spent an entire day traveling, checking baggage, waiting in cab lines, picking up rental cars, getting lost in a strange area, being hassled while checking in his hotel, and maybe finding time to meet with his client or show producer. This is all before he’s even done one trick. When trick time does arrive social obligations, even tiny ones, just can’t be important. What is important is that he present a reliable performance with the intent of being paid and keeping the job should it come up again. Combine that with the fact that he also desires that the job lead to other jobs and other clients. When you think about it, having dinner with a few magician friends, or checking out a collection of cups and balls, none of it fits. Chances are it’s not until he’s on his way out of town that he realizes he forgot to call a friend. When he arrives home I doubt if he’ll even remember there’s a magic club meeting the next evening. To be honest he probably never knew about it in the first place.
So, is his position that of an elitist, or that of a serious business man? I don’t know. You tell me.