I have never been one to hang out in magic shops. I’ve never known why and I’ve never given it much thought. I do know that many magic shops are social gathering spots where magicians meet to visit. It’s just never been something I’ve done. However, I recently visited a major magic shop, probably my first time in about five years, and now I might know what it is that has kept me away.
It was early in the day, and if there were to be a gathering of magicians they hadn’t yet arrived. In addition to me, there was only one other customer, a young boy probably about 12 years old. He was with his mother, but she wasn’t the one buying. She was just the one paying. I’ve never known a 12-year old magician except for myself when I was that age. I was rather curious just what it is a boy that age would buy. His purchase didn’t seem odd, probably a brightly colored box and a silk hank or two. Not really of much interest to me.
I was, though, extremely interested in a question both he and his mother asked the demonstrator behind the counter. It was a basic question; one we have all asked. He wanted to know how he could make money with his magic. Even today I often wonder if I shouldn’t be asking that question. It’s a good question. It was the answer he received that distressed me. The demonstrator was an experienced man in magic, a guy my own age, and one who I know rather well.
He went into great detail telling the kid to do the following: (Keep in mind, I doubt if this kid had ever read a magic book). The kid was told to get a business card, and that the card should have a phrase of some sort claiming experience and quality, something like Master Magician. The card should also have a name ending in “ini” a la Houdini. The kid was told how to use the advertising material of others, and pictures from magic magazines, to make a clip art brochure. He was instructed how to make a clip art letterhead using the material of others. He was told, correctly, how to get all this done at little expense at places like Kinko. He was told to emulate (nice word for copy) the routines of the magicians he had seen, for this would make his performances professional in appearance. This went on and on. You get the idea.
All in all I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I kept wondering if this type advice is given often? The boy listened closely and seemed to absorb it all. To make it even worse, everything the kid was told to do could actually be done at little expense. Moreover, the kid probably felt he was getting excellent guidance. I locked my teeth and kept my mouth shut.
After the boy and his mother left the store, when I was the only customer, I told the demonstrator that the boy’s question should have been answered with four words. Perplexed, the demonstrator asked me what possible four words could have answered the question as to how to make money with magic. I replied, “First, become a magician.”
I think I know why I’ve never been one to hang out in magic shops.