You know being a magician is difficult and requires a great deal of training, practicing in a mirror, video yourself, writing scripts and analyzing those scripts meticulously with a fine tooth comb. But and honing in on your skills as a Magician that works with animals takes it to a new extreme, since you now become an animal trainer, and animals for the most part are unpredictable. So your script that you have worked so hard on often times must be fluid and adaptable for any given situation. Basically you have to think of any situation of what could go wrong before it does and prepare a script for what to do in those situations. For Example...I work with Exotic Animals, and my parrots are a big part of my performance and they are potty trained although accidents do happen and you must be prepared for them to happen at the worst times because they will. But it's all in how you handle that situation, you must remain in control and find humor in the things that go wrong, or at least let the audience find humor in them. The Show Must Go On...you simply can not pull a Mariah Carey performance as she did on New Years Eve 2017. When you are able to "Carey" on your, showmanship shines bright and the audience will not only appreciate it but they will remember it.
There are a lot of frustrating moments when performing with animals, but there is also tremendous joy that comes from showing love and attention to an animal while spending time every day training. And when I say every day I mean that literally, especially working with Large Birds, they are basically toddlers that live to be 80-100 years old. They demand lots of attention, and require time that many people just don't have to invest. Not to mention the lifestyle changes that come with Large Birds. Some examples of this: You can't use scented candles in your home. The types of pots and pans we use can not contain any Teflon. You have to use organic cleaning supplies, so no harsh chemicals like bleach or even 409. Their respiratory systems are very sensitive and smells that we humans don't even notice can kill them almost instantly. Not to mention many people can get very sick because of having birds in their home so often you will have to have an aviary or separated living quarters for the birds to live in, and you especially should never sleep in the same room as your birds as their droppings leave particles in the air that can also lead to illness if exposed to them for long periods.
Aside from birds I also have reptiles which I perform with, Now the Snakes are by all means the show stoppers as almost everyone is afraid of snakes. But honestly they are the most docile creatures and literally take NO training what so ever to incorporate into an act. They literally go into a secret compartment and wait there until its time to be revealed. Now other reptiles are much different such as the Lizards I perform with. I have Iguana's and a Tegu Lizard and these animals to take quite a bit of work handling them frequently and making sure they are petted on, have their nails trimmed, giving them baths often, and just overall showing them lots of love. This keeps them from running away or trying to escape when its time for their big tricks in the show. Certainly no ones whats an iguana running on the floor during an event, not to mention the panic that would cause. So again that is a scenario that must be accounted for in the scripting phase of preparing for a performance.
I don't think many magicians realize the importance of scripting your shows, and not only that but really critiquing your own scripts to the point of body language and movements, it's not only what you say but how and when you say it. Timing is a critical part of my scripts. If I am going to tell joke I need to make sure it's funny obviously, but I need to make sure its the appropriate time to tell it, that I give the audience time to laugh before moving on, that I understand what my hands, or props I'm using are doing during that time so that it looks natural and doesn't come across in an awkward manner to the audience members.
I sincerely hope that before you decide to incorporate live animals into your performances that you would consider first looking into rescuing animals, as there are so many animals that need loving homes. I will tell you all of the animals I use in my performances (I currently have 27!) are rescue animals and they all have different back stories of neglect, abuse, malnourished, etc. but they are all loved, trained, and cared for every day which has led to them being happier and healthier.
One of the stories I am most proud of is my Parrot Memphis. Memphis is a Scarlet Macaw and came from a home in North Carolina. The family had just went thru a divorce and the wife was the one who cared for him. At the time his name was Ruckus or Ruck for short, he was severely overweight from a poor diet that included only nuts and bird seed. Which is essentially the equivalent of eating Krispy Kreme Donuts every day of his life for every meal. Well the wife is the one who left and when she did she left Ruck behind, he was EXTREMELY aggressive, and very cage territorial. The room he was kept in had only the cage he was in and TON of wood shaving splinters all over the floor which was from where he had chewed the baseboard around the entire room and was working on the walls wood paneling next. His Water Bowl was covered in slime, and it took us 2 hours to get him out of his cage and into a travel crate. We changed his name to Memphis as he associated the name Ruckus to his old life. Now Memphis has the coolest personality and loves his life, he goes on tons of adventures and is the main Parrot that I use in my performances. I am so proud of what all he has accomplished and it's only been just over 1 year for this transformation to take place.
Thanks for reading!
Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
Magician feels tricked by lack of revised rabbit rule
WASHINGTON — Marty Hahne’s magic tricks don’t work in Washington.
Hahne is the Springfield, Mo.-area magician who became a media sensation a few years ago, when The Washington Post wrote about an obscure federal rule that required him to have a license and disaster plan for his rabbit, Casey, the furry star of his children’s magic shows.
The reaction was wondrous — at first.
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The secretary of Agriculture quashed the disaster plan requirement immediately after the Post’s story was posted online. And by early 2014, lawmakers in Congress had directed the Agriculture Department to craft an exemption to the rules, so that Hahne and other magicians no longer had to submit to surprise federal bunny inspections and other silliness.
Nearly three years later, though, those political edicts seem like hocus pocus to Hahne, a.k.a. “Marty the Magician.”
Agriculture Department regulators haven’t finalized the exemption, so he still has to file annual paperwork for his rabbit permit, and Casey still gets regular visits from the USDA inspectors. The magician even has to send the feds his travel schedule if he and Casey go on any overnight trips.
“When I travel with my rabbit, like if I’m going to an elementary school in Kansas City … the letter of the law says I need to fax or email them my itinerary,” said Hahne, who performs at schools, libraries and birthday parties. “It’s just a real inconvenience.”
The decades-old rule was originally intended to regulate zoos and circuses, but it has expanded over the years to scoop up even small “animal exhibitors” like Hahne. The issue captured national attention when the USDA moved to expand the rule even further — requiring businesses that sell or exhibit animals to develop emergency plans for their furry friends in case of a flood, tornado or other disasters.
That proposal, since nixed, stemmed from a public outcry after thousands of animals were abandoned during Hurricane Katrina. Congress got involved then, too — passing a law requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make sure rescue plans addressed the needs of individuals with pets and service animals.
Hahne said it’s all gotten a bit out of hand.
“If you have six tigers in a show, you should be inspected,” he said. “But if you have one little bunny rabbit?”
Federal regulators have not ignored the magician’s bunny saga. But they have taken years to rewrite the rules that require smaller animal exhibitors to get a license and inspections. And the proposed rules they’ve come up with would still ensnare Hahne in their regulatory net.
On Aug. 3, more than two years after Congress called for the exemption, the Agriculture Department’s animal and plant division issued a 12-page draft proposal. Under that measure, to wiggle out of the licensing and inspection requirements, magicians and other animal exhibitors can’t make a living off that activity.
“… Persons who derive their primary source of income from exhibiting the animals, or who generate a substantial amount of money from such exhibition as determined by APHIS (the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), would not be eligible for the exclusion,” the draft rule states. The agency said Congress’ legislative directive should be interpreted to mean “the activity is not a full-time job or primary source of income.”
But Hahne is a full-time magician, and Casey is a regular part of his act. “Their definitions don’t help me out,” he said.
Now, the Agriculture Department’s proposal has Sen. Claire McCaskill hopping mad.
“I can think of no earthly reason why a magician should be subject to a burdensome registration regulation from the government for his lone rabbit,” the Missouri Democrat. “I relish the opportunity to arm-wrestle bureaucrats who dropped their common sense on their way into the office.”
McCaskill sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week blasting the agency for taking so long to enact the new rule and for failing to figure out a common-sense solution to the magician’s dilemma.
“This is a classic example of bureaucrats in Washington identifying a potential problem but using a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel to address it,” she said.
Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s animal and plant agency, said agency officials met with McCaskill last week to hear her concerns. She said USDA officials are now reviewing all the public comments submitted on the draft rule before finalizing it.
“The intent of our proposed rule is to exempt business activities that are de minimis — meaning they are of a sufficiently small size, maintain or infrequently exhibit a small number of certain common non-dangerous animals, or own household pets that are exhibited occasionally, generate less than a substantial portion of income, and reside exclusively with the owner — from federal licensure and oversight,” Cole said.
Hahne said he was encouraged that McCaskill decided to weigh in on the matter. But it might take more than a little magic to get the rule fixed.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
(Photo: Astrid Riecken, Getty Images)
As a full time magician who performs with many exotic animals this entire article really hits home and makes me very angry! I hope this can come to a reasonable solution soon as I would certainly hate to be in Marty Hahne's position.
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
There’s an old saying, I believe that WC Fields said it first: “Never work with Animals or Kids”.
So...Yep, I do both! Why? Because the payoff is great! You never know what can happen. It’s always a surprise. Having live animals in my show wasn't really something I wanted to do in the beginning. I mean I have always loved animals but I just didn't really want to take the time to train animals as I just wanted to perform magic. Well I frequently was asked if I could add animals to my show, and eventually I gave in and I got an iguana...but why an iguana? It was because I decided I wanted to be different from anyone else, most magicians have a rabbit or some doves. I wanted to have an animal that no one else would ever expect a magician to have and after doing some research on what type of animals were exotic but tame enough to be in a show and around children an iguana seemed to be the best option for me.
So once I started performing with an animal I don't really know how but I went from 1 to now having 28 exotic animals! I guess I got a little carried away but I love it. My show is so much more exciting the more animals I make appear or transform into other animals. And what's best for me is the scare factor, you wouldn't believe the reaction I get when I transform 2 doves into 2 snakes. NO ONE is expecting it and when it happens there is a moment of panic and then the reality sets in that they are real, but as I place the snakes on a willing volunteer the audience comes to realize that the snakes are are safe! This moment is the most incredible moment I have ever witnessed in my 17 years of performing. This moment affects every age group, the adults, the kids, the grandparents, and anyone else watching the show is so captivated by what they are experiencing. Being able to connect with every emotion of my audience really gives me a rush and I thrive for that as a performer!
So when you think of exotic animal magicians the biggest names that come to mind are Siegfried & Roy consisting of Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn. I think everyone knows about what happened to Roy but for anyone who may not he was injured by one of his tigers on stage which significantly changed his life and appearance forever.
Wikipedia says: Siegfried and Roy are a German-American duo of former stage magicians and entertainers who became known for their appearances with white lions and white tigers.From 1990 until Roy's severe onstage injury ended their stage careers on October 3, 2003, the duo formed Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage Resort and Casino, which was regarded as the most-visited show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Roy's injury has generally been reported as an attack by a tiger involved in the show, although the two magicians have disputed that account – saying instead that he suffered a stroke and that any injury by the tiger was secondary and accidental. The duo staged a brief comeback performance in 2010 before leaving show business for good. They now run a menagerie at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
It was a horrible thing that happened to Roy, but I'm sure he would say he would do it again as long as an audience member wouldn't get hurt. These 2 men are some of the most humble and loving human beings you will ever meet. The have some much love of all life on earth, and have devoted their lives to sharing that love with world! In 2010 Seigfreid and Roy performed their last show together, it was a tribute before the curtains would fall down forever, a sample of courage, bravery, love and especially forgiving. Seigfried and Roy you will always be in our hearts and in every magician's performance, your soul will be alive forever.
-Aaron Clark (aka. The Amazing Ziggy)
My Name is Aaron Clark and I'm know as The Amazing Ziggy. I've been a Professional Magician for over 20 years performing all over the US and internationally, but mostly for events on the east coast in the Atlanta Area.