One of the most important things to focus on when running a entertainment business is to focus on the next season. You must always be planning for 3 months ahead at the bare minimum. This applies for your advertising, for direct and indirect marketing, and many more aspects of business. You see if you are only planning for the events that you have this season, then you can get to the end of the busy time and not enough work for the next season. So it is critical to your business that even in the midst of being crazy busy to continue to advertise and promote and allow the success wave your riding on, to carry you much farther.
So how can you do this?
Well there are only 24 hours in a day and you are only one person so the best way to accomplish this goal is to build a team.
But won't that cost a lot of money??
Not if you do it right...you see you don't have to pay someone an hourly, or a salary rate which will really cut into your cash flow. What you can do is get numerous people doing a task that is time consuming for you do to but offers an big incentive for them. I suggest having interns that get paid by commission per lead that becomes a sale. I would also suggest that the commission be on a sliding scale so that the bigger the sale, the bigger the commission. Think about it like this...it doesn't cost you anything upfront and people are advertising your business for you...if they don't generate any leads then they obviously aren't doing a good job and they won't continue doing the job and your out nothing. But if they are good at the job and the get your more gigs they will work harder and you will be happier because you are working more.
One thing you do have to make sure of is that you know which intern provided which lead...I suggest making every potential client fill out a free quote form and have a mandatory field for them to tell you who they heard about your services. You will also need to make certain that any leads that are generated from those events (simply ask each client how they heard about you.) So that the intern gets continually income from bookings down the road as well. You want to keep that carrot on a string enticing those interns so they will continue to work hard for you. I also recommend having monthly sales bonuses with gift cards to the top intern.
Where can I find an intern willing to work for 100% commission?
It is much easier than you think! You see there are plenty of stay at home moms who want the freedom of being able to work from home. I prefer to pick women who have kids that are in school, so that they have a quite home during the day to be able to call clients without a screaming baby in the background. You can post ads yourself on social media, to local facebook groups, craigslist, put up some flyers around town, contact local churches, etc. The main thing is you need to stay local with your interns, first because you need to be able to meet them face to face and get to know them on a personal level, you should know that on Tuesday's Mary has to take little Suzie to her piano lessons and that is a time when you as the business owner should pickup the slack where Mary isn't available. You must be in control and stay in daily contact with your interns and not just assume that they are doing the job.
I hope these tips will help you to make your business more successful.
How do different seasons affect the magic industry?
Magicians often feel that they are in such a niche industry that the rules of business don't always apply. However, I must disagree here as you are still running a business and it is up to you to run that business appropriately. After all you are your own boss and you make the decisions, thus you set the rules for your clients. That being said it will only work about 95% of the time as you will run into some clients such as universities, hospitals, and other big organizations that refuse to pay a retainer fee, or refuse to sign a contract that has a indemnification clause, while other clients will only pay net 30 days. There are going to be a lot of issues like this that you will run into over the years, but the bottom line is you have to decide if you are willing to work for this type of client or not. Speaking for that 95%, you really don't have to worry too much about this since these clients will be perfectly happy to sign a contract and pay retainer fee for your services.
How can you make your magic business steady all year round?
First you should focus on making more income from each event that you do. This can be achieved by either up-selling the clients with more expensive packages, goody bags, or by offer back room sales for customized merchandise such as magic kits with your brand on them, DVD lessons on magic tricks you teach (or) USB is the newest trend. There are many more ideas for these I could recommend however these are the basics that recommend first and foremost. This additional income will require an upfront investment, but the investment is one that will last forever since the products do not expire and their are companies that can offer you a great Back Room Sales product for an extremely low cost and excellent ROI (return on investment). Check Out: http://custommagickits.com
Custom Magic Kits has a fantastic deal where you can get 100 Kits for $2.00 each including: Magic Wand, Spot Card, 2 card monte, cut and restore rope all with custom printed instructions with your brand and contact info on them. So for a $200 investment you can turn around and sell them for $10 each for an $800 ROI, and it will only take 20 sales to recoup the initial investment. These can also be sold as part of a goody bag, so with 1 party you could easily have 20 goody bags sold. I see this as a tremendous benefit and an easy way to have extra income.
So this doesn't make the business any less seasonal, but what this does do is provide extra income to be able to invest in advertising for the business to help you generate more gigs during the slower seasons.
How do you prevent from having issues with cashflow?
Cashflow is the tripwire over which many apparently flourishing businesses stumble at one time or another. It’s a tripwire that may not be immediately apparent. Think of it this way. You’ve worked out your monthly costs – including wages – and they are more than matched by sales. You are in profit and everything in the garden is rosy.
If you focus solely on the sales/costs equation you can find the day-to-day reality is a bit less comfortable. For instance, if you extend credit to customers by invoicing them and allowing a set number of days – say 30 or 60 – to pay then there will be a gap between a sale being secured and service delivered, and the cash from that transaction arriving in your bank account. Meanwhile bills still have to be paid.
If the money coming in, and the money going out of the business are not aligned, you can find yourself in the frustrating position of hitting or exceeding all your sales targets while finding there is little actual cash in the bank. Suddenly it’s a real struggle to pay those bills. Put simply you don’t have the liquidity you need. That’s why good cashflow management is vital to the success of a business. It is, of course, of paramount importance to keep a sharp focus on costs and sales figures but in parallel, you need to ensure you have the cash you need when you need it.
Cashflow management rules to live by:
I hope you have been able to learn something from this and it will benefit your magic business!
Goals are important, but it's even more important that you stay focused on those goals every day. You should have short and long term goals and your short term goals should be baby steps to getting you to the long term goals. Four years ago I moved from Virginia where I was a full time entertainer, because of personal life circumstances I was forced to leave that life and I moved to Georgia where I knew no one, I had zero connections, and I basically had to start over from scratch. (Not something I recommend to anyone.) I always told my wife that I could do my business anywhere in the world, not really ever thinking that I would have put that to the test. So what I have learned from this experience is that building a name for yourself is a tedious and time consuming process that takes years! I have only been performing as a full time magician here in Georgia for a year. It took 3 years for me to be able to say that I have enough clients to support my family again. Those 3 years were filled with a tremendous amount of hard work promoting my business while I also worked a full time job so I had the income to support my wife and 3 kids. My point in all of this is I had a goal to be a full time magician which was my long term goal. The baby steps to getting me to that goal took me 3 years, but I worked on it every day and I never gave up. And most importantly now that I have achieved that goal I set a new goal and I have been striving to achieve it. My long term goal now is to have my calendar full of events all booked 1 year in advance. Up and until now, even when I lived in Virginia, the majority of my events booked me within 30 days of their events, with a few bookings as far as 4-6 months out. But I never booked a single gig 1 year in advance, yet I heard many of my competitors and even friends were getting repeat clients and even new clients to hire them for the next year right after they finished their event.
So I stopped to think about it and for some of my friends in the DJ business it makes since why they are getting booked a year in advance for Weddings, Proms, and things of that nature. But how are the Magicians getting booked that far in advance? Well the answer I believe is in 2 parts, for potential clients, and for repeat clients. For potential clients, I believe it depends on the types of events that you are marketing to.
For fairs and festivals: The majority of these clients go to an expo where the meet the entertainers (this is typically done in the winter) then they start their planning for their event usually after the 1st of the year. So they are typically planning for a fall festival in January, or about 7-9 months out.
For trade shows: this is a different aspect because the convention itself isn't hiring you but rather the company that is at one of the booths. The conventions are annual conventions, so they know about 1 year in advance when the next convention will be so it's completely conceivable that they would book a magician 1 year in advance.
For schools: I believe it can be done to plan an event for 1 year in advance but in order for that to happen you would need to have proven yourself to the client that you can put on an amazing show (by them having seen a performance elsewhere, or because they are a repeat customer.)
For weddings: I believe it would only be because you wowed the bride and groom from another wedding you attended, or they have met you at a wedding convention.
For corporate: Yes without question I believe you can get them to book 1 year in advance, since the will know product launch dates, corporate outings, company picnics, grand openings, etc. It's all about getting to know the clients and having them love the service you provide, and creating an urgency in the clients mind that if they don't book you 1 year in advance then they won't be able to book you for next years event.
So what I'm getting at is that each market is going to be a little bit different but I believe that I will achieve this goal and I'm taking my baby steps every day toward achieving it.
Quote from Brian Tracy: "When your goals are clear, you come up with exactly the right answer at exactly the right time."
For many years I never considered turning down working a gig, so that I could go to a magic convention. I guess in my eyes I was so focused on providing for my family that I didn't see the benefit of spending money to hear other magicians talk. Well this year I made it my goal to attend as many as I possibly could. Well I achieved that goal and I am so thankful that I did. I have leaned so much from these conventions about so many aspects of entertainment. Not just about new magic tricks I could learn either...though I did learn a lot of new magic tricks as well. One of my favorite conventions was one I didn't even have to leave home to attend, The Magic Masters Summit. I loved how there were so many topics that I had the chance to hear discussed from some of the biggest names in magic. Topics that no one talks about but are tremendously important to the industry. Such as Wardrobe and Costumes, Video Editing, Systems for Contacting Clients, Promo Materials, and much more. At the Atlanta Harvest of Magic I was expecting to learn some amazing magic from the Eugene Burger lecture, but instead I was amazed by his teachings in a completely different matter. Instead of teaching something that is overly complex or requires a tremendous amount of time to practice. He brought out the simplest magic tricks you could think of and performed them in a unique way that was mind blowing. Yes, I knew how the tricks were done because I learned them when I was in elementary school, but the genius part is that there is a concept I hadn't thought of before from his lesson. That concept is that a layman doesn't know what your about to perform, nor the amount of time you have spent learning it, they just watch you perform something and wait to be amazed. So of the simplest tricks in magic performed masterfully are still amazing tricks. You know there are great magicians who have spent a lifetime learning slight of hand, and they do it beautifully. But when you factor in that your audience isn't typically a room full of magicians, you come to realize that your magic needs to be focused on the type of audience you perform for. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle I had never really applied to my show before, and after hearing that lecture I immediately applied and the results were incredible. I couldn't believe I was able to mystify my audience with simple magic. With one specific routine, I took Eugene's idea of a shot glass produced from a paper bag and put my own spin on it by building a routine that involved using a spectator borrowed phone, crushing it inside a paper bag, and then restoring it inside of a balloon which they blew up. I took several basic ideas and combined them into a routine that caught the audience as well as the spectator off guard.
Something else that I loved that Eugene said was that it's important to turn down clients and choose the right clients that will better your career. Not everyone who contacts you for an event deserves to have you perform for them. Bad clients and bad gigs do exist, but more importantly some gigs are better than others, and it's critical when talking to clients to ask them the right questions to know if you should do the gig yourself, or if it's better to refer someone else. Knowing when to say No to a client isn't an easy task, especially when money is the motivation. It can be extremely difficult turning down a gig not knowing if another one will come along. But you have to have faith that the Lord above will provide, and he will test you. So these gigs may just be a test to see if you are willing and able to say No. Its not always about the money, sometimes its simply more important that one day is spent with your family and God is wanting you to spend that time wisely. Don't look at it as a challenge to find another gig elsewhere, but rather an opportunity to seize the day. Thank you Eugene for this lecture and advice.
(The Amazing Ziggy)
A magician certainly knows that it is better to give than to receive. I say this because magicians receive the knowledge of how an illusion to perform an illusion just one time, and then the magician spends the rest of his/her life sharing that magic with as many people as possible. Giving the joy of magic becomes an addiction, and for that matter as long as you raise your kids to be into magic they won't have the money to buy drugs! Magic is an expensive hobby, but its is also a very lucrative career if you also understand one very important rule. Magic as a career is a business and must be treated as such. If your are professional magician and your treat it as a hobby then you will never reach your true potential. This is why I am so glad that I decided to get a business management degree from Virginia Tech, and I minored in entrepreneurship. It has really helped me to better understand the ins and outs of how to manage a business successfully. Which I have done for 20 years (patting myself on the back.) I won't say that is has always been easy, many times it was very difficult, but regardless I am still moving forward, and I am happier now than I have ever been.
One of the best moments in my college career that I remember like it was yesterday was my ability to stand in front of a room of hundreds of people without the slightest insecurity or fear of stage fright. This is because at a young age I started performing magic in front of people and it gave me the confidence to be able to go on stage without having my hands tremble, or my voice cracking. So I encourage you to inspire others to consider taking the time to learn magic as it will give you social skills that can become very valuable in your life, not to mention it is also a great ice breaker for awkward situations, or when meeting new people. It has also helped me on many occasions acquire a job as I wowed the interviewer with a magic trick which put me at the top of their list. This is a skill that employers value, you will be a people person, if you can do magic that must also mean you are great at following directions, reading people, analyzing situations, being aware of your surroundings, etc. All these are skills that magic will help you with in life. So what are you waiting for? You need to visit a magic shop, or go online and order a some beginners magic tricks to get you started and on your way.
I will tell you that if you are truly interested in getting into magic I highly recommend a kickstarter project titled: How to be a magician, by a group of magicians called ellusionists. They have created a modern day set of magic tricks that will fast track your way into blowing peoples minds with magic and sleight of hand.
So there is always that one kid or sometimes adult in the audience that offers a spoiler alert for everyone else. People at the party hate this, just as much as the magician does, but I want to give a different perspective. Don't get me wrong...it's really annoying when someone ruins the trick for you. It's no different than someone telling you who won the football game before you've had a chance to watch it, or what happens on the next episode of your favorite TV Show you haven't watched yet. Magicians are forced to deal with this on a frequent basis because lets face it, with access to the internet at their finger tips these days many of the tricks we magicians are doing have been revealed on YouTube, or the masked magician has given away the secret. But for me the issue isn't that they know how its done, but rather that they have to broadcast it to the rest of the audience, while it's happening live.
So as I said I want to defend the spoilers out there, and it is because as a young boy I distinctly remember my mother hiring a magician for my 8th birthday party, and I was that annoying kid! I loved magic so much and I was definitely the kid that thought he knew it all. I guess I'm getting paid back now, considering I have made magic my career. I remember that magician at my birthday party did a coin vanish and I saw the move and called him out on it in front of all my friends as I yelled out "it's under you watch." And sure enough he takes off the watch and there it is...Nope he wasn't fooling me! I felt like I was on cloud 9 because I figured out his trick. But I never really thought about how the rest of my friends felt who attended my party. How did they feel about me ruining the show for them? I mean after all it was my party so I probably wouldn't have really cared at the time, but that just goes to show I was a spoiled little brat I guess. Now as an adult I can only imagine how my mother must have felt, or how the magician at my party felt for having so many tricks ruined for him. He probably thought that was the worst show he's ever done, but little did he know that the magic he did just added fuel to the fire for my desire to learn more and more about magic.
So for any magicians reading this I encourage you to step up your game, and make your sleight of hand better because of those magic spoilers out there. The bottom line is you need to anticipate someone spoiling a trick, plan for failure, and be witty and clever enough in the spur of the moment to prove you are better than them! This will help you win over your audience and it adds improvisational humor to your performance which makes for a better show.
The most important thing I hope you take away from this is that you need to realize how every time you perform you are also inspiring someone in that audience. someone that may decide when they grow up to pursue a career as a magician. The art of magic is a dying art and it can only be kept alive if we magicians are working to inspire the youth that are watching us perform. I truly wish I could go back and shake that magicians hand from my 8th birthday party, so I could thank him for encouraging me. His magic may not have been that hard for an 8 year old to figure out, but it was certainly entertaining enough to help shape the type of performer that I wanted to become.
Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
Hey Magicians you won't believe these deals! Lots of excellent closeup magic trick, stage magic tricks and illusions, and lots of dove magic too!
Here's a list of all the items I am selling...
DJ Equipment for sale:
KV2audio 12" Subwoofer - $800 *used only for 2 events
Magic & Illusions for sale:
2 packs of ignite - $10 *new
Real Treasure Chest - $150 *used
Gospel Card Magic - King of hearts - $10 *new (I have 2)
Jumbo Symbol Cards - $15 * new
4 packs Flaming Tissue Prediction - $10 *new
Fortune Teller Crystal Ball $10 *new
3 Jesus Silks - $17 * new
Wakeling Table instructions - $20 *new
Pineapple Surprise - $12 *new
Siberian Chain Escape - $20 *new
Complete course in Magic book - $15 *new
Dove Magic Book - $20 *new
Multiplying Candles - $23 - new
Pirate Ship dove load large silk - $20 *new
Sam the bell hop instructions - $7 (I have lots)
Floating match x8 - $2 each *new
5 Wooden Juggling Balls - $25 *used
Magic Stick - $2 *new
5 different Amazing Card Routines $10 each (ask for details)
Water from heaven bowls - $30 - *new
30 orange/white mouth coils $7/10 pack *new
Metal Appearing cane $20 *new
Color change wand $5 *used
Amazing sharpie by James Paul $30 red *new
Metal Lotta Bowl $25 *used
Vanishing Cane $10 *new
Zombie Ball $15 *used
Harbin Style King of Spades Table $80 *new
Nest of boxes $100 *used
Dove take apart vanish $50 *new
Rabbit vanish and reappear $50 *used
Doves appearance Cage $75 *used
Silk to dove appearance cage $75 *used
Needle thru balloon - $10 *used
Card thru sword plastic version - $30 *used
Knife arm cutting with blood effect $30 *new
Let me know if you're interested in anything listed and I'll send photos.
Aaron Clark (aka. Ziggy)
Hubpages article about The Great Lafayette:
Sigmund Neuberger was born in Munich in 1871 and, just as with the trade he worked in, details of his life are a bit of a mystery. His family emigrated to the United States in 1889 where he became a vaudeville entertainer with a sharp shooting bow-and-arrow act. He also worked with a quick-change artist and studied his techniques that he later made part of his own performances.
From Neuberger to Lafayette
By the late 1890s, he was in Britain and billing himself as “The Great Lafayette.”
He had watched a show put on by the magician Chung Ling Soo, whose real name was William Ellsworth Robinson of New York City.
Soo’s performance was billed as “The World’s Greatest Magician, in a Performance of Oriental Splendor and Weird Mysticism” and it inspired Neuberger to become a grand illusionist. He created many tricks in which he would appear, disappear, and reappear elsewhere in a theater. His signature illusion was called the Lion’s Bride. It was a 25-minute drama involving a beautiful female assistant, a horse, a real lion, and several actors.
The dramatic climax came as Lafayette jumped off his horse just as the woman was about to be thrown into the cage with the lion and assumed the bride’s character complete with costume. As Lafayette, wearing a veil, was about to be devoured by the big cat the animal shed its skin to reveal the illusionist himself where moments before a real lion had been.
The staging of this illusion was so convincing that many of those watching believed they had witnessed real magic.
Tricks such as this left audiences stunned and The Great Lafayette was booked for engagements ten years in advance. At the height of his fame he was making the equivalent of $3 million a year in today’s money.
An Illusionist’s Best Friend
Lafayette was a bit of a loner, with few friends. In the late 19th century, as he was struggling to make a name for himself in the music halls he palled up with another impoverished magician called Erik Weisz.
Weisz gave Lafayette a dog for companionship. Lafayette called the animal Beauty and became absolutely devoted to her. One evening, she broke loose from her handlers in the wings and ran on stage. The audience thought it was part of the act and Lafayette was quick to see the potential. Beauty was taught to do tricks that became part of The Great Lafayette’s routine.
As Lafayette began to earn vast amounts of money he lavished every luxury on Beauty. She wore a diamond-studded collar, stayed in the best rooms in top hotels where she slept on velvet cushions, and ate at the finest restaurants.
He had a plaque put on the outside of his London home that must have been disconcerting to visitors. It read “The more I see of people, the more I love my dog.” Inside, there was another notice that gave visitors advice on how to comport themselves: “You may eat my food, you may command my servants, but you must respect my dog.”
Erik Weisz went on to fame and fortune himself under the stage name Harry Houdini.
The Great Lafayette’s Last Performance
Lafayette was booked for a two-week run at the Empire Palace Theatre in Edinburgh in May 1911. The shows were sold out in a venue that held 3,000. But, four days into the run Beauty died; a combination of a diet too rich for a dog and age.
Lafayette was devastated by the loss of his best friend. But, the show must go on. His biographer, Arthur Setterington, wrote “He was shattered by her death and performed each evening with his shoulders shaking with grief. He announced that his own death could not be far away.” A prophetic utterance.
The evening performance on May 9, 1911 was coming to its triumphant close. Lafayette was about to put on the lion costume when an oriental lantern set fire to some drapery. The flames spread quickly and the fire curtain was lowered. The audience evacuated safely, but those backstage were not so lucky and ten perished. Lafayette did get out but went back into the building to try and save his horse.
The next day, charred remains wearing a Turkish costume were found in the wreckage next to a dead horse. Arrangements were made for Lafayette's cremation and burial alongside his beloved Beauty. But, the illusionist had one final trick up his sleeve. His lawyer arrived from London and wanted to know why Lafayette’s rings were not on his body.
Three days later, a workman poking through the rubble found a body with rings on its hands. It was identified as Lafayette and the earlier body turned out to be one of the doubles used in his show.
The burial as previously arranged went ahead.
Harry Houdini is still famous today, but almost nobody has heard of The Great Lafayette. This probably has to do with the fact that Houdini lived into the beginnings of the early mass media of film and radio and he learned how to exploit it, while Lafayette was aloof and reclusive.
Chung Ling Soo, who inspired The Great Lafayette, was an occasional performer of the startling bullet-catching trick.
A member of the audience selects a bullet, marks it, and loads it into the gun. An assistant then fires the gun and the magician spits out the bullet he has caught between his teeth.
The trick works because the gun is modified to fire a blank while the marked bullet is switched by sleight of hand.
On the night of March 23, 1918, Chung Ling Soo was coming to the end of his show at the Wood Green Empire in north London. On this evening he decided to end his act with the bullet-catching trick. The command to fire was given and two shots were fired. The gun had malfunctioned and, in addition to discharging the fake bullet, had also discharged a real one. Chung Ling Soo was hit in the lung and died the following day in hospital.
For very sound reasons, many illusionists believe the bullet-catching trick to be cursed.
“The Magician whose Greatest Illusion was Death.” The Scotsman, September 8, 2005.
“The Dead Magician’s Final Trick.” Debra Kelly, Knowledge Nuts, October 16, 2014.
“The World’s most Famous, Forgotten Illusionist.” Ian Robertson, The Heretic Magazine, July 4, 2015.
“How not to Catch a Bullet.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, June 9, 2006.
Using a pack of plastic playing cards Paul Daniels takes a borrowed, lit cigarette is held against the back of one of the cards. The cigarette is then pushed slowly through the card-and it really melts through! From the other side of card the cigarette is completely pulled out! An adhesive sticker is then placed over the hole to "fix the damage." Removing the sticker, the card is seen by all to be totally restored!Naturally, the response from the spectators is to "do it again!" And you can, once again pushing the lit cigarette through the same card and then leaving the card intact and handing it out for examination!
Something every magician hates to hear when performing is: Do it again!
Paul Daniels came up with a great routine to do exactly that...so with this trick you can perform it a 2nd time and the spectator will be blown away both times, and the 2nd time you are actually allowing the spectator to do the work!
Paul Daniels recently passed away on March 17, 2016 from a brain tumor, he will always be remembered as a great magician that inspired so many and he will certainly be missed in the magic community.
Paul Daniels, who has died aged 77, was the most famous British magician of the past half-century. From an extremely modest background he rose by professional brilliance and sheer force of personality to become one of television’s leading figures in the 1980s. A small man of indefatigable cheeriness, he was a straightforward but astonishingly skilful performer who also displayed a highly developed flair for comedy; the combination of magic and witty chat took him to the pinnacle of showbusiness and earned him a fortune.
The producer of BBC1’s The Paul Daniels Magic Show in the 1980s, John Fisher, said: “Having worked with him on close to a hundred shows, I never ceased to be amazed at his capacity for mastering new and often technically complex material week after week, a challenge non-existent in the lives of the old masters of magic on the halls. Moreover, he displayed an instinctive ability to entertain in a way few of the great hocus-pocus giants have matched.”
He was born Newton Edward Daniels in South Bank, a small industrial town between Middlesbrough and Redcar in North Yorkshire, and for most of his early life was called Ted by family and friends. His mother was Nancy (née Lloyd) and his father Handel Newton Daniels, known as Hughie, who was a cinema projectionist.
Daniels often described a poor but warm childhood, filled with laughter, in a little terraced house with a lavatory in the back yard. “The one big thing I remember about Christmases then is that it was the only time of the year that we ate a chicken,” he wrote in his autobiography, Under No Illusion (2000).
When he was 11 he won a scholarship to the Sir William Turner grammar school in Redcar, and it was around this time that he started to become interested in magical tricks after finding an old book at a friend’s house. Daniels had discovered the perfect way to distract bullies and gain social acceptance. “This new art was an attractive antidote to my shyness,” he wrote, “and the insecure part of me had found a bridge to enable me to communicate with people in a way that I would not have found possible by any other means”.
As a teenager he saw the famous Australian conjuror The Great Levante at a local theatre, and he made his own first appearance as a magician before a smaller audience at a Normanby Road Methodist Chapel Youth Club show when he was 14. He wanted to be a professional from childhood, but this seemed a remote possibility, so when he left school he went to work for Eston Urban borough council as a junior clerk, while helping his father as a trainee projectionist in the evenings.
Called up for national service in the army when he was 18, he served in Hong Kong and, on the journey there, was entranced by a gulli-gulli man, an eastern magician, who came aboard at Suez. This encounter provided more material for the shows he put on for his fellow soldiers. After returning to his job at the council offices in 1959, he developed his magic skills at local clubs. Capitalising on the quick-witted ability to make people laugh while he amazed them, he also formed a comedy act with his brother Trevor. It was in this period that he came up with the catchphrase for which he later became famous, used initially to quell a drunken heckler: “You’ll like this ... not a lot, but you’ll like it.”
Daniels left the council and ran his own grocery business, for a time from a mobile van, while in the evenings touring his magic act with his wife Jacqueline (née Skipworth), whom he married in 1960, as The Eldanis. His professional breakthrough came in 1969, when he was offered a summer season at Newquay.
He made his first television appearance on ITV’s Opportunity Knocks in 1970 and, after extensive stage touring, was given a regular slot on Granada’s The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, hosted by Colin Crompton and Bernard Manning, in 1974. The following year he was on The David Nixon Show, on Thames TV, prompting Clive James to comment in The Observer: “One of [the] guests was a very droll ‘unusualist’ called Paul Daniels, of whom one hopes to see more.”
And we did, of course. ITV gave him his own series, Paul Daniels’ Blackpool Bonanza, in 1978 and he made his first series for the BBC, For My Next Trick, the same year. This led to The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran on BBC1 from 1979 to 1994 and made him a household name.
Some of the tricks he performed were astounding – recreating the stunts of Houdini, for example, or making a television camera in a crate disappear while transmitting what the camera is seeing in real time. In all these performances he employed old-fashioned conjuring techniques, never resorting to using television technology to cheat or enhance illusions. He had a strict moral code on such matters and had strong feelings about the new generation of TV wonder-workers, much of whose impact is achieved by preparations carried out by researchers ahead of the recording.
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Paul Daniels and his professional and personal partner Debbie McGee in 1988. Photograph: Peter Lomas/Rex/ShutterstockBy now divorced from Jacqueline, with whom he had three sons, Daniels was the professional and personal partner of a former ballet dancer, Debbie McGee, always introduced as “the lovely Debbie McGee”, whose role as his assistant became a major feature of the act. The couple had been together for nearly 10 years when they married in 1988.
Daniels starred in It’s Magic at the Prince of Wales theatre from 1980 to 1982, London’s longest-running such show. In this newspaper Michael Billington wrote: “What makes him different from other magicians is his ceaseless sleight-of-tongue.”
He hosted several non-magic television series in the 1980s and 90s, including three BBC1 quizzes: Odd One Out, Every Second Counts and Wipeout. When the new breed of slick and toned TV magicians creating fantastical spectaculars, or – at the opposite end of the spectrum – televised street conjurors emerged in the mid-1990s, the rumpled and bewigged Daniels’s cosy banter seemed old-fashioned, and he went back to touring live shows with his wife while also working behind the scenes designing illusions for West End shows such as Phantom of the Opera, Cats, English National Ballet’s The Nutcracker and the film Return to Oz. He and Debbie did appear on Channel 5’s The Farm (2004), however, and ITV’s The X Factor: Battle of the Stars (2006) and Wife Swap (2007).
In late 2015, shortly before being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, Daniels seemed content with his reduced status: “I’ve got so much going at the moment. We took this little tour out ... it all fits into the back of my estate car and that includes bits of scenery and props.”
He had travelled some distance from his glory days in the 1980s, but the admiring comment of the best-loved comedy magician of them all, Tommy Cooper, made when Daniels first burst on to the scene in the 1970s, still held true: “Paul Daniels is to magic what Muhammad Ali is to boxing.”
He is survived by Debbie and the sons from his first marriage, Martin, Paul and Gary.
• Paul Daniels (Newton Edward Daniels), magician and television entertainer, born 6 April 1938; died 17 March 2016
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
Paul Daniels Magic Show - Cigarette Through Playing Card Close Up Trick BBC
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.