Recently I was performing at On The Border which is a restaurant chain in the Atlanta area. I was performing closeup magic and balloon art for a table, and I had just wowed them with magic and proceeded to make the little girl a butterfly balloon as per her requests. As I start twisting the balloons 2 tables down a young man about 15 years old stands up and is freaking out to which his mother says he is autistic and asks me to stop making balloons, which I did. I explained to her I work with autistic children very often and I can help in this situation with magic. To which the boy gets very excited and hugs me. I had a connection moment with him and he was calm and wanting me to show him magic...but his mother wouldn't have any part of it, she dragged him outside and waited until I was out of their section to bring him back inside. This had such a great potential to be a moment of pure joy for him, which I find so often with any one who has autism, all ranges of the spectrum. Children and adults faces light up seeing me perform magic for them. These people face life every day with autism being over stimulated by sights and sounds in their environment, and I can completely understand how the sound of twisting balloons is like nails on a chalkboard to them. But what I can't understand his how this over protective mom could not see to joy and excitement in her sons face, and how the situation was resolved. She was selfish at that moment when she took him outside and didn't allow him to see the magic trick I wanted to show him, and more importantly that he wanted to see. All she cared about was not being the center of attention any longer in a crowded restaurant, but all she did was make herself look worse. I felt so bad for him and I pray his mother can some day realize that those moments don't have to always be a negative moment and that after 15 or so years of dealing with them she should know that by now. Her reaction I am sure was so routine that I don't think she has ever tied anything else to resolve that type situation, so she didn't believe me that it works...even though he clearly had calmed down and was ready to see some magic!
Here is a blog post from the Autism Speaks website from 2014 about a magician named Cody Comet who performs magic for people living on the spectrum:
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
If you have been around anyone vaguely interested in marketing, you have probably heard the saying “Sell the Sizzle NOT the Steak”. This phrase was coined by Elmer Wheeler in the mid 1920's, when Wheeler urged salespeople to focus on the experience around a product being sold, rather than simply on the object itself. It means appealing to the senses and emotions of the buyer, with the assumption that this is what motivates most people to make a purchase. Wheeler says it best in this YouTube Video:
Another form of this expression is “Sell the Benefits NOT the Features”. Or perhaps you have heard it put like this, “Sell People What They Want, NOT What They Need”.
Anyway you say it, it all comes down to the simple fact that people “Buy on Emotion and Justify Their Purchases Using Facts“.
As a magician / small business owner I have to work very hard at knowing when to sell the sizzle and when to sell the steak. This really is where an outsider, such as someone who specializes in marketing, can be of great help. Someone who is not infected with the “we know what went into to making this” virus.
Face it, people don’t care how long you have struggled, how many hours in front of a mirror you have practiced that card trick, slight of hand, card manipulation, coin vanish, etc. People also don't care how much money you have invested into your performance, your props, costumes, illusions, or rehearsals with your crew. They also don't care how many years of your life it took to bring your talent to fruition. Don’t waste valuable attention time by trying to sell someone on these things, because THEY DON'T CARE only you do! So Ask yourself one thing and one thing only, and this one thing is absolutely critical...From the customer’s point of view ask this question – “What is in it for ME?“.
What can your client get from you that they can't get from every other magician? What sets you apart? Why choose you?
For myself I offer specific theme magic shows that are unique and unlike anyone else not just in my area but anywhere! I try to combine elements of different art forms that enhance my routine and I can design an entire act around that one theme. For example I do a bubble theme magic show which incorporates Bubbles and Magic that can be done either using bubbles, science with bubbles, or illusions that make you think what I am doing involves bubbles and then there is an element of surprise when they find out the bubble has transformed into a real object. I even perform animal appearances from within bubbles...I incorporate over an hour of captivating magic and illusions all around that theme and the audience loves the show! So I have found a way to take my audience on an entire bubble journey filled with laughter and excitement.
So this is just one example of how I set myself apart from everyone else, and this is also how I am able to charge a fee higher than my competitors and the client doesn't bat and eyelash about it because they see the value or to put in into perspective, they understand "What's in it for me?"
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
What's more important a client being satisfied, or staying true to yourself?
Has a client ever requested for you to do something you feel is not appropriate?
For example: Recently I was asked to perform magic for a baby shower, I explained what all it would include and the client booked my services. Well the day of the event I come to find out more info about what the client truly wanted and expected of me. They wanted someone to babysit the kids and keep them entertained while the adults enjoyed the baby shower. Well here is where I stuck to my guns and it paid off...but potentially could have made the client cancel but considering that the party was the same day it was doubtful.
I explained to the client that I am not a babysitter, I am a professional magician and that I am not responsible for what those kids do at the event. My job is the entertain them not to monitor them, nor discipline them for misbehaving. I told the client that for every 10 kids there must be one adult to supervise the kids or I wasn't going to perform at the event.
I put my foot down and it turns out that the event went off without a hitch as the parents rotated in shifts so there was always an adult present and everyone had a blast.
So I wonder what unusual situation has a client requested you to take part in? And did you do it or did you tell the client No?
At some point you have to ask yourself is it more important to make the client happy so you can get paid? Or is your reputation, ethics, and your character what's most important?
You are your own boss, so you make the decisions, and I hope that you choose to stay true to yourself and tell the client they are out of line to even consider asking you to do something unethical or that could give you a bad reputation.
Andy Stanley I feel said it best at 18:00 minutes into his sermon (video below) when he preached about the apostle Paul writing letters in the "meantime" while waiting in prison he wrote 4 books of the bible which were meant only to be letters to be delivered to the churches he had planted along the Mediterranean. But those letters became the most widely read literature in the world, which is amazing considering he only wrote one copy!
So Andy Stanley is talking about adversity and decision making, he says: "You have no idea what, or who hangs in the balance when you decide to remain faithful, when everything around you says be faithless. You have no idea what God might be up to thru your faithfulness. When everything around you says there's no point in being ethical, there's nothing point in being moral, there's no point in being faithful, there's no point in staying, there's no point in telling the truth, there's no point in doing it the way that it ought to be done, there's no point in being obedient, there's no point in being submissive, there's no point in saying yes to God, because there is no win. You're just stuck, you're just living for some fantasy out there, and you have no idea what hangs in the balance. And the problem is, and the tragedy is, and the challenge is... You'll never know, unless you're willing to remain faithful in the midst of adversity. And what you have lived long enough to have already learned is simply this, that often times it is within the context of adversity, that God does his most amazing things in us, and thru us, and in the world."
And I couldn't agree more that when you stay true to yourself you may be blessing others, thru your character which can inspire someone else in their decision making. So don't be afraid to say no, and when you feel your backed into a corner stop and pray and God will give you an answer.
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
In my 17 years of performing magic I have come across many talented magicians but there is one that really went out of his way to team up with my services in a big way in which I am so humbled by and grateful for the opportunity he presented me with, even if it didn't go as we had planned the fact that he trusted me proves how incredible this man is. I'm speaking of Mark Fuller who is a magician in Roanoke, VA.
I got to know Mark because we frequently performed at the same events and got acquainted and became friends. Mark for many years ran a magic shop in Towers Mall which I distinctly remember going to as a child where I remember Mark would teach me and my grand father slight of hand magic, card tricks, coin tricks, rope tricks, and all of this really help peak my interest in magic. Well I grew up and became a magician and I would like to think that certainly had a lot to do with Mark owning that magic shop. I was so sad when he had to shut it down due to low traffic thru the mall and so many online magic shops that a store front didn't seem feasible.
So after about 12 years in the magic business myself I decided I wanted to open a store front for my business in Roanoke, Va. I wanted a place where people could come and have parties and hire my entertainment, and I wanted a magic shop as part of it as well. The problem was I invested my life savings into renovating the store that we had chosen on Williamson Rd. in Roanoke, VA. So I contacted Mark because I knew he used to run a magic shop and thought he could have so good advice. It wasn't but a few minutes into our conversation before he offered to fill my store front with his merchandise that he still had from his previous store. This was a tremendous blessing and I couldn't believe my dream on having a store front was coming true.
Sadly after 3 months I was forced to close the store, due to personal issues which lead to moving to Georgia. I was so disappointed that things didn't work out with the store, but I will never forget the generosity that Mark has. I can't thank Mark enough for all he has done to influence my career and I pray that God will continue to Bless Mark and his family.
So there is one thing that I learned from Mark that I didn't take into account how important it is to being a profitable magician and I actually just learned this again from the magic masters summit from Brad Ross. And I am kicking myself for not doing this years ago when Mark told me about it! I'm referring to Back Room Sales, so see Mark always sells magic wands, magic color books, magic kits, etc. at his shows. Well Brad Ross taught me how to take this to a whole new level and he has an entire course called the It Factor that really dives in much deeper to teaching you how to go from the Average Joe Magician to a Celebrity Magician, just as he himself has done. Brad Ross also does a fantastic job coaching magicians to be all that they can be.
Here is what Brad has to say about that:
As a Business Coach my goal is to help you uncover your true potential and lead a life that is worth celebrating. Helping you make radical improvements in your life is my focus. My Coaching Program is a one-on-one forum to develop greater results in your business & your life.
You will gain insight into your strengths and limitations, then build on that newfound knowledge to advance your business and personal life to the next level of success.
Click here for more info: http://www.bradcoachme.com
Here's a little more info about Mark Fuller and his Magic show:
Magic shows that are always entertaining so you the host, can do the things you need to do.
Take the worry out of your entertainment call Mark Fuller!
Mark Fuller provides the solution to your entertainment needs, whether it's a birthday party, festival, or company event, whether it's for adults or children or both. Mark has the experience and the know how to make your event a truly magical experience. He can provide a full magic show, or closeup magic that happens in the spectator's hand. You can count on Mark's humor and presentations to always be appropriate, entertaining, and fun.
Not only has mark been doing magic shows for 20 years but he has been studying the art and striving to improve his shows for every one of those years, so that you will get the best magic show possible for the event you have planned.
Magicians that team up and work together will have twice the work rather than competing against one another and more frequently pushing clients away because of the negative and hurtful comments that are said about each other. I believe that we should never talk bad about our competition! EVER! First of all this just makes you look bad to the client by belittling your peers. Second, it's more important to build yourself up than it is to tear down someone else. Even if what your saying is 100% fact and true, it is still not something to tell your clients, the proof is in the pudding as they say. So, if that person isn't doing a good job and has a bad reputation, then they won't be around very long anyway. Be true to yourself, remain humble, give glory to God and praise Him for your blessing and you will be rewarded.
If we all come together as a team we can then profit from one another. If I have a client that wants a magician and I'm not available, wouldn't it be better for me to book one of my fellow magicians and profit 20% on them. Plus I retaining that clients info for future bookings, rather than losing the client all together or just referring them to another magician? I mean this is a business we are in, and I assume we all do this because we want to make money and not just because we enjoy performing magic. Though I suppose, If magic is your hobby this wouldn't apply to you. I'm mainly speaking here to working professional magicians. The other benefit of teaming up is you create closer connections with other magicians and you can learn from each other, sharing is caring after all.
So what I'm getting at here In the words of Rodney King: "Can't We All Just Get Along?" We all need to work together, and let go of the competition mentality. There is more than enough work for us all, it is up to you to determine your reputation. So you can either give your clients a reason to brag about hiring you and how great the experience was, or you can belittle your competition and then your arrogance and bad attitude will show thru and your clients will have that to tell their friends, families, and anyone on social media.
Many Magicians including myself offer Team Building Workshops and Seminars for corporate events where we use magic and mentalism in ways that excite and encourage the corporate professionals to work together to achieve a common goal. I hosts and present an enjoyable fun team-building workshop where the delegates can learn exciting new skills that include magic tricks. My clients use my services as team building magician so this it can add a different, intriguing and fun angle to their day.
A typical team building event teaches the delegates some easy to do but impressive magic tricks that can be performed after the event has ended, for both family or business colleagues and associates.
The concept is for participants to work together in small teams to learn these magic tricks and mind techniques. Then with their newly acquired skills they perform to the whole group in an end of event magic show, similar to the TV Show Wizard Wars. Wizard Wars inspires this principal of comradery that I have been referring to. And wouldn't you know it Wizard Wars was founded because of 2 magicians Rick Lax & Justin Flom who came together with an idea of doing magic with every day objects, the idea spawned some really ingenious magic and really made magicians put the creativity to the test. Which is exactly why I use this in my corporate magic team building workshops.
The teams are encouraged to come up with their own presentations for the tricks so challenging their creative thinking, communication, presentation and problem solving showcasing their own unique abilities and talents. The show performed by selected delegates creates a great atmosphere where all involved are rooting for their colleagues and willing them to succeed.
Here is what Wikipedia tells us about Wizard Wars:
Wizard Wars is a reality competition show in which teams of magicians create and perform original magic routines before a live studio audience. Their acts are judged on creativity, deception, and showmanship. Vegas headliners Penn & Teller head up the judging panel, alongside magic critic Christen Gerhart and World Champion of Magic Jason Latimer. Wizard Wars also features four "home team" magicians—the "Wizards"—who return every week to take on new teams of "challengers." Wizards include street magician Justin Flom, stage illusionist David Shimshi, mentalist Angela Funovits, and con man Gregory Wilson. The series premiered August 19, 2014
Wizard Wars was created in 2012 by Vegas-based magic consultant Rick Lax and street magician Justin Flom. Flom filmed the original Wizard Wars pilot in Lax's apartment, on a $15 budget. The competing magicians created routines with placemats, beach balls, colored erasers and fake oranges. Flom's YouTube video, featured on Wired.com and BoingBoing.com, caught the eye of production company A. Smith & Co., who worked with Lax and Flom to sell the show to the Syfy network. Flom now stars in the show as a "Wizard"; Lax works behind the scene as a producer and magic consultant.
Season 1 Wizard Angela Funovits creating in the 'Magic Workshop.' Also pictured: Series creator Rick Lax (far left) and Wizard/series originator Justin Flom (middle).Notable magicians appearing on Wizard Wars include Las Vegas headliners Murray SawChuck, Tommy Wind, Nathan Burton, Greg Dow, America's Got Talent's Leon Etienne (Season 8), and Naathan Phan.
Over a million people watched the Wizard Wars series premiere. The episode highlighted Canadian illusionists Chris Funk and Ekaterina, who ended up losing the "Wizard War" to "Wizards" Gregory Wilson and Justin Flom.
Speaking on behalf of Flom and himself, Lax said this of the Internet-to-series premier journey: “The most unlikely part of the YouTube-video-to-Syfy-show transition was that the original Wizard Wars vision stayed in shape...Everyone told me, ‘Hollywood is going to tear your idea apart,’ but that didn’t happen. Only thing that happened was the magic got bigger and better.”
Wizard Wars maintained "very solid ratings" and was renewed for another six episodes. In these six episodes ("Season 1.5") former Challenger Billy Kidd joins the cast as a full-fledged Wizard.
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
Zander's 1st of 3 Surgeries:
Ziggy's work for Zander -Thursday, December 7, 2006
Zander's 2nd Surgery:
The Turning Point - Saturday, February 24, 2007 - Front Page of the Roanoke Times
It was about 6:30 a.m. when Aaron and Sheena Clark arrived at the University of Virginia Health System.
He led the way, lugging a bag of drinks and snacks, and another bag stuffed with DVDs and a DVD player. She followed with their baby boy, Zander, in a baby carrier.
Since he was born, Zander Clark has been rushed to the hospital, drugged and cut open so doctors could work on his malformed heart.
He's spent weeks in recovery, red-faced and wailing from the pain.
His parents hope that with his most recent surgery to correct hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a heart defect, 6-month-old Zander will begin to have a more normal life.
"This is like the turning point," Aaron Clark said as he stood in his son's hospital room Jan. 16.
After the operation, Zander shouldn't have to have another operation for at least a year or two. After that, he isn't expected to have to undergo another surgery related to the defect for years.
Sheena Clark kissed Zander, who was sleeping in her arms, before he was prepped for surgery.
"I'm going to wake you up now, monster," Sheena Clark cooed. "I sure do love you."
A long wait
With one hand, Aaron Clark shuffled a deck of playing cards and paced around.
He sat, spread the cards out on a table and collected them again.
"Let's play cards," he said as he stood up. It was almost 1 p.m., and the couple had been in the waiting room since about 7 that morning.
When Zander's operation was over, Dr. Benjamin Peeler would be down to let them know how things went. Then Aaron and Sheena Clark would get to see Zander.
Zander was born Aug. 17 with HLHS, a potentially deadly defect in which most of the structures of the left side of the heart are not fully formed, hindering the heart's ability to effectively pump blood through the body.
The Clarks, residents of Salem, were profiled in The Roanoke Times' Neighbors section a few months after Zander's birth and first surgery.
The cause of HLHS is still unknown and not curable. The defect can, however, be treated with a series of three surgeries at different points in the baby's life.
The first operation is performed shortly after birth. The right ventricle is made to pump blood into the entire body instead of to the lungs, which it is designed to do. With the second and third surgeries, a connection is created in the heart, allowing only oxygenated blood to the body and preventing or reducing the mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood, according to the American Heart Association's Web site.
"None of my family ... had a clue" about Zander's heart defect, Aaron Clark said.
The birth of their daughter, Parker, went without a hitch. Zander's birth was also problem-free, or so they thought.
At 2 a.m. Aug. 18, 12 hours after Zander was born, nurses woke Sheena Clark and told her Zander needed to go to Charlottesville immediately. Zander was rushed from Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital to UVa. Sheena Clark, still recovering from giving birth, couldn't ride in the ambulance with Zander on that foggy morning.
During his most recent hospital stay, she hardly left his side.
Time for recovery
Each time Aaron Clark walked into Zander's room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he rubbed hand sanitizer on his hands and told Zander's visitors to do the same. He didn't want the baby to get sick, he explained.
Inside, Zander was sleeping. He had a tube in his nose for his respirator, and other tubes running from his leg, arm and chest.
"He looks better than he did last time," Aaron Clark said when he was able to see his son.
After the first surgery, Zander was much more swollen, Aaron Clark said. That time, Zander's vocal chords were nicked when the respirator tube was inserted. Aaron and Sheena Clark had to stay up all night, watching for Zander's cries that couldn't be heard.
This time, while Zander was in the intensive care unit, he had five seizures, each lasting about two minutes and increasingly violent, Aaron Clark said.
"His eyes and legs were kind of flailing and twitching, His eyes were rolling back in his head," Aaron Clark said.
"That scared us pretty bad when that happened."
One of Zander's lungs collapsed while he was in recovery, but that was resolved quickly, Aaron Clark said.
While he recovered, Zander couldn't be picked up. Sheena Clark said he'd look at her as if he wanted to say, "Hold me, Mommy."
To soothe him, Sheena Clark said she'd bend over Zander's bed and slip her hands behind his back so he'd think he was in her arms.
She'd stand that way for hours.
A future memory
Now, Sheena and Aaron Clark are constantly holding their baby boy.
Sheena Clark and Zander returned home from Charlottesville on Jan. 30. Sheena Clark had been intermittently staying at the Ronald McDonald House and the hospital. Aaron Clark had driven to Charlottesville from the couple's home in Salem when he wasn't tied up with his business, Ziggy's Entertainment. The couple's 2-year-old daughter, Parker, stayed with Aaron Clark's mother while Zander was hospitalized.
"He's been up all night long," Aaron Clark said. "His clock's all off."
For days, Sheena and Aaron Clark would wake up to Zander's "blood-curdling screams." Zander still wakes up at the same time he did when he was in the hospital -- 2:30, 6 and 7 a.m.
Zander takes phenobarbital, to prevent seizures; codeine, to prevent diarrhea and for headaches; Lasix, to prevent fluid buildup around his heart; aspirin to thin his blood, and other medications. Soon, he will be weaned off most of the drugs, Aaron Clark said.
Zander will have a third surgery when he's 2 or 3 years old. He'll be walking, learning to talk and better able to let them know when something is wrong with him.
For now, all Zander knows "is we took him somewhere, he got hurt and that's it," Sheena Clark said.
Aaron Clark echoed that thought.
"It's stressful to go from being a baby at home and now all of a sudden ... doctors keep coming and waking you up, probing you" and taking your temperature, he said.
Still, Zander smiled and wriggled around in his father's arms Feb. 1.
When he's older, Aaron and Sheena Clark plan to try to explain his condition and the surgeries. Then they will be able to talk to him and soothe him during the recovery after his third surgery.
They hope Zander's surgeries will become faint memories, if he remembers any of it at all.
Story by: Marquita Brown
Photos by: Kyle Green
The Roanoke Times
Zander's 3rd & FINAL Surgery!
Our Health Magazine wrote 2 stories about Zander:
The first talking about coping with illness and how a little humor goes a long way.
The second telling the detail of Zander's 3rd and Final Surgery.
It's difficult to believe that only three months ago, rambunctious, three-year-old Zander could not even run down the hall without labored breathing. But this, apparently, was typical for Zander before his third and final surgery for a rare heart condition called Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome - one of the most serious cardiac defects in newborns in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. Having recovered remarkably well from the first two surgeries, Zander returned to UVA Children's Hospital on October 2, 2009 for his final operation.
The outcome of the surgery, while painstaking with constant oxygen and lots of baby asprin, was not only a grand success for Zander, but also yielded a possible improvement to the standard procedure. During the stage three operation, the Fontan procedure, a hole, called a fenestration, is made to serve as an escape route for blood in case there is too much pressure in the lungs following the surgery. In Zander's case, a hold was made larger than normal, subsequently allowing more drainage to be released over a shorter period of time. As a result, Zander was free of drainage in five days as opposed to the normal tow or three weeks. Doctors are now discussing standardizing larger fenestrations in order to encourage more rapid recoveries among their patients. Zander's parents, Aaron and Sheena, agree that the significantly reduced stay in the PICU is a breakthrough, especially when it comes to a feisty three-year-old.
The Clark family has become accustomed to prolonged hospital visitations, and they have learned to make these visits more tolerable by finding entertainment and humor in the little things, such as a skeleton of the Toy Story Character, Woody, showed up in one of Zander's x-rays. As it turns out, Zander had been lying on top of his toy doll, Woody. Zander happens to be a huge Toy Story fan, and he has been seen more than once running through the hospital halls, proudly parading his Buzz Lightyear wings. It has earned him the nickname "Buzz" among hospital staff.
While Aaron, as a children's entertainer, admits that he thinks entertainment and humor played a role in Zander's healing process, the most important part of his job, he says, is that it has provided him flexibility to be with his family during the turbulent segment of their lives. Being able to plan Zander's surgeries around the slow season at work - along with sympathetic partners willing to cover for him - has allowed Aaron to spend much needed time with his son. Although Aaron has delighted in making children laugh for the past twelve years, his profession wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if he wasn't able to be there to cheer up the most important little boy in his life.
Two weeks after his surgery Zander was taken to the cardiac catheter lab, where Aaron and Sheena saw almost immediate improvement in their son's health. Just thirty minute after receiving cardiac catheterization, Zander, whose oxygen saturation level was in the low sixties, his lips and limbs blue, was suddenly able to sustain an oxygen saturation level in the high nineties, and he has been able to do so ever since. His protective five-year-old sister, Parker, who would always alert Sheena when she noted Zander wasn't breathing well, agrees that Zander is a bit harder to look after now wthat he has recovered from his last surgery. "Zander is gonna catch me because he's the pirate!" she calls over her shoulder as she is chased down the hall by a tiny Jack Sparrow.
Having emerged from a long and taxing journey, Aaron and Sheena are able to recognize the good that has resulted. They are appreciative of the many gracious people they've met along the way, such as the folks at the Woodlands in Charlottesville who, upon hearing the Clark's story, offered their facility at a more than reasonable rate. Sheena says, for the first time, they felt like they had "a place to go home to" - a luxury for Sheena and Aaron, who have spent long hours traveling back and forth from Salem to Charlottesville. "Wherever we are, we make it home," says Sheena, having acquired a greater sense of what's important in life. Sheena believes these trails have made them a stronger family. "It's easy to coast through the good stuff," she says, but she affirms the often times it is the trails that produce an appreciation for that which is truly significant in life.
One thing that has assumed a greater significance in the Clark family is their faith. When suddenly faced with Zander's formidable condition. Aaron and Sheena felt compelled to seek spiritual refuge. "I never felt the need to be part of a church community," Aaron says. But his perspective changed dramatically when he and his wife began attending Fellowship Community Church in 2006, where they experienced an outpouring of love and support. Shortly after, they became members of the church, and Aaron was baptized as an outward symbol of his newly found conviction in Christ. Although his problems didn't disappear, he reports he has since experienced a peace that surpasses understanding.
The church has also been a means of serving the community for Aaron and Sheena who are now in a position to give back. They recently participated in hosting an event for the Trust House Homeless Shelter, which provided dinner and, or course live entertainment, compliments of Aaron himself, who beguilded his audience with magic, balloons, caricature art, and juggling. Aaron and Sheena try to include Parker and Zander in events such as these, not just to entertain them, but to emphasize to their children the importance of serving others and to show them that it's not something they have to wait until they are adults to participate in.
Fortunately, now that Zander has overcome his final surgery, there won't be any more hospital visits for another six months, which is a relief for Zander and his parents. "They were drawing blood three or four times a day leaving IV's in for twelve hours," recalls Sheena. The memory of these episodes makes even the simplest check-ups distressing for Zander. But, fortunately, distasted fr doctor's visits seems to be the only vestige of his three year battle with Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome. The family can finally try to regain a sense of normalcy, not having to worry about further surgeries until Zander is eight or nine years old when he will have to have his narrow aorta repaired.
In the meantime, with no evidence of permanent repercussions, Zander's condition seems to have placed no limitations on his capabilities. Aaron and Sheena recall hearing many times, "he'll never be like other kids," and they recount the suggestions of well meaning individuals that they restrain Zander more in physical activities. But they both agree, "If he can do it and he wants to do it, he's going to do it." Perhaps their optimism can best be reflected by a moment in a YouTube video, which features Zander rousing from his final surgery. Not yet having spoken, he hears the voice of his father initiating the familiar expression of Buzz Lightyear, "To Infinity..." to which Zander finally replies, groggily, "and beyond."
- Jessica Wright
Our Health Magazine
Zander's Turning Double Digits!
Since we moved to Georgia we have made it a tradition to celebrate Zander's Birthday by going to Medieval Times in Atlanta. Zander loves every moment of the tournament, the horses, the knights battling, and of course the food. Here you can see Zander, and his younger brother Carver, with their Dad Aaron Clark celebrating Zander's 9th Birthday. Zander is so excited to be going to Medieval Times for his 10th Birthday and to also head over to Dave and Busters after the show for some video games and bowling. It makes for a great time and keeps us reminded of how lucky we are to have Zander! So many other parents with children born with HLHS have not shared the success stories as we are able to do. I give all the credit to God, and I also give credit for my salvation to Zander. If it weren't for his struggle to survive, I may have never come to have the relationship that I have with Jesus. I was baptized on March 29, 2009 and it was on that day that accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Over the past 7 years since I was saved I have become a devoted Christian, I have spent as much time as possible learning what it means to be Christian. My walk with Jesus has not always been on an easy road, many times its been extremely rough, but he is always there for me and I know he will always be there for Zander as well.
I am so happy to announce that Zander had his 10 Year checkup with his pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Miller in Roanoke, Va. while visiting with his grandmother over the summer, and Zander is perfectly healthy. His heart is in great condition and there are no more surgeries needed. Zander should live a long and healthy life as long as he takes excellent care of himself as he matures becoming an adult.
So now It's Time To Celebrate! Medieval Times Here we come!
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
It seems to me that the only events that ask if I am insured are fairs, festivals, and corporate events. No one else ever asks me if I'm insured. Well this should be a huge selling point for anyone from birthday parties to performing on the Las Vegas strip. You see if an entertainer is not insured and someone at your event gets hurt during that performers show, this is a major problem for the client and the performer. Lets say for example that its a Kids Birthday Party and that you have hired a Juggler, and during the performance the juggler accidentally loses control of one of his/her juggling clubs and it breaks a lamp. No big deal the lamp can be replaced out of pocket and the juggler feels bad about the situation...unless it's an antique lamp that was handed down from past generations and has tremendous sentimental value. Plus did I mention that when that lamp fell over it also landed on a child sending her to the emergency room where she had to get 20 stitches and she was knocked unconscious? Well now this is an entirely different problem and something no one wants to worry about when hiring a performer to come into their home. But honestly this problem is only the beginning as those parents of that child are going to sue the performer and the homeowner and they will win! Now no one is saying here that the child's parents shouldn't sue...they should, as their child got hurt unjustly. But should the homeowner and the performer be personally responsible for an accident? Well...No, this is why it is absolutely crucial that all performers have liability insurance for their business.
For myself I have a 2 million dollar umbrella policy which also covers my equipment should something happen to it even if it were just driving to an event and I got into an auto accident. By the way this happened to me and I wasn't covered and I'll explain why.
So I assumed that my car insurance would cover my equipment should anything ever happen on the way to or from an event. However, I was wrong because my equipment is considered business property I would have to have a business policy with my car insurance company (OR) I would have to that equipment coverage thru my entertainment insurance company (I use specialty Insurance Agency).
So my scenario was that I had 3 insurance policies and I assumed I would be covered for my equipment no matter what happened and I was very wrong. You see I feel asleep behind the wheel after driving home at 3AM and working for 18 hours. I drifted off the road went down into a ditch popped up out of the ditch crossing an intersection hitting a stop sign while air born and landing in another ditch with the car on its side, luckily I was a sleep thru the entire thing. If I would have woken up I am certain I would have hit the brakes, or jerked the wheel which either of those would have caused the car to flip and I would have certainly died in the accident. But I walked away without a scratch, but my equipment did not...about $10,000 worth of magic gear all damaged.
Well my car was paid for, the property damage from the accident was paid for...but my equipment was not. And I tried reporting it to my renters insurance for my home, my car insurance, and my entertainment insurance for my business. But I was not covered and I was blown away by this! My business insurance thru Specialty Insurance was for a basic liability insurance for one million dollar umbrella policy. Which covered anyone getting hurt at one of my events, or damage to their property. However, it did not cover my equipment. This is chalked up to a major lesson learned for me and I now have the correct policy which I think everyone should have that is a professional entertainer.
Another important topic here which I will not go into too much depth on. I'll save that for another day, is becoming an LLC. so that you can not personally be sued, but rather only your business can be and the amount you can be sued for is only the amount that the business is worth, not how much you personally are worth (ie. your house, cars, jewelry, appliances, etc.)
I am by no means a lawyer and I don't offer any legal advice with what I have said, but I can tell you there is one person who knows a great deal about this topic, who I would consider my go to expert before I decide to get a lawyer. This would be a fellow magician and a good friend William Davenport. William is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to all things that have to do with CYA. (Cover Your A$$). I am sure he gets that from his time spent in the military fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan. I honestly have never met someone more prepared for a lawsuit than Davenport. He has given me some of the best advice to make sure that I am protected, for which I am grateful. But what I find amazing about the way he operates his business is how he books other performers like myself. I have been hired by hundreds of booking agents over the past 17 years, and I have signed thousands of contracts with those agents for their events. But I have never seen a contract like the one Davenport is using! His contract has one thing that just blew me away! He pays his performers a deposit...not only that but a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit that the performer gets to keep EVEN IF his client cancels the gig! He even pays this to the performer before the event takes place (that is showing a great deal of trust, how awesome is that?!?! So this makes up for any clients backing out and you losing out on any other clients that would have booked you. And Yes, this has happened to me and Davenport did hold true to his word on the contract!
Some other interesting components of Davenports contract is that he has a dollar amount that you will be required to pay Davenport's Company should you not show up for the gig, and it's thousands of dollars! Why is that you may ask? Well it covers for the loss of that event, plus any future events that client might have booked, plus damage to Davenports reputation, etc. And believe you me, he will take you to court and he will win if you violate this contract! This may seem a little scary for some performers, but honestly if this was common practice across the board with all talent agencies I would be a whole lot happier and I believe it would truly benefit everyone!
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
When it comes to hiring a professional what is more important, the quality of the performance, or the price?
It really isn't any different than when your buying a car. Would you expect to pay the same amount for a Kia as you would for a Mercedes? Of course not, there are a lot of people who assume that all local magicians should charge the same amount. But they are wrong! And the reason is just the same as my buying a car example. Not every magician offers the same services and some have a better show than others, some have better options for their shows, some have more experience, some have won awards, while others may be new to the entertainment industry and have a low price as they don't offer a comparable service. The thing that most clients don't understand is that it's not about an industry standard price. It's about a price that that magician feels his/her show is worth. No one is forcing the client to hire that person it up to the client to come to a decision about if they desire a cheap magician or a quality magician.
Often times the client expects to get a Mercedes for the price of a Kia and its up to each magician to explain their services options to their clients so they fully understand what they are getting. This is where the problem lies as many magicians don't go into great details of what the clients are getting. Thus many clients are upset that they don't feel they got what they paid for either the price was too high and the quality was too low or for the performer the quality is very high and their price is too low. Now this can happen for many reasons. Often many magicians are unaware what price they should be charging, or how to up sell their services. There is a very important tool that all magicians should learn and that is the art of negotiating. And yes this is an art form, even for the client they can use to lower a magicians price taking advantage of them. For me I always aim high and work my way down until the client and myself have agreed upon what is fair.
A big mistake many magicians is starting the negotiations low and then trying to up sell with add-ons to their show. This is a terrible mistake and is why a lot of magicians work so cheap! What this does is It brings down the market for everyone.
The key to negotiating is building value before you discuss a price. Too often magicians quote a price before they have told anything about the services they offer. It's critical that the magician sells the service and sells him/herself prior to quoting a price. There is a great technique to doing this about its by asking questions to your clients.
Many clients will ask what's your price within the first 30 seconds of a conversation. I defer saying there are a lot of factors that go into my pricing, can you tell me more information about your event.
What is the date? What's the time frame? Where is it? How many people are you expecting? What age range? Have you ever hired a magician before? If so who? Tell me about the venue? Is it indoors or outdoors? Is there a stage? How high are the ceiling? How big is the room? What type of flooring is there? Etc...
All of these are leading questions that help you to qualify your potential client.
These questions will help you determine your clients budget before you even ask them the #1 question which is so important to the conversation.
I tell the client that all these factors help me determine what show is best for you. And I know you want a price but here's what I will do. I will email you a written quote which will go into great detail of what you can expect from my performance. Plus I will have several options for you to choose from and best of all I will customize your quote to fit within your budget range. So I need to know your budget. Give me an idea of how much you would want to spend so I can customize your quote. Then wait...resist from saying anything!! Let them speak first, they will either say what their budget is, or they will defer that to saying they don't know what their budget is. At this point if they don't know then I ask so who is the decision maker for the budget? If it's not them I ask if I can contact them directly so that I can tell them about the quality of my performance. You see if they aren't the decision maker then they are not who you should be talking to anyway!
There is an incredibly informative CD that was made many years ago which I gained a great deal of knowledge from and I highly recommend to any working procession in any entertainment field! It called Negotiating Higher Performance Fees by Michael Ammar. You can purchase this CD from penguin magic at the link below:
Or if out of stock you can also purchase from Penguin Magic at:
Here is some more info about Michael Ammar:
Here are some testimonials from other magicians who have listened to it:
You will earn more after listening to the CD just one time!
This is everything you need to know about negotiating higher fees for your shows.
Professional magicians had this to say the following:
"I feel it's the most valuable information (Michael) has ever made available"
"If you would have had NHPF 35 years ago, I'd be sitting on my own island somewhere in the Caribbean, playing around with my computer. The tape is excellent!"
"I used one idea from the tape the very next day and made an extra $900!"
It's become commonplace to magicians to do some incredible magic and illusions that shock or even scare their audience. Why are magicians attracted to this type of magic? Well it's because it freaks people out! That freak out moment has such an impact because it is a trick that is so unreal that it goes beyond anything the audience can ever imagine possible. Some examples of magicians who do this type magic would be Criss Angel with his swallowing of a signed quarter and then cutting open his arm as blood rushes out to find the signed coin from his spectator. You might think of the anti-conjuror Dan Sperry when he eats a life saver on America's Got Talent then takes some dental floss and digs it into his neck to reveal the life saver whole again and on the dental floss.
Another artist that might come to mind is David Blaine when he drinks gallons of water followed by a glass full of very flammable kerosene and then regurgitates the lighter fluid first as he breathes fire with it onto Jimmy Kimmel's desk setting a trash can and its contents on fire. Blaine then proceeds to regurgitate the water and extinguishes the flames with all that water he drank. So this by the way is not magic...yes David Blaine is a magician but what he did here was an amazing skill of learning what is called Water Spouting which is a very dangerous and potentially deadly stunt. What's most impressive is the story behind this where David Blaine actually saw this act performed by Hadji Ali.
Hadji Alie was a vaudeville performance artist, thought to be of Egyptian descent, who was famous for acts of controlled regurgitation. His best-known feats included water spouting, smoke swallowing, and nut and handkerchief swallowing followed by disgorgement in an order chosen by the audience. Ali's most famous stunt, and the highlight of his act, was drinking copious amounts of water followed by kerosene, and then acting by turns as a human flamethrower and fire extinguisher as he expelled the two liquids onto a theatrical prop. While these stunts were performed, a panel of audience members was invited to watch the show up close to verify that no trickery was employed.
On a video online of a man by the name of Winston Carter in a very destitute and poverty stricken country in Africa. Winston Carter who at the time was a 35 year old security guard. So in the video Carter is able to use his own regurgitated water to be able to brush his teeth, and even fill up an entire water bottle spouting the water with a powerful stream from his lips. Blaine was so fascinated by this that he set out on a mission to contact this Carter and after 3 years of posting flyers, and putting ads in newspapers, until he was finally able to track him down. In 2013 Blaine was able to have Carter teach him the technique to perform this incredible stunt. The reason this is so fascinating to me is not that Blaine can do it, but his determination and great lengths that he went thru to learn the technique. It just goes to show why David Blaine is as popular of a magician as he is, it is because when he sets his mind on a goal he goes above and beyond the realm of what is conceivably possibility to prepare himself to amaze his next crowd. I must admit I do really love how Blaine was able to take this and incorporate it into a street magic performance revealing a name onto the pavement with the spouted water as a form of mentalism.
-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.