From June 30th 1984 until late 2005, I was a full time, professional magician.
I add in the full time because in entertainment, some consider themselves a professional without earning their living with an art.
Not sure why, you never see that in other forms of business. “I’m a professional surgeon when I’m not delivering for Domino’s Pizza!”
I can understand acting professional even if you are part time. Just as some pros do not act professional. But to me it was always a badge of honor to say, this is how I make my living and pay my bills.
Why a magician?
Because I was told I could not be one.
When I was about six, I remember Marshall Brodien coming on television with The TV Magic Deck. WOW! That was my chance to become a magician!
Earlier that year I had confiscated a magic packet my sister purchased at the Butcher shop/grocery store. But the TV Magic Deck offered me a chance to up my game.
So I saved my allowance and bought one.
I was well on my way to becoming a magician. Although like many kids, my attention would likely have diverted and I would have followed a different path.
Except for my Dad.
Back then, we lived in a rural area of a small town. There was one magician in town, and he worked for the county government.
That was proof enough for my father. Obviously the only chance to be a magician was either be on television, or work an occasional birthday party.
Dad helped me build tricks for my show. He was supportive in that way, but he was sure I could not be a professional magician.
He told me I could never do it. I better put down the magic tricks and think about a real trade, like being a plumber.
He was a plumber and would drag me along on jobs.
I remember having to pull pumps out of wells, getting wet and dirty in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. I didn’t always go to help, but when I did, I determined that being a plumber was not for me.
His doubt for my chosen field made me more determined than ever to prove him wrong. I heard of people making their living as magicians. They weren’t famous or on television. I knew I could do that too.
And so, flying in the face of authority, I turned pro that June 30th by quitting my job. At a show that night, I was hanging beneath a hot air balloon to escape from a straitjacket.
I did that on several occasions …
For the next 21 years, I traveled the world and entertained people. I got married and my wife joined the act. Then, in 1994, my son was born.
That milestone in my life gave me a renewed sense of legitimacy. I no longer had to prove anything to anyone.
The freedom provided gave me the confidence to change my program. I began concentrating more on original comedy. I was no longer a comedy magician, I was a comedian who did magic.
For some reason you may have to click the video twice to get it to play – and be sure to turn up the volume!
It wasn’t until 2005 that things changed.
My wife got a job offer that she wanted to pursue. With her no longer a part of the show, I decided to reinvent myself.
I decided to learn ventriloquism again after having played with it as a kid. I believe my Dad was actually prouder of me as a ventriloquist than he ever was of my magic.
He got to witness one of my first standing ovation shows as a vent. Afterward, his smile beamed ear to ear.
That reinvention has brought me here.
Something as simple as a conversation sparked an intense desire for me to prove I could do what I said I would.
I doubt my Dad even remembered the conversation we had. (Although we had it several times.)
Your comments, positive or negative have a greater impact than you can imagine. That is why it is important to avoid taking a negative approach if at all possible. Something you say could imfluence someone else’s life, even if you don’t remember it.
So out of curiosity, what motivated you to do what you do?