Although I have been performing as a magician for over 20 years, it wasn’t until around 2007 that I began travelling around the country to expand my scope of clients and opportunities. This all began with a phone call and a chance to perform that I did not want to pass up. Because I decided to seize the offer without regard for its distance from my home, my career took a positive turn that put me on the right track to become an illusionist that performs nationally on a regular basis.
The client that rang me on that day around ten years ago was a school that needed someone to perform at a school assembly. They wanted to book someone who could give the students a show that combined music and illusions and was good enough with audiences to interact with the students successfully. I told them that I would be glad to put on a magic show and was hired on the spot. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a string of school shows that has now surpassed the mark of 3,000 performances.
The school was using a local fundraising company to help them make some extra money, and was hoping that the kids would be encouraged to help sell cookie dough, magazines, and other goods by a fun magic show. It was an interesting idea, and after performing with the school successfully I knew that I was onto something.
The local representative for the firm that helped them book the event was impressed with the performance, and invited his manager to come watch another of my shows in order to see what a contracted set of bookings would look like. Confirming my suspicion that my entire business plan was soon to change, the manager quickly hired my team and I to perform 45-60 shows with clients of his company throughout the Spring semester.
Before long I found my wife (then girlfriend) and I hopping into the car and on the way to Richmond Virginia to make our first road trip for school performances. We had been lucky enough to sign an all-inclusive deal with the fundraising company, so the main we would have to worry about would be getting to our destination; of course, it would be important to be as careful with money as possible as we didn’t want to dip into our show profits. This became problematic when, upon arriving in Virginia, we realized that all of the half-decent hotels would be setting us back close to $700 a week, much more than we intended to spend.
When we entered the one hotel that seemed reasonably priced, we were told that we could get a coupon from the Denny’s across the street that would knock $40 off of the price per night. It was only after we checked that restaurant along with the rest of the restaurants in the area that we returned empty handed to the manager who agreed to give us the deal for just one night without the coupon.
Luckily for me, I had the idea of using magic to impress the hotel manager into giving us a lower rate. I performed some tricks for him (including changing 5 $1’s into 5 $100’s), but was unable to get him to give us the more competitive price.
My wife and I decided to head out for a quick dinner after agreeing to stay at the hotel regardless. As we were leaving the lobby the manager stopped us and asked me to show his friends some of the illusions I had just performed for him, but I told him that I might do it after dinner.
It had been a long trip from Cleveland to Richmond, and by the time we got back we were ready to get to the room and pass out. The manager, however, who was still working a shift in the hotel lobby, asked me again to show a few tricks to the other employees. I asked him jokingly if he could magically make the rate disappear, and he responded that he would perform his magic only if I did first. My wife went upstairs to go to sleep, and I spent the next hour trying to wow the associates of the hotel, hoping that my rate would be dropped by $10-20 dollars a night.
At the end of our stay, I found a note under the door (which the manager had told me would contain his “magic trick”). I was surprised to find that we had only been charged about $30 a night and that he had supplied us with a card that would allow us to stay at any of the other hotels owned by the chain for $30-$40 a night for the entire year! Not surprisingly, I have remained friends with this manager throughout my travels, and have even gone back to the hotel to show and teach him new tricks in exchange for a new discount card.
It was because of the generosity of this hotel that we managed to travel the entire US for our first school tour at an affordable price, and as a result of the first tour’s success we have continued driving around the country to perform at schools for years. The great jumpstart that we got on this new chapter in our lives allowed us to perform 12-15 shows a week for around a decade, which has given my family, my performers and I the opportunity to see the country while doing what we love most.