• Why did I want to learn to be a magician? Pt 2 – Threats, Cabaret and Mentors

  • September 23, 2019

  • Where I left off, I had just started performing magic at Tharen’s Restaurant in Kings Cross, Sydney, having quit my job as a bartender. I performed two to three nights each week in the restaurant, performing to guests in between courses and occasionally doing a semi-double act with the drag queen. It was great fun. Until that is, I started receiving threatening calls and messages against my life.

    Unbeknownst to me, there had previously been another magician who worked in the restaurant. It turned out I had unknowingly replaced him. This made for a relatively uncomfortable situation that took a while to resolve, and only did so when I asked Tharen’s for more money, at which point they let me go. The magician’s reasoning for “demanding” I charge more money was that by charging so much less, I was lowering the bar for all other magicians. Tharen’s, of course, didn’t appreciate me trying to renegotiate and was quite right to send me on my way. I still had a lot to learn about the business side of magic.

    During my time performing there, though, I had massively improved my skills as a performer. This is why I recommend all magicians get a residency. It is by far and away to get lots of practice in front of a live audience, repeatedly, make a little bit of money, and most importantly, earn more clients. I only got business cards, because people kept asking for them, and I merely diversified my effects away from just card magic because I realised I needed the variety to keep people entertained.

    With these improved skills, I was comfortable performing at private events. I was doing a couple of these a month, which helped me improve further and provided the opportunity to charge more money.

    I was fortunate at one of these events to be performing to some of the guests when they said they would put me in touch with a friend of theirs who was running a cabaret show which could be of interest to me. I had no idea how important that chance encounter would prove to be.

    This is how I met James and Simone Karp. They ran a show called “The Magician’s Cabaret”. We got on very well, and after showing them a bit of magic, they suggested I come along and perform at their next show, performing to the guests in the audience around their meals between the different acts of the show. We became good friends, and I started performing regularly again with James and Simone taking on the role of Agent and Manager.

    I learnt an incredible amount from James, a professional magician with decades of experience as a performer and a director; and Simone, a dancer and singer for just as long. They had toured the world, created endless shows and had a lot to teach me.

    Our team of performers also included around six dancers, two circus performers, several wait staff, a chef and one sound engineer. We all grew very close, and I loved performing in that group.

    I was also lucky enough to pick up another incredible mentor at this time, a retired clown by the name of Jim Holt. Jim had been a clown by trade but had worked as a magic consultant, performed internationally as a solo act, and had a lifetime’s experience as a performer. All of which he was kind enough to impart on me, suggesting we meet once a week and go over all things magical. I couldn’t believe my luck, and Jim proved to be a hugely useful resource and a great friend. Although, I may have accidentally stolen one of his magic books that he lent me when I left the country...

    I was fortunate to be able to curate my love of magic and to work at the art form with such incredible input from other performers; not to mention being able to practice and entertain in such a beautiful space. All good things must come to an end though, but it’s about time for another cliff hanger I think! I promise not to make you wait as long this time!

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