“Magic isn’t a game or a trick or a puzzle to be figured out. It’s an experience to be shared.” – Illusions Vick
A little over a year ago, I participated in my first Pitch contest run by the fabulous Brenda Drake. If you aren’t yet familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where writers enter for a chance to win requests from participating agents by submitting a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript. (Note: If you’re an aspiring children’s book writer, do yourself a favor and check out: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness. It may change your life; it sure changed mine.)
So, there I was, frantically struggling to send out short-but-compelling pitches about my middle grade hero, Ethan, an aspiring magician. Unbenownst to me, my good friend and fellow writer, Laura Shovan, retweeted one of my pitches… and a real-live magician responded, offering to give any technical advice needed! His name is Illusions Vick, and he is very magical indeed.
Since we “met,” I participated in a second Brenda Drake contest, this one called Pitch Wars. I was lucky enough to win a mentor – the amazing Veronica Bartles. One thing led to another, and a few months later, I was offered representation by the warm, wise, and wonderful Samantha Bremekamp of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
After all this magic was thrust upon me, it seemed only fitting that I interview my magician friend, Illusions Vick, for the magical holiday month of December. I hope you enjoy it.
Q&A With Illusions Vick
1) You reference “very challenging” past performances – could you discuss one of them?
For 3 years I was part of the live entertainment at a Movie Theater Multi-plex (24 screens). The theater complex was very popular but had patrons waiting upwards of an hour to see their movie. The theater thought live entertainment would be a good idea. We (myself, another magician and 2 stand up comics) did some crazy stuff. At first it was incredibly challenging, walking into a theater of 500 who have been waiting in their seats for 20 minutes for the film to start, they have no idea what you are there for and then try entertaining. After 6 months we were (somewhat of) a hit (patrons would come in and ask for us and the company tried to replicate what we were doing in their other multi-plexes). For the next 2.5 years it was just myself and 1 stand up comic. We created characters and played characters from hit films (launching a side business of appearing as Professor Snape). We were given free rein to preform what we wanted. We wrote our own scripts, became more skilled at improv and did our own costuming. There is nothing like the experience of performing a new routine 25+ times a day, 3 days a week for live audiences. On top of that we had to keep the material fresh as there were patrons who came to the theater every week.
For 6 months I was the featured Illusionist in a 1940’s theme weekly burlesque review at a nightclub in Washington, DC. Imagine being the magician on before the very popular featured burlesque artist, in front of inebriated patrons, in a DC nightclub where patrons are paying $40 for a seat. 2- 3 times nightly. I was lucky and it went well.
These challenging situations gave me great experience that you can’t get any other way. To be good a magician has to have a place to be bad first, I already had that, these challenges made me a very good performer good very quickly
2) Who are your favorite magicians, and why?
Teller ~ (of Penn & Teller) he’s brilliant, incredibly talented, dedicated and a great man.
S.H. Sharpe ~ Sharpe wrote the most important books ever on performing magic and theory, absolutely brilliant.
Rocco (Silano) ~ One of the most real performers anywhere, the man you see on the stage is the man you get in real life. Had the opportunity to speak with Rocco for a bit after a lecture he gave. Funny, insightful, smart and very well versed in magic.
Denny Haney ~ Denny performed all over the world for 30 years, then semi-retired and opened a magic studio (magic shop). His caring and passion for the art are evident. He won’t sell poor quality effects and he’s more concerned about helping someone in the art than making a buck.
3) Who are your heroes, and why?
Anyone who raises their children well, to be intelligent, caring, decent human beings.
I don’t get star struck and really don’t understand the American obsession with so called celebrities.
4) What is the hardest thing about being a magician?
Overcoming the stereotype of magic being entertainment for children. As great as it is to see children laughing and a spark of imagination light up in their eyes I’ve often thought adults need magic the most! Adults most need their imaginations sparked, their funny bones tickled, their imaginations engaged, their perspective refreshed and their hearts touched. Adults appreciate a celebration where all their concerns are forgotten. Immersed in a beautiful, funny, amazing and unique art form and entertainment experience.
Magic is an incredible art form. Where but in magic can an artist share miracles, enable others to laugh, to think and feel a spectrum of emotions? A journey into the incredible. A good performer will create and share an atmosphere where anything can and might happen, where the boundaries of normal existence fade away and our minds are wide open. This is entertainment for everyone. I talk about this often and struggle against the typical “magician” stereotype.
The trip home after a great show, it’s an incredible high to being a normal human, well maybe never a normal human.
The other hardest thing about being a magician is the time away from my family.
5) What is the most satisfying, gratifying thing about being a magician?
Making people happy. I have the greatest career in the world. Am invited to all the best parties and events, meet the most interesting people, have fun, share smiles and laughs, touch hearts and tickle funny bones and that’s my career (the part of it everyone gets to see).
6) Do you have any advice for young magicians?
Don’t. Really. It’s a tough life.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have achieved the small amount of success I have.
If you find that you must, there is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist or collector. I find that hobbyist have it the best as they don’t aren’t concerned with bookings, travel, clients, advertising and so and can concentrate solely on the magic. For every minute on stage I invest 90 minutes in rehearsal, practice (yes they are 2 different things) working with clients, marketing, advertising and more. Being a professional magician is a full time business and needs to be treated as such. It’s not only about the time on stage, it’s about what you do to get you to that time.
Also if you must disregard my advice and you still want to become a professional magician LEARN THEATER!! Work with a director for your show, do live theater, plays any stage time you can working with a crew. Look to other arts for inspiration. When you can think about what you want the magic effect to be, then find the way to build it instead of picking up a trick and trying to make your personality fit around it (even though in the beginning that is what you would have to do until you learn methods).
Stay away from walk around or so called “strolling” magic, it cheapens the art. Your work should command an audience, the audience should be there to see you, you shouldn’t be forcing magic on someone to create an audience. It shouldn’t be you walking up to a stranger, interrupting their social interactions and saying something to the effect of “Hi I’m a magician, can I show you a trick?”
Be prepared to work almost every holiday and be away from your family often.
7) What is one of your favorite magical moments to date?
I am so incredibly fortunate to have so many. So many wonderful people and events. I’ll relate one of the most beautiful moments of magic ever in one of my shows… and I didn’t perform it.
I had been hired to perform 45 minutes parlor (magical entertainment) at a 50th Birthday Celebration. The gentleman (Eugene) who hired me to perform for his wife’s 50th birthday celebration and I had been communicating in email, along the way I suggested if he had a small present to present I could show him a magical way to present it. He liked the idea. We took a few minutes before the show to go over the presentation, I believe he had be practicing on his own (when I gave instruction on where to place it he made a remark that lead me to think he had been trying on his own).
I brought Eugene and his wife Katherine up to perform Anniversary Waltz (a card trick that can be a beautiful, fun moment) and when I was done Eugene said he had a trick that might top mine. (I sat down and directed a person with a video camera to a good spot for their special moment)
He did it perfectly, when the flash died away there was a very, very beautiful ring hanging from his hand on a fine chain. There was an amazing outpouring of love and joy, not just from his wife but from everyone present (about 30 guests). The laughter, applause, love and hugs went on all night as part of this very special celebration
Sometimes I say I perform because it makes others better people (when someone is laughing, enjoying themselves, amazed or having fun that is about the best someone can be); that night they made me a better person.
Thanks so much, Vick, for your generosity and friendship.
Below are links to two of my favorite videos of Illusions Vick in action – I hope you find them as magical as I do!
Illusions Vick with Cub Scouts at Blue and Gold Banquet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKgUkB6fQkI
And his beautiful floating butterflies…
Want more Illusions Vick? Go to: http://www.illusionsbyvick.com/