It is 6 years since I gave up my day job to become a full time professional magician, so I thought I would write this blog answering a question I am frequently asked “How did you get into Magic?”
It’s quite common for professional magicians to have been interested in magic at a young age, the type of child who wants the whole family to sit down at Christmas, all fighting to stay awake, while they perform a 2 hour magic special in their front room. This was not me.
I did have a card magic book as a child and I’m sure I was frequently an annoyance to my family and any unlucky visitors, but I never felt I had discovered my calling in life.
Little Rich was far more interested in sport and tried 153 different sports by the age of 12. Unfortunately, he didn’t excel in any of them much to his confusion, as he’d not fully grasped the concept of practice and dedication.
Photo by Dan Andrew Photography
However, at the age of about 13 I got increasingly interested in the most exciting of all the sports………golf! There was something about the challenge of getting that little ball in a hole absolutely miles away that I found attractive. Over the years I worked hard, improved and eventually worked at Beverley & East Riding Golf Club for 9 years.
So to get to the point, golf clubs can be boring places to work in the winter months. My friend and I would sometimes play poker while at work. One day a golf club member, a lovely chap called Derek, walked in to the golf club, saw we were playing poker and asked if I wanted to see a quick trick………..and I did. Derek’s tricks were a cut above any pieces of magic I had witnessed in person before and I was keen to know more. He explained how he was a member of Hull’s Magician Circle and they actually had an invitation night coming up if I wanted to attend? Of course I did!! Derek very kindly took me under his wing. After a few meetings I was asked if I would be interested in becoming a member, this would mean I would have to pass the audition which consisted of performing 3 magic tricks for a room full of magicians. It was at this point I shat my pants!
Obviously I decided to partake in the audition and despite my nerves and soggy underwear, the 3 tricks turned out well and I was accepted into the Club. I very quickly became obsessed. The clever methods and closely guarded secrets really inspired me and I spent night after night watching magicians of the past perform miracles and I would dissect their performances with a tooth comb (I’m not sure you should use a tooth comb to perform a dissection, but I didn’t even care!).
This obsession with no real end goal went on for years. I simply learnt things for the joy of learning them. Until one day someone I knew asked me to perform at their wedding and on 1st August 2015 I performed at my first wedding……well actually 2 weddings because it just so happened that 2 people I knew were getting married that day and both asked me to perform. So I started as I meant to go on!
Still, I didn’t really think this was going to turn into a proper business. Maybe I’d earn a bit of extra holiday money but my expectations didn’t really go much further. I was lucky that those first weddings went really well because if those had gone badly I would have probably vowed never to perform in front of humans ever again.
It was around this time I decided it would be a really good idea to leave my stable job, sell my car, rent my house out, leave all the people I knew and head over to Asia to backpack looking for adventure. I have no idea how I managed to sell this as a good idea to my family and friends but everyone supported me, probably putting it down to an early midlife crisis as I was already 30 at this point.
While away I had no plans to perform magic to anyone, I didn’t want to be the weird guy at the hostel who everyone avoids terrified of getting sucked into a never-ending magic trick black hole! However, I met a group of people from all over the world at my very first hostel, who all had their own interesting story. On our last night together I mentioned I knew a trick or two and showed them a few things. To my surprise they were blown away. The next morning while waiting to leave one of my travel buddies persuaded me that it would be a great idea to take videos of myself performing while traveling around so I could post them on social media on my return home and kick start my business.
So it started, I bought some playing cards and the odd night I would walk the streets looking for victims…….I can’t believe I wasn’t arrested, or at least beaten up.
This was when I realised that everyone seems to love magic, especially when they’re not expecting the experience. The more I performed the more my confidence grew and something clicked, I realised that this is exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
When I returned to the UK I uploaded the video of me performing all over Asia (Click here to see it) and worked hard to get more and more bookings by attending wedding fairs, networking events, making videos and practicing hard. Even though I worked on my business everyday it still took a few years before I was in a position to give up my day job. In all honestly, I was probably a little premature in handing in my resignation letter. Don’t get me wrong it felt good to know I was going it alone, but I didn’t exactly feel like a business pioneer when I added up what I would earn that year if I didn’t book anymore events.
However, if you have ever started a business I am sure you’ll have experienced the same emotions I did over the coming months. First I felt fear, I really did not want to fail in front of everyone, my family and friends are on the whole nasty people, who would have never let me forget it. The possibility that I would need to rent out my house and find somewhere else to live was real if I didn’t bring in the business. But I realised that when you're working on a business with no distractions and an impending sense of doom motivating you then you really have to find a way. Luckily, it wasn’t too long before I was easily making enough money to cover my bills and I could stop living on the economical, but ultimately unsatisfying, diet of supa-noodles twice a day!
It has now been 6 years and I am pleased with how the business has grown and I still have the hunger to learn and perform magic. Hopefully I will see you soon and show you some of the magic I have been working on
I have created this blog to give you a glimpse into the life of a working modern close-up magician. Hope you enjoy!