Hire a magician directly, avoiding these 3 major problems

I hope you can bear with me in a bit of a rant. I have a love-hate relationship with some local gigging sites. I like them, in that I do receive a few magic gigs from them, and they have provided me with some stellar testimonials! However, in spite of their convenience, you should prepare yourself to deal with some of their problems.

They DOMINATE search engines, hiding actual people

Seriously, type “hire a magician” or “hire a local magician” into your favorite search engine, and check it out. How many are real human beings? You’ll see the front page dominated by these gigging sites, crowding out the real human beings that live near you. If you like people, digging past the first page will pay off!

I guess I wouldn’t mind if they occupied that top spot so much.  I’m probably a bit jealous. However, you’ll often see several from the same company on the same search. They use their massive influence to manipulate themselves to the top of the search engine pages. They make it seem like they are the only business in town, when in reality, real humans are the only business in town! If I was King of Google, they’d get their one listing, and let someone else be listed as well. Alas, they didn’t ask me!!!

But that’s not the worst part…

You’re really actually paying a little more for these services, instead of working directly with the magician!

Each of these gigging sites charges the magician (or entertainer, or plumber) a fee to list their business on there. Five bucks here, a hundred bucks there. Pretty soon, we’re talking about real money!

Sometimes we pay an upfront cost to list our business there. Sometimes entertainers are charged for even bidding on a project or event – whether or not the event planner books us or not! They are free to walk away and not accept any of the bids, but the entertainers still pay.

Sometimes the cynical and paranoid side of me wonders if actually occasionally these businesses send out phony leads for entertainers to bid on, to generate revenue for themselves. We don’t find out details about our clients until we are booked. They wouldn’t do that. I’m being paranoid, right? Ha-ha!

Guess what. Here’s a dirty little secret. If you go to one of those gigging sites instead of going directly to the magician, someone’s got to pay. Those fees are almost always passed down to the customer, invisibly. I hate to charge people more! That’s why I allow customers to see my pricing sheet, but even so, nothing is chiseled in stone. A real human on the other side of the screen will work with you on your individual event.

In order to ensure the gIg site gets their cut, they limit the communication between the customer and the entertainer.

What? In order to set up a proper show, as an entertainer I need to speak to my client, to figure out what they need, and how (and if) I can serve them properly. If they are expecting David Copperfield illusions, I’m probably not their man. If they are wanting some sort of intimate strolling magic or a parlor or stage show with lots of direct audience interactions, I can knock it out of the park!

Here’s the crazy thing. In order to make sure that the gigging site always gets their cut, they almost always limit the communication to their web page. I’ve been scolded by these services for providing my phone number – so I can use their service and book the gig that they sent me. Gah!

Some unscrupulous people (I’m sure) have used the initial contact from the gigging site, and then not paid the site their cut. (Unscrupulous magician? I perish the thought!) It’s a bit like “dine & dash” in a restaurant. I always pay for the service, but I’m sure there were people that didn’t. However, when their security practices get in the way of me serving my clients, it bothers me.

So, when you hire a magician (or any other service) dig down a page or two to find a real human being! Don’t be pulled by these services that will charge you more and limit your communication. Good luck on your next hire!

Magic is real!

Hi there, folks.

I thought I’d start off my magic blog with perhaps a controversial sentence: Magic is real. I’ve been telling this to people often, and I really believe it. By the end of this blog, I hope to sway you over to my line of thinking.

I guess it depends on your definition of magic. A couple of years ago, I caught an interview on the Magic Word Podcast with Brad Henderson. What an eye-opener! I’d not heard of this guy before, but both episodes with Brad are amazing for the idea behind the question: what is magic?

To sum up, Brad insists that magic is real, because magic is an emotion. Magic is that feeling when our senses are totally lacking to explain something. It can be a life-changing or awe-inspiring feeling.

There’s a video on YouTube of a guy witnessing a double-rainbow, and totally freaking out. The guy is truly experiencing magic!

Magic doesn’t necessarily have to come from magicians. Keep your eye open for magic in your life. You’ll be glad you did!

Who am I, and what am I doing here?

Hi folks –

I’m Scott Starkey, sometimes known as the Wizard of the Wabash. I’ve been a part-time professional magician for over five years now.

I wanted to document my journey from being a part-time professional magician to my ideal of becoming a full-time.

I have been doing magic for a while. When I was a kid, my father taught me a trick or two with cards and coins with a couple of basic sleights. He was a schoolteacher and poker player. Occasionally he used a magic trick to entertain his kids. I also grew up in the 70s and 80s watching Doug Henning, David Copperfield, and Penn & Teller.

I got a few magic kits as a kid, and a couple of nice magic books. I even made a couple of purchases out of a magic catalog. I read that catalog cover to cover and over again, checking out the tiny black & white pictures, not really knowing what anything did. $120 to learn how to make a lady float! Well, that was out of my league, but I saved my allowance and bought a finger chopper trick, because I thought that would be totally cool. (It actually was for a 12-year-old, but unfortunately I had no presentational skills to go with it.) After a while, school and Boy Scouts and computers got in the way of my magic.

I had no idea, that about 30 minutes from my house, there was a magic club and store in Lafayette, Indiana! I found this out much later.

Then, in college at Purdue, I found out about the Purdue magic club! This was my first contact with actual magicians. I participated in a few of their shows. I was doing tricks with actual sleights! I had found the magic shop downtown, and bought a couple of tricks from the guy. However, I never knew that right across the river was the Lafayette magic club.

And then I took a year off from school, and mostly forgot about everything magic related.

Then in 2008 I took a business trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Our evenings were free. I wasn’t up for much in the way of gambling, but Las Vegas is known for its magic scene. For entertainment one night, I hunted down a magic shop and bought a couple of things. I took them back to my room and practiced coin moves and played.

Shortly after, I was browsing the Internet for magic stuff. I haphazardly typed “magic Lafayette Indiana” into a search engine, and found the magic club that had been kept secret from me my entire life. I dropped in on their meeting. I wasn’t really good; I didn’t have magic “chops”; but I wanted to drop by to see if it was fun. Wow, it was! There were actually some full time professionals that came to the club, with a good mix of amateurs as well. Plus, they were nice folks. I joined their club, and later became their president & secretary. I also eventually became a worker, myself. I’ll share that story with you later.