Would you survive in the 1940s?
Magicians face all sorts of challenges when performing magic. In a discussion with magician Jack Grady, he told me that back when he was doing kid's shows, one of the worst experiences he's ever had was having his balloon pump stolen by the birthday girl and pooped upon.
"I eventually found the mother and let her know the situation. She replied with "oh it's her birthday". The show went on as planned but the real issue came up when I had to make the balloon animals. If you have ever tried to blow up a twisting balloon with your mouth alone you know the struggle. My lifelong asthma didn't help. I soldiered on making balloon animals for about 20 kids. After that my lungs were slowly starting to give out. Every balloon would make me more and more light headed. Eventually I began stumbling due to lack of oxygen. At that point I'm assuming one of the parents at the party told the birthday girl's mother I was drunk. I was then asked to leave."
Challenges can come up while you're booking a show, before, during and even after while you're packing. There's all sorts of unexpected things that can pop up nowadays, as there are more unpredictable elements than there used to be, say, 80 years ago.
Still, 20th century magicians had their own hurdles to overcome. While reading "Only For Magicians" which was published in 1944, I happened to discover some of these and could not hold myself back from smiling.
From the first few pages, Robert Parrish shares with his readers "some of the things that are perfectly likely to happen to you if you become a magician". From the few that he talks of, there are two that I wanted to share with you:
"For one thing, the entertainer is usually invited to eat with the organization. It should not be surprising if many "club workers" become dyspeptic or neurotic after living for a few years on a diet of veal patties and partially fried spring chickens. The performer's plight is made still worse by his being required to give his act immediately after he has eaten, while the rest of the banqueters are relaxing, digesting and smoking."
He continues by advising those who wish to be long-time performers to refuse these dinner invitations, but, in doing so, this ends up creating another situation which nowadays magicians don't have to deal with anymore.
"If you are not participating in the dinner, it is not desirable to show yourself before your performance. Therefore it is necessary not only to wait, but to hide. In the course of my experience in working for clubs I have waited in hotel kitchens, in cloak-rooms, in managers' offices, in rest-rooms, and even on fire escapes. My worst experiences in waiting have been in relation to lodges. The entertainment for these organizations is usually provided after their secret ritual has been carried out. The performer must meantime wait outside a bolted door in a draughty hall. I recall one night under these circumstances having nothing to do for an hour and a half except to meditate upon a placard which said:
"If every Odd Fellow was just like me, What a lodge my lodge would be!"
I mention these things not to discourage you, but to prove that magicians are willing to suffer for their art."
What's one of the challenges that you've faced as a performing magician and that you've overcome? Did you feel like you were SUFFERING for your art?