CNN Article on David Shimshi

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/12/09 02:47 AM

CNN article on Shimshi and his family in Vegas with no work:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/11/vegas. ... ref=rss_us
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Postby Pepka » 02/12/09 04:16 AM

Shimshi's a great performer, and it's a real shame to read this and see that he's not working as much as he should. I very often have spectators say, "What are you doing here, you should be in Vegas." Of course, I'm nothing great, it's just that they've never seen any one do half decent close-up magic. In fact, I bet most magicians working restaurants, banquets etc. hear this. My stock reply is, "Do you know how many out of work magicians I know in Vegas, that are better than me? Here, I'm a unique act, but out there I'm just another jackass with a deck of cards." It's always said in jest, but evidently there is some truth to it. Hopefully things turn around for Shimshi and any other performer out there who's struggling.
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Postby 000 » 02/12/09 06:17 AM

Are things really this bad in Las Vegas?
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Postby Steve Hook » 02/12/09 12:18 PM

Vegas tourism down 25%.

Hawaii: Oahu tourism down 17%, Maui down 19%.

Orlando airport traffic down 15%.

It's all going to get worse as the domino effect of lost jobs spreads out not in one direction but in 360 degrees from each and every person and company who is spending less or nothing.

Scary.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/12/09 01:23 PM

Every magician I know has lost 50 to 100% of his work. Unless they have a show booked into a theater on a contract, like Copperfield, they're all sucking wind right now.
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Postby Pepka » 02/12/09 02:38 PM

I would assume David is different than the other big names. Essentiall, he's touring and just brings the show into Vegas. Lance, P&T, Angel and the rest are all at their "house" gig and are in that group that is suffering big time. Is this right Richard?
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Postby Terry » 02/12/09 07:33 PM

They once pulled in more than $10,000 each month, much of which they put right back into the Las Vegas economy.

They canceled their home phone service, pool service, and a monthly pest control service that kept a scorpion problem in check. Restaurants are out along with the tanning spa for Janelle. When their large-screen TV died recently, there was no money to replace it, said the Shimshis.


Cry me a river.

They pulled in 10k per month and didn't set anything back for that special time when life happens and does?

They lost their pool service? Get off your butt and do it yourself.

Wifey is not going to restaurants or tanning booth? Boo hoo.

Large screen TV died? Pick up a book.

Guess they'll have to start living like the rest of us.
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Postby the Larry » 02/12/09 07:45 PM

Terry, you crack me up. I fully agree. Not that $10k is really much. Most of middle management pulls in more than that, but one can certainly live a decent life with a lot less than that.
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Postby Terry » 02/12/09 07:53 PM

Larry,

We work for the Commonwealth of KY and pull in 70k+ per year and we have no debt other than the house and that will be paid off in 12 out of 30 years (9 to go).

We are followers of Dave Ramsay's and we choose to live a life and not maintain a "lifestyle".
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Postby Joe Naud » 02/12/09 11:12 PM

Terry, I sent you a PM.
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/13/09 06:42 AM

The story is pretty much the same in the UK -- slow Christmas for many magicians, bookings off for adult events. In the UK, to my delight, booking a magician for an adult party (wedding, anniversary, etc., as well as corporate) is much more common than in the U.S. But times are tough with 2 million people out of work (out of a population of 60 million).

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Postby Tim Ellis » 02/13/09 08:32 PM

Common excuse/reason corporates are using to cancel gigs here downunder is "in light of the current economic situation..."

Over Christmas one firm cancelled a booking where I was to entertain their staff at their annual luncheon, and replaced me with a speaker on Superannuation. They felt it was more appropriate "in light of the current economic situation". I'm sure they had a very merry party as the guy would have explained how much they lost in superannuation over the last 12 months...

Sue-Anne has suggested we should now take 50% deposits from people as it makes them think twice before cancelliing on a whim. If they ask why so high a deposit... it's "in light of the current economic situation..."
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Postby Terry » 02/14/09 08:40 AM

Joe, you have mail!
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Postby Terry » 02/14/09 08:44 AM

Tim Ellis wrote:Sue-Anne has suggested we should now take 50% deposits from people as it makes them think twice before cancelliing on a whim. If they ask why so high a deposit... it's "in light of the current economic situation..."


Actually there was a contract book published by a magician years ago that recommended 'play or pay' as a normal contract.

I used it when living in Jacksonville doing children's parties. I actually had last minute cancellations which screwed up the calendar and I lost money. Using the contract ended that problem.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 02/14/09 09:05 AM

I had a gig cancelled at Crimbo six hours before the start. When I mentioned a cancellation fee the immediate response was 'but there's no contract!'. I pointed out that I had a confirmation email, and the fact that there was a gig to cancel in the first place would show writ and intent (the 'binding verbal contract' in Scots law).

In the end I stopped the call. I didn't need the strees at the time. The irony was that they called me for a last minute replacement after being let down by someone else...

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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/14/09 01:28 PM

They cancelled their home phone service, pool service, and a monthly pest control service that kept a [color:#FF0000]scorpion problem[/color] in check.


I think that they should have sold their plasma TV and kept paying the scorpion killing outfit.

Where I currently reside, the indigenous population has a derisive term for the way this crowd lived.

Smoothie King Franchise...No.
Papaya King Franchise...Maybe.
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Postby MaxNY » 02/14/09 11:14 PM

My corporate/or Country Club gigs are down...but the family parties are slightly up. There is a saying in Hollywood that goes something like..during times of trouble, people like to escape with films. I fielded 5 calls in one day last week, landing 3, that is good for me.

The exposure of magic on the tube helps. I'm just a weekend warrior. Never been near 10,000 a month.

The poor-me stuff was over the top. People are making savings wherever they can. I took down a 40 foot tree 30 feet up the side of a 45 degree avalanche, 20 feet away from my house last week probably saving 10,000 from a professional. it was crazy doing it, but got it done. I can't relate to Scorpion's though, unless your talking about my Lancia (car).
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Postby 000 » 02/16/09 05:14 AM

Question: to take home $10k for the month, how much did you give to uncle sam that month?
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/16/09 08:40 AM

000 wrote:Question: to take home $10k for the month, how much did you give to uncle sam that month?

Probably about 25% of it.
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Postby 000 » 02/16/09 10:00 AM

Thanks Joe.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/16/09 11:11 AM

As a working pro I learned a long time ago to live below my means because my income could fluctuate. That meant when things got tight, as they invariably would, I wasn't faced with a drastic change in lifestyle.

The most expensive miles on a car are the first 40,000 to 50,000 so I learned to buy used in good condition which means I drive a $45,000 car that cost me $10,000. (I had, at the time, the friendship of one of the world's best Volvo mechanics who was always happy to offer his observations. He saved me tens of thousands of dollars over the years.)

Several years ago we sold a house and paid off the second mortgage on our residence and all the credit card bills. Our credit score is above 800 and we have no debt except the current mortgage. Because of good credit the current house took ten minutes to qualify for and we got the best rate with no points.

Any idiot can live well on $10,000 a month. Living on less even though you're making that much is a much smarter way to live because if you're self-employed your income will vary and you have to be prepared with it changes.

That, and I ALWAYS worked with a contract and a deposit. If the deposit is non-refundable with less than, say, three weeks notice, then people are less likely to cancel "because of economic conditions" because there's a penalty for them if they do.

Also, with a contract you can specify your working conditions like a certain size portable stage, lighting, etc. Otherwise you just deal with what you find and that's often not a situation where you'll show your best.

It isn't called show BUSINESS for nothing.
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Postby Mark Phillips » 02/16/09 11:31 AM

Excellent advice David.
Go practice.
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Postby 000 » 02/16/09 11:51 AM

RK, you said above that every magician you know is down 50% to 100%. Has the recession, if you know, affected the 'millionaire' magician, Steve Cohen at the Waldorf Astoria? Just interested.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 02/16/09 12:43 PM

MaxNY wrote:My corporate/or Country Club gigs are down...but the family parties are slightly up. There is a saying in Hollywood that goes something like..during times of trouble, people like to escape with films. I fielded 5 calls in one day last week, landing 3, that is good for me.

The exposure of magic on the tube helps. I'm just a weekend warrior. Never been near 10,000 a month.

The poor-me stuff was over the top. People are making savings wherever they can. I took down a 40 foot tree 30 feet up the side of a 45 degree avalanche, 20 feet away from my house last week probably saving 10,000 from a professional. it was crazy doing it, but got it done. I can't relate to Scorpion's though, unless your talking about my Lancia (car).


And you can burn the wood in your fireplace! :)
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Postby Edward » 02/17/09 11:09 PM

David the advice is good. However it is just common sense to save if you're self-employed. They decided to live large so now their paying price. They come across as insincre(sp).

Kind of like the corporate CEO's going to congress asking for a handout and arriving in D.C. in their corporate jets.
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Postby Steve Hook » 02/18/09 01:08 AM

Edward wrote:David the advice is good. However it is just common sense to save if you're self-employed. They decided to live large so now their paying price. They come across as insincre(sp).

Kind of like the corporate CEO's going to congress asking for a handout and arriving in D.C. in their corporate jets.


Edward and Terry: Enough is enough with your derogatory, knowitall posts.

I'm not sure you read the same article the rest of us did.

I have yet to see where David made any "asking for a handout" comments. He only stated the facts. The point of the article isn't about soliciting welfare for David's family but rather, it's about the fact that the poor economy is affecting even those in the entertainment business.

The couple had invested a good bit in their retail business and they lost that apparently. And David's show income is also down. So he's taking care of their daughter and the wife is working for a caterer.

How did they respond?

"They cancelled their home phone service, pool service, and a monthly pest control service that kept a scorpion problem in check. Restaurants are out along with the tanning spa for Janelle. When their large-screen TV died recently, there was no money to replace it, said the Shimshis."

I didn't catch the part where either of them asked you guys to send them some money for a new TV.

So, where is the part about the hand out for the bailout? Where did David state that he and his wife weren't now cleaning the pool themselves? Where did they say they weren't reading books, Terry? Sheesh. Were you having a bad day February 12th?

David stated he's working on a business plan to pursue branching out into trade show work. Do you two disapprove of that?

I'm not the only one who found your posts unnecessarily and offensively aggressive.

Give the guy a frickin' break!

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Postby Terry » 02/18/09 06:06 PM

Steve Hook wrote:Edward and Terry: Enough is enough with your derogatory, knowitall posts.
I'm not sure you read the same article the rest of us did.
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Steve,

I did read the article and it came across as a typical "poor little ole me because we wasted our money supporting a lifestyle and not preparing for life".

No, I will not be drinking the koolaid and goose-stepping in the bleeding heart B.S. conga line.

There are real people who have earned a lot less than they have, but are managing to make their lives work just fine without whining to CNN about their "miseries" of missing restaurant lunches, tanning beds, big screen TVs, etc.
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Postby magicbar » 03/01/09 10:16 PM

back to the topic of working in Las Vegas...

My sister who lives there said, as a local, she really hasn't noticed much change. There are name acts appearing at local places and lots of Hollywood types residing there which have become local celebs. She mentioned that there is big action with the club scene (bottle service, see & be seen type places). Perhaps the average local can't see a drop in tourism & conventions. Do you think the town has shifted its focus to the college crowd and singles scene again? Are magicians still included in variety and lounge shows?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/02/09 11:59 AM

I don't know anything about the sale of seats at Steve Cohen's shows. Not every magician likes to announce a lack of work, and I didn't name anyone in particular. And I have not spoken about it to everyone I know by any means.

In case you haven't noticed, the economy has gone off the cliff here in the US, and in the UK, Europe, Japan, and China.

Is it any wonder that people aren't spending? Companies aren't hiring magicians. There are fewer private parties. People aren't going to restaurants.

And Vegas is a ghost town--rooms are dirt cheap everywhere and shows are running at 50% capacity and below. All shows are discounting tickets just to get some people into the theaters.

One of the few businesses that is booming is movies. Just like in the Great Depression, people are going to the movies in greater numbers than have been seen in recent years--so they can get out of the house. DVD sales, on the other hand, are stagnant.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 03/02/09 03:14 PM

I don't know if I agree with the restaurant claim. One restaurant with which I am affiliated has noticed no financial change in their business - they have noticed a clientele change.

This is a very nice restaurant but not terribly expensive. I think one would classify it as moderate+. They are finding a lot of people who would normally go to the terribly expensive places come to this restaurant because it is very nice, but not quite as costly especially for what you get.

Of course, they have seen some regulars disappear - and that is troubling.

People are still treating themselves to dinner out, I just think there may have been a shift in where that money is being spent. Of course the terribly wealthy still go to terribly expensive places, because even if you went from 2 billion to 1 billion, 80-150 bucks for a meal is nothing.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/02/09 03:31 PM

Restaurants in the DC and Maryland area are noticeably empty.

As were the last few plane flights I took.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/02/09 03:45 PM

I asked Steve Cohen about his business, and he wrote, "Tickets to my evening "Chamber Magic" shows are sold out through the end of
May, and I had to add Saturday matinee shows to catch spill-over business. I'm doing five shows each week now, and they're all at 100% capacity."

Glad to hear someone's business is good.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 03/02/09 04:09 PM

I think this is exactly what I said: They may not be jetting off to Europe or St. Barth's, but they still spend money for entertainment. Cohen is positioned perfectly to benefit from this shift.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/02/09 04:32 PM

Yes, because he's not relying on corporate work.
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/02/09 06:07 PM

The low hanging fruit may not be there like it once was, but there are still thousands of events in this country every single day. I also think that now, more than ever, what we do is a real service to people: to be able to get lost in a really good show and let go of all the stress/garbage.

For those of us who are in the early stages of our careers, I think it is a blessing in disguise. Make it now, and we can make it when things have turned around.

We're in the same boat everybody else is; some are positioned to do very well, some of us have to work harder and be leaner and more efficient than we were -- but that's true of every industry.

This is still one of the wealthiest nations in history, and people still have the means and desire to have fun.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/02/09 08:34 PM

I know quite a few pros who don't depend on the "low hanging fruit" as you somewhat snidely referred to it, and who have had their business dry up.
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/02/09 08:44 PM

I'm not saying people have depended on the "low hanging fruit," or criticizing anyone in anyway...by "the low hanging fruit may not be there" I'm referring to my own business, and what I've heard from colleagues throughout the meeting/event industry, that work that came more easily in the past is harder to come by now, for myself and others I have spoken with..incoming calls are down and percentages on outbound calls are lower...that's all I mean...and no snide intent: I'm all for low-hanging fruit when it is there
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Postby Silly Walter » 03/02/09 09:10 PM

Pepka wrote:...My stock reply is, "Do you know how many out of work magicians I know in Vegas, that are better than me? Here, I'm a unique act, but out there I'm just another jackass with a deck of cards." It's always said in jest, but evidently there is some truth to it...


That is a really stupid thing to say to people.
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Postby Cugel » 03/04/09 03:53 AM

I agree.
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Postby 000 » 03/05/09 09:40 AM

I have always had some admiration for all the pros out there. I know how tough it can be, having made a living from performance some 20 years ago for a few years. But right now if I had to do so, even my dogs would go hungry.So I happily pick the 'low lying fruits', helps offset the costs of a super hobby.

The key to any successful business it to realize that what worked yesterday aint necessarily going to work tomorrow....constant re-invention is the name of the game. And that includes the Magic (show)business.
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