Jules Lenier's comments about "semi-pros".

Discuss the latest feature articles in Genii.

Postby Guest » 05/25/02 08:07 AM


I disagree with several of the comments about part-time pros (PTP) in Jules Leniers column for June. Many social clubs, church groups and birthday parties are located nowhere near a full-time pro(FTP). This means that, to make the show worth his time, it must be priced far beyond the amount that these groups could afford. A local person who does programs, whether magic, flower arranging or a travelogue, is already in the area and can provide an enjoyable program at an affordable price.
Many PTPs are very serious about the art of magic. Because they are doctors, bankers, teachers, engineers and salespeople, they know their presentation will have to be done well, because the audience will be their patients, customers or students, people that they will be seeing again.
I do agree that the PTP should be selective in his acceptance of programs and recommend the nearest FTP if the situation applies. For example:

Mrs. Wilson wants a magician for Susies 6th birthday party, inviting her 10 closest friends. The nearest full-time pro lives 80 miles away and charges $150 plus mileage for the show. Mrs. Wilson decides that they can play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey instead. Then she remembers that a local teacher does magic programs, so she calls him. He will do the show for $50, so she hires him. The kids have a great time at the party!
The PTP also has the time to stay for a glass of punch (and maybe even a piece of birthday cake!). During refreshment time he answers several questions about how he became interested in magic, David Blaine, The Masked Magician and David Copperfield. One of the guests wants to do a trick. After the trick (which involves 21 cards), the PTP points him in the direction of the local library, which he knows has several Bill Severn books on beginning magic.
Six years later, Susie is on the entertainment committee for her high school prom. She remembers the magic show and convinces the committee to have a magician entertain the 250+ students at the after-prom. She calls the local magician and he does not take the show. Instead, he recommends the FTP, since he knows the prom budget can handle the expense.
The PTP sits on an important rung of the entertainment ladder. Without him/her, many small groups would simply do without, so IMO, nothing is being taken away from the FTP.

Jim Snapp, PTP

Postby Jeff Haas » 05/26/02 11:09 PM

I have a different take on Lenier's article. It sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.

Lenier argues that someone presenting a cheaper service steals work from the professionals because "the child's mother doesn't know the quality of the act that she's hiring" and so goes for the less expensive act.

If you can't sell your product or service at the price you want, you need to learn how to sell!

Transpose this argument to another field...a customer wants to buy a car. He can pick a BMW or a Hyundai. Since he can't tell the difference between them, he buys the Hyundai. It does the same thing, and it's cheaper. Does the BMW dealer accuse the Hyndai dealer of "stealing" his customer?

If you've got a higher-priced service, such as a magic show, you need to learn how to sell it to get the price you want.

Also, in the example Lenier gives in his article...if the mother of the party was only willing to pay $30.00, then she was not going to pay $150.00 -- period. When you're selling shows like this, you spot the customers who can't afford your price pretty quickly in the phone conversation. They will either find someone cheaper or do without; the cheaper act doesn't "steal" them from you.

The friend Lenier mentions who does all the characters, vent, magic, and balloon animals needs to learn how to market her services. That's why it's called show business -- you are a small businessperson and ultimately responsible for addressing your market.

Jeff Haas
Posts: 924
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: San Mateo, CA

Postby Tom Stone » 05/27/02 08:05 AM

Originally posted by Jim Snapp:
I disagree with several of the comments about part-time pros
Actually, I disagree with the label "part-time pro" altogether. You are either a professional or an amateur.
User avatar
Tom Stone
Posts: 1121
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Postby Guest » 05/27/02 03:25 PM

I disagree with Jules Lenier's position on the talent of part time pro's. To quote "The Semi-Pro probably learns a new effect at his club meeting one night and a week later, it's in his act." Anybody who believes this should search this forum for a thread entitled "Day Jobs of Famous Amateurs and Semi-Pros?” Some of the most talented magicians of our time were either Amateurs or Semi Pro's. It upsets me greatly, that some magicians, whose only source of income is magic, who do a bunch of standard, tired, old routines with patter straight from the mouth of Don Alan, think they should get more respect then Vernon, Bro. Hamman and Albert Goshman. I don't wish to imply that Jules Lenier does a bunch of tired, old routines etc. etc.

Noah Levine

Postby Dave Shepherd » 05/27/02 08:32 PM

I am a PTP and I make it a point NOT to price my services so as to undercut the local working FTP's. I charge as much as I am worth. Which is not cheap.

I deeply resent Mr. Lenier's suggestion that anyone not working full-time is likely to have a careless attitude toward magic.

It generally takes me a minimum of five or six months working with any new effect before I will perform it for a paying audience. There are routines I have lived with for two and three years before introducing them to my professional act.

Although I do not make a full-time living as a magician, I take VERY seriously my part-time magic career. I've been a (professional) performer for over 25 years, including a period as a New York actor.

Sometime ago at some point in my performing career, I came to realize that one significant difference between most star actors and most bit players (apart from their box-office appeal) is the amount of money they get for a gig. A star will go six months or a year between engagements sometimes, but a star can afford to do that when he or she is paid a million dollars for a movie. Many talented unknowns, who make Equity or SAG scale, cannot afford to simply sit around at home and review scripts, so they work as waiters, teachers, writers, whatever.

This does not make the bit players any less professional. And, strictly speaking, this means that stars are well-paid "part-time professionals."

Anton Chehkov, probably the most famous Russian playwright of a hundred years ago, was a physician in his day job. This, therefore, made him a "part-time pro" writer. (Incidentally, the comparison of a PTP magician with a PTP surgeon is absolutely ludicrous.)

Mr. Lenier, I will put my standards as a professional performer up against those of any full-time magician.
Dave Shepherd
Posts: 423
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: 15 miles w. of Washington, DC

Postby Guest » 06/22/02 10:42 AM

I resent the comments made by Jules Lenier. I work a regular job 40 hours a week, but I also perform 150 to 200 shows per year. I know many pro's who don't perform any more often than I do, and who charge the same as I do. Should they be considered more professional simply because they are willing to get by and I prefer to earn more with the security of a full time job in addition to my show income. I charge a fair price for my shows and provide a quality product.I worked very hard on my magic and take it very seriously. If I take a show away from one of the pro's he either failed to close the deal or failed to provide a superior product for the price he quoted, in either case that is not my fault or problem. Perhaps the pro's who are losing shows to the part-time guys should re-evaluate their show or sales technique and fix the problem instead of whining about others.

Postby Guest » 06/22/02 03:09 PM

Perhaps the problem here is with terminology. We have been taught for a long time that one that makes aliving with magic is a "professional", one who makes moeny but less than half their income from magic is a "semi-professional" and one that does not make income but does it for fun is an "amateur". I personally beleive this is wrong.

How one carries oneself, ones attitude, etc. is really how a professional should be defined. I know far too many so called "amateurs" that are far more professional than many so called "big-names" out there. Just because one is making aliving frommagic does not mean that they are any good let alone professional.

I think that what Mr. lenier was talking about was a poor performer/semi-professional type person, not necessarily the ones that seem to feel attacked by him. The ones that wrote in obviously have a professional quality act that sells or they would not be making as much $$$ as they say.

I would like to finish however by also pointing out that part of being "professional" is having a thick skin to criticism and poor revues. We all get them and truthfully, as long as we are working and our audiences are loving our performances, who cares what others say! We can't please them all and as long as the paying public loves us, who cares about the others......

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat

Postby Guest » 06/28/02 08:42 AM

Strictly speaking, "amateur" means "for love"...and implies someone who loves the art enough to do it for free. "Professional" implies they do it to earn a living.

Neither term describes skill level or dedication, although some might infer that.

I see no reason to assume a "professional" show is better than an "amateur" performance. They just cost more.

Postby Guest » 07/09/02 02:29 PM

Hi Jules.
It Seems that you haven't changed to much since I last saw you in 1970, in Albuquerque, Soooo, this is a voice from your past. I am now living in Dalton GA. The email address is yostevo@chartertn.net. I would love to here from you. Steve Young.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/09/02 09:44 PM

Jules does not have a computer, so he will never see your message to him.
When he sends me his column it comes from a typewriter.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 21940
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Guest » 07/10/02 11:13 AM

Here's what I don't understand:

Jules obviously feels that Part Time Pros are worse than "real" professionals. And yet he objects when they charge less than these "real" pros who are so much better.

Does this make any sense?

I mean, if I'm a part-time pro (I'm not any kind of professional magician, but let's assume), and I'm not as good as a real pro who charges $300, then how much should I charge? Shouldn't I charge less? Wouldn't Jules object even more strenuously if I charged the same as the real pro who is so much better?

Over the years I've heard many magicians moan about other magicians who are so much worse than them and charge less. But no one has ever proposed an alternative that makes even the slightest bit of sense.

I'm a professional writer, and I'd love it if all the writers who aren't as good or as experienced as me charged the same as I do. It would be much better for me!

But it would pretty thoroughly suck for everyone else.

Postby Guest » 07/14/02 09:00 PM

There is an amazing book by Alan Weiss entitled, "Money Talks," in which he discusses his view of the speaking profession. The reason that I bring this up is that he argues that if one is to be a full time speaker, does that mean that one is speaking every day?

I would ask the same question about magicians. As many have pointed out above, professionalism has nothing to do with how many shows one performs but rather how well...

Postby Guest » 07/15/02 02:06 PM

Quite a hot topic. I am, happily, a full time pro. I believe in letting others do what they want to do. If an amateur wants to try doing a gig somewhere, let him. If it meant putting food on the pro's table, too bad. If someone (pro, part time pro, amatuer) wants to work bad enough, and ends up driving down the market price. So be it. People should be free to do what they want to do, and they don't have to answer to anyone about their actions.

Postby Guest » 08/19/02 11:10 AM

I completely agree that Mr. Lenier's comments are way out off line, but who really cares about Mr. Lenier's opinion?

Postby Steve Bryant » 08/19/02 12:31 PM

Without agreeing or disagreeing with the particular issue, I care about Jules' opinion. He is part of the original guard of the Magic Castle and has probably seen more magic than most on this board, and he is a fine fellow. His opinion matters, and I would give it more credence than that of most who chime in here.
User avatar
Steve Bryant
Posts: 1719
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Bloomington IN

Postby Guest » 08/19/02 04:16 PM

Just to add,
Jules is also a very creative and clever fellow/performer that really does know what he is talking about. I have used several of his card effects for a number of years and have always astounded my audiences with them and in fact have received standing ovations from one of the effects numerous times now. Jules merely said what many have thought but never had the nerve to say it. Others may disagree but he has some very valid points in what he says. Unfortunately many fail to realise that there are two sides to every coin and neither side is necessarily the correct one.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat

Postby Guest » 08/20/02 07:20 AM

I think that if we lived in a village of a hundred or a thousand people, all this would hold true, or at the least, be evident. If Joe charged 100 and was a "part timer" and Bob didn't get the job and he was a professional who charges 500 and the show was terrible and everyone in that little world knew about it... I think you see what I mean. Jules lives in a village like that; it's called the Magic Castle.
Most of us live in a bigger place where magicians are not everywhere we look and we don't know their names or what they charge. In truth, there are NOT a lot of magicians in our world. There are far more nuns and when is the last time you saw one? I know, I know, this isn't nuns.com, it's a magic forum, but I think we should try to look at this from diffierent sides and mind our spellling.

Return to Feature Articles