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Postby Guest » 11/27/02 10:52 AM

The earlier thread regarding Cellini and an episode that occurred in Florida brought out many insights into the Lecturing experience. Of those that had posted there, only three (by my count) had valid first-hand observations and experiences that they could share from the point of view of the lecturer himself.

This morning I spoke with Cellini and he recounted for me the circumstances that led to where he ended up walking out of a lecture before it had properly begun.

First, when the lecture was set up he was informed that there would be 35-40 magicians present--there turned out to be 8 (including the president's wife/family). This information on attendance numbers was provided in advance either directly or indirectly by the club president. Secondly, they postponed when the lecture was to begin, explaining that there would be more attendees forthcoming if Cellini would just wait.

At that, Cellini considered the numbers, realized though his experiences that he would probably end up performing for and talking with these fellas for the next 3 hours for what benefit? It certainly wasn't financial-- he'd had enough experience to realize that this group wouldn't buy what he was offering. So perhaps there were some who had really looked forward to seeing him? There would certainly be some benefit gained there, benefitting the art itself.

As he was tired and didn't have any indication that his words and work were to be met with the gravity they deserve he ventured the comment, "you know, I really don't feel like doing this lecture. In Europe, I get 2000 dollars just for the show alone." In response to this was not an entreaty for him to go on (just one word of encouragement would've done it); that those present were looking forward to seeing him work. Instead the president replied, "well there's the door".

Now to me, if I was looking for some encouragement that what I was about to embark upon was to be even passingly considered, this sort of response would quickly allay that false impression.

Cellini's not one to mince words so he said ok, he wouldn't do the lecture after all.

Now I might ask if there has been anything constructive to come from this? If there are some that can take this to heart and realize that there are lecturers out there who are intested in furthering the art, not for the monetary rewards alone, but because they have a deep abiding love for magic and on that basis meet them with encouragement and kindness, then we'll all be better for it and most of all in so doing, we'll infuse the art with that most ephemeral and venerated quality-- meaning.

To address Carlos directly on a point that seems to stick in my craw, he's painted himself as an objective observer in all this to which begs the question, why did you say then that you were a "guest" and thereby felt inhibited about saying anything? You've tried repeatedly to make Cellini look as bad as you possibly could in all of this and then ending with, "but I wish him well", when you've shown no understanding for, and voiced objections to those that have, Cellini's point of view.
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Postby Jim Morton » 11/27/02 11:55 AM

Thanks for the perspective, Eric. I must admit I'm of two minds on this one. If someone said to me, "Well, there's the door," I would walk out. Absolutely. In fact, I did once, at a job where I had an argument with the boss's son, and he said that (or words to that effect).

On the other hand. I once saw Joshua Jay at a lecture where there were only eight people,and he gave it his all. If the fact that only eight people showed up bothered him (and I imagine it did), he never showed it. It was an excellent lecture.

Obviously the guy who made the "door" remark could use some classes in communication skills. It sounds like, a simple, "I think you'll find, Mr. Cellini, that these eight people will make it worth your while," might have done the trick (even if it was a lie).

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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/27/02 01:49 PM

I've been following this and the closed Cellini thread with much interest for several reasons (we're hosting Cellini next week being one of them, having booked him through John Luka with no minimum attendance specified or required). I book most of the lectures for our club, and am the closest to a "host" that most of our lecturers see. I, as both an avid attendee and as a representative of our club, want the lecture experience to be good for those who who pay to get in, and those who are paid to lecture.

One undercurrent of thought that shows up throughout the current discussion is the idea that some number of attendees is too few. We have a small club, and usuall have about a dozen or so folks attend a lecture. It is clear that some of our lecturers wish there were more, but no one has ever acted on such disappointment, or even overtly said anything negative about relatively low attendance.

I've booked lectures through Danny Archer, Obie O'Brien, John Luka, and many directly with the lecturer, and all we've ever been asked for is a fee and a hotel room (and sometimes incidental transportation within the lecture stop). We've never been asked to guarantee a minimum attendance, and if we were required to do so, it might mean that we wouldn't book the lecture. How could we do so?

We hosted David Stone last week -- a great lecture. We had ten paid attendees @ $10 per. His fee was $200 plus a hotel room. Our club subsidized the lecture to the tune of $148. We as a club would love to have more show up, but have no way of enforcing attendance. (BTW, David had about $670 in sales plus his fee). Did David leave happy? He said he did, and looks forward to a repeat engagement in a few years. Maybe he's just a gentleman, and took a loss on the show, but this was a very typical lecture for us in terms of the attendance, sales, and lecture experience.

I'll never know what happened for sure in Melbourne Florida with Cellini. If I had been the person who had booked him for the Florida club, I'd be very disappointed in him -- a fee was negotiated, and a lecture is expected. Anything else is a breach of contract.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 11/27/02 03:13 PM

I have read the various Cellini posts over the last few days. I am a bit surprized by the defense of Mr Cellini. To me this is simple.

Like it or not Magic, the performance and the lecturing, is show business. The golden rule in show business is, THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

Don't like that point of view. then try a businesman's point of view. You made a contract to deliver your services. It is not my job to make sure you turn profit or that you remembered to negotiate for all possible eventualities. You make a deal, you stick to it. I'm sure Richard has published books on which he did not return a profit. Should he then tell all those that have bought(shown up for a lecture), not enough were sold, everyone send back the books you already have. The answer is NO. You go out on the road, it's business. Will Cellini refund money if more then the expected number show up for the lecture? NO. That's also business.

Don't like that view. Then how about pure professional class, never voice your disappointment to the audience.
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Postby Kendrix » 11/27/02 03:23 PM

I think that Cellini used very poor judgement in making his statement about the group that had assembled to see him. I don't think he would have appreciated if someone stood up and said "I thought David Copperfield was going to be the lecturer" and then walked out.
I, myself, might have been so shocked at his statement I might have "popped off" with the "there is the door" statement. Also, a mistake. However, Cellini is the professional and should know how to handle any situation.
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Postby Guest » 11/27/02 04:06 PM

I must confess, I'm not the best at making myself clear through the written word, as most of you can tell by now.

What I view as the problem here is one of attitude. Most of those who've stated that they were dissappointed in Cellini's behaviour did so on the basis of "the show must go on."

I believe that is why Cellini mentioned the fee he charges in Europe, he didn't book a show and these individuals didn't seem like they were open to any of his ideas.

I've been around magic clubs enough to know that there is sometimes one dominant ego laden individual who reigns supreme in his pond. I think it was a case where two men hooked horns and perhaps everyone lost something as a result.

It is safe to say that everyone learned something here. If you go to lectures in order to buy new tricks for your living room, don't bother seeing Cellini (or myself for that matter) when he's around, but if you seek deeper meaning, lessons infused with power-- power that increases your effectiveness in what you already do, I can do no better than to recommend Cellini's lecture.
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Postby Guest » 11/27/02 05:16 PM

Actually in my above post I was being unfair to Cellini. Even those who go to a lecture to buy tricks won't be disapointed if they go to Cellini's lecture as they'll learn something that they hadn't considered I bet. And I'll even go so far as to say that they'll consider it far more valuable that the last trick they bought.

I'm not aware of anyone who's attended Cellini's lectures and not realized that it is the distillation of a lifetime's experience. Far more entertainment and knowledge than a mere "show" could provide.
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Postby Guest » 11/27/02 10:01 PM

Mr. Evans:

I respect you having your friend's back, but your arguments are flawed.

Of those that had posted there, only three (by my count) had valid first-hand observations and experiences that they could share from the point of view of the lecturer himself.
Mr. Hampton represented himself as a audience member, and clearly conveyed his disappointment. No other experience is necessary. I've given many lectures in my life, and that means nothing as well. And if I failed (or bailed) in the attempt, never would I fault the audience for not understanding my side of the lectern.

On the one hand, you decry Carlos Hampton for one-sided reporting, but you offer this:

At that, Cellini considered the numbers, realized though his experiences that he would probably end up performing for and talking with these fellas for the next 3 hours for what benefit? It certainly wasn't financial-- he'd had enough experience to realize that this group wouldn't buy what he was offering.

and...

Now I might ask if there has been anything constructive to come from this? If there are some that can take this to heart and realize that there are lecturers out there who are interested in furthering the art, not for the monetary rewards alone, but because they have a deep abiding love for magic and on that basis meet them with encouragement and kindness, then we'll all be better for it and most of all in so doing, we'll infuse the art with that most ephemeral and venerated quality-- meaning.

Cellini is a great magician, and now he's a mindreader. A lot of words have been used to say it ain't about the money, but the money keeps getting mentioned. And raising a flag to Art for Art's sake can't be done when you walk out on your audience.

That said, we all get tired, we all get sick, we all get sick & tired. It's Cellini's prerogative to call off the show, but he can't hide behind Art or Nice-Guy-ness in that event. Yeah, the host may have been boorish to boot, but I bet he isn't the first one Cellini has encountered.

Finally, this is just weak:

If you go to lectures in order to buy new tricks for your living room, don't bother seeing Cellini (or myself for that matter) when he's around, but if you seek deeper meaning, lessons infused with power-- power that increases your effectiveness in what you already do, I can do no better than to recommend Cellini's lecture.
There were a number of people at the lecture, Carlos Hampton included, who did come to see the lecture, denied only by the decisions made by Cellini.

I'm with the Show Must Go On crowd. A deal is a deal. Complain after the show to the powers that be -- heck, give them a poke in the puss -- but don't turn on your supporters.

-- Randy Campbell
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Postby Guest » 11/28/02 04:26 AM

I guess I owe everyone an apology for my posts here. I reacted to something that I should have stayed out of and knew nothing about. Perceiving an insult to a very dear friend and respected teacher, I in turn lashed out.

My apologies to you all.

Note to friends: If you're caught up in a disagreement on the internet, you don't necessarily want me on your side.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/28/02 10:35 AM

Eric, there's no need to apologize: every good friend will defend their friends. Sometimes even our good friends don't behave "perfectly."
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Postby pduffie » 11/28/02 10:54 AM

"a fee was negotiated, and a lecture is expected. Anything else is a breach of contract."

That's true, but when the President shows you the door - he's just sacked you.
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Postby Kendrix » 11/28/02 04:18 PM

He may have thought he was giving Cellini the "out" he wanted.
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Postby Scott » 11/28/02 07:42 PM

Should you really be obligated to perform if you think the crowd won't appreciate you? I know this is an open and objective question, but just for a minute....indulge me,please....

Imagine you are a kids show magician, and you get to a show and it's apparent you were hired to be the baby sitter, so the adults could go into the other room and chat. The kids are out of control. Do you have the right to pack up and leave?

Personally, I think you have every right. Just like working tables, when you "read" the table from across the resturant, and you can tell the people won't appreciate magic, so you skip that table. Isn't it the same thing? It's like he showed up to a group that didn't want to see him. Obviously, as mentioned, words were said to him prior to the lecture. The lecture I attended, of Jim's, had about 13-15 people in it and he was very nice. In fact, he stayed around and talked magic until 2:00 a.m.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 11/28/02 08:30 PM

Originally posted by Scott:
Should you really be obligated to perform if you think the crowd won't appreciate you? I know this is an open and objective question, but just for a minute....indulge me,please....
I'm not a professional magician...I'm a computer programmer. I can't imagine calling up my boss one morning and saying, "You know, I don't think I'm being appreciated here. I'm not gonna come in today." Well, I can kiss that job goodbye, as well as any recommendations my boss might give me when I'm moving on to another job. I don't think it would be any different with magic. Like it or not, it's a job.

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Postby sleightly » 11/28/02 09:05 PM

It may be a job, but ultimately one where you are your own boss...

May not be exceedingly professional, but I'm sure your boss takes off every once in a while when he feels like he needs a few more rounds of golf under his belt...

ajp
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Postby C. Hampton » 11/29/02 06:24 AM

Mr Evans said
I guess I owe everyone an apology for my posts here. I reacted to something that I should have stayed out of and knew nothing about. Perceiving an insult to a very dear friend and respected teacher, I in turn lashed out.

My apologies to you all.

Note to friends: If you're caught up in a disagreement on the internet, you don't necessarily want me on your side.
I don't want to beat a dead horse, and this will be my last post about this subject. I just wanted to clarify that at no time was my intent to insult your friend, initially I felt it was the other way around. At the same time, I raised my concerns because I was truly interested in what Cellini had to offer, and I will mention that I am still trying to get information about his topit and DVD after this incident, so my interest about his magic has not deminsh.

The fact is that everyone has a bad day, and people make choices, sometimes not the most appropiate ones, and those choices come with consecuences. The only thing that bother me a bit was the fact that I was getting acussed of bad mouthing the man, when in turn I was just describing the events that took place and the decisions made by the lecturer.

About the fact that I wished him good luck is because I ment it. I was approached by a few individuals that have Cellini booked for upcoming events and they were requiring further information about the incident. I was prompt to point out that I was sure that he only had a bad day and that they were sure to enjoy the Cellini experience everyone else was talking about.

This been clarified let's please close this issue and wish him the best all together. :D
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