Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

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Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
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Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

Postby fredreisz » May 29th, 2017, 1:49 pm

I thought it might be fun to share some unusual gigs we have had.
I have been performing magic for over 65 years. Last Saturday, I had a gig unlike anything in all those years. About 4 months ago I was booked through an on-line booking Board. The client, a woman, wanted a magician for an adult birthday, 45 minute show and 45 minute strolling magic, an hour and a half performance time. The party would start at 7 p.m. The performer has to have a tuxedo. I sent a quote. She accepted. I sent a contract through the Board. She accepted.
About two weeks after that, she wrote to explain that it was her birthday and she was planning the event. It was to be a masquerade party, so I would need a mask. About two months before the event, she wrote to say that there would be other performers: a mime, a comedian MC, some fire eaters, some dancers, 3 women aerial acrobats, a male singer, a woman singer, a DJ and she would perform several songs, in three sets during the party.
In another week, she wrote to say that to start the event, we would all process in together, except for DJ who would be doing the music. She would come in first with me holding her hand and escorting her to a small stage in the front of the room. Then while she sang 2-3 songs, we were to circulate around the room and the tables dancing or moving artistically. Then she said we would be there for the party about three hours performing and strolling (double my contracted time!) – Each act had 20-30 minutes to perform. There would be two other times she would sing. For one, I was to come out and throw rose petals over her, for the other I was to come out and throw confetti as she sang. The night of the show neither of the “throwables” appeared. Then for each act, she listed 6-7 songs off of YouTube that the DJ would play during the act. The music was just short of “Goth,” some circus themes. I wrote back and explained at length that I was a “talking” act like the comedian and did not want any music playing during my act. It ended up, I had to attend to this myself the night of the show with the DJ.
About five weeks before the show, she wrote all the performers to say that she wanted a meeting at her house in a week and a half to “rehearse” the details and blocking, etc. She did offer to pay for gas. I was about an hour’s drive away. I went. She said she was expecting about 200 plus guests.
The party was in average size function room seating about 200 maximum. There was a free bar on a side porch. I did some strolling magic there, in the kitchen for workers, and in the entrance area before you went into the banquet room. I arrived about an hour and a quarter before the 7 p.m. starting time, to move in my equipment, check the strolling conditions and talk with the DJ. The room was elegantly setup. Much candle light. About 10 tables on the sides with elegant food. Table cloths and center pieces on all tables. The room lighting was either all ceiling lights on or all lights off. They were off. There were some soft side wall light…very dim. Thus the venue was very low light. The front the room, performance area, had a huge aerial acrobatic rig setup – 15 feet tall! Then a small raised level, 4 X 6 feet “stage.” In the middle of the room between the 9 tables (in a “V” Shape), there was a 4 foot by 15 foot raised platform for performing. None of the performance “Stages” were lit or spotlighted! My heart sank! Very dim atmospheric lighting. In a room with seating at tables for about 110 people, it was hard to see.
By 6:45 p.m., there were about 20 people there and the woman whose party it was, was not there. Some of the performers were not there yet. In about 20 minutes, a little after the 7 p.m. starting time, I was told that she changed the starting “procession” time to 8 p.m.! The people at the party were all in tuxes or formal dress. Backstage many pictures were taken of us as a performing “circus’ group with the Guest of Honor, and individual photos of each performer. At 8:45 p.m., we did the opening “circus” procession. Then acts just came one after the other, each act taking about 20-30 minutes. The performers were all 22-32, except for me. They were very professional and adapted to the setting. When the woman sponsoring the party for herself sang, she wore tailored professional costumes.
Before the party, I was told I would come on after the initial procession and the songs by the woman throwing the party for herself. That night, I was told I was to perform after the man and woman fire eaters half way through. Then later, I was told I would be after the women aerialists. (I think I was the old guy getting shuttled around.)
All the performers were back in a small “L” shaped hallway off the main room with one bathroom for the women to use. Crowded conditions. I came “dressed” but the women changed throughout the evening. Apparently, they were convinced that I was not the “dirty” old guy. At about 10 p.m., I went out in the main room in my tux and got a plate of food for the performers. I took it back to the side hallway which was closed off by a black curtain. As I stepped in with the food, which everyone appreciated, before me were several nearly nude women. They were about to do a “stripper” act. I thought that I was back in vaudeville.
I decided that performing at the front was impossible because of very low lighting. I redesigned what I was doing to be on the walk-way stage in the middle with tables in front, on the sides and on the sides behind me. Tough setting. By the time I was on it was about 10:45 p.m., the people had been sitting through two hours of constant performances. They wanted up and out! They really wanted just to dance with the DJ. I got through my act and had the crowd laughing, but it was not my “shining” moment!
The party was totally African American, as was the comedian brought in from out-of-state. Most of the entertainers, including myself, were Caucasian. The comedian was extremely kind to me and helpful. When he was on, of course, it was Black comedy, extremely sexist, telling individual women what he would or would not do with/to them, and insulting men in the audience, lots of swear words …stuff I would be jailed for doing. All my liberal “isms” were violated and I just dwelt in a different culture.
I was given a check that evening. I had assumed the $50 I was given to cover time and expenses to come to the extra “rehearsal” was extra income, but she had deducted it from my contracted total and the check was $5 short of my making my contracted total. Of course, I did not look at the check when it was handed to me.
There was a sadness about this extremely planned and expensive “birthday” party. The sponsoring woman was in her early thirties, I think. At least 90% of the guests were over 50, some from different states. She was a good singer of popular music. She had a sort of stage name that everyone called her. Less than a handful of the guests I saw were of her age. She had told us there would be about 200 there, but I counted only about 90 some. It was an elegant, elaborate, entertaining, expensive event. However, I have no idea what the real back-story was/is!
Peace…Fred (Reisz)
"The art of magic is the magic of art."

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Re: Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

Postby performer » May 30th, 2017, 6:25 am

I would like to read this but alas the lack of spaces between paragraphs make it difficult.

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Re: Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

Postby performer » May 30th, 2017, 6:34 am

I have managed to read it. Interesting. I hope you charged the earth!

I also have a strange story about an unusual gig. I may have told it once before. I was hired to do a surprise 10 minute show in an Irish pub for someone who was about to get married. I was to act as a sort of singing telegram and it was INSISTED that I had to do kid show material suitable for five year olds even though there were no kids there. All hell broke loose in the pub as a result. Perhaps one day I might tell you about it. I do know that every magician in Dublin turned the gig down except me.

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Re: Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

Postby performer » May 30th, 2017, 6:48 am

Aha! I have found the awful tale in another forum. I shall cut and paste it. Here it is:

I once did magic in a pub in Dublin and the landlord desperately wanted to throw me out. I am quite glad he didn't have any bouncers otherwise who knows what would have happened. The difference to my story is that I was actually booked to perform there, although not by the pub itself.

Here is the story.

I once got booked to do a very odd show in Dublin. The booker informed me that every magician in Dublin had turned it down. He said that it was a stag party of a group of about 10 men seated in a pub. It was not in a private room. It was actually in the public area of the bar. One man was getting married the next day and they wanted to have a night out with him.

The booker told me that they wanted a magician to surprise him. I thought it was a bit odd and asked if he was a fan of magic. He said "No. He hates magic" which I found odder still.

He then asked if I did children's magic and I said "yes" and they asked me what tricks I did which I always find to be a daft question. However I told them the general effect of Run Rabbit Run and the Bongo Hat and I also told him about the breakaway wand whereupon he got very excited and wanted to book me.

I asked how many children would be there and he surprised me by saying "none" He said the programme was just for the adult men who were going to be gathered round a couple of tables in the pub.

I then got very confused and told him that the show I described wasn't suitable at all and I recommended some close up magic with cards and coins to him. He said emphatically "No! We want the magic wand that breaks and the growing hat thing you told us about" I insisted that it wouldn't be suitable as it was magic purely for children whereupon he replied "but we want you to do a children's show" Again I thought I had misunderstood and said "Well how many children will be there?" and he again replied "None. We can't bring children into the pub anyway"

I am a bit slow on the uptake and got very confused about the whole thing particularly as he said "we only want a 10 minute show" I said "Well you won't get much entertainment for 10 minutes, you know but I can do a really good couple of card tricks in that time" The reply was "We only want you for ten minutes and we will pay you the normal fee. But we don't want card tricks" I said "what about coin tricks?"

He replied "No. We want you to do that silly stuff you do for the children. Every magician in Dublin has turned us down"

It began to dawn upon me that he really wanted me to do a kid show for 10 adults. It seemed that instead of one of those singing telegrams I was to do 10 minutes of cheesy magic for a fellow that hated cheesy magicians. It was their idea of a joke. And they deliberately wanted the magician to do silly magic that he would do for 5 year olds.

I started to balk at this proposition especially as the potential booker sounded a bit tipsy and I was beginning to see why all the magicians had turned him down. He said, "This could be a whole new market for you. Instead of a singing telegram you could market yourself as the surprise magician"

Anyway I was daft enough to take on the booking. I hid behind a pillar in the pub and when I was given the signal I marched out in full tuxedo and started doing Run Rabbit Run while all these grown men were loudly cheering and laughing.
The groom to be looked absolutely astonished and I did the Bongo Hat on him and used a breakaway wand. His pals shouted and yelled at him and in their drunken stupor they shouted at me "show us your willie!" in a most improper manner.

The other patrons of the pub were not pleased and neither was the pub landlord who had not been informed of the upcoming shenanigans. I got dirty looks galore from the patrons and people were yelling "who let this lunatic in here?" and "get him out of here". It seems they didn't appreciate the commotion when all they were trying to do was have a quiet drink.

I did a 15 minute spot and got the hell out of there and was paid in cash. The booker was highly delighted although the pub landlord clearly wasn't.

This could only happen in Ireland.

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Re: Most Unusual Gig You Have Had? LONG

Postby MagicbyAlfred » May 30th, 2017, 2:31 pm

It sounds like some Irish eyes were smiling and others weren't!

Now that is an unusual booking, as was Fred's.

I have two that come to mind: One was about 20 years ago when a very talented magician with whom I frequently worked events in Florida (Mio Rodriguez) came up with this gig on a tour bus. The bus was going to take people from the Boca Raton Resort & Beach Club to South Miami Beach and the organizers wanted close-up magic during the trip. So Mio, myself and 2-3 other magicians walked about the bus doing close-up for an hour and 1/2 each way. The people really liked it and remarked on the variety of different styles and tricks they saw. Got to enjoy some excellent food and drink in an upscale South Beach Restaurant in the bargain.

The other unusual, but highly enjoyable event, again about 20 years ago, was a carnival theme where they wanted me at a table doing nothing but 3 Card Monte all evening. i really had a good time and people were fascinated. It is no wonder that, in the The Expert at the Card Table it is observed - "But there is not a single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, or that will mystify as greatly, or cause as much amusement, or bear so much repetition, as this little game; and for these reasons we believe it worth of unstinted effort to master it thoroughly." Still trying to master it to this day, though, and 20 years hence, I imagine that will still be the case...

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