So you’re thinking about hiring a magician?
Here are some things you might want to know.
I’m Kevin Blake, a magician based out of San Francisco.
Magic is one of those curious and rare jobs like “archivist” or “luxury resort reviewer” that inspire a lot of questions. What is my job? What do I do? What is it like to hire a magician? How much does it cost? Do you do kid’s parties? (no.) I won’t tell you how the tricks work, but I will give you some information about what it’s like to hire and work with a magician.
Maybe you want some magic for a big corporate holiday party or event, a celebratory happy hour, for conference entertainment, a private birthday party, a wedding, or to add some magic to an intimate dinner among friends. A solid idea. I’m here to help.
First thing’s first: Magician? Seriously?
Seriously. Kevin’s the name, magic’s the game. My job is built around bringing people together through shared, unexplainable encounters with the impossible. Using surprise, suspense, drama, and story through magic to help make events unforgettable is my goal every day. It’s a lofty goal, but one that I take seriously. It makes for a hilarious, incredible, challenging, and often tiring job.
I’ve performed for thousands of people over the years, and I’ll tell you: the good thing about being a magician is that people love magic. Don’t get me wrong—people are definitely suspicious of magicians, but the experience of magic is universally enjoyed. Great magic gives people that delicious, jaw-dropping “No way!” feeling of disbelief you get from a perfect twist in a great movie. Except your life is the movie. And the twist is me.
Why do people hire magicians?
Inviting a magician to your event is to design an unforgettable group experience. Our minds are sieves. It takes something big to knock a memory into someone. People will forget what appetizers they had, what they drank, what they had for dinner. They’ll forget the music they listened to and they’ll definitely forget the custom printed napkins. But (if I do my job) they’ll never forget the magic. When you invite an incredible, world-class magician to your event, you’re introducing an unstable element that binds people together through a joint experience of the unusual. The extraordinary. The result: The party becomes something a bit more.
“Hey, that DJ was great.” or “What a delicious dinner!” is a very different memory than “Holy !#*&$ remember that one time when the magician hypnotized you and then guessed the name of your long lost fifth grade friend!?!”
“Remember when we opened a fold in the multiverse and teleported our business cards from one side of the room to the other?!”
In fact, magic is the one thing that gets better with time. I’m amazed time and time again when I meet people who saw me perform years ago and then regale me with tales of the impossible magic that I “did.” Tricks become more and more incredible with each telling, and the magic becomes legend.
What’s it like to hire a magician? How much does it cost?
A solid question. Hiring a magician usually starts with emailing the magician (you can email me here) or filling out an event detail form (mine looks like this). Usually people’s first question is: how much does it cost?
An important question. Like everything, cost depends on quality.
You can hire Jimmy the Great down the street for $50. Or you can hire David Blaine for $50K.
For a great, working pro in a major metropolitan area (like San Francisco, where I work), you should expect the price to be around $1000. This fee can increase depending on length of engagement and type of performance (show or “strolling” close up, or both).
If you’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area, the cost might be a bit different. But if you’re in a city like San Francisco or another major metropolitan area, this is what you should expect for a top-of-the-line magician. The fee might be less for an intimate house party or short cocktail hour, or much more for bigger events, conferences. Full stage shows where there will be 500–1000+ person audiences can cost $5k–$10k or more.
Why that much? Consider a ticket/person cost of attending a magic show. Tickets to my biweekly public show are $30. If 500 people want a ticket to that show, that’s $15k. $5k seems pretty reasonable when you look at it like that. But don’t worry—if your event isn’t massive, your cost shouldn’t be either. If you’re curious, just send an email. Never hurts to ask.
The biggest worry clients have is that the magician they hire won’t be any good. That he* will do a few cheesy tricks, be a little creepy, walk around in an ill-fitted suit and vanish into the night with your hard earned money. How do you know you’re getting the best? Here are some pointers:
- Look at their website, photos, and video. In entertainment, looks matter. Would this magician fit in at your event, or stand out like a sore thumbtip? Does the magician dress well? Can you get a sense for his humor? Much magic is plagued by bad comedy, bad fashion, and sub-standard, store-bought magic tricks. Definitely stay away from that.
- Read their reviews online. Check places like Yelp and the magician’s website to read what the public has to say about them. This is invaluable, but should be taken with a grain of salt as with all reviews. A glowing review for a children’s entertainer won’t make them great for your corporate event or private birthday party.
- Check their previous client list. Check out the magician’s list of previous clients. If the magician is good enough for the likes of Fortune 50 companies, he’s probably pretty good.
- Cost. Ask for a quote. Be wary if you get a quote that is very inexpensive, or outrageously expensive.
Because here’s the dirty little secret of magic: the actual magic in magic often isn’t the hard part.
There are a million kids on YouTube who can do crazy card tricks. But can they slide confidently and elegantly into any conversation, any group, any age, any background, and make people smile? And then tactfully guide them into an enjoyable experience of the impossible? Probably not.
Part of what makes an excellent magician is his social acumen. And that’s not something you can buy at a magic shop.
I’ve performed at hundreds of private events (at every type of party you can imagine — plus many you can’t). I’ve performed in living rooms, ballrooms, concert halls, offices, and even on a submarine. Is it worth it to hire a magician? Absolutely.
One of the main reasons magic is great — and powerful — is that it starts conversations. It presents puzzles that are (mostly) insolvable, and these impossibilities bring people together, both during the entertainment — “What! Woah! Did you see that?!” and after, often for years, even decades.
When I meet new people in normal life, and that what do you do? question comes up, people are often surprised. But the truth is I feel extraordinarily lucky to be working as a magician today in 2017. The reason is this: Today’s world of endless content and information has, instead of dulling magic, made it more and more powerful—and popular! With the answers to any question just a tap away, and the experience of the unexplainable so rare, people have begun to crave wonder more than ever before.
And we magicians are here to answer that call.
If you’re looking to hire a magician in the San Francisco Bay Area or want a recommendation for an entertainer in another city, send me an email here (email@example.com). You can also learn more about me at my site here: www.mindofkevin.com.
If you’d like to see my live show, I perform every other Thursday in San Francisco. Find information and tickets here: wonder.show.
I’m bad at asking people to review me, but you can read the reviews that do exist on Yelp here.
Thanks for reading!
*In order to simplify the article I have used the male gender pronouns “he” or “him” when referring to magicians, fully knowledgeable that many magicians are female but also acknowledging that as it stands in 2017 magic is an overwhelmingly male profession.