There is something about the world of magic that brings out the childlike wonder in everyone, even a cynic like me. Whether it’s seeing a helicopter disappear onstage (which I did last year in Vegas, and yes, it was pretty awesome) or having someone pull a quarter from my ear, I can’t get enough of it.
Today’s contributor Wayne Kawamoto is one of those people who makes his living by keeping folks asking, “How did he do that?” He is not only a professional magician who performs regularly in all types of venues, he’s also an author and teacher of magic, which makes the job that much more cool, in my opinion. I’m glad that there is someone willing to teach the next generation how to keep magic alive for everyone.
One of the reasons I admire magicians so much is not only their ability to entertain, but the years of dedication it takes to perfect their craft (i still have trouble shuffling cards, let alone making them do anything else!) But if you have the dexterity and the devotion, and happen to be someone who likes to astound and amaze and entertain, then magic just might be the cool job for you!
So what tricks does Wayne have up his sleeve? Let’s find out!
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?
I am a full time, professional magician and implicit in this statement is that I’m an entertainer. I perform at restaurants and bars and company and family events, anything from on a formal stage to a backyard.
I’m also a writer. My new beginner’s magic book, Picture Yourself As a Magician is now available through Amazon and will be in Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores.
What are the things about your job that you love?
I get to make a connection with a variety of people that I would normally not have anything in common with. And I get to entertain them and leave them laughing and feeling good.
I once entertained the Los Angeles Dodgers and in any other situation, I would have just been another fan. But I was able to show them tricks and connect with the players and their families. And this same connection goes for CEOs, celebrities, kids, teens, senior citizens and more. You can see the variety of crowds that I entertain in my video at my website.
I also get to play a part at important events in peoples lives: weddings, proms, grad nights, anniversaries, reunions, retirements, bar mitzvahs, college graduations and more. It’s a privilege that I always keep in mind and it pushes me to always perform at my best.
What are the things about your job that you hate?
There’s nothing about the job that I actually hate. Sometimes, there are long days. This past Saturday, I was either performing or driving for a solid twelve hours. Three stand-up shows in the afternoon, a walk-around gig at a restaurant for a couple of hours in the early evening, and the day was capped with a multi-hour walk-around gig at a high school prom.
Perhaps the only downside is the negative image that the general public has of magicians. There are lots of purely awful magicians and costumed characters who give magic a horrible reputation. I can just picture all those “entertainers” in their cheap wizard and clown suits, and it seems as if almost everyone has been subjected to one.
Because of this negative image, and it is justified based on the volume of awful performers out there, I encounter crowds who may not want to see magic. But if they give me a reluctant “go ahead,” I can often leave them with a new, favorable impression. I often hear initially skeptical people say “that was actually a lot of fun,” which is music to my ears and makes me feel that I’ve left a favorable impression for the art of magic.
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
The main prerequisite is that one has to be a people person and have a genuine desire to entertain so others can have fun. There are many people who are intrigued by magic but lack this skill, and no matter how good they become technically, they’ll never become great entertainers.
Magic also takes a lot of training and practice to learn the real skills of sleight of hand and working with audiences. It’s not a matter of simply purchasing a few tricks from a magic shop.
I couldn’t make a living if I simply relied on trick items. I have to use skill to entertain sophisticated audiences. And it’s only after performing lots of lots of shows that one earns an instinct about the skill of entertaining and being good at it.
What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your professional training or your job?
Early on when I was developing my strait jacket escape I actually got stuck in it on stage. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I can look back and laugh about it now. Sometimes, as an entertainer, you have to try new things, and if you’re always playing it safe, you’re not necessarily getting anywhere or growing.
Because I had the worst thing happen with the escape, I couldn’t get out, it’s made it easier to go out there and perform under almost any condition. And I did go back and perform the strait jacket escape a week later and have continued to perform the routine.