20 years. That is how long I’ve make a significant amount of my living selling magic retail. 20 years, two 10-year blocks. The first block was from age 11 to age 21. I started sweeping up the floors of a magic and costume shop for a few dollars an hour. The second block continues. I just began my eleventh year at a national chain magic store.
Now, I have a love/hate relationship with this part of my chosen profession. At times, I feel like a whore; selling off my life piece by piece. Mostly to people who don’t love it or respect it. Every dickhead with a Svengali deck thinks he is a magician. I fantasize that the secrets are not so available. I dream of another time when the real secrets were hidden in a back room, only for a select few. Magicians would serve an apprenticeship. The art was earned, not just given up for a few pieces of silver. You would be part of a legacy that spanned centuries. But, I am not naïve; the capitalist box of tricks, once opened is a bottomless pit.
Yet, there are days behind the counter when everything I do is right and every ad-lib I tell works and life is beautiful. Most performers get to feel this type of euphoric moment, but in the shop, I get to feel it a couple of dozen times on a good day. Some days, I am lucky. I get to meet some very wonderful and interesting people. (Even one special woman, Danielle, who was in my life for three years and someone I still think about, everyday.) These people come from all walks of life and all over the country. I love stories. They all have one, whether they know it or not. A few come in to tell me that as a child I sold them their first trick and started them on the path. I knew I was starting to get old when that happened. I still enjoy it.
That’s it for now. I’ll write more about the things I’ve learned in future installments of Selling Magic.