Thursday, August 17, 2006

Selling Magic 3

This is a sort of 4 for 1 post.

1) Listening is a skill.

Today I asked this question of a customer, "Did you have a question; something I could help you with?"

To which he answered, "A few years back I did, but nothing recently."
And I thought, “Wha...?”

Now I realize his statement could possibly be an answer to my query. However, my guess is that he was not listening an answered a totally different question that existed only in his head. Listening is a skill that needs to be cultivated. Do so. Now.

2) The people I meet.

Monty Gabor stops into the shop on Saturday and asks me about the magician Thurston. As when anyone asks about any magician, I give him a thumbnail biography on the magician. To which he replies, “Oh, wow, I never realized he was so famous. I thought he was just a local guy. My grandmother used to tell stories of him all the time. She was a chorus girl in the theater and assisted Thurston in Chicago.”

Monty’s grandmother, Bernice, died ten years ago. His memory is hazy on some of the stories; I hope his parents will have more information. He did remember some other details about twins being used, etc. He also remembered that she lived in a settlement house during the depression with many other performers who were not making ends meet.

It sounds like his grandmother had an amazing and interesting life.

And this comes to my point, seek out and listen to those who have stepped through life before us. Every life is a story. I am slowly piecing together much of my grandfather’s life and it is every bit as heartbreaking and moving as Angela’s Ashes, but I will never know the full story because I didn’t ask him when he was alive. I regret I didn’t. Now, I seek out stories, try to ask questions, and listen to what is said. You should also.

There is an interesting story waiting for you right in your own home.

3) Don’t be a jerk.

This scene happens more often than it should: A dad or mom brings their child into the store with this exhortation, “Do you want to do some magic? Do you want to learn a trick?” The child, of course, does.

I show them a few things that would be suitable, that being my job and all. And I give them the whole spiel about how these are the tricks suitable for that age and how I will show them how it works and that I will give their money back if the child can’t do it.

At which point the parent turns to their child and says, “Well, I don’t know that looks too hard for you. I don’t think you can do that.” etc. Any reason not to buy.

You know; if you are going to be a cheap fuck, don’t blame your child. Don’t be a dick and tease your child with the prospect of buying something only to mind fuck them and take it away. If you are not interested in boosting their morale, stay out of my store, asshole.

4) The other people you meet.

I had a young cute, very blonde couple stop in the store. They were both quiet and seemed shy. Finally, they started to talk to me and when they did; they couldn’t stop. They asked question after question. “When did you start magic? What was your first trick? Do you have magic friends? Who is the best magician? Who is your favorite?” And so on.

I have had these types of questions before and, at times, my inclination is to give a smart-ass answer. Heck, sometimes they are asking personal questions. Is it really any of their business? What do they care? Now I try to answer honestly.

I figure I must be a strange person to them, with an exotic job. They are genuinely curious as to how someone comes to magic as a life choice. It is who I am, so I never think about it. But to most people it might as well be another planet.

This couple was fun to talk to and made for a nice break in my day.


I started to explain to them that Tom Mullica was my favorite magician of all time. They asked if he was still doing magic. So, I tried to tell them how he was now doing a Red Skeleton tribute show. Now when I said the name Red Skeleton, they looked at each other with that blank look. A look void of recognition. I suddenly felt 70 years old instead of 38.

I feel lucky. I think I am the last generation to experience the true greats of comedy, acting and magic. Not that many of these people can’t be seen on video, it is just most kids these days (There is a phrase I never thought I’d say.) don’t seek them out. I have had conversations with people even my age that refuse to watch anything in Black and White.

Maybe that’s good, I can keep it to myself. Don’t listen to me. You are not missing anything.


The Magic Utopian said...

I love Tom Mullica's work. Good blog today, thanks.

Magic Utopia

Anonymous said...

I've seen Mullica live doing magic, but I've not seen his Skelton tribute. His magic act was genius - I can't imagine his new act is anything less.

It strikes me as passing strange how little some know of entertainers past. Abbott & Costello were before my time, yet I'm a big fan. And Red Skelton was versatile as all get-out, hitting in movies, television and radio.

Ah well. In a world where a Britney Spears song can be an "oldie," it's not too surprising, I suppose.

chgomagic said...

One thing parents can do is teach their children about the entertainers of the past. That doesn't mean just set them in front of the TV and let them watch. Take an active interest and show them the joy you get when you watch these performers, that joy will rub off. I've seen it.

The other problem is that either I am slowing down or culture is speeding up. Songs, movies, TV shows are hot and then discarded just as quickly. Things had to be 30 or 40 years old to be oldies, now they have to be ten.

Do you remember the 90s?