Words of advice that I have gathered over time.
Wisdom #1: When arranging your magic act, place you best trick last. Place your second best trick first.
Wisdom #2: When at some ones house to do a kids show, before the show the kids will start to gather around. Ask the kids if they have any magic they want to show you. Once you have allowed them to show you magic, now you are fellow magicians. They will be much better behaved and will assist in keeping the other kids inline.
Wisdom #3: If you are going to pull a coin or anything else out of a kid’s ear, be prepared to give it to them. It came out of their ear, so it’s theirs!
Wisdom #4: Always pack a survival kit. Get a one gallon zip lock bag and pack it with the following: Duct Tape, string, paper clips, scotch tape, glue, comb, breath mints, rubber bands, hand cream, fingernail clipper, and scissors, This will cover everything from ripped pants to bad breath.
Wisdom #5: Do your best to be ready for anything. Always pack more magic that you need. If you are hired to do a half hour show, bring 1.5 hours of magic. If you are hired for a parlor show also bring the close-up stuff. When you arrive at the venue, and the evening progresses, whatever is called for, you can provide.
Wisdom #6: Clean hands, Clean Fingernails, Etc. I had a friend that was privileged to see a legendary magician perform shortly before his retirement. All my friend remembers is the crumbs of food in the magicians beard, not the amazing magic.
Wisdom #7: If you perform magic long enough, are convincing enough, there will be a percentage of people that believe that you have magical powers. It has been my experience, that if you try to tell them that you are just s performer, they will not believe you, think you are changeling their religious beliefs, or have made a fool of them. It is better to thank them for the compliment and move on.
Wisdom #8: Be aware of distance and prop size. Do not try to do a coin trick if you audience is 40 feet away. If they cannot see it they will not be impressed.
Wisdom #9: When choosing your attire, try to stand out without looking like a clown. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level above the audience. If the audience is casual, then you dress business casual. If they are business casual, then you dress in a suit. If they are formal then you need to break out the tux.
Wisdom #10: Make a list of all the tricks you performed and what the overall audience reaction was. Review this after the show. Take responsibility for everything that went on at the show. Ask yourself how can I make it better next time.
Wisdom #11: Did you know that sponge balls make great cat toys? Well, at least cats think so. Because of this fact, sponge balls turn up missing in my house. I usually find them under the couch in various forms of mutilation. But, in all cases, by the time I find them they are very, very dirty.
The first time this happened, I thought that I might as well throw it away. After all, it was very, very dirty. But then, I thought, if I'm going to throw it away, I might as well try things that most likely will destroy it. Things I always wanted to do, like hollow one out, set one on fire, all in the name of science, of course.
Wisdom #12: Living in California, presents its own challenges. It can be very dry. Things like sponge balls can die an early death, if not properly cared for. This is especially true if you go a long period of time without using them. The answer is Tupperware. It doesn't have to be that brand, just a firm walled food container with a air tight lid. Keep in mind that the container needs to be large enough to accommodate all of the balls without squishing any of them.
This also works for balloons used for needle through balloon as well as tiny rubber bands used in other tricks.
Wisdom #13: Whether you carry your magic in a suitcase or a bag, transporting sponge balls and having them arrive still round (and not squished) can be a challenge. The answer is toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. This will keep them together and resist squishing. If you think someone might see your sponge ball holder, you may want to dress it up a bit. At your local arts and crafts store you can get pressure sensitive (peel and stick) paper. This paper can have a brightly colored metallic finish or sometimes holographic.
Wisdom #14: When performing tricks that involve multiple coins, it is often necessary for all coins to look identical. One of the factors that need to be considered is its degree of shininess.
This is usually accomplished by polishing the coins on a regular basis. I recommend chrome polish. This can be purchased at an automotive parts store, or a motorcycle shop. Do not use this method if you wish to preserve the collectability of your coins. If your coins are collectible you probably should not be doing magic with them anyway.
My favorite polish is “Magic” chrome polish. Besides giving a fantastic shine it also coats the coin with a thin layer of silicone.
Wisdom #15: When coins make a sound by rubbing against one another, this is called talking. Often the magician would prefer the coins to be silent. The coins can be muted with soft coins. Soft coins are made by sanding. This method is NOT to be used on valuable or collectible coins. By sanding the high points off of the face and the back of the coins much of the talking can be eliminated.
With practice, as you skill increases, the need to use soft coins will be lessened.
Wisdom #16: Two things are good for keeping cards flat. The first one is good if the cards are currently flat and you want to keep them that way.
First is a Card Guard. They can be purchased from a magic shop and are made of stainless steel. They will keep your cards flat even if you carry your cards in your back pocket.
Second is a Card Press. This is good to repair cards that are no longer flat. It consists of two steel plates. These plates are held together by 2 bolts with wing nuts. To use: place the cards between the plates and tighten the wing nuts. You will need to leave them for at least one day. One week would be better.
Wisdom #17: It was once said that if you are a hammer everything begins to look like a nail. Similarly, if you are a magician everything begins to look like a prop, or at least a part of a prop. It could be a cap off a chap stick or a package of silent snaps from the local yardage store; it is all part of some magic trick. It comes from learning enough magic methods that you start to invent your own. You accumulate a lot of stuff; you don't want to throw anything away. It might be useful ... later. That is where the problem starts. How do you store this stuff so that you can find it when later arrives?
The answer is fishing tackle boxes. I recommend the type with lots of little drawers. More specifically, not the kind you need to open the top to get to the contents. The little drawers are compartmentalized. This will help keep the rubber bands separate from the safety pins. Drawers allow you to go directly to where the item is stored, without the need to dig through a box to find it.
Wisdom #18: All about close-up mats. Close-up mats are used in close-up magic. Have you ever tried to pick up a playing card up off a glass table? You most likely will need to slide it to the edge of the table. During a magic act this looks very suspicious, and breaks the rhythm of the trick. A close-up may resolves this issue.
They come rubber backed, or foam backed. Foam backed is cheaper, rubber backed is better. Rubber backed will also help guard against any liquid on the table. Liquid is the enemy of all cards.
Always roll a mat never fold one. They can be cleaned with a lint roller or a lint brush. In a pinch I have just rubbed it with the sticky side of masking tape to get pet hair off. As it turns out, pets love to sleep on close-up mats.
Mouse mats can make a great little portable mat for use in restaurant type work. If needed, felt can be attached to the top of the mouse mat, using iron on fusing.
Being a magician, you will accumulate a lot of stuff. This includes magic tricks that may have several pieces. Often small pieces. Let’s not forget the all-important instructions. The need to have these effects and all of their components available to you is where the challenge comes in.
The best solution I have found is a accordion file. These can be purchased at your local office supply store. Each compartment is completely sealed on three sides. This will keep those little pieces from escaping. Remember that zip top bags are your friend. There is room to put a the instructions, and all the parts of the trick for most close up magic. You can even put the name of the trick on the handy tab over each divider.
Disclaimer: Obviously if you are a large stage illusionist you are not going to fit a large cabinet or a Bangle Tiger in it!