Should I Specialize?


It's important to specialize in the type of magic you wish to present. Find an area that you feel comfortable with and that your wallet allows. Several areas require specialized training and years of study. Other fields require massive amounts of financial investments. Others require little more than several fifty-cent pieces or a deck of cards. Some people have the personality and stage-presence to appear before crowds of 500 people of more. Others can only stand the sustained glares of only one or two close friends. One has to decide for themselves.

Areas of Magic

1) Close-up
2) Mentalism
3) Stage Illusions
4) Platform/Parlor/Cabaret
5) Kid's Shows
6) Gospel Magic
7) Table-Hopping/Bar Magic/Walk-Around
8) Street Performing
9) Escapology

1) Close-up - Cards, coins, cups & balls, balls, thimbles and any other generally hand-sized tricks. Generally, people will specialize in either one or the other of these different subfields; card people rarely socialize with coin people.

Personally I can't stand card tricks. Magicians who know me know enough not to approach me with a deck of cards. I recoil whenever I hear a magician say those fateful words, “Here! Take a card!” I'm continually reminded of Somerset Maugham's immortal words:

“He asked me if I liked card tricks. I said ‘no.' He did five.”

There are a lot of entertaining card tricks but too many magicians insists on doing ALL OF THEM AT ONCE! Relax! Three good card tricks are enough. When an impudent amateur magician swaggered up to Harry Houdini after a show and haughtily said, “I know 500 card tricks. How many do you know?” Harry Houdini thought for a second and calmly replied, “Fifteen.”

Personally, I know ten card tricks because I pick and choose and these are almost without and
It might be cool to master a thousand flourishes, manipulations and sleights but these are entertaining only to other magicians and not to lay audiences.

I feel the same way about coin magic. I have a short 3-minute routine and then that's it! I use it to introduce myself as a magician. After all, who else could pull coins out of a kid's ear? And, admittedly, magic with someone else's money certainly holds the attention of the lender and his or her friends.

Excellent coin tricks that can be purchased at any well-equipped magic store are: Hopping Halves (aka, the Sun & the Moon,) Scotch & Soda (aka, Vodka & Orange Juice,) Alchemist's Fantasy and the Great British Coin Trick. (NB: Don't worry about the names of tricks, none of them involve alcohol but instead refer to the original use of these tricks as bar bets.)

Magic Frequently Asked Questions

What is mentalism?

How does the shell game work?

What do I need to do the Shell Game?

What are some good books on mentalism?

How is the "Linking Paper Clips" trick performed?

How can I prepare for the unexpected while performing?

What if someone demands to examine my cards or coins?

What does "abracadabra" mean?

Do I have to learn a variety of magic?

Is it okay for me to allow videotaping?

What kind of rabbit is best for magic?

Should I include a rabbit in my magic act?

Is it okay to tell people how my tricks are done?

How do I handle hecklers?

When my time is up, should I just leave?

How important is misdirection?

Can I shoot my own audition videos?

Should I announce my tricks before I do them?

What must I learn to be a better performer?

Why should I volunteer to do non-profit and charity shows?

How many card tricks should I do?

What´s the difference between a trick and an illusion?

What are Platform, Parlor and Cabaret Magic?

What kind of magic is done in restaurants and clubs>

What is Close-Up magic?

Why do I need business cards?

Why should I join a magic organization?

How should I talk to an audience?

Should I include bits of my live shows in my performance tape?

Are other magicians rivals or friends?

How do I specialize in Mentalism?

Where can I find good jokes and one-liners for my act?

Are there summer camps for aspiring young magicians?

Should I Specialize?

How much should I practice?

What are some good magic magazines?

Why was FOX TV´s exposé of magic bad for everyone?

What magazines are available on the topic of magic?

What are some non-English words for "magician?"

Do I have to tailor my performances to specific audience?

What are the different types of magic specialties?

Are there any really old books about magic?

Are there any historical references to medieval magic?

What should my performance video tape contain?

Where in the NY area can I go to magic school?

How can I add a twist to the Jumping Rubber Band trick?

What are some good books for learning magic?

Can I perform with only card tricks?

Who is the patron saint of magicians?

What´s the derivation of the word ´illusion´?

How should I "act" onstage?

Where can I buy used props, or sell my old stuff?

How important are movement and choreography?

Is it alright to imitate other magicians?

What kind of magic do street performers do?

What does the word ´Magian´ mean?

How do you do that rubber band trick?

Where did the word ´magic´ come from?

What´s the etmology of the word ´magic´?

What is Linking Ring Magazine?

What is Escapology?

What do I do when I make a mistake?

Who is Magical Edd?

Is it okay to exploit stupid people?

How can I project a "feeling" that sets the mood for my audience?

What is the collective term for a group of magicians?

Should my act have a theme?

How can I develop a theme for my act?

Is it OK to repeat a trick if someone asks?

Can I use animals in my act?

Was the Tony Curtis film about Harry Houdini historically accurate?

How did Harry Houdini die?

What are the benefits of joining a magic society?

Why should I join a magic club?

What´s the Chinese (Mandarin) word for magician?

How can I keep my act exciting?

How do I locate contacts to find good jobs?

Where can I find good books and magic tricks?

Where did the term ´hocus-pocus´ originate?

Who were Los Reyes Magos?

Is it important to practice even the simple tricks?

How many tricks should I learn?

Do I have to plan out my performance in advance?

Do I have to check my equipment all the time?

What does ´hocus-pocus´ mean?

Where can I find good upscale stage magic equipment?

Where can I find magic classes?

Where can I learn more about physical theatre?

What is Magic Unlimited?

What is the Japanese word for magic?

What are the key elements of a great performance?

How can I improve my performance and keep my act alive?

Where can I buy used props and illusions?

What´s a great place to buy magic items?

Where can I buy magic items online?

How smart is the average audience?

Should I specialize or learn all sorts of magic?

Where can I get magical domain name for my website?

Where can I find new features for my act?

Is there a website where I can buy books, props and so on?

Where can I post a free website for my magic performances?

Where can I find an agent?

What kind of business card should I have?

How can I get table-hopping gigs?

Do I need an audition tape?

Is it okay to shoot my own performance tapes?

Why should I have a website?

What kind of photos should I have in my portfolio?

Where can I find up-to-date information on marketing and promotion?

Where can I have my services listed FREE online?

Is it alright to use special effects in a performance tape?

Why should I do a performance tape?

How can I get TV air time for my performance video tape?

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Guru Spotlight
Sherril Steele-Carlin