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I etched this declaration in my mind, engraved it in my heart, even though I didn’t know how to etch and engrave.
Well, things have changed over the years. I do walk away from a gig now, not because I have attained some sort of stature, but because I care for the success of my show. I want each one to be outstandingly successful. Since I’m a devious person, I turn down an engagement at the slightest possibility that the show would flop.
I do that even for lucrative gigs. It is not about the money, it is also about respectability. Cheesy, yes, but what else can you expect from a cheesy person like me?
I walk away from a gig when my technical requirements are not met. I have a list of technical support I want my clients to provide. It’s not a long capricious list. Still, some clients find these requirements difficult to fulfill, capricious or not. If the booker can’t provide, say, an electrical outlet for my sound system to plug into, then I pass the show to another magician who doesn’t play background music in his performance.
I walk away from a gig when I know I can’t handle the type of audience. Every now and then, I get asked to perform for three-year-old kids. I’m a magician in the Philippines, not a baby sitter. Three year-old children have very short attention span. They don’t sit still for three minutes. They would watch the show for about a minute and half, then they’d start running around the room, leaving me feeling like a fool in the middle of a sponge ball routine. I’d decline doing shows for this age of audience.
I walk away from a gig when I can’t handle emotionally the performance. Contrary to rumors, I am a human being. I have emotions to handle. Several times I have been asked to perform for cancer stricken children. Performing for sick kids has opened my eyes to an awful truth: I suck at emotional management. I choke watching pale children, in wheelchairs, with bottles intravenously fed to them, who definitely can’t participate in the show. They can manage only a wane smile to reward me for my best routines. I find those performances emotionally draining. I refer such shows to more emotionally stable magicians.
I walk away from a gig when I smell trouble. One instance, a birthday mom wanted to book my show, but she forbade me from mentioning my talent fee to her husband. She said, “I’ll pay you the amount you quoted, but if my husband calls you, tell him your fee is only P5,000. ” I turned down the show. Even though I’m a deceiver, I couldn’t be part of a show based on dishonesty. I didn’t want being caught in the crossfire should a marital war erupt in the event the husband found out the deception.
I walk away from a gig when the husband and wife don’t have minds in unison. A couple of years ago, a birthday mom hired my show. She agreed to my terms and conditions (specially to the price of the show), and so we closed the deal. A few weeks later the husband called. He sounded lukewarm to the idea of hiring my show. Haggling vigorously, he quoted a price lower than I was willing to accept. He also was reluctant to pay the down payment. He did all this even though he knew his wife closed the deal weeks earlier. I walked away from that gig. It was clear the couples did not agree on the amount of their entertainment budget.
I walk away from a gig when I feel somebody is pulling my leg. A couple of weeks ago, someone claiming to be a birthday mom tried to book my show by text messages. She didn’t tell me where she got my number. She didn’t even ask how much my show cost. She mentioned a classy beach resort as the venue of her child’s party. When I told her of my rate, she said she would pay double the amount I asked. Money was not an object, she proclaimed. All she wanted was a fun show for her child.
Now, I think I have a solid program, but nobody pays me double my talent fee without seeing it. Or without asking me to describe it. But she conducted the negotiation as if she had a done deal. “I expect you to be at the party at 3PM,” she texted. I smelled a scam in the offing. I told her I need a 50% down payment. That was the last time I heard of her. I didn’t make any follow-up calls. I just walked away from the gig.
So you see, I have several types of gig I don’t want to accept. However, over the years, I have only actually walked away a few times. Most bookers (specially birthday moms) see my requirements as reasonable. They often go to great lengths to provide them.
On my part, I also try to be flexible. If I could see some wriggle room in a challenging performing situation, I’d wriggle in it and accept the gig. I call this flexibility a give-and-take proposition to achieve a win-win situation, which is a cheesy thing to say.
But being a cheesy magician in the Philippines, what else can I say?