How did You Get Started in Magic?
Frequently I get the question: “How did you get started in magic?” It is actually quite interesting how it all came about. When I was in the Cub Scouts there was a night of some magic teaching. About that same time I saw a side-show magician perform at a carnival in a local town, and I teased to have my parents buy a trick which was being sold. The real clincher was when I watched magicians like Mark Wilson on T.V. perform stage magic. (Years later I was able to meet Mark Wilson in person in Fresno and thanked him for getting me interested in magic). I was hooked. My hometown was too small for a magic shop to be anywhere near, so I would ride the railroad train 100+ miles into New York City to shop at magic shops there. Later on I also discovered mail-order magic.
Magic was just one of my hobbies while I lived at home. Growing up in a very rural area in a town of about 3000 residents, I developed many hobbies. I discovered very late in life that I have a very high I.Q., so I believe that explains why I was not interested in the “normal” activities like baseball, fishing, hunting, and pursued hobbies like model railroading, collecting antiques, and creating a profitable printing business in my parent’s basement.
After graduating from college in Rochester, New York with a B.S. degree, and meeting my future wife there at a fraternity party, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. I enlisted as a Private and three years later returned from Vietnam as a 1st Lieutenant. The next few decades I became very involved in the corporate world and worked at the highest levels of fortune 100 companies. After realizing that this life-style was not providing all that I wanted, I left that lifestyle and tried various other opportunities. I became involved in copy machine sales, time share sales, credit card system sales, pest control sales, and telephone system sales. I was even a telemarketer calling people at dinner time to sell siding and storm windows. I was actually quite good at that and enjoyed it too.
My last “real job” was working for the local telephone company in various departments from Yellow pages, to wireless marketing, to customer service. One day, my wife, Barb, mentioned at our church that I could perform a magic trick at the kids Sunday School class one Sunday. I had no props left and had to make a quick trip to the only magic store in Sacramento (Grand Illusions in Carmichael) to pick up some kind of trick to do that I could weave into the Bible lesson. My thought was that it would be that one Sunday only and no more. Wrong again! I have been performing magic just about every month in the kids Sunday School class tying the magic in to the lesson for the day ever since then. This expanded to doing the same thing for adults in the main sanctuary at our church as well as other churches far and wide.
One day, I overheard someone at the magic shop mention that they made money performing magic, and I just could not grasp that thought at first, since I still thought of magic as a hobby. After thinking about that for a few days, I had some business cards printed up and placed an advertisement in the Yellow Pages and started doing paid gigs. That was 20+ years ago and we have come a very long way since then. Magic was a part time source of income for years, and then when I was laid off from the phone company for the third time in April of 2008, I made the decision to build my magic business to a full time income right then and there. I have been a full time professional magician ever since then.
It is great being in my own business, but I found out that show-business is about 10% show and 90% business. I still work hard at developing magic presentations which entertain, but I am studying the marketing and business management side constantly. We are very thankful that our business has grown exponentially. This past month of April has been the busiest month we have ever had. We are so busy we have had to turn work away and actually refer work which we can not fit into our schedule to other magicians. The month of May is looking to be just as busy as April. We are thankful for that.
Mister Illusion Magic Productions is something I only dreamed about all those years ago in my hometown, but now it is a reality and we really enjoy brightening people’s day and creating laughter in this world where there is a real shortage of laughter. For a long time, when I first started, I wondered if I really was entertaining. Now I know that I have achieved that goal by hearing the sincere comments from my customers. Tomorrow I am performing for a senior group of about 50 people who have booked me for the fourth time since 2013. Their comment when they booked me was “we want you back Charlie, and we don’t care if you do the same show as you did last time, we just enjoy having you perform.” They will, by the way, be getting a brand new show with some mind boggling magic and mentalism.
So, that explains how I became a magician and why. It is a great deal of fun helping others to have fun and to forget their troubles for an hour or so. I am very thankful to have the gift and ability to be able to do this.
Thanks &…….May EVERY day be MAGIC !
Charlie Fass aka Mister Illusion