Magic is an art which has been in demand all over the world for centuries. It’s all about tricks and illusions when a magician makes the audience skip a blink in wonderment. There are magicians who can pull a rabbit from a hat , pull a coin out of your ear or can even escape from a straitjacket ! A magician in a real sense is an actor playing the part of a magician. A good stage presence and demonstrative personality are key factors in this field. Can Magic or Illusion be taken up as a career? How to find that you have it in you? Let’s learn all about Magic, a niche career.
Allow me to introduce you to Cdr Clifford N Parakh (Retd) . With thousands of stage shows, live performances, TV shows and “The Karamveer award” to his credit, he also coaches young magic enthusiasts. He is an established Illusionist now settled in Goa, India.
Clifford was commissioned as a Gunner in the Indian Navy. In 2003 while on Naval Duty at the Elephanta caves near Gateway of India, he bumped into Magic in a Fete . “ In Life it is very important to find your calling or ‘Your Ikigai’ as the Japanese call it. If you follow your calling you are following the path designed for you by the creator, there will be no resistance because that is what you are made for ! When I did magic there was no effort involved. Things just happened with magic. I discovered my calling at the age of 33 and decided to follow it.” Narrates Clifford.
Illusion is what the magician creates. Magic is what the audience experiences. In other words, there are no magicians in reality, only actors pretending to be real magicians.
A word of caution before we begin, in the article the word ‘magic’ should not be mixed with fake theories, fairy tales, black magic , voodoo , paranormal activities or any other magic related misconceptions.
Magic As A Career :The Challenges
Entertaining your family and friends at parties or at odd moments is different from being a professional. It depends on what you’re looking to accomplish in your career. The well established magicians can be counted on your fingertips. Some of the world’s best magicians are David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, David Blaine, Harry Houdini, Chris Angel and Shin Lim. Some of the acknowledged magicians in India are PC Sorcar ( Junior)Gopinath Muthukad , Nakul Shenoy, Amazing David, Mohit Rao, Edmundo da Cunha, Tejas, B S Reddy and Suhani Shah.
“Most of the world’s professional magicians are performing at birthday parties, schools, corporate functions, restaurants, and street corners. Most supplement their income by writing or creating/selling magical effects, inventing tricks. It is a tough way to go. Unless you are promoted by a good event Company , you are going to be working a lot of small venues. You will be working nights and weekends. You will be traveling. You will be sharing your earnings with your booking agent. You frequently have to deal with the public and critics too.
There are magic cafes in places Like Vegas, Tokyo , London and many others . Here the audience buys tickets and witnesses magic. Magicians are also hired for their performance . They are paid as per their Artist Fee. The Artist Fee a Magician Commands depends on his popularity and the quality of his show. If you are a good performer a magician in India can earn anything from Rs25000 to Rs Two Lakhs for a 45 minute performance. A magician performing for Birthday Parties of Kids can earn Rs 1500 to Rs 15000 for a 45 minute performance in India.
If you’re a people person, then in order for the career to be “viable,” you have to consider the performance aspect of the job.” says Clifford.
How long does it take to become a skilled magician?
“There is no end to learning or perfecting when it comes to any art. The same is the case with magic. You can learn magic in a couple of hours , but to convert that magic into an unforgettable experience for the audience will take you a lifetime. There are many famous performers who are doing one particular effect for their full lifetime and they are famous for that particular effect.”
“Most magicians pick a magical niche. Maybe they make things vanish, transform one thing into another, destroy and recreate something, escape or predict what people are thinking. These are all skills that can be perfected into a fascinating job. You may be really good at one thing and average at another, the more magical skills you have, the more appealing you will be to your audience. It’s all an illusion, but being able to judge your audience is a huge part of the job.”
“It depends on a lot of different factors, since being a magician is so multifaceted. The skill sets of skilled magicians include sleight of hand (for a large percentage of magic), psychology, attention directing , acting, etc.
One of the keys to developing any skill is regular, focused practice. Couple that with expert mentors and a mindset of lifelong learning and you have a recipe for success. The time it takes to progress will depend on how hard one works with innate abilities.
If you want to learn magic, start by learning simple hobby tricks. You’ll eventually have a quiver of both stock and original tricks. To further develop your skills try to intern with a big magician, read books, and observe others’ tricks. Magic is not an official art form in majority of the States in India . It does not come under the department of art and culture hence no budget for the promotion of this art is allocated. So promotion of the Art of Magic in an official form becomes all the more difficult. Yes, Kerala has, ‘The Academy of Magical Sciences’ established and run by Mr Gopinath Muthukad. It was established in 1996 The Kerala Government has even added magic in its education curriculum. You get a certificate from The Academy of Magical Sciences.” Explains Clifford.
“Secrecy being at the core of the profession, modern magicians have tightly-bound, invite-only groups where trade secrets are shared carefully. In some instances, popular acts or tricks can also be bought or traded, for a price. Reinventing and customising are important factors to stand out. In order to succeed as a magician you must:
- Be a good person. If the audience doesn’t like you as a person they will never like your magic.
- Be a good business person: booking, promoting, marketing.
- Be an excellent entertainer, delivering what your audiences want and need in the various performing environments you are working within.
- Be a good magician .
Being a good magician is placed last because it is not sufficient on its own. To make a living you must be a business person who delivers a quality product at a competitive rate. I believe acting ability and dexterity are two natural talents that would be most helpful to anyone starting out in the field of magic.” Describes Clifford.
Life after Covid-19
“The art of Magic is a live art. In March 2020 the entertainment industry came to a grinding halt just like the rest of the world due to Covid 19 outbreak. To keep it alive you need to keep performing magic. I had the challenge to convert my show to an online show. I had to redesign my show to suit a virtual audience. Now the audience will only be amazed if the magic happens in their hands across the screen or they make all the choices as I do the trick. This was a big challenge. I designed a 30 minute show to suit a virtual audience. I did a trial show. The show went off well. But there were so many other technical challenges with regards to handling the different modes of the computer, adding music as you perform , proper lighting , setting up the background etc. My living room was converted into a studio.
I was one of the first magicians in India to do a corporate show online on 27 April 2020 . Hence began my transition to an online magic performer.”
Learn magic with Illusionist Clifford
Clifford conducts online teaching sessions. He has Three courses in Magic .
- The ‘Basic course’ in which you can learn to do magic with household items. It’s a seven day course with a one hour session every day.
- The ‘Professional course in Magic’, requires the use of props and magic gear. Its duration is 15 hours and it trains you to become a professional Magician.
- ‘The Masters Class’. This course is for a professional Magician and it covers the finer aspects of how to be an effective performer. This course is for a duration of 15 hours.
“Though I have performed on TV and even been a Participant of the prestigious ‘ India Got Talent’ , my vision is not to win some big reality show because then the whole purpose of expressing your Art is lost. You are trying to beat a fellow contestant there . You are not expressing the emotion of Love or Joy through your art . To see the wonder in the eyes of your audience as you do the “impossible” and feel their surprise and awe at a sudden “miracle” that defies logic is as thrilling to the performer as it is to the spectator. My vision is to keep performing the art of Magic every day of my Life because that comes so naturally to me. When I perform I can see my audience so happy. The expression of happiness and thankfulness by my audience itself is the accomplishment that I am the Greatest Magician in the Universe!!!.” Boasts Clifford
At least once in your lifetime you must have had your jaw dropped in awe during a magic show wondering what in the world just happened? So if you are one of those who enjoys magic or would like to learn more about it, Illusionist Clofford may be reached at:
Website : – www.cliffmagic.com
YouTube :- Illusionist Clifford
Instagram :- illusionist_clifford.
email :- firstname.lastname@example.org
Wonderful to know about this Soldier Magicians. Great write up indeed. Wishing all the bestv
Thanx Rakesh sir. Looking forward to have you in one of my online Shows soon. Regards Illusionist Clifford
Thanks so much Rakesh Sir.
A very interesting article. Liked the candidness of Clifford. This is a very good opportunity for young budding talent. Nice of him to have covered majority of aspects of this wonderful art as a business/ career opportunity. I’m sure he will find a lot of people coming forward to learn and take as shot at his online workshops. We wish him all the best.
Thanx sir. Regatds Illusionist Clifford
Thanks for your time and appreciation Pradeep sir.
Very interesting article. I have heard of you couple of years from one of my Naval friends. Its really nice that you are walking the path that you desired. Best wishes to you
Great going Cdr Clifford….an unusual but interesting field….wishing you all the best….and a lot of best wishes and Thanks to Sqn Ldr Sangeeta for bringing out such talent to all…..
Thanks so much for encouraging words Sir.
Thanx Rajesh and Col Manoj Mehrotra. It’s your encouraging words that keep me going in this not so much explored field of Magic & Illusions.