Jonah sits down with Haim Goldenberg to discuss the business of magic, taking risks and finding your character for episode 146. Haim is an Israeli-Canadian mentalist who is behind Cryptext and the show Goldmind.
The first magician Haim saw was Uri Geller. Wanting to be like Uri, young Haim spent his time trying to bend spoons with his mind and hypnotizing people in the streets. Over time, he learned that Uri’s powers weren’t real and that he needed to learn magic to pull off the miracles he saw on television. Haim spent several years performing as a magician, primarily for kids shows, before switching fully to mentalism. While mentalism became his career, magic still remains his hobby.
If you want to succeed, you need to be willing to adapt and change yourself to better suit the demands of your audience, Haim says. It is difficult to succeed if you don’t take risks. Switching to solely performing mentalism for adults was a huge risk for him. When he quit performing magic at kids shows, Haim took a financial hit during his first six months as he reestablished himself. However, he eventually started getting the shows that he wanted to perform and is now successful as a mentalist. The major risk he took in changing his performance style allowed him to succeed in an area that was truer to his character.
Finding your Character
When you’re performing, people are there to see you, they’re not there to just see magic tricks, so it’s important to find out who you are on stage. From there, you can determine what magic suits your character and how you can bring your own personality into the tricks you’re performing.
To uncover your character, you have to remain true to yourself. Don’t try to be like other magicians or performers on stage that you admire as it won’t be authentic. While you can play a character on stage, it needs to be a character that you created.
The only way to improve and understand who you are on stage is performing. Experience is the most important aspect in becoming a better magician as you can’t improve if you don’t perform. Overall, don’t try to impress your audience. You, as a person, are not trying to impress people in your everyday life, and you should be like that on stage. You want your audience to have fun with you, and Haim believes that the audience will love you because they want to love you.
Magic as a Business
When you’re starting out, money should not be your focus. Your focus should be on developing yourself and getting to a point where you can begin to raise your costs to better match your skill level. Haim emphasizes that you need to be aware of what you’re worth and that you should raise your costs in reasonable increments.
While you may be a good magician, you may not be great at the business or marketing aspects. It may be beneficial for you to find the right person who is able to sell you. If you are a professional, Haim recommends committing 90% of your time to marketing and 10% to practicing magic. After you perform, you should try to remain attached to your clients by keeping in touch with them. People may love you, but they will forget about you so reaching out to them will help keep you in their minds when they need an entertainer.
Creating for Television
Creating a television show is a huge undertaking and is the second risk Haim took in his career. When creating the pilot for Goldmind, Haim used his life savings to fund the episode; he vowed to quit magic if a producer didn’t pick the show up. After sending the pilot episode around to various studios, it was picked up for thirteen episodes.
Haim goes on to explain that his show succeeded because of his character. Referencing Justin Willman’s show Magic for Humans, Haim explains that a character is what separates you from other shows and makes the audience want to return. Just because you’re good onstage, doesn’t mean you’re good on television. A successful show requires directors and consultants who understand how television works and how to adapt your magic for the medium. Haim believes that if you want to succeed on television, you need to learn how to listen to professionals in the field.
What do you like about 2018/19 magic? What do you hate?
Haim likes how fast pace everything has become. Additionally, he likes how connected the world is as you can see so many magicians that you may have otherwise never seen.
Haim dislikes how people have become lazy because they can get whatever they like when they want it. He feels people aren’t putting in the time and effort to learn.
Take Home Point
Jonah liked the idea of not being lazy and putting in the necessary effort to improve your magic.
Haim liked the idea of going out and finding places to perform to gain experience.