After a winter of performing magic and juggling at Birthday parties, Medieval banquets and Circus workshops, (click on the red words for more info) birds are once again singing in the trees. Events are eagerly booking us for festivals and the overdraft is at its limit. All these things can mean only one thing. Spring is slowly springing, summer is awaiting its grand entrance and we here at the fools house are looking forward to a bumper season of fun, laughter, fun and fun (0k, so that’s actually 3 things, but hey, who’s counting).
We’re already booked for our favorite events such as “The loxwood joust” and “The cambridge town and country fair”. We’ve also got new events like “The British juggling convention” and for all our friends and fans up north, a week long booking at “Alnwick castle”.
Also, as always we have loads of new magic routines as well as all your old favorites. So say tuned for further updates on where and when we’ll be performing. Infact, one of the best ways to keep updated on where and when to find us is to like our super exciting “facebook page”.
But enough of that. Time for the main part of this blog about the trials and tribulations of a modern day medieval, fool. My never before revealed revelations on how anyone, yes, even you! can make a small fortune out of performing magic (I kid thee not).
As someone who performs magic as their main income, there are 3 questions that I get asked more than any others. They are, in order of commonality:
- How did you do that magic trick?
- Why did you become a professional magician?
- How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?
So in this chapter of my blog, I thought Id not only answer them, but in so doing, also give away, free of charge, my fail proof guaranteed secret to using magic to make a small fortune. And the beauty of this secret is that anyone can do it, yes, even you!
1) How did you do that magic trick?
This is the question both adults and children alike ask most. Normally after I’ve done some amazing piece of prestidigitation. The reply to which is normally “can you keep a secret? Well so can I”
2) Why did you become a professional magician?
Thats a good question and one that has a very simple answer. “Because I couldn’t afford to be an amature one”
3) How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?
That’s another good question. However the answer to this one isn’t quite so simple. So why not go make yourself a cuppa, then sit back and relax as I tell you all not only how I became a professional performer, but also, for the first time ever, give away the fail proof secret to my success in the form of my latest ebook. A book entitled
AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED
(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).
“But what” I hear you ask “makes me feel qualified to right such a book in regards to performing and magic”?
Over 30 years in the trade, thats what. 30 years in which I have traveled the world. In Saint-Tropez I worked for some of the worlds richest and most powerful people. In a Gujarati mud hut I performed for some of the worlds poorest orphans. I’ve worked at the worlds biggest festivals and small village fetes. Banquets, birthdays and funerals. You name it and I’ve performed magic there. But before I tell you the secret to making a small fortune from magic (I kid you not). Let me answer the first part of that question.
How did you become a professional magician
DevilStick Peat. The early days:
An ex soldier goes to Glastonbury festival
I was 24 and had not long left the army. I was living in a town in kent and spending my time going from one dead end job to another. Working in factories and the such like and hating every minute of it. I remember laying in bed and thinking “This cant be all there is to life. There just has to be more than work, drink, bills, rent and drink. There just has to be”
Occasionally a bit of colour would come into my life in the form of Tat and Ray. They were two traveling brothers who’d wander around europe busking with music and having loads of adventures. When they were in town I’d meet them in my local pub and they’d tell me tales of far off lands with sunshine, cheap wine and pretty girls. Oh how I envied them with their freedom and winter suntans, but I wasn’t musical and, if you’ve ever heard me sing, then you’d know why I now do comedy and magic for a living. So instead I just carried on going from job to job and getting more and more depressed.
Then one hot, sunny afternoon back in the 80’s I was walking home from the off license. In one hand I had a crate of newcastle brown ale, in the other a few bottles of thunderbird wine (as you do on a sunny afternoon in june). A van pulled up with a friend and two beautiful identical twins in the front. “Hi pete” he said with a grin “thats a lot of booze you’ve got, and we’ve got a spare ticket to glastonbury”
“Great” I said jumping in the vans side door. As we drove down the road I knelt behind the front seats, leaned over so that my head was between the young ladies and said “just one question. what is this glaston-thingy your on about”?
They laughed and one of the ladies said ” You’ve never heard of Glastonbury! Oh Pete, you’re going to have soooo much fun”. And she was so right.
Touched by the hand of fate
Fast forward a few days and Im having a great time, what with the music, hippy fields, pretty ladies and sunshine. I staggered somewhat drunkenly into a field and there was a man playing with what I now know to be devilsticks. I sat watching him for ages as he would get them tick tocking up into the air for a few minutes then they’d fall back to the ground. I was fascinated and asked him how long he’d been doing it. When he said “about an hour” I asked him where he’d got them from.
“over there” he said pointing further into the field
I looked towards where he was pointing and noticed several things. There was a circus big top, lots of people playing with juggling equipment, lots of pretty young ladies and a stall selling juggling kit. Above the stall was a sign saying “ODDBALLS”.
I wandered over and saw my friends sitting on the grass so I joined them and watched as people played with all types of juggling equipment, most of which I’d never seen before. One man had several sets of devilsticks and let me have a try. For the next hour I just played and played. Then I suddenly had a still slightly drunken revelation and knew what I was going to do. I still look back on that moment as the moment I was touched by the hand of fate. But the picture was suddenly so vivid in my mind that I turned around to my friends and said “If I got a set of those sticks and a red and yellow jesters suite, I could travel the world”. One of the twins laughed and said something like “You…… Juggle! You’d never get it together enough to learn something like that”
That made me so angry (mainly because she was right) that I borrowed £13 off of my mate and went over to the stall and brought my first set of devilsticks. The rest of the festival was spent sober and practising in the sunshine (well, more sober than I had been).
The Black Mountains
I returned to my home town with a plan which, now I’ve sobered up, seemed crazy, but I’d told everyone what I was going to do, so couldn’t back out now.
There was a temp agency that I’d sometimes use if I couldn’t find work. The manager knew that I was not only a good worker, but also one with a brain. They had a temp job going that was good money, very good money. It was 12 hour nights Monday-Thursday at £13 an hour. A nice rate now, but back in the 80’s it was real, serious money. If you done more than four days the extra was time and a half (£26 an hour). I worked 5 nights a week for several months. It was a horrid job in a horrid factory, but it paid the bills and allowed me to save a fair bit of money.
Then one spring morn I told them I’m leaving the job. He boss man asked what I was going to do that was worth giving up that type of money and I’ll never forget the look on his face when I said “I’m going to go sit on a mountain in wales, learn to juggle, then travel around putting my hat on the floor and seeing if anyone will throw money into it”! I then had a great leaving home party that lasted two days longer than intended before my mother-of-all-hangovers and I left town and headed down to south wales. I had no idea where I was going to end up, only that I wanted a clean break with no distractions, lots of green countryside, a couple of aspirins for my headache and somewhere to pitch a tent. I ended up in the black mountains near Brecon.
My time in the infantry meant that I was quite happy camping in the woods. Infact, once I realized that I didn’t have to be as camouflaged etc as I was in the army, it seemed quite comfortable and I loved waking up to the sound of the birds singing
A little way down hill was the village of Talgarth. Talgarth was a small village who’s biggest employer was the large mental health facility based on the edge of the village. It was the sort of village where no one seemed to know who was a doctor, who was a nurse and who was a patient that had managed to escape for a few days. The sort of place where a nutter living next to the waterfall that fed the woodland surrounded small lake known as “the witches pool” seemed quite normal. Here I trained, using books Id brought from my many trips to oddballs shop in london. Then one day I headed into Brecon town to do some shopping and maybe meet a few of the locals that Id got to know for a beer or two.
I didn’t know until I got there but it was the weekend of the Brecon Jazz festival. This meant that town was a lot busier than normal. It also meant that a lot of those people had had way too much to drink. As always I had my juggling equipment with me, I never went anywhere without it just incase someone found my tent and robbed me. So I made a decision. I was going to do my first ever bit of busking!
For ages I stood there, devilsticks in hand, telling myself that I could do this, just as soon as I stop shaking. But still I couldn’t actually find the courage to put my hat out and busk. Then a young lady walked past. she stopped and came back again.
“Are they devilsticks”? she asked. I told her they were and she asked me to show her what I could do with them. I started playing and a group of about 4 people who were walking down the street stopped to watch. I played for a few minutes then stopped to talk to the lady (after all, she was very pretty and I was young and single).The others clapped and one of them held out a coin asking where my hat was. I was surprised as I wasnt busking, just showing off to a pretty lady, but thinking quickly I held out my hat and got a coin off of each of them.
After that I came back to kent and got a friend to make me a jesters suit, a red and yellow one just like the one I’d imagined that day in glastonbury and decided to head south, down towards the mediterranean sea and all the wonderful towns, women and adventures that Tat and Ray had told me about.
Traveling and busking and war zones
For legal reasons I wont go into too many details, but surface to say I had a great time traveling Europe. Italy was a good place to make money. Spain really wasn’t (Although I once spent a winter living in a wonderful 5 roomed cave there. One that came with a garden, front door and letterbox. No postman, but still it had a letter box) . France was a good party, especially along the mediterranean, where the tourist paid in the day for the beers and partying that my fellow buskers and I would enjoy that night. And as for Amsterdam! Well the truth is I don’t remember a lot about my time there, which just goes to prove how much fun it really must of been. I even met up with Ray and spent a summer in business with him, running a bar at festivals (often without the festivals knowledge).
I was waking up on beaches to the sight of the sun rising over a deep blue sea. Sleeping on mountain sides in thick, lush woodland and just loving being able to spend days at a time in a forest, far from the madding crowd. Manys a time I’d say “The gods have blessed me. I don’t know why, but they have”. Then one day, on my way from Southern Ireland to somewhere else, I stopped off for a few days to see some friends in Glastonbury town.
Whilst there I met a young lady and ended up settling down for a few years. I even got a flat! Not just a bedsit, but a real live flat with more than one room. I remember sitting in the front room at night and thinking what an effort it is to walk all the way to the bedroom, just to sleep. Then, way back in 1999, Arabella Churchill, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill and the founder of a great charity called “Children’s World” asked me if I’d go to war torn kosova for a few weeks to work with the children there, care of her latest charity, “Children’s World International”. It was 72 days after the end of the war and the country was still in chaos with bombings and revenge shootings and all sorts of things happening and in the middle of all this was severely traumatized children, all being looked after and taught by severely traumatized adults.
I’m not going to use this blog to rant on about it, surface to say it was a horrible situation both for the children and us. But it was a situation in which I could make a small difference and that’s when I realized just why it was that the gods had blessed me. For the next decade or so my obsession was working with children affected by violence. not just war, but all sorts of violence including war, terrorism, blood feuds and sexual trafficking. It took me to lots of fun places such as Ossetia, Iraq and Tamil Eelam. Places full of big guns, fun kids and cheap alcohol. I went from performing shows for the children to writing projects, sourcing funding and running teams that worked in these places. And my paper of parachute games in relation to refugees was adopted by several UNICEF departments (something that I’n actually quite proud of).
My first paying gig
In the winter I’d do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye the next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event itself was not only fun, but in future years they even paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!
In the winter Id do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event it’s self was fun and in future years they paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!
I was booked to perform at a free to enter street event in Battle known as “The Battle Medieval Fayre”. It was, and still is a lovely event where the whole local community comes together to put on a medieval street market with stalls, maypole dancing, fighting knights in armour and lots of other entertainment, including of course, yours truly.
I say “still is” as the event is not only still happening (the late may bank holiday sunday and monday) but they still, after all these years, they still book yours truly to perform at it! and they call me the fool. I often wish that I’d recorded my yearly shows there so that I could see how I’ve progressed from a juggler in a jesters suit, to a performing jester, with magic, juggling, comedy and wit.
One medieval event lead to another (which is just as well as an unemployed jester is nobodies fool), my nylon jesters suit turned into authentic clothing. Other festivals and banquets started booking me. Soon it was becoming like a real job, but I was also getting older.
Settling down and learning magic
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to hold back time, it catches up with you in the end and I was hitting that age where doing a 30-45 minute, high energy comic juggling show several times a day was beginning to hurt. Also my juggling was at a level where is wasn’t really worth taking it any further. By that I mean that the public wasn’t going to get any more enjoyment out of a comic 7 ball routine than they would a comic 5 ball routine. So i decided that it was time for a change, time to learn something different, something less energetic yet still magical. Time to learn magic.
It was around this time that I also decided to make another change in my life. I woke up one day in a lovely piece of woodland in kent and thought “you know what Peat? When you’re 20 something and living in a wood, you’re cool. When you’re 40 something and living in a wood, you’re just plain weird. Time to put down some routes”. So I got myself a flat on the coast, about 20 miles from Canterbury, became a director of the prestigious Kent Circus School and started to research comic magic. I soon realized several things. Firstly, that there are several skill levels and tricks designed for that level of skill. The amount of money I spent of tricks that I hadn’t any chance of learning yet was frightening. Imagine a 6 year old child spending his sweet shop money on a copy of war and peace, then trying to understand it. That’s what I felt like trying a lot of the tricks I’d brought.
I also discovered that there are different types of magic. E.G. close up, stage and parlour. Plus there is all the different genders like Coin magic, sleight of hand, self working and cards to name a few. Not to mention all the sub genders such as card manipulation verse card forces and so on. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes, often very expensive mistakes to discover what magic was best for me, or rather for my persona.
Another thing I decided on early in my magical venture was that just learning another performers routine was something I just couldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong. There are some great magic routines out there and the books and dvd’s that teach them, move by move and word by word are truly awesome. The trouble is this. I think (and I hope I’m right on this) that My DevilStick Peat persona it a truly unique character and because of this it needs unique magic routines, what works for other performers characters won’t work for mine. Also there are jokes and gags that I can use that others cant. This means that there are 3 sides to my magic routines.
- Finding the magic effects that are of the right skills level that work for me.
- Learning the various moves and sleights needed to perform the various magic effects possible with that prop.
- Writing and choreographing a magic routine based around those effects.
Number one is done by trial and error, talking to other magicians and just watching other magicians at every possible opportunity.
Number two is a combination of hard work, more hard work and a distinct lack of any form of social life
Number 3 is a case of working out which moves lead most natully to which move. Banging one’s head against walls whilst trying to think up the spoken parts of the routine, and always keeping something I can write ideas and sudden bits of inspiration on nearby, especially when I’m in bed. Trust me on this. The importance of having that notebook by the bed can not be over rated. As waking the wife up at 3am and saying “hey, if I done this whilst saying that then the effect would be such and such”, does not lead to a happy, pain free marriage (Please, just trust the voice of experience on this one).
So as you can see, an effect that amuses you for a few minutes isn’t just the result of spending a hundred or more pounds on props and a quick back stage read of the instructions. It’s so much more than that.
It’s the result of months, and in some cases years of hard work, research and practise. It’s the result of all that time, money and effort spent on all those tricks that just didn’t work or which weren’t right for me.
It’s the result of all those sleepless nights stressed out and worrying that my wife might find out how much that magic trick really costs (Indeed, my biggest fear is that, once I’m dead, she will sell my magic, not for the amount it’s worth, but for the amount I’ve told her it cost).
It’s the result of days, nights, weeks months and years of blood, sweat and tears.
So as you can now understand, it’s taken years to learn how to be successful enough to make a small fortune out of magic. And over those years I have learnt many short cuts and lesions born not just of advice from my fellow magicians, but also of mistakes (often very expensive and/or reputation and soul destroying mistakes).
I’d hate to see you, my faithful readers suffer the same trials and tribulations that I have and so, after careful deliberation, I have decided to publish my full, easy to follow, step by step guide on how to, quite literally, make a small fortune from magic. A guide that does exactly what it says on the tin. A guide that’s simply called
AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED
(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).
- Start off with a large fortune
- Spend it on hundreds of magic tricks, most of which you’ll discover aren’t any good, many of which don’t do what they say they will, a lot of which aren’t right for you, a few of which you like, of which one or two are of use to you.
- Join the many second hand magic groups on facebook and sell all save the ones you like for a fraction of what they cost and use the money to repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
- Give up any notions of having a social life whilst you spend a year or more learning the 7 tricks you’re now left with
- Contact agents and events, tell them how much you charge then, after endless emails, end up working for a mere pittance (and of cause the none existent great publicity and exposure that they said the event will give you and your magic)
- Get a real, Monday to Friday job that pays the bills so that you can put the money from performing magic in the bank until you have amounted a small fortune.
Easy, job done.
Until next time
D. S. Peat
P.S. All the people named in this brief history of my life are true, only the events have been changed to make it more believable.
Whats that? you were expecting a proper, genuine sensible ebook!!! Just which part of the job title “Jester” don’t you understand