Thursday, February 18, 2010

Summer library shows

Across the country every summer public libraries offer a summer reading program for kids. This program is usually themed to get the kids to read a certain amount of books, get points for each book read and get rewarded for doing so. Each year, here in Connecticut, the themes sometime differ from town to town. But the kids really get into this. The libraries also have entertainment to compliment the themes. The acts really vary from story tellers, reptile handlers with real reptiles, clowns, ventriloquists, bubble blowers and of course magicians. That's where I come in, but let me first tell you a story...

I owe much of my success as an entertainer to the Connecticut Public Library system. In 1987 I had been hired to entertain kids at a few libraries across Connecticut. I guess I did a good job because I was asked to present myself and my magic at a library showcase of entertainers in 1988. I remember that day vividly.

The showcase was a the main branch of the West Hartford Public Library. I had never heard of a showcase so I had no idea of what to do, say or bring. I got there early to see what the other entertainers were doing. There were every kind of entertainer imaginable. Most had elaborate press kits, were in costume and had prepaired to present a short segment of their act. I looked at the schedule and noticed I was on in the afternoon after lunch, which was not a desirable time slot as some librarians would leave during the lunch break. I watch many of the acts do their 10 minutes and was very surprised at the professionalism, the quailty and diversity of what I saw. Right before lunch I went home (I only lived a few blocks away), went through my magic tricks and picked 2 out. I also brought a huge bag of rubber bands. I could not eat lunch as I was very nervous about my slot on the program. The program continued I was now ready for my turn.

I was introduced as Steve Wonka (nobody back then could pronounce my last name: ron-ker) and as a magician. They had already seen more magicians in the morning than one would see at a magic convention. I walked on stage and just went into my opening two routines from my magic show I had been doing at the time. I proclaimed I was going to perform an illusion! When most people think or hear of illusions in  agic, you think of these huge box tricks with ladies turning into tigers or being diced and sliced in half. Nobody has ever said an illusion must be physically big. I just told them that my definition of an illusion is something you thing you see but it doesn't really happen. I told them I was going to show them an illusion with a piece of toilet paper. The entire room started laughing out loud. I do mean really loud. I performed the trick and was rewarded with applause. No other act received applause during their showcase, only at the conclusion of their time. I next did a trick with a sucker ending which completely baffled them. More applause. I still had 5 minutes left, so I got out the package of rubberbands and asked for them to passed out to each person in the room. I taught them the jumping rubberband trick. This was trick I learned and used when I was working as part of David Copperfield's Project Magic. When each libarian performed the trick on their own, they smiled and giggled as if they were the 6, 7, 8 year old kids I perform for every show. I had hit a home run! The applause I received after my 10 minutes was appalause I will never forget. I didn't have a fancy press kit, fancy business card or outrageous costume. I what just me doing what I loved to do; make people grin, smile, giggle and laugh. I was told many months later that I was the hit of the showcase. Booking started pouring in. That summer during the libaries' reading program I performed my brand of magic at 37 libraries.

As I try and re:establish my magic shows, I look forward to entertaining at libraries once again all over Connecticut. After I sent out a reintroduction letter to the librarians, I have had many conversations welcoming me back. Many said they look forward to the craziness of my act as they know the kids will love it as much now as back then. I've only been away from pursuing magic shows for the last 5 or 6 years but I guess I left an impression. (A good one I hope). I have already booked a few shows but I have room on my summer schedule to book many more. The best thing... I offering the same fee as I did 10 years ago. As they say; in today's economic times... etc, etc, etc. I always felt I offer a great show at an afforable price and then I'm going to give you more than advertised.

Here's a look at my new logo and please visit my newly designed web site: I hope I have the pleasure of enteratining you and your kids at a Connecticut library this summer. Come up and say hello.

SWFB Magic... "Fun You Won't Forget!"