Like Calls to Like

Dear Friends,

Today our guest writer is Will Bradshaw. Will appeared in our lives about 7 years ago, first as a student, then apprentice…and now he’s so busy with his own performing career and his work for David Copperfield and MagicFlix, that we don’t get to see nearly as much of him as we would like. He has been working directly with our students for the Last 7 years, has consulted for award-winning Vegas magic shows on the Strip, and worked directly for the largest names in the magic world.

As a young and talented magician, “on the rise,” Will has a perspective on our art and profession that may be of special interest to you. Enjoy!

Like Calls to Like
By Will Bradshaw

As I move forward in my career as an entertainer, I find myself pondering more and more often this question: if I had to choose, do I want to be liked or respected.
As a performing artist, I am naturally drawn to the stage out of a desire to be liked. The applause, validation of our peers and mentors, that shake of the hand and hearing “That was incredible.”
I want to be liked… no, more than that I want to be loved and the stage is the place I found that.

However, there is a sinister trap looming beyond the shiny facade of validation, thrown roses, and the standing ovation. When our desire for a wisp of a moment of love is more important than our sense of self, we fall into a place where our art, passions, and lives suffer.

Over the last 5 years I have lived in Las Vegas I have met more and more famous magicians, entertainers, and powerhouses of business–and I have found, time after time, that being respected is more important by far to them than being liked. This is why I think that is.

It comes down to value.

By demanding respect, you are telling the world your Art, your Magic, YOU provide Value. And when you provide value, you are no longer willing to receive less than that value for your services. It takes courage to say, “I provide this much value to you, and for that I require X,” and if the people you are interacting with aren’t willing to provide that, then you are willing to walk because you know what you are doing and what you are worth, and that matters. People will only respect you and your show as much as you do.


So be willing to set boundaries in your show,and ask for what you need. Respect yourself and you will find others will respect you as well, because you will remove those who do not show you respect out of your life.

But how do we show respect for our show? Well these are the things I do to respect my performance; I hope you find them helpful, and if there are more things you think of, reach out to me on the forums. Open the discussion, share your feelings and experiences, because when we start talking about how to show respect, we are more likely to ask for it.

Know what your needs are: I, the performer who crafted the show that the client is about to purchase, and who has performed it hundreds if not thousands of times, know what makes my show work better than someone who is purchasing my services the first time. I know what will make it highly successful, and what will cause it to tank. So ask yourself… what do you need to perform at your BEST–and start from there. Ask yourself…

  • How much space do you need?
  • Does your performance work better on a stage, if so, how high?
  • Do you need a Mic?
  • If performing for birthdays, does your show work better before or after cake?
  • Do you need a space to set up?

The list goes on and on. Asking yourself these questions and having the answers WRITTEN DOWN is the first step in being treated with respect. All these items won’t be available for each show, but by starting with what will make your show the best and working down from there, instead of fighting for every scrap of help, you will get more respect because you are fighting for the best show possible. Know the difference between what you NEED, and what you would LIKE. Being willing to ask for what you need, and being willing to turn down a gig if it is not given, will mean you are performing at your best, and will give yourself that edge that will move your show to the next level.

Treat your props/Venue well: This is the idea of giving respect to get respect. If you treat the world around you with respect people learn that that is the type of behavior that is appropriate when dealing with you. The same works in reverse. When you arrive at the venue and your costume looks trashed and your props are falling apart, you’re telling the world that you don’t give your show respect, so you will be less likely to receive it. In addition, if you leave junk around backstage, make messes, and don’t have a way to make cleanup easy, you show the person hiring you that you don’t respect them, and suddenly you will no longer get called to perform there again.

Arrive on time/Deal honestly: This is the same giving of respect to get respect as above, but much more direct in action. When you arrive on time you are telling the people who are meeting you that you respect their time, and time is ultimately the most valuable resource we have. Dealing honestly and directly with the people you interact with shows that you are not trying to pull a fast one over them,and that you desire clear communication. The best way to get it is to give it.

We all crave being liked–the applause, the “Thank you so much”–but getting that is a trade for performing at your best. In spaces where your work is sub-par, if you lack respect for your show and yourself, you will eventually drain yourself, and that will lead to unsatisfying gig after unsatisfying gig–and ultimately an unsatisfactory life. So go out and get respect, because each and every one of you deserve it.

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