OFF THE BEATEN CAREER PATH

Hat Trick: Magic, Stage Presence, Marketing

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Once in a while, the white rabbit just doesn't show up in the little box. Louis Meyer knows this -- and is ready.

For every magic trick he performs, he has developed a way out of a glitch -- some move that seems natural and will usually bring out the rabbit on the next try. He doesn't want to disappoint his audience, often kids at birthday parties.

Meyer, owner of Child Time Magic, started doing magic tricks at 10 and taught himself dozens of card tricks and illusions. He remembers asking a police officer to handcuff him at age 12 so he could try to escape.

He figures he does 350 shows a year -- seven or eight on most weekends. By Sunday night, he's dead tired and ready for a day off.

After four years as a full-time magician, he thinks he knows the trick to making it: Have a good show and be a good business person. Spend as much time on marketing and bookings as on punching up patter.

It's paid off for Meyer, who makes more than $80,000 a year by amazing children. He figures he's one of about 20 professional magicians who work around Washington.

After the show, children often ask Meyer's secrets. He is honest, telling them he is an illusionist whose hands trick the eye. "I never say I have magic power now," he said. "I do my thing and let you believe what you want to believe."

-- Vickie Elmer


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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