Being connected to the world of magic is so valuable and there is no better way than to belong to a magic club. They give you the opportunity to associate and learn from other magicians that you might otherwise never get to know. They are also a wonderful place to exchange information, ideas, and gossip. They also offer the opportunity to try out new material that is not quite ready to go into your show yet.
You can get a lot out of a magic club, but as with many other things, what you get out of it depends a lot on what you put into it. Clubs differ quite a bit in the ways that they are organized and in the people who make up the membership. Some clubs go out of their way to help young female magicians, whereas a few are more of an old man’s club. I’ve found that just being friendly and knowledgeable will open a lot of doors, (and hearts).
There was a time when most magic clubs did not allow women members. That is why an organization called the MagiGals was started in 1939 with their first president Geraldine Larsen. She was the first woman to have her own magic television series. She was also the very first magician to perform on television, (in San Francisco in 1939, when no one had TV sets yet). Her sons, Bill and Milt, created the Magic Castle. We have articles on Geri and the MagiGals in our history section.
The MagiGals grew over the years, but disbanded in 2001 for a very good reason. By then all magic clubs welcomed women members.
There are two major national magic associations in this country that organize individual clubs. The International Brotherhood of Magicians has its Rings (and yes, while brotherhood may not feel all that inclusive, they had their first female president in 1987 – the fabulous June Horowitz), and the Society of American Magicians has its Assemblies, but each provides organized and structured clubs. The IBM and SAM tend to be my preference as they offer nationally recognized magazines with their memberships and have been around a long time. Both the IBM and SAM have memberships for young performers between the ages of 7 and 17, and they are cheaper than an adult membership.
There are also many independent magic clubs, some very structured and some rather informal. There are also clubs that are set up just for young magicians. The most famous of all is the Magic Castle Juniors, which has produced many top name performers, but requires that you to go to Hollywood so that you can attend the monthly meetings. It is open to young performers between the ages of 13 to 19. If you are under 20 and feel that you have developed strong skills as a magic performer and want to pursue magic seriously, get in touch with me through the Contact page on this site for more information about the Magic Castle’s Junior Magicians program and what you need to know to successfully audition. You can also e-mail them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are 21 or over, there is a group that meets at the Magic Castle called the Women Magicians Association. One of the important things the WMA does is help women prepare for the Magic Castle audition process (which many people fail on their first attempt). They also provide fellowship, an opportunity to learn and grow, and great social and professional contacts. If you are interested in the WMA, go to the Contact page and drop me a line or find The Womens Magicians Association on Facebook. It’s a closed group, but if you follow the instructions and answer the questions, you can gain admittance, as I did. They are a great group. Even if you don’t live in the area, you can join and keep in touch online.
Check for local IBM and SAM groups on their web sites. If there is nothing close to you, try doing a Google search for your city and “magic clubs.” Major cities generally have clubs, but so do many smaller cities (although they can be harder to find.) Search for local magicians and contact them, or if there is a magic shop or even a magic show, head there to find local magicians who will know if there is a local club.
Some clubs are supportive of both young performers and women in magic. Hopefully, your local club will be like that. Some do not allow full membership for young performers (generally under 21 or 18). I believe that all members should have voting rights, but this is not always the case. When my husband was 15, he was in a club that elected him as Vice President and in another club where he had no voting rights.
Participation is the key to success in any club. Participation makes you an insider because you are involved. It also makes you more visible so people keep you in mind when opportunities come up. Perform for the members every chance you get. Volunteer to help out with special events, voice your opinion during the business meeting, become involved politically if you can. All of these things will benefit you, and you will get more out of the club.
Being involved on the political side of clubs can help get you noticed. One thing you can do if your club limits your political involvement because of your age is to get a special Youth Advisory position set up, and get yourself put on it. You would represent the younger members of the group, attend board meetings, and do things such as organize special events for the junior members or do outreach to young performers. I do not like to be involved in politics in organizations and would prefer to avoid it, but I consider myself a leader so it seems like I always wind up getting involved. Ultimately, having more young women involved is good for everyone. You do have to take the position seriously, and you will have to put in a lot of effort. Ultimately, though, it helps position you as a leader and grow your own career.
Like everything else, magic clubs do have some pitfalls that you should try to avoid. Ego problems are the most tiresome. I’ve seen them primarily surface in two ways. The first is the male magician who think he is God’s gift to the magic world. He will immediately start doing magic tricks for you and man-splaining things. Sometimes it takes them a moment to realize you are a real magician. Knowing your magic, (reading books is key) is the best way to keep these guys at bay. The second is that people will sometimes be mean because on some level they are both insecure and jealous. This crops up more the better you get at being a magician. It’s hard not to take it to heart when someone says something really mean, but normally it’s just because they can’t believe you’re that good. Never take it to heart. It’s their problem, not yours. Being gracious in these situations makes you look good (and kind of ironically, may really bother them when you don’t stoop to there level.) In a club, the problems happen when the man-splainers and the haters are the only ones who are active in the group. The best solution is when a club is run in such a way that all members are encouraged to participate. Raising your hand to help out, can stop this from happening.
You should avoid being a bragger yourself. Of course you are wonderful, but nobody wants to hear about it repeatedly. I would never discuss how much I make doing magic, but I do a lot of shows and when I have mentioned it, that hasn’t always gotten a great reaction. I have an MBA and tons of experience in negotiation so booking is not as hard for me as it is for many others. Saying this to other magicians in conversation, though, can come across as bragging, and no one wants that. The best way to get along is just ask people about themselves. They always love that.
Some people may see you as a potential girlfriend, rather then as a fellow magician. Magicians do date each other but be very selective with who you have one on one time with. They may be thinking about this differently than you are.
This brings us to the problem of cliques, groups of people who separate themselves from the rest of the group. They often see themselves as a select body and look upon everyone else in the club with disdain. If you are member of a clique, don’t fall into the bad habits they have developed. These include putting down other members, a fear of socializing with non-clique members, and being snobs. Get to know everyone in the club instead. With more friends in magic, you’ll have more people on your team as you grow in magic.
A killer of magic clubs is apathy. If people stop showing up at meetings, or don’t get involved, you don’t have a club anymore. It is definitely worthwhile to be an active member in a magic club. The key word is active. Find one near you and get involved. You will learn a lot from your fellow magicians. After all show business is a not just a “know how” business. It’s a, “know who” business. So, get to work on that.