I’m Kevin Blake, a magician based out of San Francisco, and I’m here to help you learn what it’s like to hire a magician for a corporate event or private party.
Magic is one of those curious and rare jobs like “archivist” or “luxury resort reviewer” that inspire a lot of questions. What is my job? What do I do? What is it like to hire a magician? How much does it cost? Do you do kid’s parties? (I don’t, but others are amazing at them!) I won’t tell you how the tricks work, but I will give you some information about what it’s like to hire and work with a magician.
Maybe you want some magic for a big corporate holiday party or event, a celebratory happy hour, for conference entertainment, a private birthday party, a wedding, or to add some magic to an intimate dinner among friends. A solid idea. I’m here to help.
Magic is real.
I’ve performed for tens of thousands of people on stage, appeared on America’s Got Talent, Penn & Teller: Fool Us, been featured on Thrillist and written about in The San Francisco Chronicle and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: people love magic. Don’t get me wrong—people are occasionally suspicious of magicians, but the experience of magic is universally enjoyed. Great magic gives people that unforgettable, jaw-dropping “No way!” feeling of disbelief you get from a perfect twist in a great movie. Except your life is the movie. And the twist is me.
Our minds are sieves. It takes something big to knock a memory into someone. People will forget what appetizers they had, what they drank, what they had for dinner. They’ll forget the music they listened to and they’ll definitely forget the custom printed napkins. But when you invite an incredible, world-class magician to your event, you’re introducing an unstable element that binds people together through a joint experience of the unusual. The extraordinary. The result: The party becomes something a bit more.
“Remember when we opened a fold in the multiverse and teleported our business cards from one side of the room to the other?!”
In fact, magic is the one thing that gets better with time. I’m amazed time and time again when I meet people who saw me perform years ago and then regale me with tales of the impossible magic that I “did.” Tricks become more and more incredible with each telling, and the magic becomes legend.
How much does it cost?
A solid question. Hiring a magician usually starts with emailing the magician (you can email me here) or filling out an event detail form (mine looks like this). Usually people’s first question is: how much does it cost?
An important question. Like everything, cost depends on quality.
You can hire Jimmy the Great down the street for $50. Or you can hire David Blaine for $50K (I don’t actually know his fee).
For a great, working pro in a major metropolitan area (like San Francisco, where I work), you should expect the price to be around $2,000-$3,000. This fee can increase depending on length of engagement and type of performance (show or “strolling” close up, or both).
If you’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area, the cost might be a bit different. But if you’re in a city like San Francisco or another major metropolitan area, this is what you should expect for a world-class entertainer. The fee might be less for an intimate house party or short cocktail hour, or much more for bigger events, conferences. Full stage shows where there will be 500–1000+ person audiences can cost $5k–$10k or more.
Think of the cost like ticket sales. For my live show in San Francisco, tickets are ~$60/person. If there are 120 people buying tickets, that’s ~$7,000.
If you don’t hire me, here are some tips for choosing a magician:
- Look at their website, photos, and video. In entertainment, looks matter. Would this magician fit in at your event, or stand out like a sore thumb-tip? Does the magician dress well? Can you get a sense for his humor? Much magic is plagued by inappropriate, outdated and often sexist comedy, bad fashion, and cheesy tricks. You definitely don’t want that on your hands.
- Read their reviews online. Check places like Yelp and the magician’s website to read what the public has to say about them. This is invaluable, but should be taken with a grain of salt as with all reviews. A glowing review for a children’s entertainer won’t make them great for your corporate event or private birthday party. Have they been written about on a reputable site? Appeared on TV? Obviously, these are good indicators.
- Check their previous client list. Check out the magician’s list of previous clients. If the magician is good enough for the likes of Fortune 50 companies, he’s probably pretty good.
- Cost. Ask for a quote. At the end of the day, you’ve got an entertainment budget. If the rate is too high for you, ask for a recommendation for someone up and coming. Magicians have magic friends.
Here’s a little secret of magic: the actual magic in magic often isn’t the hard part.
There are a million kids on YouTube who can do crazy card tricks. But they probably can’t slide confidently and elegantly into any conversation, any group, any age, any background, and make people smile and laugh. And they definitely can’t tactfully guide them into an enjoyable experience of the impossible.
Part of what makes an excellent magician is his social acumen. And that’s not something you can buy at a magic shop.
I’ve performed at hundreds of private events (at every type of party you can imagine — plus many you can’t). I’ve performed in living rooms, ballrooms, concert halls, offices, and even on a submarine. Is it worth it to hire a magician? Absolutely.
One of the main reasons magic is great — and powerful — is that it starts conversations. It presents puzzles that are (mostly) insolvable, and these impossibilities bring people together, both during the entertainment — “What! Woah! Did you see that?!” and after, often for years, even decades.
When I meet new people in normal life, and that what do you do? question comes up, people are often surprised. But the truth is I feel extraordinarily lucky to be working as a magician today. Today’s world of endless content and information has, instead of dulling magic, made it more and more powerful—and popular! With the answers to any question just a tap away, and the experience of the unexplainable so rare, people have begun to crave wonder more than ever before.
And we magicians are here to answer that call.
If you’re looking to hire a magician in the San Francisco Bay Area or want a recommendation for an entertainer in another city, send me an email here ([email protected]). You can also learn more about me at my site here: www.kevinblakemagic.com.
If you’d like to see my live show, I perform every other Thursday in San Francisco. Find information and tickets here: https://sanfranciscomagicshow.com.
Thanks for reading!