Queens, diamonds, hearts, a flutter of cards or a femme fatale vanished into thin air. The mystique and excitement of a magician's performance thrills the audience, and the people are how magicians make their money. Card Magic owner Rob Mendell says that pay varies; in the Chicago area private parties can pay a flat rate of $100 to $250 per hour plus tips, and upwards of $2,000 per day for corporate events such as trade shows. Most magicians freelance with gigs as a part-time profession.
Even escape artist Houdini, a former President of the Society of American Magicians, published a book sold at 5 cents a copy to supplement his income. In the 20th century the financial statuses of legendary performers became more lucrative. Illusionist David Copperfield has grossed an estimated $800 million from performances including live and televised stunts, according to a 2013 Forbes report. Venues in Las Vegas often feature famous magicians, but a six-figure salary is still an exception in the field.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that incomes for entertainers and performers ranges from $8.68 to $43.36 per hour in 2013. Nevada, New York, new Jersey, Massachusetts and Tennessee have the highest paid entertainers pay ranging from $27.02 to $59.74 per hour. Because the majority of magicians are self-employed, their employment data is self-reported to the IRS and may not be reflected in statistics. Some performers showcase tricks on sidewalks and never declare their cash earnings.
- Rob Mendell: The Society of American Magicians Member: Card Magic; Chicago, Illinois
- Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini
- Forbes: Magician David Copperfield's 800 Million Fortune Could Make Him a Future Billionaire
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013; Entertainers and Performers
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