Performing Magic In Japanese

and other entrepreneurial endeavors

When I auditioned for the role of Octavius the Wizard at Caesars Magical Empire in Las Vegas, the audition didn’t go well. It was a ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ kind of result.

All the negative tapes and voices were playing on repeat in my head.

Who did I think I was? I should have stayed in the Air Force. I gave up a 20 year pension to do this audition. Nobody in my family ever got to do anything like this. I come from a long line of secure, educated 9-5 predictable career people.

But something told me to try again. I was by no means the most talented performer they saw that day. I knew a lot of the superb people who had gone ahead of me, and they left empty handed. The queue of people waiting their turn was in the hundreds.

I had more to offer than the rigid script allowed, but I was afraid to say so. As the producers shuffled their papers and instructed the assistant to bring in the next person, I stopped at the doorway. I whipped around and said ‘I can do that in Japanese’.

I’ll never forget the look on their faces as they lit up. What I didn’t know was that these execs were looking for a way to attract Japanese tourists to their new magic-themed dinner show. This was 1997, and Japanese tourists loved dinner theater. There I was, with a golden ticket I never knew I had.

I performed the audition in Japanese.

‘we have no idea what you just said but you speaking Japanese is the funniest shit we have seen in months’

My ability to speak Japanese got me to the second round of interviews where they tested my ability to perform close-up magic, and since I’m a quick study that was the easy part.

Not only did I get the gig, they later told me it was because of my ability to speak Japanese. David Copperfield was safe - for now.

One of the marketing execs must have sensed my fear. She took me aside and suggested instead of being just another performer with a paycheck - I should make Caesars Palace license the Japanese version of the show from me, so I could get my $800/week salary + licensing money. It never crossed my mind that that was even possible.

Be happy you have a job, color inside the lines and live for the weekend. That was the life I saw all the adults in my life living, and nothing sounded more terrifying. A life of quiet desperation, waiting for bossman to pat me on the back. No thanks.

I had to form a company to make the licensing thing work, and I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

This led to so many incredible opportunities, but the struggles continued - those damn tapes in my head. They’re still there, but I ignore them. The more afraid I am, the better I know the opportunity is.

I hope this helps somebody with their tapes. Maybe we don’t have to become our past.

Why work this hard to stay in the same place?