Everyone on staff at Ellusionist loves performing for people.
Adam Wilber is on a higher level.
During our recent summit meeting, Adam didn’t hesitate to perform for anyone we encountered. A hotel clerk. Two package store employees. Diners at a trendy San Francisco restaurant. And he left them all speechless and applauding. He cemented his reputation of being a bold, fearless performer ready to deal with unknown people and turn them into fans.
But Adam doesn’t think of himself as a guy with something to prove, or somebody with more of a burn to perform than anybody else. He just loves performing magic, and it’s part of who he is.
“I don’t see myself at a ‘higher level’ by any means. I have always had an outgoing attitude and was never a shy person. I love people and I love social interactions. I don’t think people should force themselves to perform as much as I do unless that’s the goal they set for themselves. It goes without saying the more you perform for strangers, the more comfortable you become at it and in turn the better performer you become.”
One night, the crew dined at The Slanted Door, an upscale Vietnamese restaurant that serves family-style entrees. The restaurant was filled with San Fran’s finest, from tourists to regulars, and the meal included incredible rib-eye steak, lamb and fish entrees.
The restaurant was packed. Every table was filled, including the one seating Brad Christian, Daniel Madison, Peter McKinnon and other staff members. As magicians usually do, we all had cards out. We showed each other routines, sleights and other secrets. At one point, Adam did an outstanding linking card routine for a guest of Brad’s at the table.
After that performance, he heard something a few tables over: He caught an “all-around good vibe” from a table with about 15 people, mostly women and a few men at the end.
Of course he performed for them.
“I look for any and every opportunity I can to share my magic with people. It still amazes me the feeling you get when you give a complete stranger a memory they will keep for a lifetime. Not many people or artists can say they have that ability, but as magicians it’s something I think a lot of us take for granted.”
Approaching the men first, he did a short set and left them applauding. He came back to another round of applause from all of us. Then someone from the table came over and offered to buy him a drink. Apparently, Adam had refused a tip from them, but they insisted on rewarding him for his work.
Adam is a worker, in addition to his role as Ellusionist’s project manager. With more than 24 years of experience, he has performed for clients in New Orleans, Vermont and around the country. The creator of Earbuds works children’s shows, private parties and corporate engagements, and has built an impressive resume of testimonials. All that experience has honed his senses and gut instinct of who is ready to be blown away. But he doesn’t go looking for suckers, for people to fool.
“I believe the most important thing to remember is you shouldn’t be walking up to a group with the sole intention of fooling them, impressing them or getting something from them. That is more of your ego performing, instead of your personality. When performing magic for a stranger you have to keep in mind you are giving this person a very special gift, a genuine piece of yourself. If you approach people with the mindset of being casual and having fun, it makes it very hard for them to not be receptive to your magic.”
The way he was in San Francisco is the way he always is. He has no problem taking time out of his day to perform and share his art. The secret, he said, is to remember that it’s not about him. It’s about how he affects his spectators.
“The magic MUST be all about my audience and providing them with a entertaining interaction that allows them to think like a child again and forget about the worries of world around them, even if only for a moment. It sounds corny, I know. But once you learn to approach people with this mindset your performances will go from mediocre to inspiring and meaningful. You will also see the reaction of your audience change and become more sincere.”