Take a Stand
by Kevin Gallagher
I have a stand that I use for a number of different types of magical presentation. The stand is now my mark III as I have learned through experience how I should have made it in the first place! Using the stand, I am able to elevate my status from side dressing to feature with the associated fee benefits. I am able to perform a higher standard magic than for example, walk around because I have loads, servantes and so forth in all the right places and I have better control over angles. In general, it is also a more pleasant working environment, I have even recently invested in a comfy high swivel stool with a back support that I use in some situations. There is no hassle because I have my own uncontested space on my side and I never suffer any declinations because people come to me if they are interested and fortunately, usually they are, especially once an initial crowd has been attracted.
First, a few mechanical details. The booth is constructed to take a number of interchangeable panels so that it can be used for different purposes. This also means that for trade stand work, I can specify the front and side panel dimensions so that they can provide me with panels in keeping with the rest of the fabric of the stand. I used to use countersunk screws to hold the panels on, now I purchase strips of self adhesive Velcro. This gives a neater finish, is much quicker to set-up and there is no worry about loosing screws and supplied panels do not require drilling or preparation. My own panels are made by a local sign-maker who can obtain every coloured acrylic panel under the sun and has some method of permanently sticking vinyl designs on prepared from my own artworks. You will be amazed how much of a booth framework can be cut away as apertures without effecting the strength or rigidity which makes it much lighter to carry. My booth concertinas together and is held in shape only by sliding bolts and the top, no separate fixings. The top(s) have a lip around the working compliant green baize top, but not at the rear! This way, playing cards and the like can be picked up easily by sliding them off the back and in the same way, coins and small objects can be lapped straight into servantes. I had not realised this until my first outing with version one. Make sure that you do not design it to fit a particular car. My second booth was okay, as long as you had a Renault Laguna as I later found to my cost.
A few logistics. I have been caught in the situation where I have finished work at ten o'clock but my booth is so sited that I cannot sensibly break it down until the end of the important event which on one occasion was four hours later. Always make sure that will be able to get clear at the end of your booked time or negotiate extra fee. In large cities, sometimes the only access is through the front door and police and traffic wardens are often non-sympathetic, even to an obviously unloading vehicle with hazard warning lights flashing. Always check unloading provision. If it is a possible problem, I always cost in £40 for a parking ticket. Similarly, always check parking. Working at some London Hotels, I have been stung as much as £25 for parking in their car park for the evening. Generally, I hate driving to central London gigs but with a booth, you will have no choice. Only work indoors. I foolishly agreed to work outdoors once, never again.
The worst problem you will encounter is groups of people finding your top a very convenient place to place their drinks which can leave ring stains or slops. Think very carefully about how your personality will prevent this inevitability. It is well worth spending time or two or three carefully prepared scripts that are an improvement on "get those bleedin' drinks off my stand" which they will generally not find endearing.
© Kevin Gallagher October 2002