SPS Magic

The following is an excerpt from THE CONFIDENTIAL DAY CARE BOOKING MANUAL by Samuel Patrick Smith.

Day Care Center Shows: How I Got Started

I’ve thought about writing The Confidential Day Care Booking Manual for the past 17 years. I performed my first day care show in 1979, but it wasn’t until 1982 that I began making a substantial portion of my living from this unique venue. 

After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I discovered that the job market for reporters was pathetic. My professors had never mentioned earning a living, and now I was faced with this stark reality! And although I wanted to write, my heart had never been in news reporting anyway. I thought about becoming a freelance writer, but selling magazine articles one at a time could be a slow process. I needed to earn money right then, that month! What if I could earn a living performing magic while writing part-time? Then I wouldn’t have to worry about churning out potboilers but could write at my own pace.

I thought about David Ginn, the well-known school show magician and author whom I had met in 1977 at a Florida State Magic Convention. But I was a teenager then and wasn’t the least bit interested in children’s magic. My Great-uncle Conrad said, “You see that man over there? That’s David Ginn. He’s a fine person, and we should buy something from him to support his business.” I left that altruism to Uncle Conrad, but over the years I saw David at conventions, got to know him, and came to realize that he was indeed a fine person with a great knowledge of magic and marketing.

I knew that David performed over 400 school shows a year, so I determined to get into the school show business. However, I was starting my business in May, 1982—schools were closing for the summer! Day care centers, though, were open year-round, and so it was that my first shows after I went “full-time” were for day care centers.

After a few months, I realized that I had hit on something. No one else was working that market, and there were lots of centers. A county with 50 public schools could very well have 200 day cares. I began writing a book describing this great new business, but then I came to my senses. Why let the cat out of the bag? Every now and then over the years I would consider writing the day care book. But I finally decided I would wait until I was either not performing for them or did not rely heavily on that market for my income.

In 1989, I began cutting back the number of day care shows I performed. I slashed the most troublesome clients from the list, keeping my favorites and longtime friends. The next year, I wrote Big Laughs for Little People, which contained routines I had developed in day cares and used in other markets as well. Then came Kiddie Patter and Little Feats in 1993, which released 14 more routines, specifically geared toward preschoolers.

But the book on how to actually get the shows never came about until now. Mark Daniel, one of my favorite people in magic, booked me to lecture on day care center shows at the International Festival of Children’s Magicians (now KIDabra). While preparing for the lecture, I decided the time had come to write The Confidential Day Care Booking Manual.

This manual reflects my own approach to the day care center market; the techniques and suggestions here have worked for me. Of course, what really matters is, what will work for you? The only value of reading books and listening to tapes is what happens in your own mind. Constantly ask yourself, “What do I think about this subject? How can I apply this to my own life? Is there something here which doesn’t ring true for me? Is there something that hits the nail on the head?” My own hope is for this book to provide you with food for thought and the means of earning a good income while having a great time.


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