Entertainment industry was blooming in India after late Michel Jackson’s visit to India. Professional event management companies had started taking places; corporate clients had started inviting new talents through these companies.  I started my career as a magician in 1972 with my first performance & became a magic trainer in 1981 and later on highest paid corporate illusionist in India in 2001. After performing for world’s top 200 clients such as Sun Microsystems , Ford motors, Novartis, Apollo Hospitals and many others. I started charging officially INR 2 millions (US$ 40,000) for my performances of 10 to20 minutes. As a professional entertainer I also started charging visiting charges to discuss the design of the show for product launches and motivational shows from my multinational clients.  After visiting USA this is an article about Table Artists. ….

Imagine you are dinning with your very special friends on world’s most popular cruise ship and a strange man comes to your table and says, “Hi, how you’re doing? I am Rakesh. I am a table artist…a kind of a magician. Now I don’t introduce myself as a magician because lot of people mistakes me for David Copperfield. Because of the tan ( indicating his color) I think I am a Coppertone. So how about watching a quick trick?” Rakesh clearly sees curiosity on their faces, he rolls over his sleeves up and continues, “Do not misunderstand that I am gynecologist or veteran… I don’t have gloves on my hands”. Guests on cruise ship dinning on table are more curious now…as soon as he sees more curiosity on their faces he continues with more confidence, he pulls out a deck of cards from his pocket , sometimes he shows a small piece of rope or unexpected props in hands such as rings or very unusual objects. But for next five to ten minutes he takes you to the wonderful world of surprises, happiness and mind blowing entertainment with his skills of table acts. A concept introduced by Carnival Cruise Lines in America which as not very popular concept in restaurants in India but very well accepted in UK.

TABLE ARTIST is totally a new concept for entertaining guests while dining at Cruise ship’s Dinning Halls. This title of the position has been created by Carnival Cruise Lines after hiring Rakesh.
Rakesh is a very presentable. He is good looking, expressive and thoughtful and also sophisticated.   Most of the times he is funny but as far as performances are concern he is practically more funny but serious.  He is unbelievable as magician and leaves everlasting impression on your mind because of his fantastic routines, patters and skills.   He has studied magic deep and created real miracle in cursing industry in last five years. He is a great entertainer with his hardworking and disciplined character.
Carnival Cruise lines has started to hire more table artists from various countries just because of his fantastic performances at almost all cruise ships of Carnival in last five years.  He is the only one responsible for creating many vacancies of table artists. Most interesting fact is this table artist is connected with Food & Beverage department.

With his special credit of creating value for magic specially in F & B Department on world’s largest cruise line. He has created a good impact on my mind. After having lot of talents as a magician he has spent all his precious years of his life working as table artist.
I had a question when I saw him first time ….As soon as I reached on Carnival this guy came to me and said, “Welcome on aboard Satish Deshmukh. I am Rakesh” I saw his face and believe me I was motivated in first three minutes & decided to stay there for couple of months as one of the performers and started doing research on cruise lines & entertainment onboard . 

Fortunately five years back they got Rakesh who was not only good but excellent magician who has devoted his talents as table artist. Indian magicians are lacking in marketing. They don’t work hard to get regular shows through promoters, event management companies, party organizers and agents. Market is really huge in Asia. I personally visited many courtiers and performed large scale shows with illusions and conjuring as a celebrity performer. I had my own style which was very sophisticated and different. 
Working on a cruise ship has great advantages but it also has its load of disadvantages.

Some of them I understood by visiting personally and I would like to pass on this knowledge to all the magicians not only in India but all over the world. I recently got few emails right from some American and Japanese magicians with tons of questions. Here are the answers:

You travel free of charge on the cruise ship with free Lodging and Boarding
You are guaranteed to get almost US $ 1500 per month as salary. You can make constant income for next many years.
You get entry in USA as seaman and your VISA is C1/D in the beginning. Later on you can apply for B1 visa which will allow you to stay on land for few months in USA.
Most of the time, you are in the middle of ocean but you can see most beautiful places in the world.
You can make friends from almost 70 different countries.
You can purchase a cell phone, calling card, sea mobile and you will be always connected through internet all the time.
You must be willing to travel a lot your journey starts from Miami since the main ports are in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
I've been on cruises like Star Cruise and Carnival and traveled to MIAMI, LAS ANGELES, SEATTLE, ALASKA AND MANY OTHER PLACES including islands such as Belize, Roatan, Key west, Sitka, Juneau (capital of Alaska), Ketchikan, Skagway, Wittier, Vancouver in Canada etc in just 20 days.
Put less mileage on your car and it needs less maintenance.
Before you even consider being a magician on a cruise ship, you need to ask yourself some questions.

Can I work with non motivated crew members?
Can I live in a cabin that is the size of a "walking closet" and can I sleep in a cabin 10 ft by 18 ft on average with one room mate.
Can I eat at the buffet every day which you have never tasted in your life?
Can I work on a moving stage (when the sea is rough?)
Can I wait for many years to get promoted?
Can I stand being evaluated by these same middle class Americans (because they are going to fill a comment card at the end of the cruise?

Can I work for a "captive" middle class Americans audience who has spend half of their spare time watching television and for most of them have never even put a foot in a theater to witness a live show. (I talk mostly about Americans because they constitute the bulk of the clientele traveling on cruise ships. Working in front of such a captive audience on a cruise ship is very hard. That kind of public can easily turn against you. You have to be politically correct at all times. Americans being rather prudish, you have to be very cautious when you hint at sex. Above all, never ever venture on the delicate topic of religion.)
Can I respect the dress code?

Can I meet and mingle with the people that have seen my show?
Can I tolerate being criticized by a "cruise director" who in 90% of the time as never been near a real stage, except on a cruise ship and now think that he is in showbiz ness.
Most of the magicians and illusionists I have seen on ships were comedians than good magicians.  I spent time with them and they said, "It's easy to perform in front of a captive audience, they have nowhere to go."  I didn't argue with them but, to tell the truth, I found performing on a cruise ship is not a great achievement….also very unsettling e.g. you can only add one line in your resume that you have performed for cruise lines. (Some magic performers manipulate this in a very sophisticated ways but agents and clients are very smart they understand what you have done on cruise ships.)

Let me explain. If you are performing on main stage… the public on a cruise ship takes for granted that we owe them something. That public can stand up and leave the room at any moment. Since they didn't have to "pay", strictly speaking, they have much less patience. It's in your interest to be very good in the first five minutes and your act should not have any slow moments. Those people are used to watching action movies on television and they zap easily. But now, they don't have a remote control...

In general that kind of public does not show its appreciation much. I would say that about one person out of eight (1/8) applauds after a number (the others must still think they're in front of their TV). How many times have I seen, just in front of me in the first rows, people slumped into their seats, arms crossed, their whole attitude saying "Come on, funny boy, make me laugh..."

That public is also very moody. If the weather is bad, if the boat rocks a lot, you can expect a tough night. The hardest evening is without a doubt the first-the Welcome Aboard evening. People have been traveling all day, they've waited in line for hours and they’re tired and cranky.

The public is generally made up of seniors (except for a few weeks every year). Some ships have a younger clientele (Carnival Valor), whereas others attract older people (on average 65 and over). I've noticed that the average customer age varies with the destination.

For example, you are sure to entertain a senior public if you're going to the Alaska or any other destination with many days at sea.
For stage performers a working evening generally includes 2 shows of 45 minutes each with 2 different publics. You can thus repeat the same act.
I was saying earlier that it is very unsettling to work for this kind of public. For reasons that are unclear to me, you can have an excellent first act and one that is so-so an hour later or vice versa, no matter how much energy you put into it. The same tricks, the same jokes, etc., and the publics react differently even if they are on the same boat, go to the same places, eat the same food, etc.
No, it isn't easy to work in front of a "captive" audience on a cruise ship. It is one of the hardest publics to please.
You'll have to work on the day of your arrival. In fact, I'd say it happens 25% of the time. (Cruise lines emphasize those Las Vegas or Broadway-style shows in their ads, which makes you always the "second" show.)
As long as you haven't done your act, you're incognito. But as soon as you've given a show, people recognize you, come to talk to you and ask you questions. I must admit I thought it fun at the beginning, but after a while... You might have to work while the sea is rough. you have to socialize with passengers sitting at your table.
You must keep to the dress code although things are getting a little more relaxed in that area lately. During a 10-day cruise, you should have to attend 2 formal evenings (with tuxedo), and 1 or 2 semi-formal evenings. The other evenings are casual, which means docker-type pants with a polo shirt are fine. No T-shirts or sandals.
Most ships that were built during the last 10 years have modern showrooms with all the necessary technical equipment. Many new ships have two showrooms. The main room is used for the big stage shows and for headline entertainers; whereas the lounge serves for stand-up comics (those rooms usually have low ceilings)
These days, the trend is to allow passengers to choose what they want (free style cruising). They are free to have dinner in the dining room of their choice, at the time they choose, and they can take in the show they want whenever they please. Most of the time, there are two shows playing simultaneously, one in each room.

As far as a Rakesh as TABLE ARTIST is concern you must meet him once in life time and see his performance. I am only worried about him because hope he will not end up his life as table artist. I dedicate this article to him.

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Copyright @ satishdeshmukh & associates 2014

Amateur magician changes his tricks. But professional changes his audience