Review: At the Table Live Lecture – Kostya Kimlat

Reviewer: Harapan Ong

Three words to describe Kostya’s lecture: Very pleasantly surprised. Being a card guy, I obviously know Kostya’s name from his excellent DVD on the Hofzinser Spread Cull, titled The Roadrunner Cull. Going into this lecture, I had fully expected it to be 2 hours of hardcore sleight of hand with a deck of cards. Instead, it was a whole lecture based on advice for magicians looking to go professional, and advice for magicians who are already professional full-time and are looking to develop themselves further. And I could not be happier.

My first impression of the lecture is that Kostya was extremely confident – watching him in this lecture is like watching a well-oiled machine work. It’s clear that Kostya has given this lecture many times, and he knows his script perfectly. He was extremely well-prepared as well, often bringing out flowcharts, diagrams and slides to help the viewers visualize his points when explaining various aspects of being a commercial magician. It was like watching a veteran job consultant or motivational speaker in his zone, talking about an issue he is truly passionate about. Kostya knows his material inside out, and it shows. This certainly made the lecture that much more enjoyable to watch and get through.

The second thing I realized about this lecture was just how much specific and practical advice Kostya has for professional magicians and budding professional magicians! He doesn’t just skim over issues with generic, vague statements like “make sure your magic is visual” or “engage your audience” – his advice includes everything from how to set the right prices for your gigs, how to plan your performance sets, how to deal with restaurant clientele’s demands, the books you should read to improve your professional career and even how to effectively use business cards to promote yourself and your business! Kostya even gives specific tips on how to find the right (and reasonable) price for your services at different types of events and gigs, so as not to overcharge your client, but also not undersell yourself and lower your market value.

Tricks-wise, in the lecture Kostya only goes through two routines. One is a marketed effect by Kostya called Warning, which is a close up effect where the warning label on a cigarette lighter is peeled off, set on fire, and is visually restored back onto the lighter. It is Kostya’s 10 second effect that he opens with – it is especially useful when he wants to catch everyone’s attention during a strolling gig, especially when he is performing for a small group of people. The second routine that Kostya goes through is a stage/parlor routine that uses jumbo cards to tell a murder mystery involving the murder of the King of Hearts, all while divining a spectator’s thought of card involving the Queen of Spades holding the Six of Spades in her hand (go check it out!). It’s interesting for me personally because I have come across close up effects that revolve around the “murder of the King of Hearts” and “Queen holding the Six” theme, but I’ve always treated it as a novelty, almost throwaway sort of effect that’s done for other magicians during sessions. This is the first time I’ve seen someone actually take those ideas and make them commercial and work for a lay crowd.

I highly recommend this lecture to all magicians, regardless of whether you’re an amateur like me or a budding professional magician. What I’m most impressed by is that Kostya, due to his knowledgeable background in magic, often quotes or makes references to other well-respected magicians like Juan Tamariz or Michael Ammar as examples to follow or as sources to check out. Kostya also works with his team of magicians in his business that he manages, so he is someone who clearly has passion and an interest in helping his fellow magicians. Like he said himself, he doesn’t believe that professional magicians should be competing with each other – there’s more work to go around than there are qualified magicians to do the work. I think that’s a great sentiment that also shows how much he wishes to help the community grow and be more prominent in the public eye. He has found a great balance between being a commercial magician and being original and fresh in magic, and his lecture has so much rock-solid advice that I cannot imagine anyone walking away from the lecture without learning something new and useful that will make them a much better magician overall.

Magic is our passion but we are not a magic shop ? You can purchase this here!

Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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