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The Secret Magicians Of The Music Industry, Part 5: Clinton Billups

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) CelebrityAccess just lately talked to one of many magicians on the Houdini magic shop at New York, New York in Las Vegas, who spoke of all the large followers of magic, and most of the individuals who work within the music biz who either perform for household and pals or who began their careers as magicians.

The reader may be stunned: they is perhaps sitting right beside you in your workplace. We actually spoke to people who by no means knew their co-workers led secret lives as prestidigitators. One thing led to a different, and we wound up with 5 voices – too many to put into one article.

As for artists, a few of the huge names are apparently Willie Nelson, Rodney Atkins and Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees. Nelson is understood to perform the difficult card trick “Sam The Bellhop” on his famous tour bus and Gibb is claimed to be an enormous fan of performers like magician’s magician Paul Harris. Nelson’s camp entertained the potential of getting an interview with the Purple-Headed Stranger however his busy summer time schedule is about to start out; Gibb responded and respectfully declined.

Nonetheless, many in the business have more than a passing curiosity in the artwork type. Some began as stage performers; others have absorbed magicians into their clientele.

This is the fifth of a five-part (perhaps even six-part) collection (first was Arny Granat, co-founder of Chicago promotion company Jam Productions, second was Tony Conway of Conway Leisure Group, third was professional magician Darren Romeo, and fourth was Danny Robinson).

Personal supervisor and producer Clinton Ford Billups Jr. was elected to membership within the Nationwide Convention of Personal Managers (NCOPM) in 1988 and since 2002 has served because the NCOPM National President. Founded in 1957, NCOPM is the nation’s oldest skilled commerce association committed to the development of private managers and their shoppers. He has managed the careers of numerous celebrities, entertainers and media personalities.

He has produced numerous Las Vegas award exhibits, live shows, conferences, trade exhibits and different special occasions at venues like Caesars Palace, Golden Nugget Lodge & On line casino, Arduous Rock Lodge & On line casino, and MGM Grand Lodge & On line casino.

Along with Texas billionaire Ross Perot and cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay, Billups is featured in The Biggest Gross sales Stories Ever Informed – From The World′s Greatest Salespeople by Robert L. Shook. He is also featured in I′ll Get Back To You – 156 Ways to Get Individuals to Return Your Calls by Eric Yaverbaum and Robert Shook.

His profession as a personal supervisor started working for The Superb Kreskin. There’s a barely watched movie referred to as “The Great Buck Howard,” starring John Malkovich in the position of the Kreskin character, and Billups is performed by the magician Ricky Jay. “I thought George Clooney would have been a better choice, but Ricky did just fine,” Billups informed CelebrityAccess.

Danny Robinson made the point that now magic is cool, like comedian books.

It’s cool. However I’m unsure that lots of people in magic don’t nonetheless come from the dork background. Not too way back, a few yr or two, Murray Sawchuck, the magician in Las Vegas who was on America’s Acquired Expertise, reached a degree. I feel he had 100,000 YouTube subscribers.

So he threw a celebration at Planet Hollywood and a variety of the Las Vegas show enterprise varieties turned out, and I obtained the most important kick out of it because it was on this long, slender room. And as you walked in, the primary group of individuals you walked by means of was the Las Vegas magic group. You can simply inform a gaggle of dorky magicians. I used the time period complimentarily as a result of that’s how I began out.

And then all the good-looking showgirls and entertainers in Las Vegas have been on the other finish of the room, with the magicians simply watching them. Of course, I acquired a kick out of it. On the bar, right in the midst of the two groups, was my previous pal, Robin Leach, who has passed away. I went over to Robin. Of course, he had his glass of champagne, and he identified to me that some things by no means change. The socially awkward magicians have been ogling all of the great-looking Las Vegas women but weren’t about to go combine with them.

So whereas magic might have grow to be cool, I feel in all probability all of us focused on magic still remain dorks.

So how the heck did you wind up managing Kreskin?

I received concerned with magic once I was in highschool. They have been going to have a talent present and I desperately needed to be in it however had no expertise. I couldn’t sing, couldn’t dance, couldn’t act. I simply had a magazine, a type of Fashionable Mechanic-type magazines that my father had introduced house. It had the plans in it for methods to escape from a picket packing box, a la Houdini. I assumed, hey, I guess I can do this.

So I enlisted the two younger women I had a crush on, they usually chained my palms together and put me in the packing field and held up a sheet. Seconds later, they dropped the sheet and there I was, sitting on prime of the field, waving the chain above my head.

So we have been successful at the high school talent present. A number of days later I get a call from a supervisor of a rustic membership saying that he had been in the viewers that night time and was actually impressed. He needed to hire me to do my “full show” on the country membership.

There was just one drawback: I didn’t have a present. I just had that one effect. I informed him my full show value $50 and was 30 minutes long. He employed me for a selected date. I received out the telephone book and appeared to see the place the nearest magic retailer was. I went and purchased the appearing cane and all the fundamentals. The next thing I know, I really acquired into it. I turned a member of the Society of American Magicians and was, throughout high school, going out and acting at Rotary Club luncheons and youngsters birthday events. I used to be considering, hey, that is pretty cool. I truly developed an illusionist show. I produced the lady out of the doll house, levitated her with a chair. All the large stuff.

I continued doing that in school and as I used to be appearing in any respect these places, individuals would say to me, “We need to hire a band for next month. Do you know of any good bands?”

That acquired me into managing what turned some of the in style bands in Southern Connecticut at the time. It was a gaggle referred to as The Wanderers. What’s fascinating is we did one 45 rpm document that was simply horrible and now, with social media, The Wanderers have develop into greater than they have been back then. This was again when storage bands have been first starting to exit and make massive cash. They’d go to a highschool and draw a 1,000 youngsters.

In order that launched me into the enterprise, however I used to be continuing to do my illusion show whereas I was in school. I used to be down in Lafayette in japanese Pennsylvania and there was an area band I used to be reserving, and there was a child within the band named Timmy Reda. He stated, “You know, my dad wants to meet you.”

His dad, Lou Reda, owned an workplace provide retailer but Lou had started managing a magician by the identify of George Kresge, higher generally known as Kreskin.

His dad, Lou Reda, owned an workplace supply store but Lou had started managing a magician by the identify of George Kresge, better often known as Kreskin.

That’s how I met Kreskin whereas I used to be in school. I obtained to go see a few of Kreskin’s exhibits and commenced to notice that he exhibits up with a briefcase. I show up with all these trunks and packing packing containers and suitcases and I have two assistants and a payroll. I assumed, huh, that’s fairly fascinating and that attracted me to the world of mentalism.

By the point I used to be out of school, I was truly touring school campuses doing a mentalism present, appearing at nightclubs. Someday, I used to be out on a tour of universities on the west coast and I awoke within the morning, staying at a Motel 6. Yeah, it was a reasonably good gig. It was again within the early ’70s but I used to be getting $1,000, $1,500 a show. I awoke, knew I was out on tour, knew I used to be in California but I had no concept what city I was in. In these days, that they had the telephone e-book inside the nightstand and I had to take a look at it to figure out where I used to be. That was once I thought, you understand, I don’t assume I need to spend the remainder of my life on the street. Perhaps this concept of being an agent and sitting at a desk, and solely making 10, 15 % however not having to go out and do that is interesting.

That’s how I obtained in but I stored up my relationship with Kreskin and Lou Reda. As an agent, I booked him for several dates and then I acquired into producing television. It was a really strange factor as a result of at some point my lawyer referred to as me and he stated, “I have some really good news for you. Do you remember when we were sitting, having beers, about a year ago and you had that idea for a television special?”

I stated, no, not likely.

He stated, “Well, you better remember what it was because I’ve got someone in Hollywood who wants to option your idea.”

He had to describe it. It was principally going out to a college campus and following a few of the phenomenal variety acts like Kreskin that have been engaged on school campuses. So I teamed up with Bob Parkinson, who was the producer of “Circus of the Stars” on CBS and a fellow named Bob Finkel who had been Perry Como’s director for years. Finkel had gained quite a few Emmys. We enlisted Jane Kennedy, the African-American sports announcer and model. We did a special referred to as “Jane Kennedy’s American Campus Tour.”

It featured artists like Kreskin and the impersonator David Frye and captured them earlier than campus audiences. Lo and behold, that yr this present that I’m government producer of wins the bronze medal on the Worldwide Film and TV Pageant as the perfect music variety special of the yr. The U2 live performance obtained the gold medal and Peter, Paul & Mary acquired the silver.

Hastily, I was a world, award-winning tv producer. I keep in mind once I first sat down with Parkinson and Finkel I stated, “Guys, I gotta tell you right up front, I don’t know anything about producing television” they usually both began laughing. They stated, “Well, really, neither do we. The whole secret is to get a good director, good lighting guy, good audio person. Producers don’t generally know anything; it’s the people they hire that know things.”

By the time I was out of school, I used to be truly touring school campuses doing a mentalism show, appearing at nightclubs.

That was my introduction to tv and I went on to a bunch of various issues, some of it for NBC owned- and operated-stations. I had a syndicator who had seen the American Campus Tour and came to me to say that “this guy Kreskin is pretty amazing.” He had a half-hour collection shot in Canada again in the ’70s. The syndicator stated they needed to do a collection of one-hour specials with him. They have been finally referred to as “Kreskin’s Quest.” He would go across the country, from New Orleans investigating voodoo to witches in Salem. I turned the producer of that.

It’s funny how occasions change because, in syndication, we have been getting seven or eight score for the show, which is type of average for one-off specials. Of course, you’d kill at this time to have a score like that.

That ran its course. Someday, I get a name from Kreskin. He needs me to satisfy him at Sardi’s. I stated he needed me to be his manager.

I stated, “Kreskin, I don’t have the slightest idea. I’ve never been a manager. I know nothing about it.”

He stated, “Well, you didn’t know anything about producing television but that didn’t stop you.”

And so I went from being his tv producer to his supervisor and that was virtually 10 years, in all places from Harrah’s in Atlantic Metropolis to a tv particular in Holland.

So do you have got people who are stunned about your background as a magician/illusionist or your relationship to Kreskin?

There are some people who find themselves aware of my background. I don’t usually convey it up and I feel one of the things that private managers have in widespread is that always you’ll stroll into a private supervisor’s workplace and you don’t see the photographs up on the wall with all the totally different stars. Managers by their very nature attempt to keep in the background.

One of the fascinating issues about this yr’s Personal Managers Corridor of Fame is we had a manager who really deserves to be in it. He manages a really well-known comic but he respectfully declined. He stated, “My role in life is not to receive awards. My clients receive awards.”

I stated, “Kreskin, I don’t have the slightest idea. I’ve never been a manager. I know nothing about it.”

He stated, “Well, you didn’t know anything about producing television but that didn’t stop you.”

I can perceive that. The minute you get your photograph in a commerce paper with one among your shoppers, each different shopper is asking why they by no means acquired a photo.

Agents symbolize a lot more individuals and brokers are all the time making an attempt to recruit shoppers. I feel personal managers and, to a certain extent brokers, try to hold their shoppers within the forefront and private lives within the background.

I’ve all the time been beneath the impression that managers like Irving Azoff, who is supposed to be robust as nails, is actually simply making an attempt to do the perfect for his shoppers.

I’ve all the time advised new shoppers, once I take them on, sooner or later I hope you hear something dangerous about me. They usually take a look at me, like, “what?”

I’ve all the time advised new shoppers, once I take them on, sooner or later I hope you hear one thing dangerous about me.

I say because if there isn’t any person who complains about one thing I did, I in all probability wasn’t doing my job of defending my artist.

At the finish of the day, the manager is the one who has to deliver the dangerous information or say no. There are numerous occasions the place deals get turned down or they go south as a result of the manager is the one saying, “This does not make any sense” or “you’re disrespecting my artist.” The agent goes to make 10 % come hell or high water. Subsequent week, he or she might be booking any person else.

You attempt to do destructive things in a nice means however the supervisor is finally the place the buck stops. Not everyone goes to be proud of what we do.