Wes Iseli is a Virginia-based magician who entertains at resorts, country clubs, theaters, trade shows, company picnics, and high school auditoriums all over the East Coast. Close-up, stand up,illusions: Wes does it all and often performs with his wife Natalie. He’s also the owner of his own entertainment agency called “Party Magic” and often conducts lectures for other magicians.
Some years back, I met Wes and Natalie when they were in Southern California on their honeymoon. Over the years, we’ve stayed in touch and I’ve admired their charitable work. Since 2007, Wes has performed his “24 Hours of Magic” show where he stands in front of a Walmart and performs magic for 24-hours and collects money on behalf of a charity.
Wes recently took time out to talk with Magic.About.com. I hope that through this interview Wes inspires magicians to pursue and support important causes of their own.
Wayne Kawamoto: How do you support charities and what was your inspiration?
Wes Iseli: I support a bunch of charities in different ways. I give blood as often as I can, I offer discounted shows to charities and/or help them get sponsors so I can perform for them for free. I have a video commercial on YouTube titled Wes Iseli’s Team Fox Commercial (click here to view). I also support Relay for life and have been performing my 24-hour magic show every year since 2007 which raises money for The Children’s Miracle Network.
My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was seven years old and I watched that disease turn him into a shell of a man over the next 18 years. He died from Cancer which was not found because the Parkinson’s medication masked his symptoms.
WK: Please tell me about your “24 Hours of Magic.”
WI: I racked my brain for about a year wanting to do something big at Christmas time as a way to inspire others and give back. I set up a booth in front of a local Walmart performing close up magic while asking for donations for the charity. I do it outside in the cold on the sidewalk, which sounds crazy but if I were inside and warm it wouldn’t be as much of a news story. (Click here to watch a video.)
I advertise “24 hours of magic” or “72 shows in 24 hours.” I guarantee ten minutes on and ten minutes off for the entire 24 hours but work more than that during busy times and in the middle of the night I try to keep an audience as long as I can because at that point they are entertaining me and keeping me busy. The best part is I always get newspaper coverage and TV news to cover me as well.
WK: How do you promote the event?
WI: I use magic as my tool to make money for the charity. In my home town I have a fan base. Friends, family and fans who can and do use social media let people know I will be performing magic 24 hours straight. I also put up posters and contact all the local media outlets. If I was just asking for donations there would be no buzz and no media coverage. Working for a charity and asking for donations is no different than performing at a trade show asking people to hand over their business cards or come into the booth.
WK: How did you get involved with the Childrens’ Miracle Network?
WI: The Children’s Miracle Network is the charity that Walmart supports throughout the year. I told them about my idea for the 24-hour show for charity and they asked me if I could do it for the Children’s Miracle Network. It’s a great cause so I said agreed. The stories I have heard over the years about the Children’s Miracle Network are heart wrenching and I know that all my hard work to raise money for them is going to a great cause.
WK: Any advice that you can give magicians who may like to do magic on behalf of charities?
WI: Once you get an idea write it down and go for it. I was turned down at two other Walmarts before getting the OK at a location one hour from my home. Now I could go to any Walmart and do this because it is a win win for everyone involved. I get press, the charity gets money and press, and Walmart is the backbone of everything as it is the location for the event. And when people come to see me, very few leave without going into Walmart. I am now working at a Walmart less than a mile from my home which was not even open when I started all this in 2007.
WK: Any other thoughts come to mind?
WI: 2013 will my seventh year of “24 Hours of Magic.” I really enjoy being known as the “charitable magician” and having folks look forward to my event each year. I have even inspired several folks to take up magic as a hobby after seeing me perform at my event.
Year one was the best weather wise with highs in the 50’s, but I have also had lows in the teens overnight which is terrible. And performing close up [sleight of hand] magic while you’re shivering is harder than you can imagine. Also, when it is cold people don’t stick around long no matter what effects you show them, which means time goes by slower because you’re just waiting to perform. The only upside to extreme cold is the fact it makes for a better news story.
This year I plan on going even bigger, I am making plans now to do 30 days of giving over the month of November 2013. Each day I plan on visiting a charitable organization and donating supplies and/or time and filming a magic effect at each location and uploading it to myYouTube channel. I plan on mentioning the organization, explaining what they do, and then ending with a magic effect every day for the month.
Even though people think I am crazy for doing the 24 hour event, I still feel I have more to give. Hopefully 30 days of giving will help me feel more satisfied with my internal guilt that I am not doing enough.
To see the article at About.com click here: http://magic.about.com/od/professionalmagicians/a/Interview-With-Wes-Iseli-charitable-Magician.htm