Blog: Paul Nielsen

Do we need to run around in a rabbit suit to conjure up our region's lost wealth? Dr. Paul Nielsen, entrepreneurial owner of the Wunderground Magic Shop, amuses us this Halloween's Eve with spirited tales pulled from his hat. Learn to make coin from castoffs and marvel at Houdini's winter freestyle under Detroit River ice caps.

Post 1: Out of Desperation Comes Magic

Hi, I'm Paul Nielsen from Wunderground Magic, Inc. When the good people at Metromode asked me to comment about the southeast Michigan region and its economic future, I thought, "Great, I'll just give them a blank sheet of paper," because, let's face it, right now the future here seems pretty bleak.  That should just about cover everything.  I've got a mortgage to pay, a son to put through college, a car that's dying, no real job, and I own a magic shop - not really an economic powerhouse there.  Then they told me it was an electronic submission, and my scanner got confused when I tried to scan a blank piece of paper, so I colored it black.  That just made it dark and bleak and it still wouldn't scan.  But hey, they're paying me in free copies of the magazine, so life is looking up!

This week we'll be digging through our bag of tricks to try to produce a miracle that will save metro Detroit.  And who better to turn to for miracles than a magic dealer? Alright, don't answer that, there are probably a thousand people out there who are better qualified, but they all took an early buyout and moved to Florida, so you're stuck here with me.  I'll try to keep this short so you can read it while you're waiting for the next flight.

If I were a real magician, I could just spend my days plucking money out of the air, which I often do, but then consider, "What would a real magician want with money anyway?"  The answer: "All the stuff I’m too lazy to conjure from the air" because it's easier for me to make money that it is to make food out of the air, and unless it comes out of a chip bag, I'm a lousy cook.

On the upside, the magic business is almost recession proof.  We don't make money in a bad economy or a good economy, and in a mixed economy we're still the ones standing out on the street corners, hat in hand, doing tricks for change.  (Hey, buddy, can you spare $25,000 for the tuition at Michigan?)

Some of the best magical effects rose from desperate situations.
For example, the most famous magical trick (despite the fact that no magician actually performs it anymore) arose at a time when traveling magicians, and other undesirables, would often catch small animals for a meal if the day's donations didn't pan out.  On this particular day, the local equivalent of the ASPCA stepped in and said, "You're not going to hurt that rabbit, are you?"  Being a magician, the performer lied through his teeth and said "Of course not. It's part of the act." He pulled out the hat that was obviously empty after asking for spare change, and the rest is history.

Of course there are rare exceptions, like David Copperfield, who just bought an island in the Bahamas to store all the money he makes.  David Blaine, despite not having any actual personality, is able to win over network executives to give him a special almost every year.  Criss Angel does even better by putting together an entirely new show every week.  And then there's that masked guy who is on entirely too often.

When finances are tight, magic is a great way to earn extra income.  Performers earn several hundred dollars an hour and can do several shows a day, primarily on evenings and weekends.  Learning the props isn't as difficult as learning to sing or dance, and let's face it, if it took a lot of talent would they let me do it?