THRILLIST Feature: Best Jobs in NYC

February 18, 2017


Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen, The Millionaires’ Magician

Midtown East
Steve performs magic for some of the wealthiest and most famous people in the world.
How he got the job: “Jesse James said he robbed banks because ‘that’s where the money is.’ I realized early on that if I wanted to create longevity in my career as a magician, I too would need to go where the money is. Technically, I’m not a businessman, but I’ve learned to think like one. In order to feed my magic passion, I realized I needed to create a replicable model that could create a regular flow of income. The more performances I could give to good-sized audiences, the faster my reputation would spread via word of mouth. If audiences were too small, the message could not possibly travel far and wide. It was a matter of survival of the fittest. I kept that in mind and developed a show that was appropriate for that size group. The Waldorf Astoria believed in me early on, and allowed me to rent the same suite every week, promote my show, and build a real business.”

Why you’ll want the job: “You never know who might show up — movie stars, TV icons, music idols, people we all have grown up watching. Suddenly I look out and see them watching me. It was a thrill to have Woody Allen in the front row one night. Another night, astronaut Buzz Aldrin let me use his ring in a trick — the same ring he wore on the moon. Couples get dressed up in their finest attire and get their minds blown for ninety minutes straight. People assume that ‘magic show’ equals ‘children,’ but I’ve recreated the category and made it an adult night out. Often they’re so impressed that they invite me to perform privately in their homes, yachts, private islands. I did a private show at the Waldorf for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and that has led to many shows for the Saudi royal family, always starting at midnight. I have the best commute in show business, since I sleep at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel where I work.”

How you can get the job: “Training to become a magician is like training to become a concert pianist —  there is a lot of ‘alone’ time needed to perfect the manual technique. This requires an obsessive personality type. I’m constantly refining my previous refinements. But in addition to dexterity, the more important skill is what I call PP: ‘People Practice.’ Magic is an interpersonal engagement, and only works when there’s a living, breathing, analytical person standing across from me. I can’t fool myself in the mirror! The lesson I’ve learned is to perform for as many people as possible, and listen to their response. I can only tell if my work is deceptive if I pay close attention to the audience’s genuine reaction. I interact with some of the most intelligent and powerful people in the world, like billionaire entrepreneurs, physicists, Nobel Prize winners, US Senators, professional sports team owners, and so on. I need to outthink them before they even realize that there’s a game being played. Wealthy patrons can be very critical and will quickly see through a ‘poser’ who is trying too hard. Be genuine, and become so good that even the most discerning customer would willingly pay top dollar to see you, and still feel like they received more than their money’s worth. Before thinking about how much money you’ll earn, focus on perfecting and developing your offering until it is something a connoisseur would be unable to avoid.”

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