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November 26, 2014

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Lefty’ sweeps up a list of skills for judicious magicians

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Joe Connell

Doug Leferovich plays “Lefty” in Murray Sawchuck’s comedy show at The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana on June 4, 2012.

Doug Leferovich

Doug Leferovich plays Launch slideshow »
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Doug Leferovich, shown in an illuminating promotional photo at Neon Museum.

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Doug "Lefty" Leferovich entertains during Murray Sawchuck's grand-opening performance at The Laugh Factory in Tropicana Las Vegas on Monday, June 4, 2012.

Doug Leferovich can fling a playing card 40 feet.

He also can sew a slip stitch.

These are not exaggerations. A few months ago at the end of Murray Sawchuck’s comedy/magic show at Tropicana’s Laugh Factory, I noticed a queen of clubs sitting face-up on a table at the back of the room. Leferovich, as Sawchuck’s mopey custodial sidekick "Lefty," had fired the card over the full distance of the club during a routine midway through the show.

And as for sewing … that’s one of several skills a magician at the club level must master if he hopes to ascend to Copperfield-ian levels where he can pay someone to repair his pants.

Until that creative threshold is crossed, Sawchuck and Lefty are back at The Laugh Factory daily at 4 p.m. (dark Fridays) in a contract that takes the show through Sept. 2. Leferovich has known Sawchuck for years. Apart from the Sawchuck extravaganza, Leferovich is creative director for “Tommy Wind: Magic and Music” at Boulevard Theater and also is creative consultant for the Boyz II Men production at The Mirage.

And for those who prefer a more ribald version of the ace shake, Leferovich also is co-producer of “The Sapphire Comedy Hour” at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club (billed as the World’s Largest Strip Club, so it is time to start measuring). For that showcase, he is paired with KLAV 1230-AM radio host Brett Feinstein, whose family owns the club. That show lines up comics, burlesque dancers and a variety act and is staged at 8 p.m. Fridays.

Awhile back, Leferovich mentioned all of the skills a club-level magician — or most any solo entertainer — must develop to put his or her act onstage. My interest piqued, I asked for a list of those duties. He passed along those tips, saying, “You can be the best magician in the world, and never perform magic for other people, but if you want perform in front of an audience and continue to perform in front of a paying audience, here are some tips.”

And so, here they are:

• Seamstress: “Not that you need to be a Broadway-level seamstress, but when traveling around the world performing, often in countries where you don't speak the language, if is helpful if you know how to sew a button back on a costume, be able to sew or fix a custom pocket in your performance jacket, repair a torn silk or piece of fabric used in a certain trick.”

• Publicist: “Not that you will be a top L.A. publicist with connections to ‘The Late Show’ with David Letterman or in Rolling Stone magazine, but if helps to be able to write your own press release (in the correct format) and be able to write a professional letter to pitch a TV station or newspaper (like I did to get in this column :-). You can even be clever and create a fictitious name that you send information about yourself to media outlets, as it is easier and better to have “someone else” say great things about you rather than seeming arrogant and saying positive things about yourself.” (Columnist note: Reminder to verify the identity of anyone pitching coverage for magicians.)

• Builder: “Really, it is about being a ‘fixer.’ When a prop is built for you, especially something custom, things need to be fixed and tweaked all the time. So it is essential to have three things in your arsenal to fix almost anything: a hot glue gun, Velcro and gaffer tape.”

• Lighting designer: “Not that you will be going on tour as lighting designer for Lady Gaga, but once you get to a professional level working in proper theaters, it is good to have an understanding of lighting. Ask questions whenever you can. Learn the difference between a par can light and a moving light (intelligent lighting) and what limitation each have. Whether it is Frank Moreno at the Stratosphere or Cirque du Soleil's ‘Zumanity’ at New York-New York, learn and get ideas from watching other professional shows. Maybe the combination red and yellow lights will work for an upbeat sexy number in your show and blues and purples will work for a mysterious levitation illusion.”

• Graphic designer: “Not that you have to be a top pro with Photoshop, but it helps to have a basic understanding of a graphic program where you can put text on a photo, create a postcard/evite for an upcoming show or do some minor Photoshop work touching up a photo when you aren't looking your best.”

• Video editor: “Not that you have to be a top Final Cut Pro video editor, but it helps if you can edit together a simple promo on your computer, using something like iMovie on a Mac, adding transitions and some graphics, and having the ability to edit a custom video for a buyer if they are looking to see something in particular that is not already on your promo tape.”

• Music editor: “Not that you have to be a top music engineer, but it helps if you can use a basic music editing program on your computer, like Garage Band on a Mac, where you can fade out the end of a song or edit a song from three minutes to a minute and a half.”

Leferovich also said it’s advisable to seek outside assistance if there is a gap in your skill set. If you’re clumsy with graphics, seek a deal with a college student looking to build his or her resume. Such methods are not new to magicians. Some call it sleight of hand.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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