When Ken Clark begins one of his financial seminars, he picks out someone in the audience and tells the person she has won the door prize. But in order to collect the prize, she must give Clark one dollar.
As Clark takes the dollar bill and begins fiddling with it, he blasts into his pitch on the power of multiplying money. Then, before the audience's very eyes, he turns the bill into a 10 spot. The audience responds with oohs, ahs and smiles.
“That's the best way I found to open a seminar,” says Clark, a PaineWebber broker in Mission Viejo, Calif., and an accomplished magician. “There's nothing that grabs people's attention like magic.”
To keep his tricks fresh, Clark attends an annual international magic convention, with workshops held from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“There are workshops on everything from making balloon animals to how to travel with live animals like bunnies and birds that you use in acts,” he says. “Most people don't realize that it's very difficult to travel and care for the animals.”
To add to the entertainment, Clark tells stories while performing his magic. For instance, he has a trick in which he talks about presenting his family members with gifts. He then proceeds to pull out four boxes of flowers from what appears to be an empty bag. The people watching the trick on this particular evening — a group of 12 girls with their fathers — are simply awestruck.
“That's one of my favorites,” says Clark, who has about 100 tricks in his bag of magic. “My favorites are the ones that are visual and colorful. Those are the ones the audience seems to like the best.”
Of course, card tricks are particularly popular — but with adults, not children.
“Kids just don't care for cards,” Clark says. “If you produce four aces out of nowhere, kids don't care because they don't know there are only four aces. They might think the whole deck is aces.”
Yet Clark loves performing for children because of their innocent amazement. He's appeared at several YMCA events.
“The children are what drive my involvement in magic,” he says. “I've always had a tremendous enjoyment of children, and when I found that magic was so powerful to them, I just got into it more.”
Naturally, Clark is fascinated with magicians like Lance Burton and David Copperfield. And whenever he sees a magician do an unfamiliar trick, he tries it out in his garage, which is packed with all kinds of magical devices and equipment.
But Clark has no intention of taking his magic act to another level. “I'm a broker first and a magician second,” he says.