An ordinary coincidence or an extraordinary synchronicity?
He may have served you at your table, you may have bumped into him shuffling cards in a bar in the city – but if you think you may have stumbled across a charming French magician somewhere in Sheffield, chances are you’ve met our very own magical maverick Benoit Pierre. With lots of exciting plans and ventures up his sleeve, we caught up for a quick chat about his mystic and spiritual journey so far.
We hear you’ve recently celebrated your 5 year anniversary in the business, where did it all begin?
The start was when I decided to leave all the jobs I had and to work for myself. In May 2006 I was a waiter at a Mediterranean restaurant on Sharrow Vale Road, and at some point I started doing a few tricks on the tables – and people liked it. I quite liked the nights out in Sheffield, and being young and crazy and new to the city I was going out far too often, so instead of working full time hours I became a freelance waiter. I worked at up to 4 restaurants at a time, waiting and doing a bit of magic on the side, and little by little, people asked me to do their weddings, parties and stuff.
By summer 2009, I had enough gigs to not have to work as a waiter so I thought I’d jump at the opportunity. When winter came, it was hard, I had three months of struggle; rent arrears, eating only pasta, walking everywhere – it was great! I loved it! I really felt I was living – I was doing something that was important for my life, rather than sitting in my little comfort there and not having motivation to do anything. It was an important time because I realised where I wanted to be, who I wanted to be and I went for it without worrying about what other people would think. I just went with it because I felt it – left everything.
Do you find that you get a lot of your clients through online mediums?
Face to face, word of mouth is better. When I was trying to advertise too much in magazines or on the internet, I would get people calling me and negotiating the price too much or cancelling the gig the night before, but I find that when I know the people prior to being hired it’s more likely that my show will be respected and I’ll be able to wow the audience. It’s about the people not about the money I get or the fame I get. Money has no value to me. The value is my time, and the people. Money is an illusion; it’s not a magician that has created it I tell you! I’m working it out!
As an independent entertainer here in Sheffield, how important is the feel of local and self-sufficient trade to you, and what you do?
It’s all about being independent, for anything – I mean I do like the fact that I’m unemployed, it’s a step to take for everyone. There is a great independent feel here and I love Sheffield for that. Simon Cowell is never going to make a penny on me I assure you. I’ve done Sheffield Live TV that’s an exception. I’m on the radio too actually, for Sheffield Live. But if it’s a big thing then I’ll think about it twice. This is the value of magic as well. Magic is a message. It’s something that’s being shared, it’s an experience that’s being shared between the magician and the audience and it’s creating and trying to maintain special relationships that will become obsolete very fast. In 5 minutes there are a lot of things happening and after that 5 minutes that’s gone.
If you miss something you can’t rewind. It’s about creating a very intense relationship with people and then leaving a sort of feeling that something happened but you can’t explain it. Behind all of these things maybe you will find a message and maybe it will provoke a few thoughts – and that’s why I love magic. It’s what people want more than anything else, being connected. Whatever it is – a political party, a religion – it’s being connected that’s important.
What advice would you give to other people who might be in your position 5 years ago?
Be a magician in your own life. Only you can make changes in your own life. We expect everybody to do things for us, we expect the government to give us benefits, our partner to love us and cook for us and do the cleaning, or bring the love and be happy all of the time, we expect our friends to be here when we need them the most, we expect our bus to be on time, we expect our taxi to be on time, we expect our taxi to be cheap. Oh no! Be yourself and stop complaining about things. Go out there and take your life in your own hands. The only person who can do something with your life is yourself. Find out what you want to do and go out there and do it, stop procrastinating, stop being late, stop lying to yourself. It takes time? It takes effort? Be respectful, go out there and become yourself… And come and see my show every once in a while.
And the big question… Is magic real?
Magic is a concept. We call something magic because we can’t understand that thing. Everything is real to me. Have faith. Believe in yourself, Namaste.
Interview by Tasha Franek.
Images courtesy of Benoit Pierre and Elouisa Georgiou Photography.