How niche performers are managing uncertainty.
This year, the pandemic shut down the live music industry. Fans were refunded for canceled world tours, and artists apologized, sharing hopeful messages of returning to stages in the Fall. But what happened to entertainers with niche talents? What was the fate of the industry for sideshows, magicians, and circuses? Some found ways to host safe and socially distant events, and others had to make dramatic career changes and shift focus to entirely new jobs.
Claire Voyant, a mentalist magician performing under the title Mistress of Mentalism, was performing at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park when things began to go south for the live events industry. When the tourist economy in Estes Park crashed in March, Claire and her assistant, Jenna, found themselves without work for months and had extremely limited access to assistance due to work and contract technicalities. The fear of losing the show became a reality, and the two were unable to return to Estes Park. This meant not only losing a job, but losing a creative space that the two felt passionate about.
Luckily, later in the year, some venues began to reopen with strict social distancing and safety rules. In October, Claire performed in the Oriental Theater’s Carnivale de Sensuale, a comedic burlesque show that the Oriental hosts a few times each year. There were 90 tickets available to this show. The Oriental’s typical capacity is about 550.
Opportunities like this are obviously few and far between, so Jenna and Claire are always looking for other ways to stay creative and connect with their community.
The two decided this was the time to pursue other creative endeavors while they hoped for an eventual return to The Stanley. Claire started up her own small business, Foot Clothes, selling sideshow, circus, and magic themed socks. Owning a sock company selling unique and quality socks is something Claire had always wanted to do, and she took her time away from the stage as an opportunity to pursue this dream project. Claire and Jenna have also begun selling ghostly antiques under the name Something Wicked Antiques at Wheat Ridge’s Brass Armadillo antique mall.
In uncertain times like these, Claire’s advice for performers wanting to go further in their career becomes especially relevant. “Make friends, be professional,” she says. Making friends and maintaining community ties is more important now than ever before. Her next piece of advice, “say yes first and figure it out later,” also speaks to the importance of taking risks and trying new things.
about the author
Sarah / 22
Hi! I’m Sarah. I’ve been studying Communication Design at MSU Denver since 2018. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love seeing live music or going outside to hike or climb. I have several friends in the music and events industry, and I want to use Zeromile to highlight their experiences and bring awareness to what’s going on in the industry.