The Alan's "Making Magic with Your Spouse... OMG!!!" Podcast Interview
What We'll Explore
The Alan's hold nothing back explaining their experience of what it's like to live, work, and eat magic with your spouse including topics such as balancing responsibilities, keeping an office schedule, decision making disagreements, how to leave your cushy corporate day job, how NOT to encourage your spouse to be your business partner, and how to finally break it to your parents your quitting your day job!
Who are Jason and Stacy Alan?
Jason and Stacy Alan perform primarily in the corporate market which includes resorts, wineries, and special private events, in addition to their monthly public theater show. They recently performed on "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" with an entertaining and charming piece centered around their marriage.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Christian Painter: On this episode of the Magic Business Podcast...
Stacy Alan: It's a big commitment and it's a big risk, and it is going to have an effect on your relationship, which is going to put your relationship at risk.
Christian Painter: Welcome to the Magic Business Podcast where we share insightful and delightful inner secrets about the business of magic. This is where magic professionals present their real-life experiences and their most guarded secrets to help further your career in the magical arts. I'm your host, Christian Painter, in partnership with the MagicOracle.Club, where you can hear all of our Magic Business Podcasts.
Jason and Stacy Alan live in Ohio, where they perform together. They primarily work the corporate market which includes resorts, wineries, and special private events. They also have a public show that they perform once a month at the Alex Theater at the Metropolitan at The 9. They recently performed on "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" with a really entertaining and charming, engaging piece that was a lot of fun.
They've been married for eight years and have performed together for seven. That's why we have them on the show because we're going to talk about what it's like to work with your husband or wife, and should you do this? Welcome to the show, Jason and Stacy.
Jason Alan: Hi.
Stacy Alan: Hello.
Jason Alan: Hey, how are you?
Christian Painter: I'm doing great. And I'm really excited to have you guys on. And I'm going to start with the first question so we can see where you're at, which is how did you even get here? How did you two end up working together on stage?
Jason Alan: Oh, gosh. Out of necessity.
Stacy Alan: No, no. The real story is Jason told me, when we met, that I would never work with him. And now, we've been working together for seven years.
Jason Alan: Let's clarify it. So I had had experiences before where I didn't know how to work with a partner. And I tried it and it didn't work out well. And then out of necessity, I was doing a show that needed 10 minutes covered. And you stepped in and did it. And from that day on, we worked together.
Christian Painter: Now, what do you mean by necessity? What do you mean you had to have somebody to cover or whatever?
Jason Alan: So I was performing at the Rocksino, the MGM casino here in Cleveland. And as you know, as a professional, sometimes the stages aren't perfect. So I needed to bring someone up on stage. This was for a crowd of 2,000 people.
Stacy Alan: Very large.
Jason Alan: We were opening for Chubby Checker, which is a whole other story. But the steps to bring someone up were at the very back of the stage. So even if I jumped off the front of the stage, got someone, and walked up, it was like a six-minute walk. So I needed someone to cover that. It was about six minutes. It was long enough for you to do the bowling ball appearance to cover that while I brought someone up.
Christian Painter: Oh, wow.
Stacy Alan: So I practiced in our living room for a while. He basically told me that I'll do fine. And I had only done some really minor stuff, just kind of assisting here and there, and nothing really on my own in his show up to that point. And then he kinda made me go out there and do this whole thing by myself in front of 2,000 people.
Christian Painter: Wow. So, Stacy, I'm going to ask you a question but I want to preface it with… now, a lot of guys will have a wife in show business, but a lot of times, it's like a cruise ship guy who marries one of the dancers. So she's already kind of in… well, she already is in show business. But you weren't. Your background was what?
Stacy Alan: So when Jason and I met, I was working as a full-time mental health therapist, in community mental health in a local hospital. So I had no experience being on a stage, doing anything of that nature. I've never taken a dance class. So no, that was not my background at all.
Christian Painter: And you probably had never even thought about being on a stage.
Stacy Alan: No, never. I mean, I had a management position, so the most I had done was give trainings. I was comfortable speaking in front of people at least. I had definitely done some trainings for, you know, maybe 30 to 50 colleagues, but never anything with giant stage lights and things like that. No.
Christian Painter: So what happened for you? So again, give it to me from your viewpoint. How did you go from that one time of performing in front of everybody to help cover Jason, where you had to get somebody, to now being an actual part of the show?
Stacy Alan: Oh, gosh. So I always liked magic, never thought I would do it for a living. I always liked watching it. I always found it really intriguing, and very cool, and was interested. You know, I was a fan of David Blaine, like everyone else, when I was growing up. And then I just really liked going to watch him perform. When we first started dating, I loved watching him on stage and just the reactions he got from people. I thought that was just such a great experience.
Jason Alan: So she was basically a magic roadie.
Stacy Alan: Basically, yeah. I used to come to his shows, and carry his stuff, and help him, you know, and just watch him do his thing. And I loved it. And, you know, when I started doing small things, it was just really fun. And I loved my job, but it was super stressful. And magic has its own stress, don't get me wrong. I mean, there's a lot that goes into being a full-time magician that is also stressful. But it's a different kind of stress. And I don't know, I just really liked it. And when I went out and did this thing for the Chubby Checker show, I was terrified, but I wanted to do it again for summer.
Christian Painter: I think we all understand that feeling. That's great.
Stacy Alan: Yeah. Well, I was terrified. I really don't remember doing it. Jason said it went well. I'm going to believe him. But I think I blacked out or something. But then I wanted to do it again. And the real kicker was, Jason was working on a cruise ship when we were first together. And I got stuck in the snow here in Ohio, driving to a meeting. And he was on the beach somewhere. And I thought, "Well, that's not fun."
Christian Painter: So now, let's go back to you for a moment, Jason. So now you've got Stacy. She's fun, she's bubbly, she's great on stage. How are you now catching her up? Because, you know, obviously, you've been doing this your whole life. So how are you teaching her to do all of the stuff that you've known for years how to do?
Jason Alan: Sure. So I come from a background of a hobby magician where I loved to collect slides. I love theory. I love 17 ways to do a pass. And when we actually got together, all I came with were books. And I'm the type of person that if we're going to work on an effect, I'll work on it for seven days straight and I'll forget to eat. And you come from, kind of, the opposite, you know, where it's not your passion to practice that stuff all the time. So actually, when she jumped into the act, it taught me a ton about myself, because I went back to Mark Wilson, the original book, and I'm looking through. And I think I showed you the crisscross force.
Stacy Alan: Yup.
Jason Alan: And you went and you got 10 minutes out of this crisscross force. And this guy is standing there that watched me perform...remember this...and he turned to me and he said, "You're good. I'm not trying to be mean, but she is really good." And I went home and cried for about a week. I decided I was going to do a different job. But watching her do that, I'm like, first off...you've heard this of magic before, the simplest path to the end effect. I was way over-doing stuff.
And then when I started to look at...and we had our different practice things. I love to practice like a Curtis Kam thing, like trying to palm 17 coins at once. And it's fun. You don't want to do that stuff. So we would kinda research and find ways for you to do the same effect without palming 17 coins.
Christian Painter: Right. So I really like the fact that you liked the Mark Wilson book, which is really a fantastic book. And just going back to that, where there is good stuff, right? And Stacy's coming from a different world where maybe she's not worried so much about the magic, but she's letting her personality in one simple trick carry the day, right?
Stacy Alan: Yes.
Jason Alan: Which is something that I lacked. I picked up magic... I was a kicker on a football team, and kickers were kinda picked on a bit. And so magic was my way to stand out and not get picked on. And I came from it as a way to...I had a personality as a magician. People knew me as the magician. Where Stacy came in and you were yourself. You're a therapist, you're, you know? And so watching you do these things, and magic is part of that has changed my perspective drastically.
Christian Painter: So talk to me, is this all rainbows and unicorns? I mean, are you guys just...I mean, is this easy now to work on a show together?
Stacy Alan: No, no. There are good and bad. I mean, with everything, there's good stuff and bad stuff. I mean, I would say luckily, Jason and I get along very well. But that doesn't mean that there are no arguments. That doesn't mean that we don't have our egos hurt. Because ultimately, we're spending 24 hours a day together. And there's no separation between, you know, married life and work life. And that is difficult.
Jason Alan: But I've always kinda looked at my career as, there's a business person and a magician. There's days where I do nothing but business or do nothing with the magic. And those two kinda intertwine a little bit. But when we started to work together, we found the separation of church and state in the sense that I'm getting better at this, at my not-doing-magic for 12 days straight, where I'm trying to, at 5:00, shut off everything I'm doing and watch a movie or play with the dog. But before that...
Stacy Alan: But sometimes, he's still palming a coin or shuffling while watching the movie, or...
Jason Alan: But before, those moments were completely business. I mean, if someone drives the car and needs to put gas in, they put it in, or if they need to call someone and make a call, they do it. And if the other person doesn't agree with it because it's going to hurt the business, we bring it up.
Christian Painter: Now, do you guys have separate jobs? In other words, does one of you do more of the business while the other one does more of the creative side? Or how do you divide up some of the tasks?
Jason Alan: So it's a mixture because we initially started with straight separation.
Stacy Alan: Yeah, we did.
Jason Alan: When you were a straight business, you'd get up in the morning and you'd have 30 calls I need to make. And I'm over here, palming coin, you know, doing whatever. But we noticed certain things. Like I enjoy designing websites. I don't know if I'm any good at it, but that business side, you have no interest.
Stacy Alan: No, I don't.
Jason Alan: And I don't enjoy being on schedule. And she organizes the business. And you make the email, you make the calls. But there's no defined line if we have to do something in.
Stacy Alan: Right. We'll both pick up where we need to. We used to be much more separated on that, where I would do strictly mostly the business and he would do mostly the creative side. But I would say now… I would say over the last three years, that's really shifted and we both kind of just balanced that out and carry out the pieces we know we're good at. And that could be either business or magic.
Christian Painter: Let's just run an example. Somebody calls for a gig or, you know you have this line, you know you're going to be talking to somebody, how do you decide who's going to talk to that person and try to nail down the job, so to speak?
Jason Alan: So it depends on where the relationship came from. So we both work a restaurant. We work restaurants together. Stacy's side job is a balloon artist, an amazing balloon artist. And the one reason you picked it up is because this restaurant we work is very loud, it's hard to do mentalism there, you know? So if I have a conversation with someone and they get to know me, I handle it, if say...
Stacy Alan: And vice versa. Or a lot of times, we're working a corporate event and we do a lot of close-up magic, and we both kind of work the room opposite ends. The same thing happens a lot there. So if I'm connecting with someone from another company, and they're asking me questions, and they give me their card, then I'll continue that conversation with that person versus having Jason takeover. So each situation is different. If I've met the person, then I might take over or if I'm busy and doing something else, then he'll take over. So it's just kinda just as needed.
Christian Painter: Well, I was just looking ahead that that might cause some problems, right? I mean, do you sometimes bump heads on something if you both want to do it in a different way, or maybe you decided… maybe you're not agreeing on a price, can that happen?
Jason Alan: Sure, sure.
Stacy Alan: Yes.
Jason Alan: Yes. We have a roundabout idea of how our market works.
Stacy Alan: Well, here, let me jump in real quick. I think that now, seven years in, that's not as big of an issue. I would say in the beginning, yes, that was, you know, we would both say, "Oh, we should do this." And then the other person would say, "Well, you know, I raised the price when I talked to them," or, you know, vice versa. But now, I think that we have a pretty clear understanding cause we actually do something that's interesting. We have a Monday coffee meeting with each other. On Monday mornings, we have our coffee. And we kinda layout...
Jason Alan: I thought you just made coffee.
Stacy Alan: Yeah. We layout our goals, you know, our business goals. And we do talk about things like, you know...
Jason Alan: 100%.
Stacy Alan: ...at the beginning of the year, we talk about what do we want our markets to look like this year? What do we think this type of show should be placed at? So we both have a pretty clear understanding of how we want to price ourselves.
Jason Alan: But there is a… I don't think argument is the right word, discussion. If there's a heavy discussion about something that's worth talking about, if there's a reason to have a heavy discussion. So we've had a few. And you have to.
Christian Painter: I will tell you, I love that idea of having a weekly meeting as if you are a real business, and you are...and of course, you are a real business. But you're taking the husband and wife out of it, "Hey, we're two people in a business and we need to..." I think that's a very smart thing.
Jason Alan: Well, the way it kinda started for us, we had a very good year, and then we had a slump. And we actually turned our library into our office. So we were there every day at 10:00 a.m.
Stacy Alan: Our local library, we would go there.
Jason Alan: Like the actual library down the street. We go there at 10:00 a.m. We break at noon and go to lunch, then work until 2:00.
Christian Painter: Oh, wow.
Jason Alan: And we did this. I was in a pretty depressed state. And being home sounds fantastic. There are a lot of things at home I'd rather be doing than business.
Stacy Alan: So forcing ourselves to get out of the house and have our "office space," which was the library, I feel like we were much more productive together than being at home.
Jason Alan: The beautiful part of that though is you're surrounded by business books.
Stacy Alan: Yeah, true.
Christian Painter: And you're not surrounded by the stuff that's going to make you lazy, "Hey, let's just turn on the TV."
Stacy Alan: Absolutely.
Christian Painter: So let me ask you this because this is another...I think, a big thing that a lot of people don't think about. But I'm sure while Stacy was working initially, she has medical, you know, she has those nice things that working for a company has. And when you guys decided, "You know what, she's going to quit her job," how scary was that? Let's start with Stacy. How scary was it to say, "All right, we have nothing now."
Stacy Alan: So it was extremely scary, so scary that I would say it took us an entire year of number crunching, projecting, business planning before we really committed to the idea that I was going to leave my job. It's not something we decided on a weekend or after a great show, it was really a year of planning. When we decided that we thought we could do this together, and we liked being on stage together, and we thought we really had something there, it took us a full year to really commit to that idea and doing it.
Jason Alan: A year and I would even say three months where we, this is how crazy we are, we mock ran living on, I say 'my' at the time, my income. And so we actually took all of her income and put it into an account and, "Can we live on this?"
Stacy Alan: Right, what he was making at that time, and hopes that we would eventually make more. But we took it pretty seriously because, yes, I was making a decent salary. I did have a 401(k). I did have insurance for both of us. And all of that was going to go away...
Jason Alan: Which was a fun conversation with her father, all about that.
Christian Painter: That's not a conversation, I think, I would look forward to.
Jason Alan: No, no.
Stacy Alan: It took me several tries. I'm very close with my parents. And I look up to my dad and my dad was a pretty successful business guy, and he's retired now. But, you know, I took a lot of things out of his rule book, as far as how I lived my life and the choices I made. And, you know, this was a big risk. And I was nervous to tell him. And it took me three or four times going to their house.
Jason Alan: It took you seven times.
Stacy Alan: Oh, seven. I say three or four times where I chickened out and didn't tell them. But I was very surprised when I did tell him, and he was extremely supportive and was happy for us.
Christian Painter: So let me take a couple of things that I'm hearing. So one, I'm hearing, you guys thought this out. This was not, you know, what a lot of people might think, "Oh, we're just going to work together." You guys really planned it, you thought it out, you even kind of worked through this, you said 'mock,' "Okay if we didn't have the salary, how would we do?" which I think is fantastic. You guys worked out how you were going to work together. You've worked out things like, "We have to make sure we're a business and we treat ourselves as a business," by going to the library, getting away from, you know, a place where it'd be easy to get lazy, and forcing yourselves to work. So I mean this is work. And I think people sometimes forget that. But I also don't want to just...because I don't want people to think we're only focusing on how hard this is. There's a fun part of working together too, right? Can we talk about that?
Stacy Alan: Yes.
Jason Alan: Yeah, it does sound that way that we're very negative on it. But I enjoy it. And I think we have different reasons why we enjoy it. I'll let you go first to make sure mine is over.
Stacy Alan: I mean, ultimately, I would say 90% of the time when people ask me, you know, if we enjoy working together, my short answer is usually yes. But the reality is that it can be tough and it's not for everyone. But it is fun. I mean, the fact that we get to do what we love, make a living doing it, and do it together, we get to travel together, we get to do all those things and meet people together and share our story. I mean, what's not fun about that? I think that's great. And I'm very happy that we get to do that and hope we continue to do it.
Jason Alan: And I fully agree like a good husband. My perspective comes from exactly what you said. I agree 100%. But also from the geeky magic side. So before we go any further, there's nothing wrong with assisting in a show. And I say that from the point that I've learned to assist. I'm an assistant when you do magic. And you're an assistant when I do, and then we work together. But the fun geeky side to me is I started treating us like characters.
And so when we write stuff, when we script I have this Stacy that I can kinda sculpt in this perspective of how I see. And then I'll present it to you after I write. I'll show it to you after I write, and you like or you don't like, and we talk about it. But it's fun to me. I actually get to do mentalism through by helping you.
Stacy Alan: So you get to do things that you wouldn't normally do as your character.
Jason Alan: Or most magicians kinda give up magic and go straight to mentalism, which is amazing and fantastic. I get to do both.
Christian Painter: So you mix magic and mentalism in the show?
Stacy Alan: Yes.
Christian Painter: And when you're working with your wife, do you have a... When you're thinking about a trick, how do you think about it with your wife?
Jason Alan: Sure. Well, it took a long time to figure that out. And it all started with how we were playing off of each other. I think I was talking to Garrett Thomas and I explained who we were. And he was, "Oh, you're the joker from Batman and Harley Quinn." "You're a manic guy and she's a therapist that keeps everything together." And we played with that idea at first and it wasn't us. And then we started to go back to more of a basic of "You're literally a therapist. You were a therapist and I'm a handsome guy that did magic and loves to cheat at poker." I love to play cards.
And so we kinda started to strip down by saying those things and not coming out and saying, "You're a mentalist, I'm a magician." That frees up what we can do. So if you watch "Fool Us," Stacy does a card vanish. And in my opinion, it's justified because it's a story about us. She couldn't use her telekinetic powers because of this, but it's a story. So I kinda write that way. It's kind of the way that I look at it. It's like how would we interact and tell a story about something that happened with us. And would it be all right if Stacy did a bit of magic?
Christian Painter: Now, do you write Stacy's lines, or do you just give her some ideas and she writes her own lines?
Jason Alan: So what I do is I'll just kinda free write and then I'll bring it to her. And we kinda sit down and do...the editing process is where you jump in.
Stacy Alan: So Jason is really creative, but...this is in a nice way...he's also more all over the place, right...
Jason Alan: What are you trying to say here?
Stacy Alan: ...because he is creative and he's always thinking of a thousand things at once. So what he does is he'll get an idea or ideas and he'll just start putting it all on paper or all on the computer. And then he brings it to me. And then I can kinda decipher through that. And then I can kinda piece it together or clean it up. And so that's kinda how we work because I'm not great at just coming up with ideas. If he looks at me and says, "Tell me a story," or, "Come up with an idea for this effect," I just stare at him like, "I don't know where to start with that." He's really good at just making something from nothing. And I'm really good at cleaning that up, pulling out the pieces that aren't necessary, and making it...
Christian Painter: The editor. You're a good editor.
Stacy Alan: Yeah. But we both do a little bit of those each, you know? Sometimes, I will have an idea and I'll write it out. And he'll say, "This is a great idea. But, you know, the magic portion we could change these things," because his knowledge of magic and theory is so much deeper than mine.
Christian Painter: Of course. Right. So if I watch you guys, you guys are very cute, very fun on stage. And we're going to go, "Oh, look at that couple." And I'm sure you get a ton of people go, "Oh, how can I work with my spouse on stage?" And then when they begin asking you these questions, I'm sure it's the same questions over and over. But what's the one question that they never asked you but they should be asking you?
Jason Alan: You want me to… I can answer this.
Stacy Alan: Sure, you can say.
Jason: Is it worth it?
Christian Painter: Wow. That's pretty heavy. And what does that mean when you say that, "Is it worth it," what do you mean?
Jason Alan: So you're going to get two different perspectives here. To me, my life is magic. I love magic. I love to talk about it. I am obsessed with it. What I mean by is it worth it is, is that person equally interested in having some aspect of that obsession in their life? And I'll answer when I see you perform, the way that I think. Stacy enjoys being on stage. You shine very well on stage. And I enjoy everything. I actually don't really care to be on stage. I'm the opposite. That's just a by-product that comes out. But you enjoy it. And the reason that I myself pushed was when you did that crisscross force and you did a business card peak, and the reaction I could see you get from the reaction these people gave you. You see a spark and you can see if somebody is interested. Not everyone is interested.
Stacy Alan: Exactly. I'll give you an example. So early on when Jason and I started dating, he started taking me to magic conventions. Now, it has changed in recent years and I'm happy to see a lot more women coming to magic conventions on their own or, you know, with their partners, whatever it may be. But I did have a lot of magicians approach me at magic conventions and say, "I wish my wife would come," or, "I wish my girlfriend would come, but she doesn't like magic." And then they would say, "I want her to be in the act."
And that's exactly what he's talking about is you can't just make someone love the art or love performing. I think you really need to make sure that this is...It's a big commitment and it's a big risk. And it is going to have an effect on your relationship. It can have a great effect, but it can also have a negative effect if you're not aware of...you know, any type of business you do with your partner, not just magic, any type of partnership or outside your marriage is going to put your relationship at risk if you're not ready for it. So I think that's it. It's just being...if you don't have good communication, to begin with, that may not be a great choice.
Christian Painter: No, I think you guys nailed it. Wow, that was perfect. You're right, is this going to work? You might dream of the work end, but if that partner is not going to be as much committed as you are, this is going to be a disaster.
Stacy Alan: Absolutely.
Jason Alan: Well, I think that the main thing, if you are considering it, is to not look at like I want to put...and it goes either way, any type of spouse you have husband, wife, whatever it is. I don't think of, "I want them to be in the act." Find something really simple, like tricks out there that you can give the effect away or have someone...or teach them how to do and have them try it. And if they show interest in it, push it further. I mean, like I said, the crisscross force. You went to the...the business card peak I keep talking about. You practiced that. We went to a party, I was working. And I turned and said, "She can do a trick too," threw you on the spot. This is how I work.
Stacy Alan: That's what he does, he just throws me out there.
Jason Alan: But you were ecstatic afterward how it worked. And that was the time to pursue, "Hey, do you want to be in the show? Do you want to do this."
Christian Painter: Perfect. Hey, guys, we have run out of time.
Stacy Alan: Oh, wow, that was fast.
Christian Painter: But look, you guys were fantastic. This was a blast. I fully enjoyed listening to this. And I look forward to seeing you guys perform again here in the near future.
Stacy Alan: Well, thank you so much for having us.
Jason Alan: Thank you so much.
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