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Corporate Entertainment Sleight of Hand

by Bryan Walpert

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Corporations are more picky about parties these days.  With fewer events, there's increased pressure on in-house planners to get the entertainment just right.

"It used to be you could sell them on the phone or with a quick video presentation.  Clients now want to go and crash somebody else's party to hear the band or see the performer," says Brian K. Gruber, president of Brian Gruber & Associates Entertainment Center Ltd., a Washington booking agency. 

But Gruber can relax when he books one performer: magician and mentalist Dick Steiner, a Millersville, Md., resident and retired army lieutenant colonel who performs primarily for businesses.

Sometimes you'll find him roaming cocktail parties performing sleight-of hand tricks.  At other functions, he impersonates an executive from the home office and demonstrates a new mind reading technique the sales force will (supposedly) be learning.  He'll ask a member of the audience to select any word in any page in a book.  Then he'll guess it.  Either way, the crowd leaves amused and amazed.


"He's fantastic," says Michele Sage, recruiting and marketing coordinator for Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson in Washington, which hired him to perform at an attorney retreat.  "After he left, a lot of people sat around discussing what he had done and couldn't figure things out."

"Steiner's client list has grown appreciably since he began performing several years ago, and now includes such names as General Dynamics, AT&T, Xerox and Vice President Al Gore.  "When I book Dick Steiner," Gruber says, "I don't have to worry about the event anymore."