1. How do I get the "audition"?
There are different ways to approach this. This is how I usually go about this. I call ahead and ask if the general manager is there. If they are there, I ask the person I'm talking to, how long they will be there (I give the excuse that I want to come in and thank them for having great service). If they aren't there, I ask when they will be around. Once I find out when the general manager will be there, I show up and ask to speak with them if I could have a chance to discuss with them some ideas that would greatly benefit their restaurant. I usually get a yes, and there's the audition. Once in awhile, I get a no, because it may be a little busy, but I leave a brochure with them, and I come back a different day. You want to try to show up there at a non-busy time though. The easiest way is just to ask.
2. What should be my starting pay?
That depends on where you live. A good tip that I've heard is to take the most expensive dish on the menu, double that price, and there's your hourly wage. I believe it was double the price (I know on Live at the Jailhouse they go over it). Personally, I just think of the highest price I can say out loud, without laughing, and I do that for a nightly wage. It may sound a little crazy, but it works.
3. How much should I work?
It depends on the person. I won't do more than 5 nights, unless it's a special event, and I charge more for that extra night. I never work less then 2 hours per shift. I've worked as long as 8 hour shifts, on really busy days (with some larger breaks in between), but I usually try to stick to no more then 5 hours a night. I usually get in about 20 hours a week. It just works best for me.
4. How often should I buy new material to circulate in?
This really depends on how much material you have. I never have to buy another piece of magic. I have enough to last the rest of my life. Now I don't know how much you have, so it's hard to say. I personally have four routines. I end up switching those four routines monthly. This is just me though, and that has to do with me having OCD. It's just something that I have to do.
5. Is there a "time limit" on how long you keep your restaurant gigs?
I have a 6 week contract. After four weeks, it can be negotiated. Every week, I must work at least two shifts, or 5 hours. This is just me. But I find a 6 week contract to work best.
6. Do you take tips and a wage from the establishment, or just one or the other?
I work mostly off of wage. I do take some tips. However, I'm quite particular with this. If the people look like they are well to do, and it's a larger tip, I will take it. If the people look like they need the money, I kindly turn it down. And tell them that it's not necessary because I'm being paid by the house. However, if they insist, I will take it, as not to offend them. I also turn down every 5th person. But that has to do with OCD.
I'd really suggest waiting until you are at least 16. I think waiting longer would be even better, but 16 at least. For the Kirk Charles Manual, you will have a hard time. I know I suggest it all of the time, but I never knew it was so hard to find. If you can get it though, it's well worth the money. Once you get Live at the Jailhouse, many of your questions will be answered as well, but it still pays to ask working professionals. And if you can talk to the local magician, that's great. It would help. There are two other sources you should search: "The Restaurant Worker's Handbook" by Jim Pace and "Making a Living Entertaining in Restaurants" by Peter Lansing. Two other good sources.