Estate agent zooms in for £50K witch job

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An estate agent will swap selling houses to live in a cave after winning a £50,000 job as a witch at a tourist attraction today.

Carla Calamity, whose real name is Carole Bohanan, won the hearts of the judges by throwing sweet snakes into the audience at her audition for the job of the Wookey Witch.

More than 300 witches, hags, wizards and warlocks queued for hours from 6am for the chance to audition for the headline role at Wookey Hole Caves, near Wells, in Somerset.

From the traditional green wicked witch of the west to hags dressed in rags and, even a transsexual auditionee, tried out for the role at Wookey Hole Caves, near Wells, in Somerset.

Piercing shrieks and cackles could be heard throughout the site as witches practised their routines.

Miss Calamity, a single estate agent from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, beat the competition by singing a little ditty about the legend of the Wookey Witch, who was turned to stone by Father Bernard who had been appointed by the Abbott of Glastonbury to rid villagers of her curse.

Miss Calamity will teach visitors about witchcraft and magic after its previous employee, Jane Brenner, retired.

The unique job offer comes with a salary of £50,000 pro rata based on work during school holidays and at weekends.

Dressed in a glamorous black and white outfit with sparkling shoes and a traditional pointy hat, Miss Calamity was officially handed her contract and broomstick in a special ceremony with former witch, and judge, Ms Brenner.

"I feel like I'm on top of the world, I can't wait to start the job and move into my caves," she said.

"Going from an estate agent to this is a natural progression I suppose, you need a bit of magic and witchery to sell houses.

"I will be a glamorous witch, I'll bring a bit of bling.

"I'll make the cave into a sweet little pied-a-terre, I'm renting at the moment and I have puddles coming up through the flag stones so this will be like living in a palace.

"£50,000 is quite a lot but what do you expect for the best witch?"

Miss Calamity said she decided to try out for the job after suggestions from her friends that she would be perfect.

"When the job was first in the news I got home to lots of emails and messages from my friends who said that I should go for it.

"I think they thought of me because I'm a bit cookey and camp."

It seems tough economic times forced people to look for more creative ways to earn a living with a tattooist, supermarket manager, aromatherapist and a stone mason making it into the final of 15.

The job, which was advertised earlier this month in local newspapers and job centres, attracted 2,319 applicants, including a London banker.

Wookey Hole said they had received 23 letters of complaint from church or religious groups.

The X-factor style auditions gave applicants one minute to impress the judges with their character and costume by performing a routine, poem, song or making a plea as to why they are the best witch for the job.

Witches also performed spells and threatened to put hexes on the judges if they didn't get the job, including two who offered to drink a cauldron of their own urine.

Daniel Medley, Wookey Hole manager and judge, said: "The turnout has been amazing, we have had some great characters, some have been quite scary.

"It was a very hard decision but we chose Carla not just because she was throwing sweets around, it was because she had the witch factor and we think she would be great with children and meeting the public."

Although the salary is pro-rata, Mr Medley said the £50,000 wage is realistic as it was a demanding job.

"She is going to be the face of Wookey Hole so she will have to work during the holidays and at weekends as well as go on school visits," he said.

Former Wookey Witch Jane Brenner said: "I hope that Carla will be a good witch, we'll soon find out.

"She was great, a lot of people were, I am surprised and pleased at the turnout, there are people from all walks of life and the costumes are fantastic."

One couple drew gasps from the shocked judges when they produced their 11-week old daughter from underneath their flowing robes.

New dad and recently redundant David Lamb was carrying little Iola-Mae Lamb in a baby carrier underneath his black robes and whipped her out during a sketch with fiancee Alina Cowdell, a professional dancer who has performed in the Moulin Rouge and on cruise ships.

Mr Lamb and Miss Cowdell, from Victoria Park, Bristol, decided to make the auditions a family affair after Mr Lamb was made redundant from carpentry two months ago.

"Iola-Mae was sleeping in the baby carrier as we did a little sketch talking about how we needed to create a new witch to help us clean the cave, and then I popped her out," he said.

"We had planned to audition separately but as we are a new family we thought it would be nice to do a family act, we're definitely unique.

"I was a carpenter until I was laid off two weeks after our daughter was born, so we saw this for the money as well as for the experience but it could haven changed our lives."

Second place went to Fiona Robertson, an actress from Somerset, while third place went to Amy Muggeridge, a dive master, from Sussex.

Former carpet-fitter and transsexual Bridget Vallance, 45, from Stalbridge in Dorset, said she was disappointed not to make the final.

She said: "I feel I am the Wookey Witch and I came here to re-claim my cave.

"When I was a boy of about five years old I visited the caves and touched the stone and felt this huge bolt of energy surge through me.

"It changed me and when I started to realise that I was someone else I decided to change my form a year ago.

"I have a carpet fitting business but now that I am a transsexual woman I can't do the heavy work so I wanted a change of career."

Press and media from across the world reported on the bizarre job interview, with the story featuring on America's CBS News tonight.

Witches came from far and wide including Holland, Sweden and Italy, with two women having to perform through an interpreter.

Silvia Moscati, 56, and friend Emanuela Zangara, 40, flew from Italy to audition after reading about the job on the internet.

Ms Moscati, who says she is an ancestor of Casanova, wore a typical Venetian witches costume from the 17th century.

Ms Zangara's son Luca Minuti, 18, translated for the pair when they auditioned.

He said: "They decided to try a new experience, learn English and try to change their lives.

"They are quite crazy but I am happy to be here with them and I am proud that they have done this.

"I think the English are a bit mad to do this."