Monday, February 27, 2006

 

If we only knew this when we were younger....

As my journey continues, Thank you all for your kind words. I have even gotten mention on another blog that I my words and thoughts are worthy. To quote Sally Fields, "You really Like me" kidding but thank you, Wizard.

One of my favorite sayings comes from a Barney Miller show, " The years bestow a certain amount of wisdom upon you, whether you like it or not!" Well I have been living that credo for a while now. Many types of shows and many styles of magic make Jack healthy, wealth and wise. OK your saying "What am I talking about". I have told you all the difference between working Vegas to doing birthday shows. Well, even a birthday show has its weird energy and you as a performer you must be able to pick up on it to make your show work. The age of the kids to what the parents expect. When booked this past weekend, I could tell the father wasn't say to swift. When I got to the gig he raved about that his boy looked forward to being floated in air (Harbin Chairs).

When I met the birthday boy and during the show I could tell this kid could care less, so what to do? Just keep working! I had gotten paid before the show but honestly felt I didn't have a good show because the Birthday boy was not into it. One would feel bad but the rest of the audience were having a good time so keep working, finish and leave. It's not the way I like to think or work, but then again nothing was right from the beginning. Then I find the boy is stuck in the middle of a divorce between mom and dad. So guess no matter what, this child was going to be sad...Not my fault or problem. I did my best, and so should you too. These are factors one may never know but you must go on. Shine and do your best. I know the show went well when folks asked for my card afterwards, but at the time during the show you feel your not doing well because of the birthday boy's sadness. The year's bestow wisdom on you, move on and don't take it personally. Remember we all want to make a child smile, but if he feels nothing, nothing will make a difference.


Tony's Picks
Remember these are items I choose each that I would use in my shows from the new items that we get at Hocus-Pocus each week. I choose what I think you too would like or are just so hot you better get one before they are not made anymore. Thanks



Andrew Gerard

What can I say about the newest discovery of Paul Gross for our Hocus Pocus Family of creators. This magical man from Canada has come up with some creative ideas that you are lucky to get them only here at Hocus Pocus. How good are his ideas....well look to the left of our website and Paul has given him his own category to click to for his effects.

Ice From Water

This is the one of the first of Andrews ideas that is so hot it's cool. Imagine taking a glass of water reaching in and you produce a ice cube, then another and another. Then for a final produce a hand full of cubes on to a plate . This item is so hot I can only hint at some of the big stars planning to use this soon in their shows. No names mention here but I am telling you that you can only get this here at Hocus Pocus and my story is over. Get yours and be a star too.


Real Time

Simple in its concept but ingenious in its conception is Andrew's Real Time. I have always been a person that says out of common knowledge or understanding the real world comes miracles. How many times have I said visit and know your local Home Depot and you can be a magic man. Well knowing how time flies Andrew has worked a great magical concept for all of you. You only need to know that if your a working Pro, money is no object for an idea that could make you look like a star. Andrew has done just that with Real Time. So read the description on our website and make your choice for this magic miracle.


Educating Archer

Those who know me here at Hocus Pocus know I have been here now about 7 months, so not since the Criss Angel craze have I personally have not taken soooo many orders for a DVD like "Educating Archer". I personally tell I have not seen it! That means when all of you are calling in asking for it, You all must know that this is a clever guy. I must admit if all of you know something that I don't, then I need to recommend this and his other DVD "Blindfold Tips" highly. I personally have written so many orders this week you guys know something I don't. So by your vote this week I have to recommend his DVD's .



Royal Revison

Using a combination of the Visible Deck and the McCombical Deck (my hero Billy McComb) this effect by our friend Ton Onosaka is a sure magical miracle. Ton has been noted for producing great visual effects. Both in graphs and storyline. So you as a magi only need to practice and learn the genuis of Ton to make some really great effects for your audiences. This is one of those effects that will leave a lasting impression on your audience saying " How did He do that!"

Dove Fame

From the creative mind of Derek Rutt, maker of many effects that we sell at HP comes this Hot new item Dove Frame. Derek is all about visual magic be it kid show or stage show, his magic is visual. With a video to show you this effect on our website imagine showing a pic of 2 doves and the having doves flyout from the pic...that's is way cool. It's a hot item and a pre-order as Derek is overseas so we will get it in soon. So now is the time to get your order in.


Tony's Picks

Well, my friends as always thanks for reading. Remember this blog, I don't get paid extra for doing each week. This is me as a working pro, I am sharing knowledge and hope to make your show look cool. I do hope you'll take time to rehearse and live the magic. Your are the inspiration for the next Famous magi.

This week I inspire you to use the tools at hand, Google.com, Ask Jeeves.com and other search engines. What ever your ideas for your show the answer is on the world wide web (the www. before the website). Seek and you shall find. Its a simple thought but it's the smart person that make the step that has been traveled before. " If you forget the past you are condemmed to relive it" a famous thought I also live by. I have traveled to a point in my life that making magic comes from knowing what the giants before have done. If this is to wierd understand next time you buy a trick and say "Is that all the trick does".

Please I ask you, think and create! Visit Dollar stores, undertand what your computer can give you! Then if you get creative you don't always have to ask or pay a pro to make you look good. Knowledge plus ideas are the stuff dreams are made of. Watch movies to be inspired, remember those you entertain watch them too! So inspire them from what they see. Today's magic is tomorrow's science!

With this said if you don't get what I am saying or understand, email me at anytime tony@hocus-pocus.com. I would be happy to chat. I have done this magic thing for 30 plus years and each year is still a learning lesson. I do nothing in this blog but hope to inspire you. I may even start holding workshops which might be soon at my own home. This would be for those in the California area or those willing to travel to Fresno. This would be a mini festival type event of creative workshop ideas....but that's a idea of mine from my writing each week. Those interested let me know. While in Fresno you can pick up knowledge and some props from Hocus-Pocus which is not open to the public, just a thought. Email me so I may start a list of workshop folks. Trust me it would be a magical weekend!!

Understanding of the power you have as magicians is the reason why you work hard to make a child smile!

Well, there are a few of my hopes for you. Want to share an idea. Know of a free website you like, or have an Idea or tip send to: tony@Hocus-Pocus.com

Thanks for reading each week

Be Magical and Be Ready to inspire others

My Best Magical Wishes to you..........Tony Blanco


Monday, February 13, 2006

 
It's Always a "Kind'da Magic @ Hocus Pocus"

Howdy Gang! Each week I ask all of you to add tips and let me know that you actually read this Blog. Well, since I haven't gotten too many tips from those of who you that read this blog. I am happy to say that during the phone orders I take, I have gotten words of thanks for writing each week. Thank You. This blog is here for all of us to share and grow from. Hopefully I will be able to chat up some more of my friends to share tips and ideas.

This week a real special guest Jeff Hobson. Next week I will beginning to share some that also feature ongoing magic ideas for new tricks. I'll give you a tease right now... if you haven't visited this site checkout http://www.online-visions.com/. Some of the writers to this site include Kenton Knepper, Peter Marucci and Shane. Shane has two great new books that we sell at Hocus Pocus called Automata and Pentalogy. Peter always has great simple magical ideas, this month has one you have to read and it already has become a keep it in your wallet effect that I already use. Kenton has many ideas and performance concepts.

By the way make sure you read Paul's Blog on Friday!!!!

This Weeks Picks

Just to let you know that the "Hottest Seller" this year so far is Melting Point. Next to Criss Angel DVD's, Melting Point is moving out the door faster then we can get them in.


Magic Postcards

A series of reproductions of some of magic's greatest art work are now in the form of postcards. The magi's posters, now postcard size include Alexander, Houdini, Kellar and Thurston. The price is so cheap for 32 cards 4 each of the 8 designs. Mike has already framed them for his new home (pic on Paul's Blog last week) I just hope this same company that makes these cards does more vintage posters, such as Ching Ling Soo, Blackstone, and even a few modern guys like Mark Wilson, Doug Henning, David Copperfield but one could only hope. Makers listern to this humble magi and make another set.

Jumbo 3 Card Monte


One of my favorite effects was watching Harry Anderson perform his 3 Card Monte effect. Harry (as in Mike Caveny's Book) explained that he used to make these cards by hand. Now our friend Gary Summers makes these cards for a 3 Card Routine. Gary has taken the hard work of making each of these crafted card. If the sample is the same as what I had seen, an extra tip you can do is get some clear contact paper to cover then to make them last longer. My tip and suggest to those who buy these from us.

Superhandz XB DVD

Out of Germany, with the help of some of magi's of USA comes the hottest manipulations DVD for card guys in a long time. Featuring a new guy named Q and the likes of Daryl and Jeff McBride, they take you on a card workers journey. Exploring fancy moves and techniques that most of us had to learn from books, this DVD is a visional delight. There are ideas also that have never been published in any book. So many moves, and techniques that you need to see the list on the website of all the great ideas taught on this DVD.

Secrets of a Escamoteur

From the files of magic's secrets creative writers, Harry Riser. "Secrets of a Escamoteur ( pronouced S ca mon tour ) continues the writings of Harry Riser. Ideas in this book are the cutting edge of magic even if its based on ideas from long ago. Comments from close friends like Johnny Thompson, Teller, Mike Close, Jon Racherbaumer, Charlie Miller give credit to the genuis that is Mr. Riser. Egg Bag ideas, over 45 card ideals, Linking Ring routine simply done with 3 rings and much more are some of the ideals in this one of a kind and limited printed book.


This Weeks Tips

This week I am proud to have good friend and comedy magic star Jeff Hobson share his years of knowledge with all of you. What kind of guy is Jeff. Well, besides being one of the most funny working pro's he is also a giving guy. If most of you know I was a regular performer at the Excalibur Hotel Casino Court Jester Stage with my own show. Now next to our family free stage is the "Thunder Down Under" Theatre. Jeff was coming in to do his own show in between the Aussie male reveue. At the time my opening effect was from his "Jeff Hobson Live" video (a tape you need to own!). I just thought "Oh great I will have to change my show a bit". Well, I told Jeff I was doing his Silk to Apple routine and I asked "Do I need to cut it since your working in the same building I am." He was more then wonderful to say "You can keep doing it, I am doing a different show."
What a Pro and Nice guy!!!

Ladies and Gentleman..........
Jeff Hobson

Hi Tony and greetings from Las Vegas!
It has been estimated that magic is the second most "published" hobby in the world surpassed only by photography. Imagine the countless books of magic penned throughout just the past half-century and now includes the plethura of video and DVD instruction! Just incredible.
My advise is but a drop-in-the-bucket compared to what has preceded me however, I believe my performances, in numbers only, should speak for themselves. There are many amateur magi's who make up quite a bulk of the newest moves and inovative tricks, but very few who can pass on their words of wisdom that you can literally "take to the bank". I hope and trust that some of you will take the experienced pro's words very seriously and apply them to your own magical world.
(this is why I write this Blog each week..tony)
I have heard throughout my early years in magic that a magician can only hope to perfect but a few tricks; ones that would be his signature effects. I believe it was the late, great Jay Marshall who set the number at six. As a young magi, I had scoffed at the thought. Now, I know him to be correct. To truly have an effect which you have mastered takes a great deal of dedication. By the time you perfect a trick generally you're already bored of it. Actually, it is that exact gauge that I use. When I have gotten to the point where I hardly have to think about the mechanics or patter, I know I'm getting close to being really good at it. At the point at which I am daydreaming whilst performing a piece of magic, it is then I am confident that the effect is mastered. Also, we are assuming, that the effect is entertaining too! Of course, I have a list of about forty effects that I could present in any given program, but only five that I could say are ones that are on my "A" list. Those are the ones that are my favorite, gets the greatest audience reaction, and those that I have been performing the longest. I estimate that I have performed my Egg Bag routine approximately 20,000 times.
There are magicians I know that pride themselves on constantly changing their shows. They have a different list of tricks for different situations and audiences. I'm not saying that's a bad idea. I, myself, am constantly torn between trying something new to test my creativity and just sticking to what I know works every time. It usually takes me 6 months to two years of research to try a new effect to find if it's really good for me or not. I also know after just 3 performances whether I'll keep it on my "good" list. Usually, those tricks which I deem worthy are ones that cross over for multiple uses. Using the Egg Bag again as my example, I perform it most every opportunity given whether it be a children's show, a ladies luncheon or as a part of my regular Las Vegas performances. The mechanics of the routine generally do not change, I just simply alter the presentation. This way, I have my "signature" trick that I'm known for, being presented virtually everywhere I perform. When I host a Las Vegas review show, I perform the Egg Bag. When I go on a cruise ship, I perform the Egg Bag. When I do auto shows or fairs (10 shows per day!), I perform the Egg Bag. I think you get the idea. Am I bored of the Egg Bag? . . . yes I am. However, I am always in great anticipation of the looks of the faces of my audience that witness it and am appreciative of the reputation that it has given me. The trick is not for me as it once was. It's for the audience.
In summation, take your time in choosing your effects. Nurture the ones that "feel" right and the audience enjoys.

If you've chosen the right one, you'll find you can perform it anywhere, in any situation and at any time. My apologies to the illusionists. A magician doesn't need a constant change of reportise unless his audience never changes. The few exceptions would be having a weekly television show like Paul Daniels, a "regular" strolling entertainer at one bar or restaurant, or a cruise ship magician that is required to perform three times for the same audience. Other than these examples, the bulk of us don't need to worry much about that. Take your lifetime mastering a just a few pieces of magic until they're perfect. Your audience will know the difference and you'll be set apart from the rest. THAT, folks, you can take to the bank!
Jeff Hobson
February 13, 2006


Thank you my friend for sharing your years of wisdom and knowldege with our Hocus Pocus family. If you don't understand what great ideas Jeff has taken the time to share with you, its time to get out of the business and take up stamp collecting! Only Kidding

Want to share a tip? Write me for this Blog at:
Tony@Hocus-Pocus.com




My Thanks to the great likes of Bill Abbott, Barry Mitchell, Jeff Hobson for their guest blogging tips and Thank you all for making Hocus-Pocus your choice for you magic products and knowledge and growth as a performer.

Tony Blanco




Monday, February 06, 2006

 


The Magic of the Moment

To improv or not to improv? As a performer, I hope that all of you know your show, act, tricks that you do inside and out. Lots of you call for stuff for a show the next day....well.... Paul would mention to me that when he performed he would rehearse and rehearse and would never think of adding a trick to his show until he rehearsed for at least a year or so. When I worked in Las Vegas its all about doing same act day after day so from time to time you could slip something new in your show to see if it worked. Then if it did you could refine it in and work new lines and movement each day 3 to 4 shows a day.
Either way you routine a show, you better know what your doing on stage!

This past weekend for an example showed me what so many years of performing gives you. Knowledge and wisdom can turn into happy moments for your clients and hopefully repeat bookings for you.

I had to work a party which really had no normal setup (that I would be used to on stage in Las Vegas) as a show would go. Party for both adults and children, but really a task to be there for the kids for two maybe three hours. Nothing really set be ready to be flexable ..I am told. So Do a Show? Do Close-up? Balloon Animals? Play games? Yes all of the above! Packing my van with everything (I just mentioned ) and have it all set off to the side and be ready to go as the party goes on.

In the two hours it started with close-up magic for about 30 min., the balloon hats, a game for the kids. Then it was time for dinner for the kids in this wonderful home's "Pool House" which could easily be a hall for a King and Queen's Feast. Back on the patio, I was setting up for a show for the kids as soon as they were done eating. I had the show ready and seats set up for them. Now I was also told that I was also to "giveaway" a rabbit for this event for the host's little gal. No stage! No showgal helper! No Backstage! Ahh, what's this? A Ping-Pong Table on the Patio. Well, a improvised idea comes to mind. Fold the table up, it becomes a sidewall. Folding the ping-pong table up and putting it next to my case/backdrop (see my pictures from a earlier blog) I had a backdrop and stagewings.

So my show goes on and I had a backstage to load up the rabbit into a "Confetti Production Box during the show. I did my Rabbit Wand Routine (also explained on this blog a while back) and then after the Rabbit Wand I joked that we really needed a magic box to produce the rabbit. Went backstage really fast and loaded the bunny into the box. Bringing out the box and I produce the rabbit for the host's little daughter's delight. Being able to improv turned a patio into a little Vegas stage for these wonderful kids.

Now the kicker was to make sure all the kids remembered me and tell their parents for their parties, don't forget the gifts. I had Ziplock bags with custom coloring books and magic books (both with my logo and telephone number), yo-yo's (from those catalogs I told you about) and a magnet card with my infor.

Many of you may think our favorite comics and entertainers do wonderful Improve comedy, well you would really be surprised how much is really been planned and done many times before. The magic is to make it look to the audience that its done for the first time for them. My 30 yr.s finally starts to pay off ...what do you think. This week we will skip the Tony's Picks part of the blog. The blogger.com website was not on-line for a few hours when I usually write this column at night.

What makes the timing perfect (again learning to be flexable) was a call from Bill Abbott today to offer more tips for the blog tonight. Again timing plays well into my life to be able to improvise. What Bill sent to me for all of you as a tip for this week's blog fits into exactly what I just wanted to write about tonight.

Thank you very much BILL !! You proved my point that timing is everything!

This Weeks Tips

Guest Ideas from Bill Abbott

Selecting Material

Before selecting your material (ie. tricks & routines) you should make a list of criteria that will help you narrow your search. This list will be dependent upon the performing environment and audience you wish to perform for. I will give you my criteria for the table magic material I would perform in a family restaurant environment.

Remember that this list is especially suited to me and the environment(s) that I use this material in. Please think for yourself and come up with your own list. Here is my criteria for selecting material for my close-up repertoire.

The material I choose must...

-reset automatically

-work straight from my pockets (no hip pack, briefcase, or nap sack, etc.)

-have the capability to be performed absolutely surrounded (from the top, sides, straight-on and underneath!)

-be completely safe from harming the spectator. (all fire must be contained, knives out of reach of small children and drunken adults, etc.)

-have an inherent character based plot. (does this trick, or can this routine reflect my persona in some way?)-use examinable objects (within reason, again knives, matches and exploding paper not withstanding)

-must engage the audience on some physical and/or emotional level (what do they DO during the trick to involve them personally?)

-be mastered from a technical standpoint (can I perform these sleights with ease, is there something I need to work on, etc.)

-absolutely and positively deceive EVERY member of my audience (from the intellectual to the slow of wit, this trick has to fool them all!)

-be visible for the size of audience I am performing for (table magic generally entertains groups of between 2-20)-have a beginning, middle and an end (introduction, build up to the conclusion, then a definite finish)

Making list of criteria for the selection of material will save you time, creative energy and money. Take this list along with you to the magic shop or keep it by your computer for those internet purchases and have it accessible when you're researching for new material.

Above all whatever the piece is you are thinking of adding to your act, keep the mindset that this one trick might be the one trick that they see you perform. Ever. Your magic must be an extention of who YOU are.

Being Organized

Organization starts with a choice of A-List material. Once you have this in place your travelling case or table is the first thing to organize. Look at the physical actions of each of your tricks and find out where the most accessible storage would be. Pocket organization comes next again dissecting the physical actions of each routine and figuring out which pocket a prop will rest until it is performed AND where it will end up after it’s performance. Kids can smell a disorganized peformer like a skunk during a heatwave.

Being organized = a more professional performance.

Being organized= a more relaxed and focused performer.

Being organized will help in focusing you on the most important thing. Your performance.

Next week I will have some tips gathered from our Hocus-Pocus members. Thank you all for reading each week.

Want to share a tip write me:

Tony@Hocus-Pocus.com

Thank you all for making Hocus-Pocus your choice for you magic products and knowledge and growth as a performer.

Tony Blanco



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