Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Spring and Summer Magic in the Air
Spring has begun but you would never know it at first here in Fresno. It's been raining alot, strange thing to see for a desert kind'da guy. When it's not raining the magic of the season of growth are all around. Trees with Cherry Blossoms abound, as well as leaves are sprouting. As Spring arrives Summer soon to arrive, now its time to plant those seeds for summer camp shows and fairs and festivals. This year for the first time I look forward to getting to travel on the weekend to do a few fairs and festivals up and down the California coast. Start contacting those camps and summer programs to book your shows. Remember something with a educational touch can get you the gig faster. Here's wishing your summer gigs are fun and not to hot.
From Hocus-Pocus good friend and magical creator Dean Dill, is his take on the tradition of Grandma's Necklace. Nicely crafted in velvet cords and wooden beads a most magical in the moment effect. You the magi ask a spectator to grasp the 3 beads and close they fist. Now the magic begins as the magician grabs the velvet cords and the cord passes thru they hand leaving the beads behind. Full instructions by one of magic's nicest guys and effect that will always be ready to go.
As if the magic community doesn't have enough effects with Sharpie makers here comes a real killer and priced for fun. Moveo has answered all the problems of the other Sharpie effects. No wires, No motors, No Noise, No liquids inside. It is a real working marker also. Yet you can perform some of the eerie psychokinetic moves of higher price Sharpie's. I personally chatted with one customer today that wants to use it in a series of effects with a PK Wizard ring. Great Idea! Price so well that you can get a few for all your magic bags.
From the craftmanship of Derek Rutt, creator of many wonderful magic effects comes Monkey Business. In the tradition of England's Supreme Magic who were famous for great colorful silk screen pasteboard storytelling effects, Derek continues this with Monkey Business. With your back to the audience, you turn around showing a cage with a monkey in it. Explaining that every night the monkey escapes as you place the cage behind your back and bring him forth and he is gone. Well the kids begin the shouting ( a good shouting for once) and yet the monkey is back by morning. For a real magical final the monkey visual vanishes as the cage falls open. This time you turn around and the Monkey is on your back covered in bananas. A soon to become children's classic as well as collectors item, getting mine right away for my birthday and school shows.
The dictionary defines Stealth this way, noun: avoiding detection by moving carefully. Assassin:a murderer who kills by a treacherous surprise attack. Well with these two words in minds come a killer effect that defies detection as well as offers many effects for the price of one . Peter Nardi has finally tipped his prize creation wallet. The Stealth Assassin can be used as a Peek wallet, Billet index, Out to Lunch effect and for many switches, loads, steals. This wallet truly earns the name Assassin as it will truly kill all other wallets for the variety of ways it can be used. They are moving in and out the door here at Hocus Pocus as fast as we get them. Comes with a DVD showing all the great ways you can use the stealth assassin, featuring Peter Nardi and Marc Spelmann.
Sword Through Head
From the creatively wacky mind of Jay Leslie is his newwst master crafted effect Sword Through Head. This is a prop to behold and proud to beheld. With over 30 hours of design work alone I dare you to find a illusion for the price and appearance. On the site we list 15 reasons why this version is better then others out there on the market. I will let you go the the website and read them. With that said, it is colorful, comes with 15 swords, lighter then any box you may have used. In stock and ready for shipping and think an illusion always helps you raise your fees. So an investment in a great prop that is a cut above the rest, gee did I just say that....lol. Hey I like it, OK !
Greater Magic DVD's
This week a few more videos from the Greater Magic series have been released to DVD.
Dick Ryan Legendary Trade show performer sharing his years of tips and knowledge and wisdom. Information that can benefit jugglers, Vents, Mentalist as well as Magicians
Bobo The name we all know for one of the greatest Coin Books, shares his knowledge from years of performing school programs. Interviews include Bobo one on one, then school shows, then close-up work.
Each week I try my best to either share an effect or prop or idea that will help your show. This week its more of a sense of knowing who you are "On Stage". Whether your Stage is Las Vegas or a Living Room or Class Room, you have to be at all times the person in charge of you. I touched on this last week with costumes creating the persona. As a entertainer you must define the type of magician you are the minute the audience sees you. One magician said to me that it takes so many steps on to the stage that the audience will decide either to like you or not. Some entertainers I know actually walk longer from the wings just to get the smile just right before walking on stage.
Another example of this is that you don't always get a second chance to make that first impression. Lots of times you better be on and ready to go the minute you knock on that birthday party house door, or walk into a that pub or restaurant.
Another thing that came up in a joke between Mike and I this week. He said the joke and knew I would be the type of person that would have gotten it. Since moving here I still am setting up my home. Magic is all over my home, roadie cases and such. Mike goes to me "That you really live your magic like Terry Seabrooke". Story goes that Terry once kept an illusion set up in his living room and looked at it for about a year till he came up with his signature way of performing Black and Decker Chest stock illusion. Yep I got it and have to say I live that way so I can live the effect when I perform it on stage.
Jeff McBride uses a term called "Play Time" when he just uses the prop or trick in as many ways as possible either in mime, dance, to music or not. Pratice equals "Play Time". This way he can create a one of a kind perfomance that he makes it his signature piece.
So remember when next time you sign a autograph hopefully its because someone considers your performance one of kind. This above makes you that different from all the magicians and if not hopefully you did entertained them. Look, Learn and Create.
Thanks for reading each week.
Want to share an idea or tip
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Secret is Smile and Looking the Part
Most of you know that half the battle is the preparation, if you don't now it is a good time to learn. Having learned to sew as to make magic bags and props, costumes just came next. Over the years I have created many, Clown outfits, Ringmasters, Santa Elves and of course something for St. Patricks Day which was this past weekend. I got to perform magic at an Irish Pub here in Fresno called "Fagans". Now working a bar would be hard enough but dressed like a Leprechaun well thats another tale to tell. I feel that when the event calls for it go the extra mile and theme your outfit. Folks want to have fun, laugh and have a good time.
So believe it or not I was more welcomed to go up to a table and start my magic. The costume, big smile plus a killer Irish accent helped break the ice. This has always been my way of creating more of the magic. Now dressed as I was I was not just a guy doing magic, but the host of the Pub, heck I was the host of the Holiday. Folks wanted to take pictures (hope I get some to show you all) and the ladies wanted to kiss the Leprechaun for good luck!
So think next time you get a gig on how you can be prepared to go the extra mile. I did and the owner asked me back for the next night when I was just booked for the one night. Then the next night she introduced the band telling of the next big event on April Fool's Day. You guessed it my next gig, because I offered to be a Court Jester who does magic, I am booked !
Ultimate Pitch Act
Those of you who are real workers know the value of every dollar you can make as a performer. The Circus has had a long tradition of making sure when you leave you remember the show by selling you all sorts of Hats, T-Shirts, Balloons, and Coloring Books and Programs. Well why shouldn't you the magician do the same. That is the goal of this DVD "Ultimate Pitch Act" by Paul Romhany and Andrew Gerard. Imagine after your show being able to sell a DVD with your logo and look that contains 10 magic tricks to learn.
This DVD has been professional done so that just magical hands (no voice) teach from ages 8 and up some very clever magic effects. This is once in a life time type purchase as we at Hocus Pocus are helping you create magic and profit for your show. Please take the time to read the full description on the website for this most powerful tool for promotion and profit for your performances.
From the magic of Doc Magic of Las Vegas comes this clever take on the Forgetful Freddie act. Birthday Cake tells of a tale of how a slice of birthday cake is taken away before the actual party takes place. The mother of the birthday child doesn't know what to do. To save the day you the magi make a suggestion to kind'da decorate the missing spot with a balloon. Seeing this won't really work, the balloon is popped and the slice returns. Fun and the story you tell can go in many directions. I have taken the time to write an few story and patter suggests along with Doc's great routine. A memoriable piece of magic for any Birthday party entertainer.
One of the newest trends for magicians to sell themselves to corporate clients is not just to do magic, but to motivate. The Motivating Speaker market is the latest tool for the magician that wants a longer and profitable career. Again our friends Paul Romhany and Andrew Gerard have done all the work for you in learning about this new type of market. This package is so way complete (gosh I now speak like I live in California, yikes) to the max! Kidding aside so many tools in this package does make it a complete package, a 112 page "Magician to Speaker" book, "Laugh yourself Well" 64 page book, a massive joke book and so much more. This truly can be consider a key to opening a new door for your magic talents and shows. Having something different in your marketing tool belt will get you more bookings.
From the ever inventive mind of Michael P. Lair comes a killer of a production. Imagine during your show waving a few silks around and then producing a full size 20 Oz. bottle of soda. Heck if you want to be real street magic, produce a 20 Oz bottle of beer right in the middle of a group of street gang types. Try that one on street magic guys. Comes with gimmack, instructions and two silks. Now thats magic on the spot.
From the tradition of the great stage magicians of days gone by comes the Vanishing Rabbit. Your audience sees on stage a wonderful looking box and table. After producing your rabbit, I have to say it (by your favorite method) it is time to make it disappear. Place the rabbit in the top of this box. Now start folding the box flat and lay it down flat on the table. Hand the flatten box off to your assistant and then even fold the table flat. This box looks so clever, painted/designed like as I said from a by-gone-era of magic. By the way you could also come out with the flatten table and box, set it up to produce lots of silks and streamers also.
Well gang, as I write each week the ideas always abound. Since I touched on costumes tonight let me give my tips on them. First off when ever buying something already made, be it a cool looking shirt, tie,vest, suit, whatever in a store.....BUY TWO OF EVERYTHING! Seeing something you like and it becomes a regular part of your show it will wear out fast. Also try to get things that you can wash in a machine vs. dry cleaners. If you do have to use a dry cleaner send out one of the two in case they ruin the first outfit.
The same if you do sew or get something custom made. BUY PLENTY OF FABRIC! Say your having a vest made, don't just buy enough fabric for one vest buy enough for 5 vests. This way if that look becomes your trademark you have more fabric for more vests. The same holds true for any trim, rhinestones or buttons you may have on your costume. Same with Hats, Canes, pocket watches...BUY TWO of everything.
Tux Shirts come in many different styles and change each year. Don't find your favorite is not made anymore. Right now I have about 15 shirts. This comes from doing many shows in a day where I might change for each show. You might not have to have 15. I just think if your running from one gig to the next in the same day a fresh shirt for each show is just being classy, smart and clean when you work. I have changed in some of the most famous parking lots in the world (Las Vegas casinos) running to another gig from another and so should you. A little cologne doesn't hurt either! Fabreeze your costumes too when you can't clean them in time helps with the ahem B.O.
Mondays. This is the day if your a weekend entertainer to bring everthing that needs cleaning to a dry cleaner so your ready for the following weekend.
Thrift Stores. This is as magical to me as going to a magic shop or convention. To wander thru and find (many times actually new) Tuxedos, Suits, Jackets even shoes or boots at prices way below buying new. Big tip if you do get say a jacket or suit check the pockets. If they appeared still stitched closed, guess what this is a new suit that was given from a department store they could not sell so it's really a new suit! Also check the pockets anyway I made $10.00 in one suit pocket when trying it on. Someone gave the jacket away and it had a tenner in the pocket guess what the jacket cost, yep $10.00. While in the store look around for those really wierd things that could later be apart of your show. Prop and gag ideas are everywhere in a thirft store.
Suitcases and travel bags are always donated, and cost next to nothing. This has been that extra bag or so I need for one prop or another. Same with finding bowling balls, wooden boxes, kitchen items (for juggling) ties, and so much more. By the way the shiny green jacket for my St. Patricks costume (yes new) made it all come together came from a thirft store. That magic and the luck of the Irish.
Well those are a few ideas....you have any? Write me and share them...... email@example.com
Thank you all for reading. Some of you I am really getting to know when you call in. So feel free to ask for my help (when I can ) so I can better your show and career.
Have a creative and magical week,
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Remember the first time you were inspired by a magic trick. The time as a child when a magician at a party showed you your first magic trick. The time you watched a magician on TV and had that sense of wonder. To be inspired, to be amazed for the first time is a memory alot of us will have a long time and the main reason we have chosen to be magicians.
Such was a gig I had this weekend when I got hired to what would have been a birthday party gig but this time just for one child. This young man was turning 12 years old and has been learning magic for the past year or so. So his Mom hired me to teach him and work with him for a hour or so. This was going to be his first time, I got the idea that he would have had a teacher. This talented young man has actually learned alot from his DVD's. So watching him perform a card routine or two reminded me of the spark, the dream we all chase to be performers. His moves were done very well no problem there, except to get more comfortable as a performer.
Now it was time to teach him a few things more then card tricks. Even as I was teaching him, I started coming up with a few new magic ideas. These effects as a matter of fact are the inspiration for this weeks Tony's Tips. Again this day turned out to be another rediscovery of the reason some 30 years ago I choose to be a magician. At this moment it almost felt like a "Disney Lion King" moment "Circle of Life" thing...lol. I just always wish your magic is always inspiring and entertaining for the next generation.
Thanks Brady and Good Luck!!
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
Magic Hands Prodcution Fan
From the creative world of Magic Hands (items that are making there return) is the Production Fan. How many times in a show do wonder how to produce or even vanish a silk or another small object. This colorful prop does that job for you. Reminding me of the Tarbell cone I used to make out of brown craft paper, this version is a solid use of bookbinders board, fabric and plastic. Show a half circle, fold it into a cone and produce numbers of silks, vanish, change them. Can be use to produce money, ribbons and so much more.
Chips & Cola Silkola
One of the first cool effects I had performed was Silkola, but that was so long ago. Now a updated version is Chips & Cola Silkola combining the knock them in the aisles final of a fully new can of Pringles. The routine of Silkola is the placement of a empty (capped) bottle of Cola placed inside the Pringles can. Then to the vanish of a silk only to be found inside the capped bottle. The magic offers to repeat the effect this time the can is sealed and full of chips. Upon pouring the chips out the silk is found inside the can. Did I mention the can was sealed? A classic truly updated for a snack happy world looking for a little magic.
A true mystey in magic is when a object is vanished and reappears some where else. Can-Tastic is the perfect effect for your Watch in Can, Card in Card, or just about anything that can fit in a can. This version is less complicated then some higher price models. Simple in its method, that it can resest and be used over and over again. A clever magician will take the time to change the labels from time to time to make appeal to the crowd they work for. No assistants are needed! That's right you do it all right on stage and in front of the audience. So for the price and clever method a true winner.
In magic its always about being visual and colorful. The Table to Flowers is just that piece to add both to your show. The most colorful and well made flowers for the price (Paul's comment) and I must agree hands down also. Removing the table top the stand transforms into a tall stream of flowers. The table top transforms into a tray of spring flowers filling then entire top. The workmanship in design, the way the entire unit breaks down for traveling is a total package you will be proud of if you purchase one.
Kozak Live! Rare, Raw & Uncensored DVD
If you could take one part stand-up comic, world class manipulator, and some one who travels on the edge, your have Kozak. Koz to his friends, he has traveled the world, being one of the best paid and successful stand-up comedy magicians. Currently appearing in "The World's Greatest Magic" in Las Vegas, the DVD covers his performances from comedy clubs, TV, as well as on stage in Las Vegas. A giant of a guy on stage but take you right into the heart of his brand of magic, humor and good times. Truly a power of energy when you see him and this DVD captures of the magic and madness that is Kozak.
Well one of the principles of magic every magician should know is the magician's force or "The Equivoque". Without teaching it to you cause this is written up in many books. Max Maven's writings as well as his great VideoMind series (now on DVD) has great effects using the Equivoque. In teaching my young student I came with these following ideas. Hope you use and enjoy them.
DVD Movie Magic
So writing down a prediction or telling someone or not which will be the choosen DVD. Start out with 5 Movies in DVD cases. Ask the spectator to choose two "just point to two." 3 are left "point to two". Spectator now has one. Proclaim you knew he would pick this one. Open the written prediction or have the other person tell them the name you predicted. Now for a really cool punch line or two. One idea is to have him open the case and its the only one empty or its the only one with a DVD in it (theres two endings). Show all the other cases empty. Take this DVD out, play it and you the Magician appear on TV saying I knew you would pick (let's say) Wizard of Oz and then the movie starts.
CD Music Magic
Try this one next time you have company over. Have some music playing on the CD. Make sure its music your guest would not know. Ask them if they know whats playing. No one will know, but tell them I bet you you do the musical artist. Introduce 5 CD cases (this time one will be empty) and make sure the covers are artists not known to your friends. Now begun the magicians force. Pick three, now pick one. "You chose this CD". "I told you, you would know who is on the CD player." Open the CD case to show them its empty. If they don't believe you now open the other CD cases with the CD's in them.
Busy weeks ahead with our move to the brand new building. I have been told to get ready for lots of packing and lifting. Its like I still haven't finished moving yet from Vegas yet. Well as always Thank you for your kind words each week. John Archer wrote me to say "Thanks to all of you for making Educating Archer and Blindfold Tips a hot seller, thats a classy guy ! So theres your part in Tony's Picks.
Have something to share for the blog let me know firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Hocus Pocus customer and friend Mickey Magic these words of wisdom.
Here's wishing your magic to always be the best, fun and inspiring.
Inspiration to many, Ireland's Tallest Leprechaun... Billy McComb. Both of us posing with our fashionable smoking pipes. Happy St.Patrick's Day
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Magic and Inspiration of the Moment
As many of you read each week, I stress the best thing is to know your craft. Be you a performer for Stage, Close-up, or Family shows. This is the case as I keep getting surprised by each gig I do here in the Central Valley of California. This past weekend took me for drive, an hour outside of Fresno. When I drove thru miles of orange groves, I thought I was going to be lost and never find the gig. When I pulled up to the home it was in the middle of a olive groves. The family was a warm friendly bunch of folks. The home made me wonder, "OK was I going to get paid?" Well a silly thought but it was kind'da of a out there community.
Once I got set up I had seen a loving yet different kind'da family. Workers of the land, farm folks yet with money in hand to have a celebration for their son. So I worked my best and when I started telling one magical story I noticed the kids crawl up closer to watch and listern. Now that's magic to me!! Things went so well that I could not leave until the family made sure I was fed well. Normally I don't ever eat when offered. I would usually say "No thank you" but if I didn't eat it would have been a insult to the family.
Being ready, knowing people and your show is the reason I do what I do. Being surprised makes me feel the magic of the moment no matter where you work. This is why I stress you being knowledgeable of your show but also being able to improvise makes the magic. So this as I say is magic knowledge & being a people person makes the inspiration of the moment for a great show.
Roy Benson Book
One of magic's most all time greats was Roy Benson. His style of magic set the tone for class, genius, as well as comedy. We are honor at Hocus Pocus to bring you this amazing book by Levent and Todd Karr. This book covers in its 800 pages, 1200 drawings, and 600 rare photos all the magic and wisdom of Roy. Not to mention Roy Benson's writings on his teacher Nate Leipzig, Nate's autobio as well as 20 Leipzig effects. With in this massive book are also Roy's classic effects, his unpublished book on presentation, style, and his thoughts behind the magic presented. This will be a collector's item for sure with something for every working pro to learn from. Remember we stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us, and Roy was such a giant in the magic world. The book is priced as a pre-order so don't miss out.
From the creative mind of Dwight Damon, now made by Steve Thomas comes Comedy Chair. Now this is not some chair made to hurt the spectator and make them look silly. This is a professionally made (not remade) chair to use as a comedy part in your show when you need to have a sit. As you go to open it parts swing up and around, you begin to have a wrestling match to get it to stay open so to sit. Once you finally have it set and begin to fear to sit on it all is safe. Take a well deserved bow you place a foot on the seat and then it comes apart all over again. Long out of stock 15 of them are on there way to us. Complete with canvas tote pack.
The Legend of Harry Houdini will live on forever! The mention of his name brings images of the escape artist to everyone's mind. Now with the Houdini Block by Keith Lack you can recreate a performance for your audience. Made of Italian Poplar wood and wonderfully designed with pics of Harry and finshed to appear as a piece from days gone by. One story line comes to mind already. Tell your audience that this was a toy Harry would give to kids to show how he would escape. Many ideas and presentations will come to you, because when one thinks of magic...Houdini Lives on forever.
Speaking of legends in magic, the name Cellini is such a legend in Street performing circles. Cellini has been traveling around the world performing in many situtations and many street corners. Now with his DVD "Anywhere Magic" you enter his world of working under any condition and space. The effects on this DVD have served Cellini very well and now he tips them to you. Effects include his work on the Salt Pour, Karson Egg Bag, Fred Kaps Coin Vanish and Production of 4 coins. Plus his take on the Gypsy Thread routine performed on the streets is worth the price of the DVD alone. Live the magic live on the streets around the world with Cellini and you too will be able to perform anywhere!
In this Techno age magic has to also look cool. Folks see to much high tech stuff to sometimes not be impressed with a card trick. From Roger Lovins comes Calling Card a great bit of Cell Phone magic. Spectator chooses a card and the some how the card goes blank. You the magi offer to take a picture of them with your cell phone/camera. Holding the blank card next to their face snap the pic and watch the magic happen on your cell phone. The blank card in the photo magically becomes their card. With the praises of Lance Burton and a gimmack that never wears out, Calling Card is just the trick for this high tech world we live in.
Talk or Silence. If some of your don't know my magic career started in New York where the magic was about the music or silence. This was a time for mime magicians. Street performances were silent or to music as I have mention, but in the West Coast that was different. I would see performers who would bally-who a crowd an chat up a storm doing magic or circus skills. As I have learned over the years, there is a time for both. In putting your show together this balance is imporant. After a flash musical opening your first talking effect should be just as hard hitting.
My programs have been helped from learning these two styles performing. You would be amazed how much more a focus can be when nothing is said. Then when its time to draw them in the art of the storyteller can be handy. Barry Mitchell says it best when uses the term "Tell me a Story". We all want to hear news and information but when its not interesting we lose the crowd. An example of this concept is the classic trick 20th Century Silks. As a visual piece of magic, it is a beauty to see. Now let see it as a talking trick.
For years I have used 20th Century silks as a storytelling effect for the kid show. Its a tale of Mickey, Minnie & Pluto and a walk in the park. Basic concept Mickey and Minnie sat down at a bench and held hands (tying the two silks togther and placed in my top hat) as the bench. Now the multi color silk (pluto) goes off to play. Lots of waving the silk around the kids as a dog would be jumping around the kids. Pluto then get hungry and looks for food inside a garbage can ( a tote change bag) then disappears. Mickey and Minnie return to find Pluto gone. Getting suggestions from the kids "How would one find a lost dog?" Over the years the answers range from call the cops to put his picture on a Milk Carton, funny kids and even funnier answers. Well the magic is done and "Mickey, Minnie and Pluto were back all holding hands together so no one would ever disappear again!" A Visual Storytelling effect!
So look at what your doing in your show, would a story be useful or maybe silence. Rehearse your show (if its a talking bit) with no talk, learn the movements and see if maybe the patter is needed or perhaps music. Just know that for ever action there is a reaction in life. So if your not visual enough or perhaps talking too much you might not be getting the full reaction you expect from your show.
Now a guest tip this week from Hocus Pocus friend, magician and Author
If you do The Classic Force, here is a small tip as promised. It's very subtle. I learned it from an old pro in Vienna when I was much younger than you.
Back to normal: even the best sleight of hand artist can miss a force. I bet it has happened to all of us one time or another.
Here is how you make The Classic Force almost 100 percent foolproof every time you do it. I you are working in a theater, walk down the aisle to the nearest row where a nice lady is in the third or fourth seat. This way, when you perform the force and try to reach the lady from the aisle, your body will be in an awkward position, To make it worse, stand on one leg only when you try to reach her! Now you are almost losing your balance and she will always hurry up to comfort you and take the first card she touches! This works of course well with men too, but being in my early 70's, I prefer middle age ladies.
If you are performing in a ballroom you use the same method. Walk over to one of the closest tables and let a lady "take a card anywhere". As you say this you bend over the table from the other side ("Excuse me, but I trust the lady over there more than you, sir") and let her pick a card. Stand on one leg if you like, signalling to her that it's a matter of seconds before you are going to fall!
I think these kind of small, psychological secrets are among the things that makes the art of magic so fun.
-- Ulf Morling
Thanks Ulf. By the way, Ulf is a author of a great crime drama book called
"The Godmother". Look for it in your local bookstore or on www.amazon.com.
Want to share an idea. Know of a free website you like, or have an Idea or tip send to: tony@Hocus-Pocus.com
Remember make them smile and a magic memory has begun!