Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 



Moving with a Touch of Magic

I hope all of you enjoyed your three day weekend. This weekend I traveled about a half hour out of Fresno to the town of Visalia. I got a gig to entertain at a Senior Center's. It was like a Fourth of July look all over. They even had Classic Cars...lots of Model T's and such. The only side of the event which was making me feel uncomfortable was the lack of things not looking like they were going to be ready on time. Isn't that the case all the time actually.

Well, after a little chat with the sponser, getting a power cord to my roadie case, setting the chairs so the seniors didn't fall off a hill backwards, the show was going to start in 20 min. Now again lack of planning on their part made me wonder when the folks were going to come over to watch the show. So as this event was set in the circle like driveway enterance, it was now time to use that Ringmaster voice. I gave a loud "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND CHILDREN OF ALL AGES" (kind'da funny in a senior center if you think about it) and everyone came and sat down.
Truly a wonderful picnic like setting for those young and young at heart.


Tony's Picks

Snurdley and Samantha Rope Snakes

We are always looking for the hottest, newest ideas in magic. This week we bring you Ray Rubenstein and his Snurdley and Samantha Rope Snakes. Ray has created some clever ideas in this 6 minute routine. It's a complete routine actually several routines in run. You might want to use it as a running gag or perform the whole act at once. From a Snake Basket act to a Card routine to a Clippo act. Snurdley and Samantha have just about everthing your looking for in a fun family act. Comes with Table, all the props and a 11 page
script/instructions. This weeks fun find for you shows.



Tivoli in Tivoliland

That wacky Arthur Tivoli is back again with more creative and fun routines. Filmed in what appears to be a Parlor lie setting, Arthur performs some great comical stand-up magic routines. His takes on such classics of magic like the Gypsy Thread and the Josie the Mouse are worth the price of this DVD. His use of comedy, spectators, and even balloon magic are things that ALL enertainers can use when you need to put a laugh or two in your show. I recommend this DVD for everyone as his material can play to young and old.

Divine Time

From Jason Palter (Third Degree Burn) comes his latest brainstorm Divine Time. He is the premise of the efffect, explaining to the audience that you have a interest in time and all things of time. You bring forth a collection of watches (digital style) in a plastic bag. You explain the powers of a digital are based on the mystical powers of the Quartz stone. Quartz has the ability to transmit energy so with this spectators have a free (yes) choice to each pick a watch. Placing it away from the magician he now senses the energy from the watch and correct names the time. What is great is that there are no stooges, no prompting and the effect resets in 5 minutes. Heck you can even give the watch away. A true winning for the part in the show where everone gets involved and are all stunned

Bowling Pin Production

The power to just produce the strangest objects in a show always blows an audience away. Michael Mode, the creative guy behind the Napkin Rose napkins has come up with a real eye opener. Bowling Pin Production is just that and more. This routine also comes with a version for kid shows and a bonus routine for a wine bottle production. I would go as far as saying if your doing the Kevin James Bowl-a-Rama routine, this would be a welcomed addition to it. Well made and complete with a Pin, harness, and teach in DVD. Pro's will know a winner when they see it and this is one for sure.

Canz

When I was a kid the saying went "a picture is worth a thousand words" and so is watching the on line video of Canz. From hot new magic inventor Kevin Parker (check out his other items) is a amazing production from one can of soda not one but two more cans. Filmed in that street magic style, the folks are just right there watching this magical miracle. Now remember these are unopened cans, full of soda (or whatever) and can be opened and drank by the spectators. Again type in Kevin's name in product search to see his other amazing items Passing Thru and Descent for more amazing eye opening magic .

Tony's Tips

Tonight I want go all over the spectrum of ideas and tips. My favorite thoery to be able to move like magic is to be Ready, Set, Go. Last week I also was lucky to entertain at a very high end party. Having the right look and props are a must. Lots of times I am told it's a sit down affair so a close-up pad or small table would be perfect. Well this was more of a stand-up and walk around with drinks. Luckly it was a casino night affair and the Blackjack tables were set and not being used. So I stepped behind one and gathered a crowd and did my stuff.

To really be ready I also have a Eureka Tripod base in my van ALWAYS! The key to using a base is a pipe flange and you can get them at most home improvement stores. To use it on the base of a case, it takes a 1/2 threaded pipe flange. The flange in this photo is the right style but not the right numbers, you need a 1/2 pipe flange for the base. By getting a bunch of these I have nut and bolted them to boards for tables, to suitcases to workout of, and other types of light cases. This way every case can be a table to work out of. The main thing is remember to center the flange on the bottom of whatever case you use. Also if the bottom of your case is thin, cut a piece of thin wood and nut and bolt thru the wood, the case and to the flange. The wood of course going inside the case.

Knowing your show and your audience. I may have mention this before but when it comes to booking a show, ask always the age of the group. This has saved me many times so I have enough and the right magic for all ages. Many times at a party or event someone says yes there will be a few kids there and you find out its a adult party with a few babies in tow. So always be able to move thru your show now matter what age turns up.

Back of the House sales is for those luckly enought to do shows that are sponsered by the town or group. Promoted shows where tickets are sold is a extra way of selling magic kits, photos, posters, T-shirts etc. Remember this, the circus, sporting events, rock concerts make more money for the event then the actual performance. So in this day of marketing you should look for every chance to sell your items. You can include it in the price of the booking and give out stuff to x amount of kids. Any way you do it make sure you name, logo and even phone number are on what you sell. Hocus Pocus has a kit like this for a magic DVD were you can have your logo and PR stuff on each DVD. Check out the Ultimate Pitch DVD by Paul Romany and Andrew Gerard.

Just a few tips and ideas this week.

Do have something to share? Let me know

tony@hocus-pocus.com

I will give credit where credit is due. To those who read each week and tell me you like my ideas....let's share some with everyone. It's how we all grow together...Thanks

Tony Blanco


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 


Around every corner could be your next Gig


Things just keep getting better and better here in Fresno with having left Las Vegas. I have been finding out that having lived in the middle of a Disney like world you miss alot of the real things. So first off I found was a great discovery of a old western looking (and I mean right out of the movies) building here in Fresno. It was a general type store for western clothing, boots and such. I really needed new boots badly. I want to go back and do a photo shoot for my magical medicine show magician. Along the way chatted the owner up and gave him a business card for events. On the way to his place, I had seen an old victorian home with a sign for Tea Parties for Young and Old. So a perfect time pull over to introduce myself and pass out a card.

Later that night I had a gig for a group of teenagers. It was a 16 year boy's birthday, yet it was also his rock concert debut (if not on a real stage ) his home for friends. As I got there it was into a room with teenagers just sitting all over the floor. A normal kid show this was not to be. So it was about grabbing my bag of close-up stuff and just sitting (even dressed well) on the floor cross legged and doing magic. After 30 minutes of close up magic, it was time to step out to the backyard and do a little stage magic. Being the opening act for a mini rock concert as it was. All said and done..the father walked me to the car and talked about a fund raiser dinner for his company so there was another busniess card handed out. Busniess Cards .....Make sure you don't leave home with out them!

And let me say sorry for not posting last week.



Tony's Picks


Greg Gleason Theatre Close-Up Vol 1 &2

What can I begin to say about a talented guy that has the brave sense to do close-up magic on Stage. Since Greg makes a living woking the cruise ships, he worked a deal to do close-up magic on stage and with a video backdrop. Good deal my friend. Folks are sitting in a theatre (proper english spelling) watching him on stage doing some killer effects. Greg kicks it up a bit with his secret weapon "the G Card". In this way he has many wonderful routines to share with all of you. By the way, these are all real world proven routines so no fake stuff here. I consider Greg's card stuff killer, both DVD's will open your eyes to what close- up magic theatre style is!!!!!



Cody Fisher On Magic

I have to be honest to all of you, one of my newest friends since working here is Cody Fisher. None the less he is a very creative guy and now has let some of his greatest effects out on one DVD. He has come up with many super ideas in the world of magic. ALL WORKERS ideas, which means he is out there every day proving time after time his ideas work! He is now tipping them to you in this DVD. Full time working pro....sharing his income with all of you guys who may do this only on the weekend, don't miss out on this insider infor. He is tipping stuff we sell trick by trick on the website on this DVD. Get it now!!



Gut Buster

As you may know I am a fan of Andrew Mayne's creations and Gut Buster is his latest, Hottest, Clever, Idea. Having seen many magic acts do the stage illusion where some one is in a box and then another person passes thru the middle of the one in the box, I compare Gut Buster to this get illusion. Its gonna catch you by surprise (watch the video on line) the look of what happens. Whats even more clever the details on how to perform as well as the props. This was another one of those effects that was going to be on a recent street magic show but didn't make it on. So your luck to get this and make a visual magic name for yourself.

Merlin's Classic Workers DVD

Bill Abbott the creative mind behind "The Thing" and some other killer DVD's on entertaining family folks in walkaround places. Now presents Merlin's Classic Workers DVD. The magician that calls himself "Merlin" has been a full time working pro for over 30 years. He has opened for such famous acts as Jim Carey, Elvis Costello and Alanis Morrissette so this means he is tipping his best stuff. Watching the preview I personally know he is sharing stuff that my Vegas friends do and so now can you too !!! Don't miss this DVD while it last...This could be another "THE Thing", a surprise for those that don't know what it can do until everyone wants one.


John Mendoza Live and Personal

One of our great friends at Hocus Pocus is John Mendoza. He has toured the world performing his style of close-up magic. This new double DVD set was once a two video set of Mr. Mendoza's lecture on his greatest card effects. Added to this DVD set are even non card effects. The perfomance of his closeup show is just using a deck of cards and then each effect is explained in detail after his show. This is a super DVD to own to see not only his performances but to get inside the mind of a true working master of card magic.


Tonys Tip's

Well its come to my attention to mention about booking shows. Lots of times you may think a phone ad will be a good idea, maybe if you live in a small town without a lot of other magicians. I spent thousands on phone ads and most of the time folks would call and just want a price. To stop them in their tracks I would turn the tables and start asking questions which would help me give a price for that show. Now a days everyone wants the best lowest price. A phone call means work and the longer you keep them on means maybe that much more of a booking. Some of the questions you can ask are:

Where is the show going to be? House, Stage, Outdoors,

Is the space going to have electrical outlets?

How old is the Child going to be?

How many guest will be attending the event?

Do you need a PR/Photo package?

All of these type of questions will help make you and the price you give sound much more like a working pro. Also if your doing kid shows (Birthday Parties) talk up the part that your price includes a give-away bag for each child. This should be told as a saving grace to the parent that this is one less thing that they have to shop for.

Contracts are a great idea for those bigger gigs but even helps for those birthday parties. One thing I learned very young was to get deposits. I mean I learned from one working pro that you may have to live off those deposits if the gigs are far and few in between. So get at least a 50% deposit when booking those gigs far in advance.

Here is one phase that has served me well in my contracts so feel free to add it to you contracts.

This agreement is subject to dention by sickness, accident, civil tumult, strikes, Acts of God or conditions beyond the performers control. In such a case, a refund of deposit, a replacement performer couold be supplied, or a rescheduling of the show.

This has been a very helpful term to have. I have only needed once but it was a way of getting out of the contract. The next phase I recommend to have right by the place they sign is:

With the signing and returning of this agreement, a deposit of________ is required at this time. Deposit is non-refundable when show is cancelled by the sponser.

Hope this helps for your next gig. Now a days its also good to have insurance of all kinds when booking that show.

Till next week...Be Magical and Get those Bookings

Tony Blanco




















Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Entertain, Educate, Enlighten

To entertain, to educate, to enlighten, is a way to start thinking on how you may get more bookings. Over the past year's there has been such a move to have entertainment with a message. Many schools just don't hire a magician unless, that magi has an educational program. Programs can range from Reading, Just Say No, Safety and much more. Lots of these types of programs can open up more bookings for you. Do your research and see what your schools may need for your community.

Lots of working Pro's from the convention market have found just doing a trick with the company logo doesn't cut it anymore. Many have combined magic and motivational speaking which keeps some of these Pro's really working. Then to really make the extra dollars, selling them a promotional package teaching sales people to perform magic. In this way their look, and to entertain can make that sale something special.

Making folks feel something special by your magic is always the goal, but to enlighten them, to inspire them, and take them away from their day to day problems truly is what magic is about. So in the course of creating your show, your close-up act, pick magic that reflects something inspiring. True it's easier to just "freak" people out, but to put your act together with patter or music to uplift your audience there is a talent. Make your moments special, memorable as well as magical.


Tony's Picks


Now in Stock: Third Degree Burn, The Thing, Scripted Insanity

Cesaral Psychokinetic Twig


For those of you of the bizarre magic nature this is truly natural looking magic. Introduce a very simple looking twig. Tell a story of its powers from a forest from long ago or just have a twig from the backyard. Placing it on a table and using your powers of mental energy it moves and then falls to the floor. A very normal looking twig (because it is) which is crafted to be able to do this effect. This is as I said bizarre magic at its finest for every thing is examinable and resets fast and uses no magnets or threads. Spooky and yet very much a natural looking prop.



Pyris

One of this years newest miracle gimmacks from Nicolas Lapage is Pyris. Imagine having a lighter which can be borrowed and then what appears to be lighting your hand on fire only to change the flame to a half dollar. I f you watch the on-line video you will see many places for this clever little gimmack to be used. Personally, I think it could be a very hot opener for the usually boring Misers Dream routine. Simple and very clever idea that your going to say I wish I thought of that. Which means you'll want two in my book.



Exploding Microphone Stand

From our friend and wacky creator Derek Rutt comes the most useful comedy prop for a standup magician...the Exploding Microphone Stand. A prop the great silent film stars wished they had. This great prop can be used in almost every type of show when a mic stand is needed on stage for the magician to speak. As you go to use the mic, it doesn't work, remove it and a bang goes off. Now going to pick up the stand another bang and everthing starts to fall apart. Fast, visual, and great to start or in the middle of your act for comedy sight gag. How good is it, our own Mike Giusti grabs the first one for his standup act...He likes it, He likes it.


Gut Buster

If you read my blog on a regular basis you will know the name Andrew Mayne and the praise I have given his books and DVD's. Well Andrew has come up with a very (to say the least visual) effect. This effect has the look of a very, very costly stage illusion but for way less then you would pay. Imagine standing behind your assistant and then pushing your hand right thru their body. Don't believe me see the online video for the killer visual look. With Gut Buster your ready to go with almost no preparation time need, and can be done closeup or on stage. This killer visual can be performed in many other ways. The spectator can do it to you or you can even perform it on yourself. Again check out the video and get ready to be blown away.


Table Lifting Set

Now back to those of you who like to add that touch of wierdness to your show. Imagine while say doing a house party or intimate dinner affair you say its time for a seance. Have everyone gather around the table and with hands placed begin. In your best tribute to the days of Houdini begin your seance and the table begins to raise. These gimmacks are made super strong and strudy. I have seen these come in once to Hocus Pocus and we sold out so fast, so they are back again for a limited run. If this is a effect you ever dreamed of doing don't miss your chance to get a set of these Table Lifters.



Tony's Tip

Recently I have been on a movie watching kick (since I have gotten Netflix) and catching up to those I have missed in the movie theatre's. Most of what I see and learn and create has always come from watching (maybe too much) movies and TV. Not being raised in a showbiz family I watched and learned as well as being moved by the movie. One such lesson was to watch the credits and then find out what each job was. This was like learning a new magic trick in itself. Then to understand the feelings of what each actor went thru to create the part.

So what is this weeks tip your saying....well like the title of the blog it is to be entertained, to be educated, to be enlightened. Placing yourself on stage to entertain folks is powerful talent to have, now use that knowledge and wisdom to help others. Many times we see famous movie stars lend they time and talent to raise money for a charity, that's one way to pass on the luck and gift that they have been given to others who need a helping hand.

As summer grows near perhaps start finding local day camps in which your talents as a performer gets you more bookings if you also let the camp owners know that you also teach magic. So now you can actual get paid for two gigs or maybe just raise your fee and offer a "free workshop". Supplies such as cards, rope or sponge balls for a small fee per child.

Maybe instead of charging for this "Workshop" get a sponser and make sure the sponser gets some PR for having hired you to do this great "free event" for the kids of the town. There is one way to get your money up front and lots of PR.

The concept of educating and entertaining can be followed even further by hooking up with your local bookstores (Borders or Barnes and Nobles) in which you may do a magic storytelling time. In this way you begin to gather a mailing list for your services for Birthdays and other shows that you offer. Most bookstores have a storytime each week with just a working reading the book and showing the pictures. How much more exciting would it be to have a magician tell a story and make the story come to life by magic?

As a entertainer, we are put on a very high pedestals by the public. Living up to their image of who we are is not always easy. So to get off the pedestals and educate, enlighten and entertain makes us as performers more loved and remembered by the public. This is what makes for a endearing performance, as well as repeat bookings. So look to add these 3 E's to your way of thinking when putting your show together, booking the show, performing the show.

Thanks for reading.

Want to share an idea or a tip

Tony@Hocus-Pocus.com

Finally settled into our new home at:

Hocus-Pocus

1492 N. Clark #104

Fresno, Ca 93703

Best magical week to you all

Tony Blanco


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 





Magic for the Summer Season

The seasons are a changing again and its time to think about all the summer type shows you can book. Recently, I got booked for a evening outdoors (almost under the stars) at a first annual Mother/Son Root beer Float Festival. This took place at a elementary school in Clovis with a great courtyard/field. It was something like in a movie watching everyone come to the space with their chairs in backpacks. The show wasn't until 7 pm and folks began setting up their chairs at 5:30. So I always have plenty of warm up music with me just for cases like this. Gave the audience a little jazz education and featured the Rippingtons and a group called Afro Celt. If you have never heard of either check them out.
Well, the evening started out with a great Sunset to my left and a magical group of young and old, bonding together for a common goal to be entertained. It was like performing in Central Park or at a festival. It was a great event and the best part was everyone asking for cards afterwards. So check with your local schools for these type of special events and get those bookings!
On the new Hocus Pocus front we are all settled in and are working hard to fill your magic needs. Paul and Betty have been super nice to me, both giving me a great space to work in and letting me set up a little workshop (see Paul's Blog of April 28 for the pictures). To top that off they both purchased a great big office desk for me to be able to handle all your calls, and file my collection of instructions and make me feel like the manager of Hocus Pocus that I am. Thank You Paul and Betty!

Tony' Tips


Octopus Deck
From our creative friend and inventor of The Thing, Bill Abbott comes Octopus Deck. This is a routine which is a routine which is 7 years in the making and perfected in real world situations. Bill lays out a routine in which in print has 15 pages to learn this most excellent mind reading act. This is a routine that gets you noticed and is the reason Bill is always working in his native home of Canada. He has worked out this routine where you can have as many as 6 people on stage working your magic with you. These decks are hand made and will be in limited number (about 100) being made. Get yours now.

Rider, The Runaway Deck

Here is one for the magician that likes to shake things up. From the Candle master Fantasio comes Rider the Runway Deck. Imagine a deck on the table when pushed a little forward it comes back to you to your lap. This is different from the idea offered years ago by Collectors Workshop and much lower in price. This also maybe one of those items that I have mention in my blogs that here it is and then its gone so I would get one now. So you can switch this out for your nomal deck and start your card routines. It's a great way to break the ice when working tables.

The Business DVD

From Martin Sanderson who gave us the great dvd Corporate Close-up about working corporate events comes The Business DVD. Martin countines his teaching you how to look like a pro. From the first phone call to working the actual event. Martin gives you the true facts on making magic a Business and not a hobby. If your ready to step up to a real world working pro level take the time to get this DVD and learn. If you have been performing for a while and you think you need to be getting paid better this is the DVD for you. On top of all this working pro's knowledge and wisdom are 7 killer effects to cement your talents with your clients. Got my copy...every bit of information helps.

Snakeless Snake Can

Mike Brent is a master of the family entertainment market. Last year's big hits Dracula Bites the Dust and Mummy Dearest shown his creative side and showed you how to be creative with common magic props. These CD-Roms gave you graphics and ideas to create great Halloween items. Mike does it again for a routine this time that can be used all year round. This time it starts with a helper and a can with the idea the something creepy is inside. Showing some cards with a number of creepy critters on them and then the scary fun begins. Check out the full act on the website. Its like I am leaving you in horror to find out what happends next. All this saying (or not saying....) Mike gives you all the PDF's to make the props and routines on this CD rom. Recommended highly if you have ever seen his other two great CD ROM's.

Kandu's Six Card Silliness

For those who have ever gotten any Kandu item, these come from full time fair and festival working pro and Hocus Pocus friend Jeff Eaton. Jeff spends (like David Copperfield) a year perfecting the routines. His latest is a comedy sucker kid friendly version of 6 card repeat. This routine is chock full of the bits that make it a great "Kandu" item. Jeff has worked out those spots to get the kids to yell when the 9 is a on the sign instead of a 6 and those bits of business that make for great family entertainment. I am one of his fans, having got his Kandu Silk Box effect and us it as a opener for my birthday shows. Check out the other great "Kandu" effects if your a working pro for family shows. Always fun filled and comedy packed items.

Tony's Tips

It is now just about a year (in a few weeks) that Paul had me tryout to see if I wanted to make the jump from Las Vegas entertainer to Manager of Hocus Pocus. Gees where did the year go...I know I haven't stopped moving either myself or Mike or the shop. Well, it all was my pleasure and has kept me fit...which leads me to this weeks tip. No, it's not about joining a gym, although many magicians should.... ok I'll stop. It's about being active with your audience. Whether your running like a loon on stage or getting the kids up to do stuff or the whole crowd is part of a bit. Today's crowd when watching a show are like couch potatoes (do you not agree?) because of TV. So I recommend highly that at some point in your show do something that get everyone active.

Be it a hand gag like Lance and David used in the opening of both their TV specials (was that wierd timing or just bad timing) to a full blown game of Simon Sez. You would be amazed how much a difference it makes almost like a 7th inning get up during a baseball game. It makes everyone feel part of the show.

Also think about adding a game during your show if your planning those summer shows for schools, camps, family and company picnics. This will add more to your show playing a full game of Simon Sez with say 100 people at a company picnic. Not to mention killing say 10 minutes of your show without magic. Spend a full bucks from those gift sites I have mention and give out some great prizes with your name and logo and information also. Heck if you do it right, everyone gets a prize with your information and the company picnic folks pay for it. Just a quick summer tip.

I would be very remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention the passing of a great magic star and one of my idols, Billy McComb. I did have the pleasure of hanging with Billy from time to time at magic events. I first got to met him in person at the first Magic Live (where I also met Paul and Mike for the first time) and along with Mike, Dexter and I had a late night breakfast with Billy in a casino coffee shop. A picture of this event graces my kitchen/family room. It has become known as "Breakfast with Billy". When he held court, all listern to this walking knowledge of magic. I also shared time in Michigan at Chris Ressman's (Encore Magic) Michigan's Magic Day in 2005 and I got to be backstage tech and made sure he made his way on and off stage like a pro.

When I was working out a routine of his, instead of getting upset he gave me his prop and said "take the measurements from my Dye tube". No magician ever shared the way Billy did. I remember a story about Lance Burton and Billy on the same show. Billy is famous for the Bird Cage Vanish and Lance does it also, when both were on the same show Billy said to Lance "You do the cage, I have other stuff I could do instead". That's the kind'da loveable, creative, funny man he was. From his appearances on the Greater Magic series to the Sci-Fi movie Lord of Illusions to the many conventions, where he was always there to chat with, Thank you Billy for making me welcomed in this magic family.

"Two magi's sharing pipe dreams and a smoke "

God Bless you, Mr. McComb.

Thank you so much for your inspirations, talent, and friendship.
Chat with you all next week.

If you wish to send you thoughts or ideas to grow on :

Tony@hocus-pocus.com

Thanks for your friendship my readers

Tony Blanco


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