Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The Magic of Fall is just ahead

As the big Labor Day Weekend approaches I do hope you have had great summer. This weekend always meant the end of the summer and beginning of school when I was a kid. Now schools are all year round. So is work if you know how to look for it as an entertainer. This past Saturday I started working on a regular basis at a local restaurant and bar. It is the same type family friendly place I like to be seen at. Also this weekend as if it was not hot enough here in Fresno, I did back to back Birthday Parties. It was fun going from one end of town a millionaire type home then to a small backyard (I mean small) with 50 people in it. Smoke from the Bar-b-que right across my face as I juggled and performed. Tiny kids and adults and noise, but I wouldn't have it anyway as long as I am performing and the folks love what I am doing. It's not to say I was not as wet as a towel when I left because I was. The nice thing is at both shows everyone was there on time (a rare thing) and so I actually went earlier for each show. So I got home earlier on a Sunday and enjoyed the rest of the day. At the end of the blog tonight I will share some summer pictures of shows with all of you. Hey just like, "What Did you do on your Summer Vacation" reports back in school. Send in your pictures and I will share them with everyone who reads this blog.

Hocus Pocus Lecture Series

This reminder to start getting your space reserved at our next lecture at Hocus Pocus. It will be Sept. 11 (a Tuesday night this time) at 7:00 for Fielding West. He is one of Las Vegas' great working comedy magicians. Fielding West is not only a magician's magician, but he possesses that very rare and impeccable sense of comedic timing that has landed him the opening spot for some of the biggest names in show business. A winner in the prestigious Desert Magic Seminar's Comedy Magic competition, Fielding has opened the show for such A-list celebrities as Liza Minelli, Glen Campbell and dozens more. His numerous network television appearances include spots on A & E's An Evening at the Improv, Caroline's Comedy Hour, and NBC's The World's Greatest Magic and World's Wildest Magic specials. Fielding is also in demand as a writer, magic consultant and technical director and has worked with Lance Burton, Siegfried & Roy and many others. Fielding West continues to headline in major resort destinations all over the world and for the first time, he shares the secrets of his tremendous success. So don't miss out on this one, $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door.

Tony's Picks
Just to let you know, WOW is back on the website. With a fresh order of 100 almost half of these are sold. So get your order in for the most wanted trick of the year.

Fingers of Fury Volume 1 & 2

On DVD for the very first time, one of magic's newest and brightest talents, Alan Rorrison, unleashes the very best material from his working repertoire. Volume One - Weapons Of Choice! Watch as Alan breaks and then restores a borrowed key! Slices a chosen card deep into his arm! Causes a marked coin to penetrate into his cell phone! Repeatedly pushes a coin through an ordinary shot glass! Moves the head of stickman drawn on his business card! All this and more awaits you on this fantastic DVD. Volume Two - Death By Cards! Watch as Alan magically links and unlinks rings torn from a playing card! Causes the deck to eerily cut itself right to a selection! Discovers a selected card between two Jokers that have been in full view throughout! One magic's hottest new names in FINGERS OF FURY Vol.2 - DEATH BY CARDS

Real Secrets of Magic

Now here is a DVD that everyone was calling about would we have it. Seems you guys sometimes know more then we do about how great a performer is. Well first David Stone's volume-1 REAL SECRETS has won awards, and Stone himself has won the coveted FISM. Finally, after the smash success of Volume 1, comes the sequel which was a full year in the making. On volume 2, you will learn 15 hard hitting routines. Fast visual magic that gets attention with Coins and cards, plus more great camera production value. Not to mention brilliant tips to help you perform in restaurants. A massive success in Europe, now finally in USA. This is the one you guys were asking for now it is here.

7 More Secrets

JC Wagner is the guy that has inspired a generation of great card men and now returns on DVD with 7 more secrets in his pocket! Simple and direct card magic for all levels, including the following: Underground Transposition II: This is an updated handling of a wonderful effect from Commercial Magic. This method removes the cop, palm and switch required in the original handling! Another Four Ace Assembly: Combining a Bruce Cervon idea and the original lay down sequence from "Honest John's Aces" (Super Magic), this Ace assembly features a fair opening procedure and an ending of the O'Henry variety! Aspen Universal, 1978: A general/wild card effect featuring very clean shows, magical changes and an ending that leaves you completely clean Revisited Christ Aces: An updated handling of Henry Christ's "4 Ace Routine" that you can do at anytime in your performance! If you liked "Fabulous Four Aces" from Commercial Magic, you will love this new handling The Vietnam Card Trick: This is the routine JC has used for the past few years to completely fry magicians and laymen alike. This puzzle of a magic trick is a true miracle. Re-Figured Pre-Figuration: This is JC's handling of a tested Jennings effect from Classic Magic. This method, coupled with an idea of JK Hartman, makes for a clever and commercial card routine. Not only does JC teach the above routine, but with the permission of the late Jules Lenier, he throws in an added kicker finish (created by the great Jules Lenier) that JC has been using for the past 25 years! Not to missed DVD by one of the greats

Ultimately Under

Read this today, put people into trances in your performances tomorrow. Kenton's new "Ultimately Under" does for hypnosis what Completely Cold has done for telephone psychics. Literally overnight you will get spectators to close their eyes, levitate their arm, see imaginary balloons and all manner of things - without stooges, hypnosis, or tons of practice. Spectator's hands get stuck to a table, they cannot move from a spot on the floor, their fingers seem glued together and more. No memorizing special hypnotic scripts or fancy words. No funny props required, though you may want to use your cell phone or make up a thing or two. Most of the effects can be performed up close, in a living room or on stage unlike what all the others teach you, Kenton tips how mentalists and magicians can use trance work TODAY without worry or failure. This work is for magicians and mentalists by a working pro in both fields. You don't need to be an expert in hypnosis when all you really want to do is show how you put people into a trance instantly. No dangerous methods, no difficult work. Read it today, perform trance effects with ease and complete confidence tomorrow!

Card Dupery

When Hartman meets your deck, first he will teach it to talk then he will teach it to lie! Seven years in the making! J. K. Hartman's newest collection of card magic more than 90 tricks, routines and sleights over 400 pages and 600 illustrations! The published history of J. K. Hartman's card dupery began in 1969 and has continued unabated for thirty-eight years, producing along the way three large, significant, and widely respected works: Card Craft, After Craft and Trickery Treats. In the seven years since the appearance of the last Hartman tome, the creative mills have continued to turn, resulting in CARD DUPERY, a collection of more than ninety new card tricks, routines, and sleights. The well-known Hartman touch is ever-present in this new compilation of astonishing effects made possible by elegantly direct methods, extraordinary cunning, and moves within the skill range of the intermediate card-magician. What is more, the ideas and sleights embedded in these duperies have a utility that will inspire the reader toward fresh creations of his own. If this book feels heavy in the hand, it isn't just the paper; there is deep thought and high entertainment packed inside, all carefully and fully explained, with the aid of more than 600 drawings by one of magic's greatest illustrators, J. K. Schmidt. Available September 17th, pre-order your copy today!

Tony's Tips

This weeks tips starts with a letter from one of the readers of this blog. Check this out!
Hi Tony,

Matthew Johnson here from Canada.

I thought I would drop you a quick email as I am a regular visitor to
www.hocus-pocus.com and a regular reader of your blog, it's great! I also have some products on the market through Murphy's that you guys stock, you can find them by doing a search on my name. Which brings me to my email & an exciting story I would love to share with your readers

I recently landed the part of a Street Magician in a funny, US national TV commercial for Nationwide Auto Insurance. I only started auditioning for TV commercials about 7 months ago and this was only my third audition. I am a full time Magician & performer here in Vancouver/Canada but have never been for acting lessons or commercial coaching. I started auditioning at the suggestion of my good friend Bro Gilbert, who (I am proud to say) can be seen on season three of Mindfreak with Chris Angel! He's a great Magician, Actor and just an all around good dude!

The film company held auditions for the part in Canada, the US & Argentina and even though I was one of the last to audition I got the part. What an incredible experience I had. I was flown from Canada to Buenos Aires to film the commercial and had a fantastic time. I was given the 5 star treatment for 5 days in Argentina. The best part, I only had to film for 1 day out of 5 so I got to be a tourist too.

On the day of filming we filmed for 16 hours from 6am in the morning until about 9pm at night, I loved every minute. In between takes I would show the crew & the other actors magic, fool around and generally be a goof ball. I also got to visit everyone at Bizarre De Magia in Buenos Aires, what a great bunch of people!

I thought I would share this experience just to motivate others to get out of their comfort zone a little. You see when I first started doing auditions for TV commercials I felt like a fish out of water but I stuck at it, and it paid off on only my third attempt! Now I have added another string to my bow that allows me to continue making a living from something I love! The commercial will run all over the US so you may have already seen it. If you have not you can see it at Nationwide.com. here is the link
http://www.nationwide.com/nw/about-us/our-ads/auto-ads/index.htm. Just click on the Magician commercial. Please feel free to post the link so your readers can watch the commercial too.
Warmest Regards, Matthew Johnson
Wow! Congratulations to you Matthew and thanks for sharing such a positive experience in the world of making a TV commerical. I hope you get lots of checks from the showing of the ad. I was going to talk about restaurant work tonight but instead lets build on what Matthew did.

Being a magician can open alot of doors in the world of entertainment. It's being ready when the door swings wide open that makes or breaks chances like Matthew got. Lots of times folks asked me while working at Excalibur " How do I get your job!" Well I thought, "I am not going to tell you if you can't figure that out". At times it was funny to see magicians coming from around the world hoping for the big Las Vegas break. When alot of times there are more chances for work in their own backyard.

Having the right tools such as business cards and a promo video/DVD. It is now highly recommended now a days in my opinion to also have your own Press release done. Having a press release is like giving someone a news article all written out so they don't have to do the work. As a matter of fact now a days reporters don't really report but just rewrite the press release give to them by such entertainers. This way the entertainer get the correct spelling of their name and only good facts are told about their show. Although not as much used anymore is to have a photo portfolio. Models need this but why a magician. Having lots of different photos and looks can inspire a director or casting agent to see you in different looks. Never ever think getting professional photos cost to much. Good pictures are always the key tool to have your face get the work you want. Now a days you can your photos done on CD disk so you can actually print the pictures yourself. This way you can also add text to the name plate part of the picture. You can now print your resume right on the back of the 8x10 also.

Let me list a few ideas to get more work right in your own back yard.

1. Local and National Restaurants
To perform on a weekly basis where folks can see you gives you great PR for also private
2. Local Radio Stations
Radio stations sponsor all types of outdoor events. Also radio stations do remotes for mall, stories real estate open homes. If they don't know of you then you can miss out on some great family events. I did one this year for an Air Show. Who would have thought it!
3. Local & National Groups
To begin to list organizations like the Lions, VFW, Rotarian's, Knights of Columbus, Shriner's, Elks, Moose, who all have events like family picnics, breakfasts and bar-b-ques are always looking for entertainers. Granted sometimes they all ask for free entertainment, but they have the money to pay.
4. Local TV morning shows
TV shows (morning chat shows) need fresh material everyday. If the local stations don't know who you are then don't expect them to come calling you. Promote an event you might be performing at for one of the groups I just talked about. Talk about reading week or magic day. So have a reason to get you on TV it is a chat show.
5. Local Hotels, Church or Temples
To hook yourself up with a with either a hotel, church or temple that has a ballroom or convention space or catering room. Here is a chance to do all types of private parties and possible even convention work. Just introduce yourself to the manager or catering director.
6. Local City Parks Department
Here is a chance to get paid to perform in your own backyard and the city or state pays you. This off all the ideas tonight is a tough one to get. You will have to be ready to do alot of work selling you show and then sometimes waiting to get paid even longer. I think it is worth the headaches as your own town gets to see you.
Well again congrad's to Matthew on his first time out getting a national commerical. Look for it on TV or go to the link I gave earlier. Also if you have as I always say any ideas or tips to share great news like Matthew this is the place to share it. This is your blog as well as mine. Next week we will get into restaurant. If you wish to share your restaurant experiances for next week's blog...email me at Tony@hocus-pocus.com.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Summer Fun and those Wacky Shows

This past weekend finds your humble writer traveling all over Fresno. From the tops of a mountain bluff to the valley of the Fresno Zoo, then to the next major town Visalia to lecture for the area's clown group. Each of these events had what I would always call be ready for everything and getting ready for nothing. Best cases were performing on Unicycle on a boardwalk or getting ready to do a two hour walkaround show in a restaurant only to be told I want a show now.

This is why I carry too much stuff, I never want the customer to have the upper hand in changing my show and not be ready. I know what your saying getting it all in writing so nobody can change what is planned. Yea, that is going to happen. You just never know what you are going to walk into unless you have done the event before and even then. Like Saturday night in the middle of folksinger Oklin Bloodworth's set at the Zoo the outdoor lights go off. Guess who is next to juggle and do magic in the dark? Yup, me! Actually the Zoo got another power source and moved the lights so the show went on no problem. Ahh isn't live theatre fun.

The clown lecture was interesting. The group gets to use a senior center so the retire folks get to be part of the guest lecturing. Actually I could have entertained all night for the Seniors. I spent the evening after my show telling the clowns the real world of showbiz coming from Las Vegas and telling them more marketing ideas. Then we finished with me teaching juggling to those that did not know how. It was a long yet magical and comical night.

Hocus Pocus Lecture Series
Reminder to start getting your space reserved at our next lecture at Hocus Pocus. It will be Sept. 11 (a Tuesday this time) at 7:00 for Fielding West. He is one of Las Vegas' great working comedy magicians. Fielding West is not only a magician's magician, but he possesses that very rare and impeccable sense of comedic timing that has landed him the opening spot for some of the biggest names in show business. A winner in the prestigious Desert Magic Seminar's Comedy Magic competition, Fielding has opened the show for such A-list celebrities as Liza Minelli, Glen Campbell and dozens more.
His numerous network television appearances include spots on A & E's An Evening at the Improv, Caroline's Comedy Hour, and NBC's The World's Greatest Magic and World's Wildest Magic specials. Fielding is also in demand as a writer, magic consultant and technical director and has worked with Lance Burton, Siegfried & Roy and many others. Fielding West continues to headline in major resort destinations all over the world and for the first time, he shares the secrets of his tremendous success. So don't miss out on this one, $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door.

Tony's Picks

New 3 Kid Monte
Here is the deal at Hocus Pocus we love magic and we love our creative vendors. One such friend is Cody Fisher a nice guy who is creative and shares his talents just like Paul Romhany, Losander, Suds, Jay Leslie and Dick Barry. These are the vendors we bring to you with great ideas and great routines. Cody has been a guy the keeps growing and coming up with great ideas. When I first started at HP I got the 3 Kid Monte and it has been a winner in my show. As time goes by like famous film directors that go back and want to improve a winner, Cody has done this with his 3 Kid Monte. It is full of gags and gets the whole crowd involved. I am not going to tell you the routine, it is fully told on the website, leave it to say it will take you show and you to the next level of being a performer oh and an entertainer.

Black Fox Master Walnut Shells

Now I tell you what I pick each week and do I spend my hard earn money on everything I recommend....yea! Here from master craftsmen Black Fox are the shells that a rocking action built into the bottom, which helps facilitate the loading and stealing of the pea. This design was inspired by the "Jack Channin Shells", in which you put your own "Channin Dip". Black Fox Master Shells are perfectly balanced for undetectable steals and loads. The pea can be loaded and stolen from either end of the shell. There is no "traditional indent" in the back of the shell. These are absolutely the best shells for The Three Shell Game, and can be used on any surface with no "talk" from the shells. For the working professional or for those who just want the best on the market! Check the website for these colors, Natural, Copper Silver and Gold. Each Shell set comes complete with 3 Black Fox Master Walnut Shells, 5 Green Peas, velveteen bag and basic instructions. I also recommend checking out Bob Sheets routine as well as watching Harry Anderson in the video "Hello Sucker" to see the best of a 3 Shell act.

Paul Daniels

Again I chat up the Brits. Yea for the motherland! British stuff is funny and entertaining and Paul Daniels is England's Mark Wilson for those of you reading in the states. Paul made his career like almost the Johnny Carson of magic. He appeared on so much on TV in England that he is the Hallmark of British magic. He got the best tech guys for his shows and tonight I recommend not one but two DVD's of his talent. His talents along with the lovely Debbie Mc Gee made viewing magic that much more wonderful. Here I recommend his to latest DVD's "An Audience with Paul Daniels" and "The Magic of Max Malini". Both are a journey into a talent of a man that loves to entertain and tell you a little about himself as well as a historic journey of a famous European magic Max Malini. It is said a rock star wants to be actor and a actor wants to be a rock star. Paul is both and a storyteller, actor, and living legend in the world of magic. So check out these live performances from the Edinburgh Comedy Festive and on the stage of London's West End (England's Broadway) to see pure magic and great showmanship.

Rib Block II

From again a great friend and master craftsman Jay Leslie comes a rework of a great effect. Rib Block now in a collector's large size is now available as a very limited effect. Originally manufactured by John Synider, in the 50s, then James Swoger till the 80s. Jay Leslie, who holds the rights, is only the third person to make this item in 60 years. It is entirely of brightly colored, modern materials. The die is five inches square (194 cm). A regular magic wand from your collection is all that's required to perform Rib Block II collectors large size. Not only is the size much larger than the original, but the base has been expanded and improved upon as an added extra bonus. One of the "cleanest" most visual penetrations ever! A large five inch die is examined along with a corresponding red and black open-bodied box. A three foot length of ribbon is handed to a volunteer to pull on, proving it's solid. A magic wand is introduced. The ribbon is wrapped around the tip of the wand. The wand tip is used to push the ribbon clean through the die and out the second hole. The ribbon is pulled to its center with no tricky business and the wand is removed. The die is removed from the box apparently melting through the ribbon. The ribbon is seen passing through both holes in the box! The die can immediately be handed out for inspection. Only one piece of ribbon is used without any fakes. The box and die can be examined both before and after but WHY! Let me tell you that Jay has only a dozen available, and when they're gone, who knows when we'll ever see them again? s today!

That's Amaze-Ink

Now here is a trick that Mike clued me in on. The use of a special marker (which you get) makes this magic really cool. Priced right that you'll be glad to get more then one when you order. This is what I do even shopping today I purchase two of the thing I like. One for one case and one for the other . Working pro's which I hope you are that read this will understand. Dave Devin's Ultimate "Sno-Globe" is Dave's favorite "Amaze-ink" routine. Dean Dill says "Its perfect," and those who have seen it agree. The effect is simple: A card is selected and shuffled back into the deck. Five business cards are brought out. Four of them are double blank and one has a picture of a sno-globe drawn on it with the snow lying on the bottom. Again, the rest of the cards are shown blank on both sides. The sno-globe card is given a shake, and the snow now miraculously fills the entire globe. A lighter is brought into play as the magician explains that the only way to melt show is with heat. Magician runs flame under sno-globe and instructs spectator to think of the card they selected. Flame now melts all the snowflakes from within the globe except for the ones revealing the selected card. Everything can now be totally examined and the spectator keeps the globe. That's Amaze-ink! This is just one of the three routines included with That's Amaze-Ink from Dave Devin. So for the close-up worker its a killer and again a give away for the spectator to remember your magic.

Tony's Tips (or Rants)

What is being a professional? Time after time we are tested. Is it being taken to a gig in a limo and entering the theatre only to have everything ready for you? Then after the show partying with the likes of a Paris Hilton and other want to be's. Or is it showing up hours earlier and getting the crew and dancers and sponsor to be on the same page as your vision. Or is it showing up and no one is there and you need to set the chairs up and move things around to make your idea of a show work when people (who have hired you) to come in an expect the job done.

In my book it is the latter. Be the pro that sets the stage, adjust the lights and the sound. Now tonight I may be on a rant but I will tell you that no one knows your show and what you wish to do better then you. I am getting to old to not look good or put up with what Milton Berle would " "High School, High School". What the great entertainer ment was something that was run like a high school production. Really he was know to snap his finger at someone and yell "High School". This also meant fix the look of the show and get your stuff together. So do not let the birthday mom, the PTA lady, the promoter of a fund raiser tell you what show biz is when they hired you and on the phone did not know what they wanted or need. Then the day of the event they act like the famous director Cecil B. Demil and boss you around. Yes, they are paying the bill but in your heart or hearts they still have no clue and you do and will make the show great. Stand up for your show or you might just end up performing next to trash cans and have to deal with barking dogs or crying babies.

So yes this stuff should be in writing before you get to the gig. Understand I am writing this knowing that most of your will not work Las Vegas, hell I did and I still moved chairs and set my own sound system. Remember this and understand everyone works for a living and does not want to work harder then they have too. A true professional (which I may be so bold to call myself) need not rely on others EVER! It's your vision of your magic and show. Set the stage and space your way. If you get a few folks mad (too bad) they will see that you are right when your show goes the way you want and the audience loves your show. I just read my friends blog, Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster and the last minute change they had to make in Hong Kong when everything was suppose to be to set for Mall shows. Changes were the name of the game for them. Did they blow they tops and walk off, no way! Like pros they put up with last minute changes and extra shows or TV spots with having to do stuff no arranged in advance.

So I say tonight don't pack light be ready for anything, be nice, Shine, and make sure they spell your name right in the paper. We have are set ways as we get old but show biz is about being flexible. The people you will deal with don't and won't care what you want. Just what is it what they want? So at all times if you want to come back to perform again if the money is good be a Pro and get the job done the best way you can on these last minute changes. OK Rant over....lol

Best always to you my fellow magi,

Tony Blanco

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Moving Right Along

I hope your summer is moving right along and your having a good time. Gigs are already lining up for fall parties. I think I have just secured my first restaurant here in the Central Valley for a weekly gig. I will let you know more about that when it takes off. This coming weekend is another appearance at the Fresno Zoo. This is always a great type gig for I really get to met folks of Fresno and Clovis. Few events have come from this type of work. So after posting the article last week about my Mad Hatter Tea Party, a few of you wrote in with some ideas to share. Special thanks to Blake Maxam who made a living a few years ago doing just that up in the Oakland, CA area. So maybe in a future blog I can share (or you folks can) theme ideas for your theme charactor you may use in your show. I will be lecturing at our local clown group this coming Monday so if your in the Visalia area come by or email for more information.

Hocus Pocus Lecture Series

Reminder to start getting your space reserved at our next lecture at Hocus Pocus. It will be Sept. 11 (a Tuesday this time) at 7:00 for Fielding West. He is one of Las Vegas' great working comedy magicians. Fielding West is not only a magician's magician, but he possesses that very rare and impeccable sense of comedic timing that has landed him the opening spot for some of the biggest names in show business. A winner in the prestigious Desert Magic Seminar's Comedy Magic competition, Fielding has opened the show for such A-list celebrities as Liza Minelli, Glen Campbell and dozens more.

His numerous network television appearances include spots on A & E's An Evening at the Improv, Caroline's Comedy Hour, and NBC's The World's Greatest Magic and World's Wildest Magic specials. Fielding is also in demand as a writer, magic consultant and technical director and has worked with Lance Burton, Siegfried & Roy and many others. Fielding West continues to headline in major resort destinations all over the world and for the first time, he shares the secrets of his tremendous success. So don't miss out on this one, $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door.

Tony's Picks

Baxt's Lie Detector Lantern Deluxe

One of our good friends Robert Baxt just keeps coming up with more and more comedy ideas. Hocus Pocus has teamed up with Robert to produce the Baxt Lie Detector Lantern. For a while we were not able to get the right lanterns anymore (change of makers) but now we have them back and better then ever. Here is great bit for magicians, clowns, comics or MCs. He's taken a classic comedy premise and added to it a state of the art, quality constructed, reliable, ultra dependable, simple to maintain, piece of electronic equipment so that everyone can easily be funny! The performer shows his audience a perfectly unsuspicious battery operated camping lantern. Explaining about the latest advances in technology he tells them this device is actually a state of the art lie detector as used by military forces in the field. So letting every one know that it is a very expense prop worth 10s of thousands the lantern starts to buzz and light up. OK maybe 5000.00 Again the lantern goes off. You can see where this is going gang. Well just think how you can routine having a kid on stage and find out the truth or lies. Very funny and a great workers prop.

Automatic Square to Jumbo Dice

Here is one that if Mike didn't perform it today I would have thought it was a cutie trick. Mike changed my mind for sure. You start out doing what we magicians know as the Whats Next or Dots Next routine. Spots on a flat black square appear and disappear each time you turn the square over. This can go on for a while until the finale when the flat square turns into a large size cube die. Now here is a real finale to the old Whats Next act. For those of you that know or do the routine having this Automatic Square to Jumbo Dice will really see how this can up grade your routine. I am getting one for sure (gosh I am really sounding like a Californian).

International Collection

Jay Sankey is one of those guys that just seems to keep producing and creating more and more magic every time I see our website. Here is a collection of Jay's all-time favorite magic routines completely performed and explained without speaking. So here for the first time on one of Jay's DVDs it is not about the jokes but the moves. No words spoken, making this a International Collection which anyone from any part of the world can learn from. If you want to learn Jay's secrets behind his most visual and original sleight-of-hand magic, get this DVD. It features 14 amazing visual effects with playing cards, ping pong balls, envelopes, coins, finger rings, drinking straws, business cards and dollar bills. Talk about mime and magic. Consider this more and more not everyone speaks English and be visual is what magic is about!!

X- Board

Now tonight we go from comedy to close-up magic to mentalism and introduce X-Board. X-Board was until today a well guarded secret – a secret now released to the magic world. Conceived by Menny Lindenfeld a few years ago, this potent mind reading tool has been used in his own performances to blow away both laymen and professional mentalists dumbstruck. With X-Board you’ll be able to immediately duplicate a spectator’s exact drawing live on stage, with no external assistance or suspicious moves of any kind, with no need to open, pull or remove anything. It’s that simple! There is no messing about with carbons or center tears this board does it for you. A professional piece of equipment for the professional worker!

Birdcage and the Kid

Hocus Pocus is proud to introduce this fine piece of illusion magic. The performer arrives on stage displaying a giant birdcage, obviously empty. The cage, sitting on a table, is empty however the audience can hear a bird singing out of it! The performer then pulls a red cloth around the cage, covering it completely. But only for a second. The next instant, the cloth is pulled away and inside the cage is not a giant bird, but a real ten year-old child! The appearance is extremely quick and flashy. The illusion can be performed completely surrounded. It can takes less than 10 minutes to set up and tear down the illusion. The cage is made of uncoated wood so you can customize the decoration. Table is built on casters and will support up to 100 pounds. Right now only one of these are in the USA and Hocus Pocus has it. Act fast and it is yours for your show.

Tony's Tips

Tonight I have a special guest for all of you, he is creative, magical and funny Patrik Kuffs. You may have heard of Patrik from his DVD series Mind Stunts. It is packed full of great effects that take very little if no set up at all. The props are as simple as business and playing cards yet Patrik offers some powerful routines. One of my favorites from the Mind Stunt series is Bold Business. I have been able to email Patrik about a possible project and he was kind enough to email his lecture notes. He suggested for all of you from his notes, Pool Master. So from Canada please welcome ......Patrik Kuffs.

Pool Master

An envelope is placed on a pool table; A deck of cards is spread (face up) on a wide range of
the table. A spectator places the balls in the triangle shape and breaks the triangle with the
white ball (as in a regular pool game). The balls will reach some cards (or at least come close to
some cards). The mentalist then opens the envelope and inside is found a message written on a blank business card: "The 4 of Hearts is the chosen card...". The mentalist shows that there is another part of the message on the other side of the business card; A billiard ball is drawn. Let's pretend that it concerns the ball number 5: The spectators look at the table and can see that the ball number 5 is very close (or above) the 4 of hearts. You just predicted a first coincidence. All the cards are then turned over and the spectators realize that the 4 of hearts was the only one marked by an "X" on its back!

On the back of a four of hearts (or any other card you wish), draw an "X". It must be a big bold black marker "X". Write the sentences on the prediction card but leave the ball number empty. The number of the ball will be secretly written in a misdirection moment during the trick. You will need what is called a "swami gimmick" or "boon writer". I am sure you already know these types gimmicks are used to secretly write!

Introduce the envelope and placing it on the table to one side and ask a spectator to help you to spread the cards (face-up) on the table. Be sure that the forced card (4 of Hearts) is not near the center of the table. Ask the spectator to form the triangle shape with the balls and break it. During that moment, have the swami gimmick secretly ready on the tip of your thumb, and take the envelope on the table with that hand. When the balls are no more rolling on the table, notice which ball is the closest one to the 4 of hearts. Open the envelope, in such a way that we can only see this side of the prediction:

"The 4 of Hearts is the chosen card...and the chosen ball is…"

Have a spectator read the message closely by showing them the card: During that moment, you secretly write the number of the ball that is close to the four of hearts (on the table). Then show that there is another part of the prediction on the other side: Note: Using another positioning of the writings on the card could make you feel more comfortable when you secretly write the number with the writer.
When the spectator sees which ball was predicted on the card, they will compare to the coincidence on the table. Give them some time to appreciate this first mystery and then turnover all the cards on the table until they realize that the card is the only one with an "X".Note: A boon writer can also be used instead of a swami gimmick. This final revelation is VERY important. It confuses the spectators so that they can't think of the true solution. An important note about drawing the "X" on the card use red cards instead of blue ones (so the X
is easier to see!). This routine was developed for a T.V. show but was never presented because of technical reasons at that time (I lost my boon/swami!). A few years ago, I used to always do a version involving an invisible deck but I rarely have an invisible deck with me since “Clowns” have invaded the magic market, so I developed this friendly method.
Thank you Patrik for sharing one of your routines with us all. If we are lucky maybe I may be able to share another effect later in time, of course with Patrik's permission. Hope the summer finds you well, happy and working.

Best Magical Wishes,
Tony Blanco

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Magic in Wonderland

This past weekend sees your humble writer performing at a Tea party, A Mad Hatter Tea Party to be exact. One of the charms of moving to California is discovering the towns near Fresno. Downtown Clovis (the next city to Fresno) has a wonderful old fashion look to itself. Friday nights are farmers nights with fresh farm grown items and live music being played. In the heart of this old village is a tea house. I introduced myself to the owner and she loved the concept of my look. So we produced a Mad Hatter Tea Party. One of her waitresses was the perfect image of Alice (see photo's) and the rest of the staff wore wonderful hats. The Victorian Rose Tea House has been selected as a hidden treasure for dinning experiences. This event was one more event to make it all that more special a place to visit. Between the wonderful food, cakes, tea and magic it was a trip to Wonderland for this past Sunday afternoon.

So here is an idea to sell to one of your local restaurants or find a Tea house in your town to share this magical kind of event in your home town. We are actually going to produce a Wizard's Tea Party and a few other themed events. All of course with wonderful food and close-up magic. I better get writing since I am already a day late, I'm late. OK it just doesn't stop.

Reminder that we will be having Fielding West here at Hocus Pocus for our lecture series. This event takes place Sept 11, at 7:00. Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door. If you wish to attend start calling us and reserve your place 1-800-407-4040. It will be a evening of great magic and comedy from a veteran of Tahoe, Las Vegas and many showrooms around the world.

Tony's Picks

Once again this is what I a working pro would use in my show so this is why I recommend these items that have come online for you.

Telekinesis Deck
Now here is a electronic marvel, that I think is clever compare to all those Sharpie pen effects. First off of it doesn't move across the table screwing up the effect. Here is a well built deck of motors that will help you look like your powers of magic can make movement happen. It is well made. It does what the website says. And if you want electronic magic that works this one compare to other does. That's it .

Influence U

Larry Becker and Lee Earle have done it again! This is a clever version of the Wizards Phone Call effect. Here is a cell phone version of the whats on the table, here is my cell phone and have my friend tell you what you choose effect. Very clever and smart in its design. Understand that this effect is for USA and Canada only. Check out the full write up on the website. Once again great stuff from Becker and Earle

Andrus Linking Safety Pins

An effect I love. I have spent a life time finding the best pin act. Andrus has the best in my opinion and also Slydini's the godfather of close-up magic says so! Are these the best pins ....yes. Do you need these for your walk around show....Yes. Is the act complete as per the instruction yes..but more can be done if you get Jerry Andrus book on Safety Pins.

Tom Mullica

Well what can I say of one of the most funny and hard working guys of the 1970's and 80's. captured live in his home town of Atlanta. We offer a few DVD's and CDroms of Tom live and some teach while others are performance footage. Tom is a a great working pro and now tours Branson and the world paying homeage to his hero Red Skelton. His one man show is great to keep Red's memory and comedy alive. this is why folks flock to see him in Branson. I highly recommend getting all of the Tom Mullica DVDs and CD roms offered.

Tony's Tips

Tonight I am honored to bring to you from the land down under the great talents of Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster. Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster are married magicians based in Melbourne, Australia. They travel all over the world performing their unique brand of comedy and magic from close-up like Tim's 'Runaround Sue' to grand illusions like Sue-Anne chainsawing Tim in half. Not to mention that Sue is a amazing Jeannie (as in I Dream of Jeannie) look a like. Check out the ongoing adventures of a pair of married magicians on there blog, or visit there "official" site at http://www.magicunlimited.com/ .
Tonight Tim and Sue share real workers knowledge of show biz. The information below you may know or may have never thought of, but it is the knowledge only 2 season pros's would think of sharing with you. Some of tonight's information comes from Tim's DVD 'ELLIS IN WONDERLAND'. I have been lucky to see them lecture and perform on a tour of theirs in the states about 4 or 5 years ago. I can say that the passion of entertainment and fun is the stuff of Tim and Sue. Such great folks are also inspiring the next generation of magicians down in Australia. So read their tips and check out they blog

Thank you Tim and Sue.

Here are some of our Tips for better shows and for looking like a Pro. By the way in Australia a compere would be your Master of Ceremonies or Ringmaster of the show

TIMING: The first thing you'll need to know when you're booked to perform at a corporate dinner, is what time they want you to perform. Often they'll leave this decision up to you, after all, you are the "expert" in these matters. Immediately after main course is cleared is the ideal time. The guests are satiated and contented, just the right mood for some entertainment. Have the compere give them a "warning" that "the show is about to start in five minutes" so that they can get drinks from the bar, visit the toilet, and return to their seats. As soon as you get the okay from the Maitre'de that the main course plates have been cleared, signal the compere to introduce you and away you go!

WAITERS: When you arrive at the venue however, you must make a point to speak to the Maitre'de and explain that you cannot have any food or drink service during your act. Nothing is as distracting to a performer and an audience as waiters strolling through the crowd offering drinks and clearing tables. It's worth waiting a few minutes after the tables have been cleared to allow the drinks staff to top up everyone's glasses before starting the show.

LIGHTING: Lighting is crucial to a visual act like a magician. For some bizarre reason, 70% of the functions we entertain at do the same thing: they position the lectern where the CEO will be speaking from in the darkest corner of the room. Often with a light or open window behind him so he's only seen as a silhouette. It's essential to explain to the client in advance that you will need as much lighting as they can possibly get for you. Unless you're using threads, it's almost impossible to be overlit. A few friends of mine even carry some basic lighting in their car "just in case", and they have had to pull it out on more than a few occasions. A follow spot is another way you'll be seen by the audience. Often bookers will baulk at this idea because of the cost of paying an overpriced follow spot operator. If they do, it's better to get them to just hire the light, and bring a friend along to operate it for you. It's even better to just open the spot wide and fix it so it shines on the stage, and just work within it. Either of these options are better than working in dim light.

SOUND SYSTEM: If people can't see you clearly, their minds will begin to wander and they'll lose interest and start talking amongst themselves. The same happens if they can't hear you properly. Unless you take lessons in voice projection, which is a very good idea for anyone who speaks on stage, you will need to use a microphone attached to a sound system. Be very specific about your requests here. If you just ask for a mic, don't be surprised if it is attached to a lectern. Even if you use a radio lapel mic, it's good to have a corded mic on a stand side stage as a back up in case the radio mic fails. As most people know, even if you asked for a corded mic on a stand, often they won't be able to find a stand. Some people carry a spare mic stand in their car, others carry a simple and inexpensive mic clip they wear around their neck. Whatever type of mic you end up using, it will only sound as good as the system it's hooked up to. If it's part of a mobile disco set up, it will only sound okay for small groups. If it's patched through a band's PA, the sound will generally be good enough to fill a large venue. Ideally the organisers will hire a system of at least 600w and have it professionally set up with the speakers placed so that everyone in the room can hear you equally well. Even with a professional sound company doing the job, you will still do better if you're able to have a sound check before the show, especially if you're playing back recorded music. During a sound check, done before the guests come into the venue, you'll find out where you can and can't walk in the room with your radio mic without getting feedback, you can find out whether your microphone lead is long enough, and you'll be able to have them set the volume levels on your microphone and music (we like to gaffer tape the volume dial in position to guarantee no well-meaning technicians turn us down or off before we go on).

MUSIC: Even though it is part of their job, most technicians cannot manage to hit the average number of audio cues in the standard magic act. After years of working with professional technicians we've discovered this number can be as low as one cue. There are many ways you can operate your own music nowdays, even if you run a one-man show. The Show-Tech system is an excellent remotely controlled MiniDisc system. You can even have your MiniDisc or CD player on your table and press "pause" every time you pick up a prop. If you record a few seconds of silence before the start of each track (and rehearse a little), each track of music will appear to start as if by magic. If you are carrying a MiniDisc or CD player with you (once you've used one, you'll never go back to cassette tapes) then make sure you carry a selection of leads with you. You'll need:
* 3.5mm male to 6.5mm male mono
* 3.5mm male to 6.5mm male stereo
* 3.5mm male to dual 6.5mm males mono
* 3.5mm male to dual RCA males
* 3.5mm male to 3 pin Cannon male
These cables should enable you to plug into about 95% of PA systems. Add to your collection a 3.5mm male to 3.5mm female 5-10 metre extension lead, and you'll still be able to position your player side stage even if the PA system is 5-10 metres away. If you're like us and don't trust the batteries on your MiniDisc player, don't forget to carry a good collection of double adapters, extension leads and power point boards.

STAGES: Magic is a visual art, but many function organisers don't seem to realise this and put all manner of obstacles in the way of a successful show. Get a copy of the floorplan, detailing stage and table positions, as far in advance of the show as you can. Even with a small group, your show will look 100% better if you are on a raised platform at least 30cms high. Once you are working to an audience two or more tables deep, you need to be 60cms high, and for groups of 500 or more, 1 metre high is essential. Don't forget to check the stage before the show. Often the venue staff will assemble a Flexi-stage (made of separate sections) in a hurry and forget to lock it together correctly. Jump about on the stage and, if you have any doubt about the stage's stability at all, call the venue manager over and have them fix it then and there. The last thing they want is to be sued by a guest who disappeared down a crack while helping the magician. Also, make sure they provide safe and stable steps either on the side or the front of the stage for easy access. Even though you may not need it, many female helpers you might choose from the audiences will be wearing long gowns and might like to retain their dignity while hopping up onto stage.

ANGLES: Another problem you may encounter is, in their effort to fit as many guests into the room as humanly possible, the organisers may have several tables directly on the right and left beside the stage. These people will not enjoy the show. If you cannot get the organiser to relocate those tables before the event, then have the compere ask them to leave their seats and reposition themselves somewhere else in the room where they can see the front of the stage. Often the waiting staff can discreetly relocate several tables of people immediately before the show.

DANCE FLOORS: Often, instead of a row of smiling faces directly in front of you, you will find yourself looking at the vast empty chasm we call a dance floor. This is the magicians worst enemy. If you work on it, a lot of people will only see your side or your back, even if you somehow manage to rotate for the entire duration of your show. If you choose to work on it, you will usually be unlit, or lit only by inappropriate coloured flashing lights. If you use a spotlight to light you on the dancefloor, not only will the people behind you only see your back, they'll also be blinded by looking directly into the beam of the follow spot. If you look at the floorplan before the show and see a dancefloor directly in front of the stage, urge them to reconsider. Your show will be 100% better if you have your audience closer. There are many creative ideas we've seen used to great effect to solve this problem: have two dance floors on either side of the stage, have the band stage on the opposite side of the room with the dancefloor in front of it and a separate stage for speeches and magicians, have the waiting staff place theatre-style seating on the dancefloor immediately before your show and relocate guests from the back of the room into these chairs. Finally, if you can't avoid the dance floor dilemma it is better to work closer to the audience from a raised portable stage on the dancefloor, but try to relocate as many guests as possible so they can see the show from the front and make sure your portable stage is lit properly.

BANDS: If you are stuck with a dancefloor, odds are you will be stuck sharing the stage with a band. This usually means your backdrop will not be a nice plush curtain, but instead an array of shiny instruments and microphone stands with large foldback speakers at your feet. First of all, make sure the organiser knows how much space you need on the stage then, when the band are setting up before the show, tell them too (the organiser won't have). Explain that the space needs to be completely clear of all cables, mics, instruments and speakers. Often, this will mean waiting a few minutes before you start your show while the band grumpily shift all their equipment out of your way. Wait. It's worth it. Sometimes, the band are scheduled to play you off or to begin another set immediately at the end of your show. We've had a band get up on stage behind us and pick up their instruments ready to play, just when we were getting to the big finish of the show. It was very distracting, extremely unprofessional, but it did happen. And now you know it can happen, make sure it doesn't happen to you! (One band even accidentally unplugged the power to our MiniDisc during the show. One way to avoid this is to gaffer tape all of your plugs, leads and connections.) If you can, bring your own self-standing backdrop and place it in front of the band (once they finish playing of course). Otherwise all the shiny metal band bits and pieces will catch the light, and your audience's eyes, and become very distracting when you want them to watch the tiny playing cards in your hands.

DECORATIONS: Often organisers will spend more on table decorations and centrepieces than they will on you. As beautiful as they are, they usually block the audience's view of the stage. If they are solid, by the time your show is due everyone has had a good look at them and the waiting staff should be able to remove them immediately before your show without any trouble. If they are balloons on a string they can either be collected, or try what I did once: I had the compere announce that normally I begin the show with indoor fireworks, but due to fire regulations tonight we were going to do it a different way. He got everyone to use their cigarette lighters to cut through the balloon strings and everyone held their helium balloons and released them simultaneously on the count of three. It looked good, was fun to do, bonded the audience, and ensured that everyone had a good view of the stage. Another decorative dilemma is the "balloon drop". This is a net full of balloons hanging from the ceiling, ready to be dropped during the dancing later in the night. Often these balloon drops are badly positioned and block the lights which should be lighting your stage. Once again, knowing that this could be a problem will enable you to nip it in the bud if you hear they are planning a balloon drop.

DRESSING ROOM: For some strange reason when performers ask for somewhere to change they are often directed to the nearest public toilet. I usually explain that I don't think the guests would appreciate seeing the magician naked in the toilets before the show. They always find a more private room for me... generally because I explain exactly what type of dressing room we need in advance. It needs to be completely private, not shared with the band or other acts, not a thoroughfare where staff will be constantly walking through. It needs to be as close to the stage as possible. (Often, in a hotel venue, they'll offer you a luxury suite 10 floors above the function room. That's very nice, but what if the lift gets stuck when you're doing a quick costume change? The rooms we usually end up with are storage rooms, which is fine. We bring hooks which clip on the backs of doors so we can hang our costumes, we bring portable halogen lamps for lighting, and we use a custom built suitcase table as our backstage "office" and preparation surface.

REGULATIONS: Generally, most venues will not allow the use of naked flame without a special permit and the presence of a fireman (at quite a large fee). Some will not allow fire at all as a condition of their building insurance. Think about this when you are designing your act. Pyrotechics, naked flames, smoke machines and fog machines will often trigger alarms and result in a very expensive visit from the fire brigade. Once again, if you notify them in advance some venues will allow the use of these devices for a fee which covers a fireman who turns off the alarms during your act. Some venues will not allow them at all. If you are considering using pyrotechnics, please check the regulations in your area as you may be required to have a permit to operate them. If you use Aerotechnic streamer cannons, make sure you use non-toxix, flame proof streamers and confetti and let the technicians know. If your streamers end up hanging from the lighting, the technicians may turn the lights off rather than risk the streamers catching fire. Aim carefully.

VIDEOS: Many large venues use videoscreens and project your show live. Try to avoid situations where the screens pull the focus away from the stage. People do not applaud "television". Try to have your input in the positioning of screens in advance of the show and be aware that many camera operators are even slower than follow spot operators so don't make any sudden movements or the screen may go blank. Also, have a camera check before the show so you know exactly where you can walk and still be seen, and just how close the cameraman can zoom in. There's nothing worse than repeatedly calling for them to zoom in during the show when they're already in as tight as they can go. To the audience it looks like they're ignoring you.

FINALLY: Many people attend functions nowdays with their videocamera in hand and their mobile phones and pagers on. Provide the compere (MC) with a clear, possibly humorous, announcement to read before your show telling them to turn their pagers, mobile phones and videocameras off.

Tim and Sue

From the photo I would also guess a chainsaw would work on the cell phone problem also....lol.

Thank you again Tim and Sue for years of knowledge and wisdom. Check out some of the effects that Tim has created on our Hocus Pocus website. Just type in his name in product search. If you have any suggestions or tips, share them with all of us.

Best of magic,

Tony Blanco


Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Last Minute Call

Dear Gang,

Tune in tomorrow for the weekly blog. I got a last minute call for a gig. Tomorrow night will also feature a guest blog from Tim Ellis and Sue-Ann Webster. Got to run.


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