Tuesday, December 11, 2007


A Gift for the Holidays

Monday night we were honored to have John and Tammy Calvert here at Hocus Pocus for the last lecture of the year. John if you don't know has been performing for most of his 96 years. Yes! I said 96 years. It was a slice of the Golden age of magic having him and Tammy here. What was even cool was the fact that Paul asked me to call the local news channels. Out of 3 stations contacted 2 showed up. Both stations did an excellent telecast for the 10:00 and 11:00 news programs. Both featured an interview with John and highlights of his show. And what a show/lecture it was also. He performed cigarette manipulations (not lit but red tipped) with amazing style and grace as an opener. He then went on perform his Seance routine. Then the Lazy Magician, an act made famous by Dante and in John's version this evening he used one of the local reporters for one of the helpers. This was funny later when watching both news channels and she is filmed on the other channel's broadcast also. So as you can tell there was lots of audience participation also in the program. John used as many our lecture guests in his show which made the night even more special. John was also very clear in explaining these marvelous magical mysteries he still performs. He made everyone promise to practice before ever going out to perform any of them. One of the highlights (actually there were many) was to see his Casper routine. Here is an effect with which a borrowed handkerchief from the audience comes to life, dances and floats a bit. All and all a 2 hour event from one of the living legends of magic. All of us here in Fresno will not forget such a night as last night. I will have some photos at the end of the blog for all of you to see. Thank you John and Tammy

Tony's Picks

Spirit Card Box

A beautiful walnut box is opened and the magician removes a deck of cards. A member of your audience freely selects any card from the deck, signs the face of it and you shuffle the card back into the deck. The deck is placed back into the box and the lid is closed. The magician states that he will summon the spirits that live in the box to find the selected card. Slowly the lid opens on its own, and a single card slowly rises out of the box at which time the performer asks, "Is this your card?" The spectator replies, "No it's not." Looking shocked, the magician says, "Oh," as the card pops back down into the box quickly. "Spirits, you can do better than that. Come alive once more and make the correct card rise."Suddenly, all of the cards begin to fly out of the box in a huge fountain and as the cards are flying, the magician reaches into the stream and plucks the signed card from all the others, catching it between his thumb and fingers. "Here is your signed, selected card," he says to thunderous applause as he takes his bow. Made of the finest woods on Earth, and a limited edition which means when its gone its gone.

Shred of Evidence

Here is an effect that has to be one of the most unique and talked about routines. It is a pro's routine that has everything one looks for in an effect fun, comedy, audience participation, surprise after surprise. A volunteer is called upon to enter in a fun “game show” style game. He is told that he may win a $100.00 bill but he must be willing to loan the performer a 10 or 20 dollar bill to use in the game with the promise that he will get his money returned to him at the end. The game begins with his bill being mixed with a number of fake bills in sealed envelopes but then during the game the envelopes get shredded in a paper shredder until only one envelope remains. Uh oh! The volunteer’s bill is NOT found in the last envelope. A consolation prize is offered to the volunteer, and it is an elegant travel kit. But when it unzipped it is found to contain another bag but smaller than the first one. This is repeated over and over until a tiny zippered bag about the size of a small coin purse is produced from within. This bag is opened and the volunteer’s previously signed bill is found inside. This can be a real reputation maker for you and your show. You will not believe the impact on the audience. Comes with the nest of purses, special dice, complete easy to follow routine, a small paper shredder and regular envelopes.

So now in this world of "Street Magic" people want to see weird magic. What makes a trick weird or a classic of magic? It takes several components: First, you must have an incredible method that fools everyone. Second, you need an emotional hook that insures that your audience cares about watching your performance. But the one thing that really makes a trick a classic is that it gets an incredible reaction from the spectators. iVanish meets and exceeds all three components. First let’s talk about the methods: There are three methods included in iVanish and each method is totally different from the others. In fact the solutions are so different that each method absolutely cancels out the other two! This is great for repeat performances. Each method is incredibly clean. You hands are completely empty immediately after each vanish. All three methods are done standing. Of course you can use iVanish while seated because there is no lapping. Each vanish actually looks like trick photography! One of the best features of iVanish is that all three methods are really easy to perform, in fact anybody can do it! Many magicians are afraid of visual coin magic but iVanish does not require years of knuckle busting practice. You’ll be up to speed in no time at all! Second, the emotional hook that iVanish creates will guarantee your audience will be riveted to your performance. It’s simple. When we’re all kids we’ve had it drilled into our heads to never, ever put anything into your eye. Using the iVanish techniques you’ll be able to rub or shove a coin directly into your eye! People are forced to watch. Some squirm, some will wince, many will cringe but they’ll all watch. It’s like a car wreck. Everybody slows down to see what’s going on. iVanish is part geek, part magic but 100% a showstopper. I know I have posted this a few blogs back but I needed to add I learned this and it totally blew folks away! High ratings for a well made DVD to learn from without all the added "street magic images" when trying to watch a DVD. Well done Ben and Bob!

Lucky Shot

Three spectators each choose a card. By means of telepathy you try to discern which cards were chosen. Ask each participant to raise their hand as they hear the name of their card. You name three cards. But, no hands go up. Oops! No, problem. Point to an envelope on the table, which, you explain contains the three chosen cards. You remove a Jumbo Card from the envelope and show its face. All 52 cards are printed on the Jumbo Card, and you point out their cards. The spectators are less than impressed. But, you continue. Clearly you have failed to name the three chosen cards, so you tear up the Jumbo Card, then take a toy gun and shoot the card three times. Yikes! When you open the card, it has been magically restored. And, where the three selected cards were on the face of the card are now three bullet holes right through the card! Good shootin’, pardner! Contains enough material for 25 performances. Great for close-up or stage. Supply your own toy gun (or you can make a pretend gun with your fingers).

Umbrellas From Silks
The performer takes three silks from his table and then shows them one by one to be completely empty. He then proceeds to produce not one, not two, not three, but four umbrellas from the bundle of silks! After the four umbrellas are produced, a second production (of a smaller item) can be made. This version is improved from earlier models as the umbrellas can now be produced from the bottom of the silk bundle. Each set comes complete with a regular silk, a specially gimmicked silk, a regular silk (matching the gimmick silk in color) Special gimmick that does almost all the work for you. Four gorgeous and vibrantly colored self-opening umbrellas No body loads needed, everything is self-contained and the silks are fabricated from parachute Nylon as it is stronger and more durable than silk and thus able to carry more weight. They are also more smooth so the "silks" do not stick together as much as regular silks would. Here is a production number that would be great to do at any part of your show. Visual and will fill your stage with nice colors and bright look.

Tony's Tips
Being Prepared for the Big Show
As I mention earlier in the blog we had John and Tammy Calvert here last night. One of the lessons to have watched and learned from this man of magic is preparation. Traveling with such a big show (and for a lecture that says alot) you need to be reading to go. I got to be roadie, tech and soundman for his time here at Hocus Pocus. John arrived with a small trailer with all his cases and backdrops. Everything is labelled. Cases for one trick, suitcases for backdrop curtains. First thing first for his show, he needs to have his design and backdrop up. This meant being flexible to work with what space you have. Luckily the stage I built here at Hocus Pocus meant we could change the black backdrop for the one he had and actually go longer past the wings. This is important to be able to work with the space you have for the show. John mention that in Vegas for his lecture they had no way to hang his curtain so long tables were turned upwards and then the curtain hung across the top of the tables.

Traveling, you learn what I would call life lessons and Mr. Calvert had many to share. Mr. Calvert has traveled around the world with his big show and each performance has to be magical and perfect. For his 100 foot rope escape a simple large see thru file box container. This actaully adds to the performance when you see how much rope fits in that small box. It almost gets a laugh when more and more rope comes out. Tools are important as there are so many little things that need setting and repair. So having scissors and screwdrivers on hand as well as duct table are a must.
Custom cases that make packing a show a breeze, this is one thing I noticed John had for his props. Also extra packing, be it cloth or foam will make you props last longer and his props look well taken care of. So set up was rather quick and this way you have more time to tend to little things like making sure sightlines and music all go well to.

When you are working some place for the first time it is important to go over stage and music cues with the crew if one is on hand. This John took the time to tell me and teach me so his show would go over just right. We ran thru music cues which included knowing what he would say when a certain piece of music would begin or end. What was nice was Tammy wrote out the show routines and then John and I worked in the vocal to music cues.
So now we were up to about 6:00 and time for quick meal and soon the audience was going to arrive. 6:15 first reporter arrived and talk about a smooth talker. Mr. Calvert (at 96 years old) was just marvelous in chatting to the reporter. You can see her below wearing the feather boa in the show. 7:00 show time and the evening went off just well and everyone will have a great memory of seeing and meeting this legend of magic. Thank you John and Tammy for sharing with us a gift for the holidays by your apperance here.
Next up for Hocus Pocus will be our swap meet in January on two days this year, the 19th and 20th. Then in March we will have Joshua Jay here on the the 3rd. So lots already to happen for 2008 at Hocus Pocus.
Best of the Holiday season to you and your family
Tony Blanco
John Calvert Lecture December 10, 2007

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