Monday, January 07, 2008

New Year, New Hopes and Dreams

So I hope all of you have had a great holiday season. Spent enough time to relax also and get your batteries recharged for the New Year of bookings. I have new ideas this year for my shows and hope to share with all of you. I would also like to feature you the Hocus Pocus Customer that takes the time to read each week. Please take a moment to send me a photo and a little information about yourself and your shows. If you have a favorite tip or hint to share all the better. So this year please don't be shy to contact me at One thing that is always going to happend is change, so please take a moment to update me to who reads this blog and what your needs maybe for me to continue sharing my Tips and Picks column with all of you.

During the time off we have added so many new magic items to the website. So tonight I will be pointing out some great hot new items but first if your in the California area don't miss out on the Hocus Pocus Swap Meet 2008.

Hocus Pocus Swap Meet January 19th and 20th 2008

It's almost here! Where will you be on Saturday, January 19th and Sunday, 20th? We hope to see you here in Fresno, California for the 2nd Annual Hocus Pocus Swap Meet & Get-
Starting at 9:00 AM on Saturday the 19th, the doors will open and the second annual Hocus Pocus Swap Meet & Get-Together will officially begin! Be a part of magic history where, in addition to a fantastic swap meet, there will be a fun-filled 2 days of lectures and guests, free gifts, and more!

Our lectures for this year include Suds, Jay Leslie, David Regal, Shoot Ogawa, Daryl, Losander.*Lecture fee for all 6 lectures is only $40.00*Individual lectures may be purchased for $15.00.*The Swap Meet is free to attend, however if you wish to sell your magic wares, tables are$20.00 each.*Special optional Workshop with Daryl is being offered on Sunday (11am -1 PM) at an additional charge of$30.00 per person (seating is limited, so make sure you register early to reserve your spot).

9:00 AM - 3:00 PM - Swap Meet
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM - Special Guest Lecturer Suds
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Special Guest Lecturer Jay Leslie
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM - Special Guest Lecturer David Regal
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM - Special Guest Lecturer Shoot Ogawa
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM - Special Guest Lecturer Daryl
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM - Special Guest Lecturer Losander

Since Fresno is centrally located in the San Joaquin Valley, California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, we're so close, why not join us for our Swap Meet & Get-Together? We've even reserved special hotel rates for your convenience if you are planning on staying the night. The hotel information is listed below: Best Western Water Tree Inn 4141 N. Blackstone Avenue Fresno, California 559-222-4445 To get these special rates, just mention the Hocus Pocus Swap Meet when phoning the hotel.

The Water Tree Inn is only a few minutes away from Hocus Pocus and has been host to many of our past guests, friends, and lecturers. This promises to be a fantastic, fun-filled 2-day event. If you wish to participate or attend (or both), contact us toll-free at 800-407-4040 to reserve your spot!Reserve January 19th and 20th on your calendar and be sure to show up at: Hocus Pocus 1492 N. Clark, # 104 Fresno, CA. 93703.

Remember, to attend the Swap Meet is absolutely free and won't cost you a dime! To purchase tickets for the entire lecture package or individual lectures, call now at 800-407-4040. Remember, to sell your magic items, you must reserve a table. To reserve your table, call now at 800-407-4040.

Tony's Picks

There is a certain universally-recognizable instant when the mind knows reality has slipped. Paul Harris called it the moment of astonishment. It happens when a levitation first leaves the ground. It happens when when daylight shows between two halves of a girl. And it happens just as the spectator realizes she is pulling her card straight through your finger. This is "Bonesaw." Feel the moment. A spectator chooses a card and signs her name on the face. You tear a hole just large enough for your finger and put your initial on the card as well. Two more cards, stapled together, have corresponding holes. The spectator watches as you slide her card between the others. She sees the holes aligned and you slide your finger through. With your finger in place, you show the spectator that her signed card is still trapped inside the stapled pair. You show her that the card is trapped on both the outer and inner ends ? both sides. Her card is clearly stuck between the cards and pinned by your finger. Then you have her pull on her card. There is only one direction it can go. It cuts smoothly through your finger and finally emerges. No tears. No switches. Everything in view. The card with her signature, and yours, is hers to keep.This 30-minute DVD teaches you everything you need to know, with tips and variations, to stun your audiences. Includes all the materials needed to make the gimmick, custom-sized for your hands, and perform the effect again and again. Designed by Michelangelo, "Bonesaw" is a visual in-the-hands illusion that will trap your spectators in that rare moment of astonishment.

Bob Read Collection DVD Set

This new set of 4 DVDs covers the late Bob Read's performances, lectures, talks, interviews, and booklets. Released at the 2007 MacMillan Magic Convention,this special 4 DVD set honoring the dynamic and hugely entertaining magician, Bob Read, was an instant hit.
DVD 1: Bob Read Through The Years, A comprehensive (2 hour) collection of 9 great performances by Bob recorded between 1976 and 2005 - a real insight into a great Magician

DVD 2: The Bob Read Lecture And The Private Session - The Full Bob Read Lecture (over 70 minutes) filmed in front of a live audience at the MacMillan Magic Convention 2002. This superb lecture covers Bob's theories on comedy, sight gags, plus The Bottle Production' and 'Knife through Coat' followed by a 'Private Session',that includes priceless details.
DVD 3: The Cups And Balls In Art And Lithography And The Search For Arthur Watson - Bob's fascinating hour long talk is a real joy, the footage has been greatly enhanced revealing immense detail. This is followed by his hilarious talk "The Quest For Arthur Watson" (whose material mysteriously found its way in to Sidney Clarke's 'The Annals of Conjuring'. Inspired by Gordon Bruce's discovery of some of Arthur's articles in an obscure book, this talk highlights everything that was wonderful about Bob.

DVD 4: Bob Read's Magical London, The Interview PLUS Bonus Material - Excerpts from his acclaimed 'Magical Tour of London' in which he introduces his audience to magically related historical landmarks of London PLUS an in depth interview with Richard Kaufman, in which Bob explains with great detail the Bottle Production as well as talking about comedy, timing, use of feet, etc.As a special bonus, we have included full resolution pdf files of ALL of Bob's pamphlets including Thanks to Pepys, Penultimate Cups & Balls, $100 Glass Through Table, Knife Through Coat, The Bottle Production, Transpo Tumblers, and What You Get Is What I Do. And the entire Genii feature article and interview from April 2004 plus Bob's 'Magical London' map! In detail for you to view, this boxed set consists of the 4 DVDs plus a printed booklet by Richard Kaufman detailing the contents and his thoughts on one of his all time favorite magicians.

Kikuchi Fire to Jumbo Card Fan

From the fantastic quality fire magic that is only Kikuchi comes his Fire to Jumbo Card Fan bring you! Performer strolls onstage and without a word, a flame appears from his hand. Then, as quick as a wink, the flame instantly transforms into a jumbo card fan, the flame completely extinguished! Although the effect reads fairly simply, you must see the video on the website to truly appreciate this effect Here is an effect that will capture your audiences' attention when you use Kikuchi's Fire to Jumbo Card Fan. Each unit is specially made with cards and the fire fan gimmick by Kikuchi. You also receive performance/ instructional DVD to learn from one of Japan's finest performers and teachers. So as a opening or at anytime in your show make a statement of fire, flash and magic with Fire to Jumbo Card Fan!

Flying Fifties

From John Blake comes Flying Fifties also know as "Robot Coins in a Glass" can be a instant reputation-maker for your show. The magician places a card box on top of an empty glass. Showing a half-dollar, he vanishes the coin. Holding the invisible coin, the magician appears to throw/drop the coin towards the card box. The coin materializes and drops into the glass with an audible clink! The effect is then repeated for a total of four coins dropping into the glass.
The Robot Coins in Glass was first manufactured in the mid sixties by Ken Allen. John Blake has re-released this marvelous piece of magic in a simple to use form that is totally reliable. The basic unit allows you to place a deck of cards (in a box) on top of a clear glass. One by one, four half dollars drop into the glass. Comes complete with instructions on how to vanish coins from your hand and have them appear in the glass. But imagine the other great uses for this utility device. For example if you own an Okito Coin Box, you could place four half dollars in an Okito Box. Place the box of coins on top of a deck of cards which is then placed on a drinking glass. One by one the coins leave the box, penetrate the deck and clink into the glass. This can actually be done without any cover. It is totally automated. No batteries. Simple to load the card box and sure-fire in operation. Wind up watch mechanism does all the work for you!

Magic Gremlins
Introducing Peter Loughran’s hilarious and thrilling new adventure: Magic Gremlins in a Box! The performer begins by inviting a spectator on stage to share something very unique with them. The performer introduces a small brown cardboard box to the spectator with a label on it that says Magic Gremlins in a Box. The label resembles that of the old vintage comic book ads for such things as X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys to name a couple. The performer begins to tell his audience that he acquired his Magic Gremlins by ordering them from an old comic book he had lying around in the attic... and low and behold this is what he received and for only $2.98 plus shipping and handling of course. He tells the spectator that the box is indeed full of Magic Gremlins, however they are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye but they are so powerful that they can lift and move objects 1 million times their own body weight.

The performer asks the spectator to stand back and hands them a pair of sunglasses to wear, the performer also wears his own pair, and carefully opens the lid to the box and a green radioactive glow emits from within, gaining hilarious reactions. The performer now places the box on a near by table and steps away as he says the Magic Gremlins can be very unpredictable if handled incorrectly. He calls over to the Gremlins to see if they are awake and ready to play. The box then begins to shake and rock from side to side and moves all by itself on the table top proving that the box is indeed full of real live Magic Glowing Gremlins. The performer states that unlike Sea Monkeys, these small and adorable creatures can actually be taught how to perform real tricks. They are so intelligent that the performer tells his spectator that he has actually taught the Gremlins how to perform not just a trick but an amazing MAGIC trick. A deck of cards is introduced and a card is selected. The chosen card is replaced, lost inside the deck and shuffled by the spectator. The entire deck is now placed inside the glowing box full of Magic Gremlins.

After some comical by-play, the performer now asks the Gremlins to also shuffle the deck, and the box begins to shake and rock sided to side etc, as if the cards are actually being shuffled. He then asks the Gremlins to search for the spectator’s chosen card. The box begins to move once again and then amazingly the box leans forward slightly toward the audience by itself and a card pops up out of the top of the glowing box. The performer takes the card and shows it to the spectator and the audience, and incredibly it is indeed the chosen card! AMAZING! But the routine isn’t over just yet.

The magician puts the card back into the box and brings out a Sharpie and says “The amazing Magic Gremlins will now sign the card for you as a souvenir”. The Sharpie is placed inside the box, and after some more comical by-play the Sharpie begins to move. The end of the Sharpie is seen sticking out of the top of the box as it wiggles around inside the box apparently as if the Gremlins are really signing the chosen card! The Sharpie then stops, and the performer asks the Gremlins if the card is signed, and then tries to take the Sharpie out of the box but each time the Gremlins move it just out of the reach of the magician, creating a hilarious interaction. “It’s so hard to find good gremlins these days,” the performer says. He asks the Gremlins to play nice, and they abide by letting the performer finally remove the Sharpie. The Sharpie is removed and the box tilts slightly forward as the card pops back out, but this time it has a signature across the face that says: THE MAGIC GREMLINS The card is then given to the spectator to keep as a souvenir. The performer now asks for a big round of applause and the Gremlins tilt the box forward once again for a final bow!

This effect comes complete with Peter’s own hilarious routine scripted with lines and easy to follow programming instructions on a CD ROM for his particular routine. However Magic Gremlins in a Box is so versatile that you can create your programs yourself and create your own routines. This electronic marvel boasts “ON UNIT” programming with out any aid of other devices, computers, software etc. All the programming is done on the unit itself. The entire trick is self contained within its own box. It is also fully remote controlled with a single button on a tiny key chain remote, and now boasts a new Pause Feature so your program can be paused during the routine, and start up again with a push of button on the tiny key chain remote that fits inside your pocket.

You can also program delays with your own time duration right into your routine such as one at the very beginning so that after you hit the button on the remote your hands will be in full view and out of your pocket when the prop actually begins to move. The label on the front of the box is stressed slightly to look like an authentic vintage ad or label from an old 1950’s comic book. Other alternatives for your story could also incorporate how this was obtained from an underground traveling flea market, or perhaps you obtained the Magic Gremlins from a shady looking drifter from a back alley in the city. The routines can be programmed to your custom and specific requirements. And best of all the unit can host more than one program so you can have it set up to run two totally different routines all together at any given time without ever having to re-program the unit between effects.

This effect can be programmed to play for a long or short time in your act without ever losing your audience’s attention. It’s small and deceptive enough to do close up, but large enough that it can be done on stage or in parlor situations, and is an absolute dream to travel with due to its small size. This is a visual and exciting routine packed full of surprises for adults and children alike. This is great for all types of performers! This prop takes virtually no mechanical skill to perform, leaving your rehearsal time for designing routines and presentations. If you can do a force and push a button then you can perform this illusion, the prop will do the rest, its that easy!

Tony's Tips

Afterthoughts and Life Lessons

When I was a kid magician in New York reading books by the likes of Frank Garcia, Slydini, Harry Loyarne. One thing I remembered when I would read Harry Loyarne's Apocalypse ways something he did after each effect called "Afterthoughts". This was his way of adding to the effect or updating the effect or just being able to comment on its history. The term "Afterthoughts" has always stuck with me since those magical "70's so much so that I have a space on my booking sheet called afterthoughts. There is a spot on my booking sheet to comment on how the show went. Time to ask myself a few questions like, Was the show what it was promised to be? Were the folks hiring you nice or jerks? Do you ever want to work for them again? Should I make sure to send Thank you letters and or ask for a letter of recommendation? Did someone at the event ask for your Promo kit?

In the afterthoughts spot on your booking sheet as well as on the back, leave all the thoughts of the gig that worked and didn't work. Even just nice stuff that may have happened after the show. Take the time after your show to remember and remind yourself about this gig in your own words. This way you can start correcting any mistakes, be prepare to have more equipment, remember to add supplies that you are running out. Any "afterthought" that comes to your mind that would only help improve you getting work. Just talking about booking sheets, I figure to give you a look at my Event Call Sheet. Below is a simple Phone Booking Sheet. This fits onto a 8x11 piece of paper. Feel free to copy and make in your own style.

Tony Blanco Event Call Sheet
Phone _____________________fax__________
Address ________________________________
Event and Contact Person____________________
Date and Location _________________________
Time______ entertainment style______________
Group size______________________________
Fee_____________Give aways______________
Press Kit_________TV Media_______________
Sound System or Band______Stage____________
Special Instructions________________________

So afterthoughts are important way to look back on what has happen and what could happen to improve what you already have. Having done some TV work at News stations I have seen this type of "Afterthoughts used. After the newscasters come off the air they go over what just happened with the director and then a quick review of what is to be done for the next segments.
Keeping this concept of "Afterthoughts" in mind in everything that you do can also make you look back on things in your everyday life also. Such as folks that keep a diary, this also is a great learning tool to remember and maybe never ever do again. Sometimes you just need to step back and see what you have done to know what you should be doing in your show and in life. So a quick Thank you to Harry Loyarne for his inspiration all those years ago.

Now on to life lessons, this is a term I also have come to use for those times that after you have had an "Afterthought". Now you use what you have learned either the hard way, or perhaps someone has shared with you this becomes a life lesson and something you put into your daily use everyday. One such case as we may have all learned the hard way, is never depend on any gig to be what someone promises. This means to be always ready, extra electric cords, duct tape, plenty of time to get to the gig and set up. Any time you learn something and put it into daily use this is a life lesson.

Sometimes I would also consider sometimes calling it sterotyping when having a life lesson dealing with people . Meeting people and setting up mental guidelines how to work a room if your strolling and entertaining. If this was the airport you would call it "profiling" but here is a life lesson when it comes to strolling and entertaining. I would notice this more when I worked in Las Vegas and after awhile you could begin to guess from what part of the world a tourist was from before they even spoke. This same type reading people is a life lesson on how to always look good and not say the wrong thing to the right people.

There are many little things that go into the factor of a good performer and how to work the stage or the room. So as we start a New Year with new hopes and wishes, keep a diary or journal of things you observe and notice (afterthoughts) and things that will now become the way you go thru your day (life lessons).

If you have anything to share remember this column is for all who read it and I would love to hear from you. Email me
Best Magical Wishes,
Tony Blanco

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