A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a library that had all of their in person shows cancel to the COVID delta variant and needed a virtual show. That had me fly home last night to do a virtual show today. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve done a virtual show, so I’m a bit nervous. I did a couple of checks of things a few days ago and the audio wasn’t working correctly.
Now that I’m home, it’s a little bit easier to work on things as I’m back in my normal space to perform in. I could have done the show from a hotel room, but having my usual area will be helpful as I know where everything is and I’ve done it a bunch from here.
Another advantage when doing the show from home is that I have my daughter here to help me. I’ve always found having the extra person in the room to try to fix any problems is a huge help!
I think that more virtual shows are going to be popping back up on my schedule in the near future…
When you perform at fairs, usually there is a “green room” or space where the performers can hang out between shows. There’s normally food, drinks and air conditioning. It’s a shared space for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have access.
Recently at a fair I performed at there was someone who was obviously sick hanging out in the green room. This specific green room was a trailer, so not a very big space. He had lost his voice, was coughing a lot and visually didn’t look well. None of the other performers wanted to get sick. We chatted about what to do, and settled on insisting that the guy get a COVID test and not allowing him in the green room until he was better, and we then talked to our boss. He still had access to the food and drinks, someone would bring them to him.
Luckily he tested negative for COVID, but he still had a bad cold, flu or something. It’s a courtesy to the other performers to not get them sick if you are sick. Unfortunately, the person was sitting down with with, or standing and hovering while we were sitting and coughing on us. It didn’t feel good to have to someone’s access to the trailer removed, however when one person can put the a dozen other people at risk of not being able to work, it’s a big deal.
Staying healthy on the road is a challenge and it’s hard to do. All it takes is one bad cold to make you lose a week long gig and financially that sucks! Do what you need to do to stay healthy!
The fair that I’m performing at has me staying at a rental house with a couple of other performers. There’s another magician and a couple of musicians. The magician asked about my Take Up Reel one night and I got it out and chatted with him about it. The musicians asked what it was, and I explained what it did. One them them wanted to me to show them the trick, so I grabbed a coat and did the vanishing bird cage.
This led to something very interesting. The musicians knew how the trick worked, but were blown away when I did the trick. They knew the cage went up my sleeve, but had not idea how that was possible. The had seen the gimmicks, and how they operated and they trick still fooled them.
So what’s the lesson?
You don’t need to be super protective of every little secret in things that you do. Some tricks will stand the test of still being a fooler when the audience knows how the trick works.
Right now I’m performing in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, and about 20 minutes away is Spokane, Washington. Spokane has a magic club and I know most of the people there. I swung by an did a mini lecture with Adam The Great and Cecil Lewis. We talked about working the fair circuit and taught some tricks.
This is a three phase routine where the silk goes through a coat hanger. Each time the penetration is a little bit different. The first two phased are pretty standard silk and ring moves, but the third is a move that’s unique to using a coat hanger.
This was fun to finally teach! I’m glad I’ve now put it out there into the world. Honestly, I’m not sure how many people will ever do it, as it’s a pain to do and the reel is expensive!
At the fair I was performing and at the end of the show I looked down and my giant spoon had broken in two pieces!
The spoon act was something that I had taken out of my show a while ago, but started doing for a gig this summer. It’s been in the show all summer since!
I do have more spoons at home, the issue is that the spoon is big and heavy. My car won’t be home until November, so if I want to grab another one, I’ll have to fly with it. Luckily, my friend Elliott Hunter understands metal and gave me some advice to try to get it through the summer. The simple crutch is some JW Weld and hopefully that will hold.
I’m going to have to be careful with it, but with a bit of luck, I won’t have try to fly with one of these!
Before I headed out on the road, I was cleaning up and noticed a book that been kicking around my office forever. I’m not sure how I ended up with the book, but I’ve never read it, so I threw it in my car. The book is Class Act: The Magic of Tony Binarelli.
When I was a teenager I think I had seen Tony Binarelli lecture at the Desert Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. At that time he was lecturing on mentalism from his book My Way to Mentalism. Honestly, I don’t remember much of lecture, but I picked up a set of the lecture notes for a friend of mine.
Ok, back to the Class Act book. There’s a lot of hype in the introduction of the book about innovative moves. The first two card sleights are a top palm and second deal, both of which I think predate Tony. However it’s also entirely possible that they are his.
The top palm is a two handed top palm and it’s not very good as written. It’s something that I was doing as a teenager because I couldn’t quite do the one handed top palm. Essentially, it’s a two handed, one handed top palm. In my version I slightly slid the top card forward with the deck held in mechanics grip. Then my other hand pressed down on the outjogged part and the card pops into your palm. In Tony’s version, he slides a lot of the cards forward, it looks strange. The one advantage to Tony’s that they don’t really mention, but kinda hint at is that it makes it easier to palm off multiple cards. You pinkie count them with your ring finger as you push down and they pop up.
The second deal is a turn over deal, you can’t deal face down from a face down pack. I was just chatting with Chris Beason about this second deal technique a few weeks ago. It looks good, but not a natural looking deal.
So far, I’m glad I’m reading the book instead of getting rid of it without reading it.
A few weeks ago I was packing up to head out on the road and perform my show with World of Wonders side show in North Dakota, I noticed that my rechargeable batteries and charger was missing. I tried to find some at stores along my drive to Minot, ND, however nowhere sold a charger than held more than two batteries. My show uses up to 12 batteries between my mics and PA.
I was about to order a new set, but then I got a text from the sound company with a picture of my charger and batteries!
It turns out that writing your name on your stuff actually helps get it back to you if you forget it somewhere. I’ve always written my name on props, and cords and this is the first time that it’s come in handy. I’m glad I did, these are in the mail to me now and I won’t have to buy a new set.
Look at the props you have, especially things like cords where there could be a lot of them that look similar in a backstage area and write your name on them. It may help reunite them with you!
Last week I did a blog post about a torn card trick (read it here) and I had a chance to do some work on it and try to improve it. I eliminated the use of the Intersessor gimmick, as it made the trick more complex because I had to ditch it, and it’s not easy to palm.
Here’s the second version:
I think this is a better way to do it, and it got a good reaction.
I’ve been working on my technique for making the card jump out and it’s getting better. I’m consistently getting bigger jumps of the card from the deck. What’s missing is the effect. Right not it’s now clear what’s going on. I also need to figure out a better way to vanish the torn pieces.
This is a packet trick revision of a trick called Ghost Cards. The following video has me do the trick as written in the instructions, followed by me trying to improve it.
The main problem with the trick as written is that there’s a lot of props and procedure to make one side of one card appear. In my revised version you can make four faces appear, which makes much more sense than just one. While not in the video, you can reverse the procedure to make the cards disappear at the end.
This is a trick that snuck into my close up set at the fair I recorded the video at. I forgot to take it out of my pocket the first day, and it lived there all week and I did it all week. It was fun, and I did it for people who had seen me multiple times as something different for them, but it’s not making it into the regular set.
One thing I hate when performing is forgetting or mispronouncing an act’s name if I have to introduce them. Recently a show I was performing on had an performer whose stage name wasn’t the name I knew them by, and the stage name was unusual.
To make it easy, I put a cheat sheet on my table:
You’ll notice the name is spelled out phonetically. That helps me read it at a glance. It really makes a difference, rather than seeing how they spell it and trying to figure it out.