It’s been a while since I’ve done a show at a retirement center. The main reason has been due to COVID restrictions from many of the corporation that own these facilities impose. I’m not saying I’m against the restrictions, I’m all for protecting seniors and I wouldn’t want anyone to get severely sick or die because I was asymptomatic and brought COVID into the facility.
OK, with all of that said, I did a senior show yesterday and it was a blast! Everyone was out to have a good time, and they were into the show! One thing that I added to my show that I never really did in my senior show was the vanishing birdcage. I closed my show with it and they couldn’t stop talking about it. One resident wouldn’t shut up about the trick (I’m not complaining!), he went to everyone after the show in the halls and would say, “That was a great show, but that bird trick was amazing!” I think I’m going to keep the birdcage in the senior show!
If you want more info on performing at senior facilities, I wrote a book about it called How To Perform For Seniors. This book takes you through booking, material selection, and full of tips and advice for actually doing the gig! If the senior market is something that interests you, you should check out the book!
In Seattle we’re a few weeks away from the Moisture Festival. This is the largest variety arts festival in the USA (possibly the world). I’ve been involved in this festival as a performer for 8ish years and then for the last year as one of the hosts of The Moisture Festival Podcast.
I was just looking a the schedule of performers and for magic fans, there’s a lot of amazing magicians coming to the festival. In 2022 the Moisture Festival has:
Avner The Eccentric Mike Caveney Tina Lenert Skilldini Steve Owens Jamy Ian Swiss Just Felice Joey Pipia Magical Mystical Michael Master Payne Louie Foxx
This morning I was doing my daily writing and came up with cool idea for a trick…one that I have no method for. Here’s the idea:
You have a pen, you unscrew is and take out the ink cartridge, which is see thru and it’s full of black ink. The pen is reassembled. Then someone says a color and the pen writes in that color. This is done several times.
This is essentially Think a Drink where a tea kettle pours various drinks that the audience calls out, but done with a pen. I think the problem with the trick would be that the it’s a trick that would easily be explained by the audience as “color changing ink”. Even if that wasn’t your method, you’d have a hard time convincing an audience it’s that, or paper that changes the ink’s color.
A method could be a borrowed pen and using a stack of business cards set up for the out to lunch principle. The borrowed pen eliminates the possibility of color changing ink. Letting them keep the card and where they could write on it with the same pen and have it not change color would also eliminate or at least reduce the explanation of special paper.
If using the out to lunch principle, you’d need a way to make the colors called feel random. This could be a force, multiple outs or a combination of the two.
Feel free to play with this idea and if you come up with a cool method, let me know! -Louie
I just saw that World of Wonders is starting to take applications from performers to work with them this summer:
I had a blast performing with them last summer for 10 days. The people are cool and the show format is a lot of fun! You do a 3ish minute act twice in the show and you do the show three times a day.
For the 10 days I performed with World of Wonders I took a something I hadn’t done in a few years to relearn to do it and something from my current show. When doing just two acts instead of a whole show, I was really able to focus on making those two tricks better. I ended having a lot of callbacks from the first act in the second act.
If this sort of thing interests you, you should definitely email them! -Louie
This episode of the Moisture Festival Podcast we are in Portland interviewing the fascinating Jon Dutch, aka “Dutch.” We talk about how he got into the circus later in life, the physical tolls it takes on one’s body and how he got into his unique form of acrobatics.
We also discuss the circus scene in Portland, learn about the World Naked Bike Ride and learn about why he created the Rose City Circus and how they were received on the Gong Show. A great conversation with one of the staples of the Portland Circus scene.
For the last few years I’ve been thinking about how to make my show play bigger. It’s a good thing to have in the back of your head when you’re working on your show. A good example was last week I saw my friend Matt Baker perform at a gig for about 80 people. Normally that’s not a huge show…however the gig was in a 15,000 seat venue!
It’s easy for a solo act to get lost on a stage like that. Matt did a great job at that show, and managed to make it work in the venue.
It comes down to how can you make what you do play bigger. This particular stage wasn’t any bigger than many stages I’ve performed on, but visually it made the performer look small. There were a couple reasons for that, the big one was that they wouldn’t turn off the venue’s lights and use the lights on the stage for the show. That meant he had the 5,000 empty chairs behind him which broadens what people are looking at, making him look tiny.
Honestly, I think most illusions shows would have looked small on that stage with the conditions he was working in. With that in mind, something like a normal card trick would be virtually invisible on the state. Little things like trying to make your card tricks work with a jumbo deck won’t hurt for smaller venues, but will really help when you find yourself in situations like this! -Louie
I’m trying to get ahead of orders and have a few more things in stock. Yesterday I needed to make a new mold for my Russian Shell Game trick. I figured I show you what goes into it. I had already made the bottom part of the mold, so here’s how the second half was made.
I put left the shells in the mold and gave it a coat of mold release, otherwise the silicone would stick, and I’d just have a block of silicone with some shells inside that I couldn’t get out.
Then I measured out the silicone and mixed it up:
That gets poured into the existing mold:
Once it poured, I need to wait until it’s fully cured:
And violia! I’ve got the second part of my mold!
Now I take the resin, color it and mix it up, and that goes into the mold:
I put the top on the mold and let that cure until it’s finished hardening:
Once it’s done, I pop that out and I have the almost finished shells. They still need to be sanded. This is a quick way to produce the sets of these shells.
And here’s what the finished product does:
I hope this little walk through of what it takes to make some of my magic props will give you a little insight into the work that goes into prop building! -Louie
Yesterday was a building day over here. Just me with my headphones in listening to music and working on building props for other performers. I’m very thankful for days when I can spend the day just building props without any distractions.
It’s also nice to be able to get ahead and build some extra things so I have some things in stock. Today I managed to be able to get a couple of extra Take Up Reels finished, so now I have some in stock and can ship them out immediately.
Before 2020, I really didn’t keep anything in stock, and everything was made to order. At that point you could really only get my magic tricks from Hocus-Pocus.com. After the venues closed in 2020 I started offering my magic trick for sale here and have a lot more in stock, that’s ready to ship out than I did two years ago.
It’s been great to learn that making items in batches, even when I only need to ship out one of them is a HUGE timesaver. It’s like in sleight of hand, it comes down to the economy of motion. With magic manufacturing, making four of them is usually the same effort as making one.
Now look at what you do in performing. Do you do several different shows, that may share a prop? Would it be easier and ultimately save you a lot of time if you had two of that prop, so you didn’t need to move it case to case? Could you have more than one of your show costume to save time taking it to the cleaners? All of these things could potentially save you a lot of time when you add up all the wasted time over the months and years.
A couple of days ago I was at a showcase and saw my buddy Jeff Martin showcase. Jeff is a working magician and hypnotist.
I first met him years ago when I was performing at an Oktoberfest near where he lives. He came out to see another act I was working with, but stuck around for my show. We had a good time chatting cups and balls after my show.
If you don’t know Jeff, he’s an amazing sleight of hand guy and he won the Magic Castle’s Roving Olympics. We had a good time jamming a few cards tricks.
Here’s Jeff doing some coin work:
If Jeff is ever performing in your area, check him out…and tell him I say hi! -Louie
Lately I’ve been popping into virtual open mics and there’s something that drives me crazy. It’s when performers say, “If you were here I’d have you ____” and usually fill in the blank with something like, “shuffle the cards” or whatever. It’s been almost two years since we’ve moved to virtual, you don’t need to say that. If you haven’t figured out how to do the trick without someone in the room yet, virtual performing may not be for you.
HOWEVER, I do think there is a place to mention that “if it was an in person show, I’d have you _____” and that’s to cover a method. More specifically to rule out a method. A good example of this in an in person show is when Kreskin does the linking finger rings and he exposes the gimmick and says he doesn’t use that.
In a virtual show context, you could say, “If you were here I’d have you shuffle the cards, but you’re not, so I’ll shuffle them…” then you do a false shuffle. The key would be to put a little bit of distance between the false shuffle and a crazy revelation that would only be possible with a deck that was in a special order. Doing a false shuffle and then doing something like Any Card At Any Number would probably be fine without putting in any time misdirection.
To sum it up, don’t tell the audience how you would do things if conditions were different…they aren’t attending an in person show and they know that.