Intro Video for Live Shows

Over the weekend I went to see the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s a fun show, and totally worth checking out if they’re in your area. One thing that they do (as most sporting events do) is they have an introduction video.

The pictures above don’t really do the intro video justice. It’s really just a quick sizzle reel to hype up the crowd and also give them a little bit of context as to what they’re about to see.

This is something my old agent Sunny had me do for showcasing and it’s carried into many shows where they have the capability of an intro video. It tells the audience it’s start time and will introduce me and my show better than 90% of people who introduce me. My intro video won’t say my name wrong, and will get my intro right 100% of the time and not try to add in things that it thinks is funny, but isn’t.

These don’t have to be very long, maybe 30-60 seconds and are really just a sizzle reel, to get the crowd to shift their attention to the stage.


The Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

Way back in 2021 there was some discussion of the Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic on The Magic Cafe. In their advertising they say that it’s exactly like in the book, and I bought one of sets from the first run. The cage wasn’t made right and neither was the pull, and I mentioned this is a thread on The Magic Cafe.

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

I probably get an email every couple months about this post and just got one and figured I would share my most recent response with my experience with the cage. Before you read my thoughts and experience on the Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic, I want to be clear that I’ve heard they’ve correct some (possibly all) of the issues below.

The message begins below:

Yes, that’s the TW cage set I was referring to.  I bought one from the first run and when I brought up the issue with the reel not having the second lock, here’s their reply:


We are aware of the second lock. It has two functions as described in the book: “They guide the cord as it winds around the reel-drum, and they halt the cord-stop, so that the ratchet arm can lock it in place.”

But we found two problems when we made it according to the book.

The first is that the locking device will produce a certain resistance, hinder the cord to pull back, and will wear the cord, make the cord break very soon. If that happens, we need to replace the cord frequently, and that will increase the risk of breaking the cord during the performance.

The second is that our reel’s pulling force is large enough, the gravity of the cage or other forces will not pull the cord out, only when people pull the cord out. So the lock is dispensable and will produce additional friction.

It’s great for making yourself and repairing yourself but people do not want to “buy” a product that they will constantly have to fix. This was the case with the double lock.

For this reason, we have made the following improvements: In order to reduce the friction between the cord and other parts when the line is pulled back, we made a rubber pad at the opening of the tube, and the inner part of the housing is chamfered.

Therefore, based on the above considerations of friction, service life and functionality, we did not make this locking device

JM Magic USA rep

Their response is 100% BS, first of all it contradicts their marketing that the props are exactly like what’s in the book.  If they made it correctly, there is no issue…AND their reel definitely wasn’t strong enough to resist the force of the vanish without giving out some line.

Then a few days later I got this email from their main email.


Thank you very much for your purchase and feedback.

After receiving your feedback, our team studied the problem again and found that the problem is very serious, so we will make a new version of the reel as soon as possible, and add this second lock. Then we will contact our agent, who will contact you to send back the reel and replace it for the new version.

We think you are a person who knows TW’s props very well. Are there any other problems with the vanishing birdcage you received?

And your insight makes us do better. In order to express our gratitude, we will send you another set of props made by our team. Could you provide us with your address?

Hope ur reply

JM Magic (asia)

OK, so they’ve admitted they’ve made it incorrectly. They never sent me a replacement set as they promised two years ago, however here was my reply with the things wrong with it.  I replied with the other issues with the set, like the double action pull being made wrong and parts of the cage being made backwards, so you can’t hold it properly.  The attached pics are what are referenced in the following email:


The “Single action double action” pull that came with my birdcage set was made incorrectly.  I attached a picture titled: pull

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

The pull that I received had the cord stop circled in the green placed on the wrong side of the pulley.  It was placed where the red dot is, making it non-functioning. 

Also for the shoulder strap circled in Blue in the picture wasn’t there.  It had a metal pin and loop, that I’m not sure how I was supposed to attach it to my shoulder based on the description in the books.

As for the cage, if you look at the attached picture: cage1  

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

In the picture you will see the two circled pieces. The pieces circled in red and blue are different shapes in the books.  The cage I got had two shaped like what I circled in red.  Both of those being the same shape makes it very difficult to hold the cage properly.  You need the one shaped like what is circled in blue.

Now look at the attached picture: cage2

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

The rivets in the cage you sent were like what is circled in red.  Tommy made them like what is circled in blue.  The reason for this reduces the chances they could snag and decreases the wear on the cage with use. 

Hope that helps, and I look forward to seeing the this made correctly!


That’s the end of our correspondence, and I never got a replacement set or even a thank you.  I have no idea if they corrected the issues or not, however I will not buy anything from their TW line as it’s not how they advertise it as being what’s in the books and are cutting corners. 

Silver Rocket Box by Richard Himber

I’m a huge fan of Richard Himber and his magic. One of the things that magicians say is that he had a huge ego and they support that by mentioning that he named his tricks the “himber wallet“, “himber ring” etc. That’s not quite true, those tricks were marketed under different names that didn’t have himber in the titles. Magicians started calling them himber ____.

At a magic auction a while ago ago I picked up a Silver Rocket Box that Richard Himber put out. It’s a super clever trick for producing silks.

@louiefoxx Silver Rocket Box vintage magic trick by Richard Himber! #vintagemagic #antiquemagic #vintage #magic #antique #collectiblemagic #louiefoxx #stagemagic #richardhimber ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

I added the cup production. One thing that most silk productions lack is an ending. Usually they end with one big silk, which I think isn’t a good ending. You need to bunch up the silks and produce a bowling ball or whatever.


Busker Organ

About 10 years ago I worked at an event where there was a Street Organ / Busker Organ. These are hand crank organs that are cranked by an “organ grinder”. I was fascinated by it, and it’s something I’ve thought about doing. I even bought a set of John Smith‘s plans for make my own, but never did.

Then few months ago I was in Mexico City and these street organs were everywhere!

@vintageorgan Street Organ in Mexico City! #streetorgan #mexicocity #busker #buskerorgan #oldetyme #streetperformer #mexico ♬ original sound – vintageorgan

That got me very interested in doing it again and I went out and found a guy who could make me one! Here’s the organ that was made for me:

@vintageorgan Busker Organ! #streetorgan #organgrinder #organ #buskerorgan #vintageinstrument #holland ♬ original sound – vintageorgan

It was custom made in Europe and I should have it in a few days. I have some ideas for what to do with it, and we’ll see what happens when it arrives!

I went ahead and got all the socials for it:

Go and give them a follow!

And the website


Card Production

A few nights ago I was dinking around with a deck of cards while watching a movie with my wife and came up with a production of the top card of a face down deck.

It’s not the greatest production, but it’s something. The action of the card reminds me of something in Ernest Earick‘s book By Forces Unseen.

I think the next step to making it better would be a way to have it come out of the center of the deck…but not sure if that’s possible!


Magic Meals!

Whenever I travel I always try to meet up with the magicians in that area! Since Chris Beason and I were in Canada last week to see Harrison Greenbaum’s show, there were a lot more magicians out than if I was just randomly in that town.

chris beason, rob tzeka, chris uhill, and glen lebarre

Before the show we got to have dinner with many of the the magicians in British Columbia!

Then after the show we got to have second dinner with the Norden’s and Harrison.

Mike norden, chris beason and harrison greenbaum

And the next day we got to have lunch with Reg Donnelly and Paul Romhany!

Chris beason, paul romhany and reg donnely

Paul knew, but didn’t mention that he had won the literary award from the magic castle! They announced it the next day.

It’s always fun to hang out and swap stories with magicians! If I’m ever in your area, shoot me an note, if I’m available, I’d love to kick it!


Show Set Lists

For every show that I do, I have a written set list. I know my show, but I always have one. For my main show, it’s taped to the inside of the lid of my case. Recently I was in a show where I did three five minute spots, so the list was written on a piece of paper inside the bin on my table top.

stage magic show

I do this for a couple reasons, for my main show if I’m repacking it, it’s easy to go down the list as I pack to make sure I have all of my props. For unusual configurations of my show, it makes sure I have all the correct props set. It also takes brainpower out of what I’m doing, I can glance at the list and know what to do!


Vanishing Birdcages!

Vanishing birdcage

While I was in Canada last weekend I was chatting with some magicians after the Harrison Greenbaum show and someone mention there was a guy about an hour away that was making vanishing birdcages and gave me his phone number. I called him the next day, and was invited over and got to see some of his cages!

These cages are great and since he’s not mass producing them, he’s open to doing custom sizes. The cages have a great action to them and look great!

Vanishing birdcage

I’m very fortunate to have gotten to see these cages and I’m on the list for a cage the next time he makes them!!!

Talking to people and then following up on opportunities when they present themselves is one of the biggest secrets to success. Not just in prop hunting, but in life!


Harrison Greenbaum Show

Harrison Greenbaum

Last weekend I drove up to Canada with my buddy Chris Beason to see Harrison Greenbaum‘s show. I had heard a lot about him, but never really have seen him perform. I had seen a version of his lecture at an online magic convention.

In the show he did six tricks in 90+ minutes. That’s about one trick every 15 minutes. He doesn’t get 15 minutes out of the trick in a traditional sense. Before tricks he has stand up comedy that segues from the previous trick to the next trick. This is the way to do it, none of the routines feel like they’re dragging out.

Harrison Greenbaum

Harrison’s show is also very much in the moment, and he does a lot crowd work (talking to the crowd, ad libbing with them, then using that info in the show). This makes the show feel like you are definitely seeing a unique show that will never happen again.

Harrison Greenbaum

Watching Harrison’s show is a good lesson in how much you can do with a huge personality and very minimal props. He doesn’t just stand in one spot, he moves all over the stage and really fills the space. It doesn’t feel like a bar show that happens to be on a stage, it feels like a stage show that happens to use smaller props.


My Audio Lifeboat During Stage Shows!

In my tech sheet that I send out for stage gigs, one of the things I ask for is a corded microphone in a straight stand. This is my emergency microphone, in case something strange happens with my headset mic. I ask for the mic to be muted on the mic, no the soundboard. If I need to use it, I simply grab it and switch it on. I don’t need to ask a sound guy to hand me one or switch it on.

Here’s my emergency mic at a large corporate event sitting behind their projection screen:

hand held microphone

I don’t always get a corded mic, less and less venues and sound companies have them. I frequently travel with my own handheld mic with a switch, however I don’t travel with cord. I’m OK with a wireless handheld as an emergency mic, but prefer a corded as if something is causing interference with wireless, I definitely won’t have the same problem with a handheld.