After about 19 months, I’m back out on the road performing at state and county fairs across the USA. This week I’m at the San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo, California. Having a wide scope of what my work is this week made me pack pretty much everything!
My “road tip” is that I never leave my show in my car at the hotel overnight. This is the stuff that I need to do my show, and if I don’t have it, I can’t do my show. Yes, I can do a show with things from the local walmart, but that’s not the show that was hired, or the show that I want to do.
Lugging all your gear to your room adds 10 mins to your day, but it’s way better than getting your car broken into and you losing your show!
The other day I ended up acquiring a button making machine from a friend who was getting rid of it. I’ve always loved the art in older magic books and I think they make cool buttons. Here’s a few that I made:
I went to a used bookstore and bought a couple of cheap magic books and cut these out of them. I’ll probably throw these in with orders of my magic products that I ship out. Also, if I ever end up as a dealer at a magic convention again, I’ll probably have a fishbowl of them and sell them for a few bucks.
If you want one, they’re $7 shipped in the USA for a random one, I’ll just grab one and put it in an envelope.
Ugh, there’s a reason that people think magicians are cheesy. Here’s a post from facebook magic group:
This style of shirt was big in late 1990’s, and are pretty much out of fashion now. Also just because something has playing card pips on it, that doesn’t mean it’s good for a magician to wear.
I’m going to say that I’m not the most stylish magician out there, but if you dress like it’s 1999, you’ll be treated like a magician from 1998. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons to wear shirts like this, but there are more reasons not to than there are to wear them!
A while ago when I bought a Himber Pail, I was worried that while I loved the trick, the audience wouldn’t. The routine is coming together and I’ve done it at two theaters and four school assemblies that were in person shows, and it’s playing well!
This is a trick that I’ve loved for a long time, and I think my enthusiasm helps carry the routine, but the trick is also good!
The thing with this trick is that I didn’t hope that the trick was strong enough on its own, I put in some time and work on the routine. That’s the secret to my success, if I buy a prop, I don’t use it as the directions say, I think about about and make the prop work for me!
I just scored a big win yesterday! The clip that I use on the end of my personal take up reel that I use for the vanishing birdcage is something that was on a pull that was given to me more than 25 years ago! I’ve been trying to find another one for about 15 years and really haven’t had any luck.
The first challenge was figuring out what the clip was called. Trying to call manufacturers or distributers to ask for it is really hard if you don’t know what to ask for. And usually the guy that answers the phone doesn’t know their parts well enough for my description.
Once I managed to figure out what it was call, then next step was finding them. I found one on ebay, and after getting it, it was too big. This was an achievement, and I’ve confirmed someone is still making them, just not in the size I need. More hunting and phone calls followed and I learned the manufacturer still listed them their catalog in the smaller size I needed, but no distributor or retailer would special order them for me…not even when I offered to fill the minimum wholesale order and they could just tack a fee on top of that.
I continued to push forward trying to work directly with the manufacturer in Europe, but they only deal with people in certain industries, and magic isn’t one of them. This was a dead end, but I was still occasionally email the manufacturer, distributors, and retailers and get the same response.
That leads me to a few months ago when I noticed that the manufacturer had recently opened a warehouse in the USA! Unfortunately there was no phone number on their website, just a contact form. I sent a bunch over the last months and finally got a call back from them! It was a new salesman that was hired on and he happened to see my email and was intrigued by me using it for a magic trick.
After some chatting, he found a workaround to sell them to me as I’m not in an industry that they supply stuff to. Oh, then there was the problem that while the clip in the size I needed was listed in the catalog, they don’t make them any more. He talked to some people in the warehouse and they found a box of them. it was far less than their minimum order, but if I took them all he’d sell them to me…and of course I said YES!
So I’m now owner of a box of clip I use for the vanishing birdcage.
The moral of the story is to keep pushing ahead. When you are working on a trick, or trying to build a prop and you hit a wall, keep pushing forward*. Sure, you can put the project on the back burner for a bit, but you will usually eventually come up with the solution.
*Sometimes there are projects that after some point need to be abandoned.
One thing that I’ve been doing are virtual lectures for magic clubs. It’s really a good medium for what I do as I can show video clips of how things actually play, versus how things play for a room of magicians out of context from a real show. The vibe of a lecture is something that’s very different from a show, and when doing the tricks, it’s hard to capture the same energy, so showing the video clips really helps me out!
One of the advantages to doing the lecture from home is that I have soo much stuff within an arm’s reach. If someone asks a question about a trick/prop/routine that I wasn’t planning on talking about, usually I can quickly grab it. With an in person lecture, I’m limited to what I brought with me.
Here’s some feedback from last week’s lecture:
Currently I’m doing these to raise money for the IBM Endowment Fund. The magic club that hosts the lecture makes a donation to the fund in place of my fee.
If your magic club is looking for a lecture…shoot me a note!
In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned the Stuart Gordon Double Turnover and that you should learn it, even if you never do it in a show. I think knowing different double lifts is handy so that when you do need one you can vary your technique or choose the right one for the situation. That goes with most sleight of hand, knowing different ways to accomplish the same action makes you a much better artist.
Recently I’ve been playing with the action of the Stuart Gordon Double Turnover, but not as a double turnover, but as a display of two cards. In the action of displaying and fanning the cards I’m able to hide a card. Technically it’s a three as two display in a fan.
The problem I had with it was besides it being very “knacky” it really didn’t provide an advantage over existing moves. I was jamming with Jonathan Friedman and Chris Beason and showed them the move. We really couldn’t come up with much besides using it to switch one or two cards. There are a lot of better ways to switch a card or two.
I kept playing with it and worked out a sequence for the move. Here’s a rough version of it, it’s pretty clunky and I’ve cleaned up the final get ready since I made this video.
Here’s the routine:
I’m not sure that a two card simultaneous ambitious card is better than with a single card, but it gives the move a purpose.
Over the summer I did a few shows that were socially distant, no contact, masked, outdoor shows for younger kids. One of the things that really helped carry the show was the Remote Control Chatting Teeth that I had made a few years ago. I’ve only used these in live, in person shows…until a few nights ago!
It played really well! I was worried that it wouldn’t translate over video, but the kids reacted to it just like a live show! I’m not sure that the gag belongs in the cup and dice routine, it worked there, but there’s probably a better place. I think I’m going to keep them within arm’s reach for all of my virtual kid/family magic shows
One of the things I like about doing virtual shows is that I can do stuff in my show that I couldn’t possibly do in an in person magic show. I also think that’s one of the key things to doing a virtual show is having elements that separate it from your in person magic show.
I do a little bit with thought bubbles in my virtual show, that really wouldn’t play at an in person show with physical signs for the thought bubbles.
When I hopefully return to doing mostly in person shows, I’m going to miss some of things that I could do in virtual shows.