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Author Archive

postheadericon Turn the Page

Booklet of LifeIt’s been three years since the onset of the recession. Quite a bit has changed in the magic industry as well as my personal life. As I look back on past articles I’ve written, many of my predictions have come to be. Lots of magic shops have closed their doors, the distributors have lowered their inventory levels and have phased out much of their product line. Newsletters from magic dealers come with more frequency and close-out prices. I’ve seen emails begging and pleading for sales. It’s still pretty bad out there.

We’ve decided to hold off on sending newsletters indefinitely.

That’s a bold decision my part, but one that I  feel strongly about. I stated a moment ago that I see our competitors blasting out emails on a daily and weekly basis in an effort to survive. I also think that constant bombarding of things that can’t be afforded at the present time by most people is… well…kind of rude. While I will continue to promote certain items and share news events, it will only be done through Trickery Talk.

While the above words seems bleak, negative situations always create positive reactions.

What’s that mean for The Trickery?

When we shifted our focus from carrying over 3000 items and stocking them all to concentrating on our own items and select product lines from other vendors, our profitability jumped from 10% to 60%. While our gross sales have fallen, we’re still netting more monies at the end of the day. All good stuff! While you’ve noticed more out of stocks than usual and less updating of new items, you’ll begin to see some changes throughout our site over the next several months.

To answer a question I’ve been asked many times recently…We are NOT closing our virtual doors, nor do we plan to that ever! It simply doesn’t make sense to focus primarily on The Trickery until the American economy begins to revive itself. We have no problem holding our own and keeping a low profile until it does so. When the time is right, we have an incredible new line of highly collectible magic tricks that we will unleash in a big way. We’re quietly active behind the scenes as some of my greatest projects are slowly being brought to fruition. 

To generate new cash flow streams, my attentions turned to my other business and passion, WebAuthorings. I create custom designs and web systems for the Internet, as well as print ad graphics, audio, video and a slew of other services for small and medium businesses. WebAuthorings.com is doing very nicely and growing substantially. We are migrating more than 75 domains and clients sites over the next several weeks to 5 Cloud servers. We’ve also created customized ecommerce systems for 3 very well known manufacturers of finer magic. You can see some of our work at WebAuthorings.com.

On a personal note, I’ve started chemo treatments several weeks ago. Round 3 begins early April @ New York Presbyterian. Each round is made up of 5 sessions, Monday through Friday. It’s working beautifully so far. Treatment will take me into early July. I also joined Weight Watchers because apparently chemo just wasn’t enough! Already down 12 lbs in 5 weeks! The short term goal is by July to be cancer-free and 30 lbs lighter. The majority of cancer is now gone from my body. The lymph nodes have mostly dissipated or reduced significantly in size. Slightly better results than my oncologist anticipated this soon! And my skinny jeans are lose! Yay!

I’m becoming more involved with performing and spending quite a bit of time putting together a presentation interspersed with magic that one of my partners and I will shop around for financial backing and hopefully production.   

If you want to contact me with any magic related questions, please call me in the morning hours at 973.657.0446. For web related questions please call 973.657.0447 anytime during business hours EST.

Rose and I wish all of you well and look forward to serving your magical needs …and possibly your web related needs!

postheadericon 2010′s Final Curtain

A look back on a decade and a half. We’ve done a lot of cool innovative things over the years. I always seem to reflect on life this time of year. A great many friends were made through The Trickery as well an incredible customer base throughout the world. For starting out doing flea markets with only 35 items and a $1000 investment, we did well!

One of the kids that used to buy from was Brian. His parents would drive him to our studio to pick out tricks he liked. Years later, Brian conned his school into doing an internship with us. I can’t help but think of Kramerica! Those of you who are Seinfeld fans will appreciate the reference! After the internship, Brian worked at The Trickery for a couple of years before heading off to scool in PA. In 2011, Rose and I are attending Brian’s wedding.  Man! How the time flies!

Shari’s kids are now taller than me…though, sadly, most people are! Don is retired. Jason settled down with a girl, kids and a new puppy. Chris is finishing school. Amanda is now living on the west coast. Rose now works for Tiffany & Co and helps in the mornings with The Trickery.

My focus is split between The Trickery & WebAuthorings. The web development business is growing as quickly as The Trickery did in its early stages. And of course, when I find the time, I still perform.

Enough of my rambling! I will leave you with the video below. Have a happy, healthy holiday and a great new year!

postheadericon Metro Magic VI 2010

The Lecturers!

postheadericon WebAuthorings Metro-Magic Promo

Metro Magic Promotion

Now Thru October 31, 2010
Save $300 on the creation of your custom website when you host for one year with WebAuthorings!

Websites for Magicians

Click here to contact us!

postheadericon Metro Magic VI

Metro Magic VIBob Solari  Bill Wisch Carl Bajor present…

Metro Magic VI

The annual, exciting, one-day, close-up magic convention, for all tri-state,
New York City, metropolitan area magicians and magic enthusiasts.

Featuring:

♦ DARYL ♦ PAUL GREEN 
♦ JOHN BORN ♦ BILL WISCH

Lots of Magic Dealers, too!

This year honoring Dorothy Dietrich for her many contributions to the world of magic including:
  • Many television appearences
  • New York’s Magic Townhouse
  • Houdini Hall of Fame Museum
  • The Famed Bullet Catch
 Dorothy Dietrich

When :SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2010
Where: Quality Inn Meadowlands
10 Polito Ave
Intersection of Rt 17 & Rt 3
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
201-933-9800

Event Schedule
Metro Magic VI

Register Now @ Metro Magic!

postheadericon Hocus Pocus – Shift of Focus

Sometimes life pulls us in a multitude of directions. It happens by choice, circumstance or chance. With the global economy being what it is at this point in time, shifting focus from selling to performing what I’ve sold for 18 years seemed inevitable.

 

While I have always maintained my skills as a close-up and parlor magician, I’ve allowed almost 15 years to lapse since I have performed magic on the stage. I recently had the opportunity to recreate what was once my passion in a beautifully refurbished theater in my home town of Philadelphia. I received the phone call on a Friday and had the weekend to either book the week long engagement for myself or to find someone else to fill the bill. I decided to put myself outside of my comfort level. Sometimes, we’re capable of great things if we give ourselves a little push.

 

I had a little less than 8 weeks to fully create, produce and perfect a 45 minute stage show. Several days were spent deciding what pieces I would perform. Owning a magic shop should make that chore rather simple. The truth is it’s really not that simple. I have concepts in my mind of how something should look. In many circumstances, props need to be modified or created to meet those demands.

 

Once the list of effects and concepts was created, the music was selected and edited to fit the proper time elements required by each selection. At this point about a week had elapsed. Some of the pieces chosen were things I was comfortable doing many years ago. Several new pieces were added. Usually my wife worked with me for larger shows. This trip I would be completely  solo.

 

Two of the pieces required a bunny; the Bunny Bucket and Where does the Bunny Go. One inherit problem having someone offstage load and unload the bunny when needed. I trust very few people to assist me especially when it comes to caring for livestock. Since Rose could not be with me, I needed to go offstage to load the bunny just before I needed to produce her.

 

After a bit of thought I decided to create a five minute interactive movie to be shown on a large movie screen. This simple task of creating the movie took me about 14 hours to accomplish. It was well worth my time. While the movie played for the audience I would have enough time to freshen up a bit, set a couple of things in action for the last part of the show and of course load the bunny.

 

Some other solo nuances were worked out and the show started to develop. The opening number was modified a number of times before coming up with the proper number of pieces to produce form a tip trunk. The show begins with dark and mysterious music. As the curtains open a shadowy figure is seen hold a flaming torch. As he carefully looks over his audience, he tosses balls of fire high into the air. As bright white stage light fades in, the audience sees a large square chest atop an open-framed table. The audience is allowed to view the interior of the empty box.

 

As the music builds the torch is tossed high into the air where it magically turns into a large silver sceptre.  It is the source of the magician’s power. It’s waved over and around the empty chest. As the music reaches its peak, endless streamers painted with a rainbow of colors  are pulled from the chest in rapid fire succession. One after the other colorful umbrellas are pulled from the chest which fill the stage floor. As the music comes to an end, two large bird cages each displaying a pretty white dove are pulled from the once empty chest. The lights fade, the curtains close and the magician bows to his audience.

 

Another 2 weeks and the rest of the show was put in place. The following two weeks were spent practicing fragments of the show. Once comfortable with each prop, full rehearsals were put into place on a daily basis. The cue sheets were created for the lighting technician, sound man and backstage hand. As showtime came closer, we made arrangements to borrow a cargo van for the week, rescued two Lion-head Dwarf Rabbits from a local animal shelter, decided on costuming and invited some close friends as well as several strangers for dress rehearsals.

 

An old friend who I remain very close with today, called to ask if I needed a hand with the show. Thankfully, I took him up on his offer. Alan used to help me some 30 years ago with my magic. As it turned out, he was a Godsend! The backstage hand was not available from the theater. Alan saved my life that week!

 

On Saturday, August 24th, we left early in the morning for Philadelphia. We had just 3 hours to set up the show, and do one run-through with the lighting tech and sound man. The theater was closed on Sunday. The next day would be opening day…the  first show. While I much rather would have rehearsed late into the night on Saturday and Sunday, the one time would have to suffice.

 

Monday morning came in what seemed like just minutes. The theater was filled to capacity. Standing room only; all 400 seats filled! A few minor glitches, but non noticeable to the audience…except for the brief moment the rope became tangled as it uncoiled. A funny ad-libbed comment and the moment passed right by everyone!  Each day the show became tighter with minor adjustments that can only be done during live shows. By Thursday everything was tight and all parties were 100% in sync.

 

The show was very well received by all of the audiences throughout the week. It was worth the effort.

postheadericon Magic with Attitude

madface_ping

While we all struggle with life’s throwbacks from time to time, it still amazes me that the larger US magic distributors have such an ill regard for their customers. Perhaps the same holds true in other industries, but I can’t believe it is quite as bad as the piss poor service and attitude provided by the sales reps and the owners of these companies.

 

While I have severed ties with the majority of  US Magic Jobbers, there are still one or two that I purchase from when my inventory levels dictate that I need more stock. While most of the time, my systems export and  create the necessary data that can be emailed or faxed, I choose at times to call an order in to the distributor. I like a personal touch and sometimes there are questions I need to know that will allow me to modify an order on the spot. I also want to know if the item is in stock. Most magic distributors do not take advantage of today’s technology that allows the customer to know if something they purchased will be included in their order.

 

This morning’s task was a simple one. 13 everyday items – 24 pieces of each. It would be a simple 5 minute phone call. I started the call by greeting  the owner in a friendly and personable manner…as always. I followed this by saying, “I have quick fill-in order for you…about 13 items.” I guess I was foolish to think that any order in today’s magic market of economical woes was to be appreciated. I was asked to email it in. I advised I was not by a computer and asked if an employee was available to take the call. The next words I heard were, “Always something with you!”

 

Hmmm! The concept of calling to give him money for something he is in business to sell seems to have taken him aback! After 18 years of doing business with him, my call is apparently quite a burden. Perhaps he is disenchanted with me because I returned an expensive item a couple of orders ago that came to me crushed and unsalvageable. Perhaps 24 pieces of everything on my list wasn’t enough! No! I didn’t even give him the order at that point. Maybe  rainy days and Mondays always get him down. Nonetheless, it just wasn’t very nice.

 

Too often, this is what really goes on behind the scenes in the magic industry.  Rudeness, arrogance, ignorance, pretentiousness and no concept of even a bare minimum level of customer service. Truly shameful.

postheadericon Light The Night Walk

Light The Night

Rose & I are participating in “Light The Night Walk” for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising event in October. Both my mom and me have been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). If you are able, please stop by the site and make a donation to help fight this disease. Thank you!!!

 

Welcome to our Team’s Homepage

pages.lightthenight.org

Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s evening walk and fundraising event. It is the nation’s night to pay tribute and bring hope to thousands of people battling blood cancers and to commemorate loved ones lost.

postheadericon In the Know

predictionchests

 

Being in the know and ahead of well…ordinary people requires certain tools utilized the mentalist or spiritualist. I was recently asked about the various props that would allow a prediction effect in an elegant setting. I thought it would make an interesting article to share with you. I am assuming most of you will know the various methods of the pieces I will talk about. While I will get into some basic concepts I will not go into detail on any of the items mentioned. You can always call me directly to discuss something not covered at length here.

Most chest predictions either require pre-show work or an assistant offstage. Keyloader type of predictions usually in effect have the box/chest being given/mailed to a person long before the date of the show. When the key is inserted, the box unlocked and opened for the first time, a newspaper headline of the show date is shown to lie within. While key-injected chests have always intrigued me, the scrolled prediction is a very small piece of paper rolled very tightly which never quite made sense to me. A very large pirate type of chest with over-sized skeleton key would make better sense, but still not perfect.
 
Malloy’s version and various others as you know are great, but rely on an offstage helper.

Nest of boxes type of props can be used to reveal a prediction, but if a no force method is used, the method of secretly writing on a paper then folding it comes into play. It can be done with a nail writer, but it’s not an easy ploy to work alone.
 
The concept of having a forced object written on a paper then revealed doesn’t appeal to me unless the force is brilliant and really seems impossible. Some interesting thoughts here!
 
John Kennedy used to have the Mystery Box gaffed for a prediction. He called the Prediction Mystery Box. While he no longer sells this piece, a standard Mystery Box can be gaffed to do the same thing. Using a thumb writer could most definitely work in this instance as the misdirection, focus and byplay of a spectator removing the lid of the box and seeing a folded paper inside can be time enough to thumb write the prediction and secretly fold the slip of paper emulating the folded slip within the box. You’re 100% clean in  the end. Of course your staging and misdirection has to extreme in detail for this to work flawlessly.
 
Utilizing the Free Will concept also has larger ‘chest’ or presentation possibilities. Once the method is learned (which is remarkably brilliant and simple), any 3 objects can be used like a watch, wallet and ring. The only prediction is the the one locked in a chest that was given to the spectator prior to the show. It can also be transparent chest as there are no switches.
 
The more practical props easily used for one-man effects divert to spirit slates, mental epics, etc. The newest piece on the market is the Ghost Writer’s Box. When I created this, my thought was to have something simple and perfect in working that the magician never had to touch. Something that would very easily take the place of Spirit Slates and be formal and elegance at the same time.  It can be used as a switching device to reveal a headline prediction with just a little thought and effort.

It comes down to several variables when making an intellegent decission on purchasing one of these items. Venue, theme and practicality will play the largest role in determining what prop works best for you. Which simply leave personal preference as a final deciding factor.

postheadericon The GWB is Here!

NOW SHIPPING!
“The Ghost Writer’s Box, by Howard Baltus, has me very excited! When I first saw it I couldn’t believe the craftsmanship. Not only is the box itself a work of art, but the design and applications have my mind working overtime with ideas for it! Between the box and the included cloth bag, which stands alone as another utility device, you can create countless applications for the apparatus. If you are a serious performer, then you need to know this is a serious device, designed and built by a serious magician for serious work.”
Richard Osterlind
Click here for details.

Quick Read…

Another View

Far beyond the scope of Spirit Slates!

Key notes:

  • +You are not limited to cards as a prediction. Our routines suggest many other concepts that are very strong for any audience.
  • +Includes 2 brand new routines from Richard Osterlind!
  • +You never ever have to touch the Ghost Writer’s Box.
  • +Execution is self-working and failsafe.
  • +The box may be examined should you desire.

Side notes:

  • +The Ghost Writer’s Box is designed with the utmost quality and care.
  • +The finest hardware and hinges were used in its fabrication.
  • +The box itself is sheer elegance with a sleek black color and piano finish.
  • +You will be proud to display this wondrous prop in your showcase of treasures.
  • +You will do more than just display the GWB, you will use it!
  • +The GWB was created by Howard A. Baltus in 2002.

Click here for GWB details.
Click
here for Executive Playtoys!

Best regards,
Howard Baltus
Executive Playtoys
A division of The Trickery, LLC
973.657.0446

The GWB made its debut at Richard Osterlind’s Mind Mysteries Seminar a couple of weeks ago. It was very well received!I’ve been having quite a bit of fun with this piece over the last several months. It plays to any audience. And by plays … I mean really plays! It is a true performance piece.
The GWB’s are being packaged today and will be ready to ship beginning tomorrow morning! Your instruction booklet will also contain a link to the new site created just for this effect. There will be a password protected forum strictly for the owners of the GWB to exchange their thoughts, ideas and presentations.
We are expecting the first run to sell quickly. The $495.00 introductory price + shipping will be held throughout the sell-through of our first run. The price will be increased for the second run.
While I am truly proud of everything I have developed, this is by far my favorite piece and will be difficult for me to top! I am pretty certain, once you see this in action and work with it a bit, you will agree!
Chat with Howard
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