Archive for the ‘The Dealer’s Desk’ Category
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!
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.
♦ 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:
When :SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2010
Where: Quality Inn Meadowlands
10 Polito Ave
Intersection of Rt 17 & Rt 3
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
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.
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.
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.
As a child I was always aware of the segregation of people. It’s not just colors or cultures, but likes and dislikes. In school there were the tough kids, the nerds, the band and choir kids, the smart kids, the not so smart kids, the sports and cheer-leading groups, the theatre group, and the druggies. Even the kids that didn’t make any social scene stuck together in their own group.
As an adult I still see this with my own group of friends at parties or events. Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed this in the magic industry or whatever magic has become. I always noticed a separation of east and west coast. There’s a different mentality and a very noticeable difference between people from CA vs. NY. I’m in no way implying that one is good and one is bad, just different. Of course I will say the food is better over here on the east coast and I don’t believe anyone will argue that with me!
Take a look at most of the magic specials that aired on television over the last few years. Most of the magicians you see on a regular basis are from the west coast or at least have migrated there. Once in a while you’ll see someone who stems from the east, but not often. And usually, it’s the same people over and over again. Realizing that Gay Blackstone, a California resident and heavily involved with the famed Magic Castle , puts most of the current specials together, politics and favoritism do come into play.
On the Internet, there seems to be a very strong bond between Hocus-Pocus, Penguin Magic, The Magic Cafe and Murphy’s Magic. All of these companies are also located in sunny California. To me, even the magazines seem somewhat slighted to their perspective coasts.
While I refuse to accept this as a mere paranoia type of idiosyncrasy of mine, it could very well be…but I doubt it.