I was really going to title this blog “How Soon We Forget”. People are funny. Especially magicians. Why? I’ve been around a long time (T.G.) so many people that visit the shop came here when they were kids. They used to hang around here all the time. Now with the internet I don’t see them as much. Many have their acts and all the equipment they need for it so they have no reason to come here, unless they want to for old times sake, to chew the proverbial rag, or they broke or lost an item or need a refill for something. It’s always good to see you guys or gals when you come in. That reminds me of that sign I saw in an antique store, “Everyone who passes though our door makes me smile, some on the way in and some on the way out!” But I digress.
Yesterday someone came in who I hadn’t seen for maybe 20 or 25 years but I knew him right away. He used to come here as a kid all the time. He bought something he had lost which he bought way back then. He still lives in Montreal. I said, “We haven’t seen you in so long.” He said, I was a kid then, now I’m married and have 3 children.” I asked how old his children were. He said, 11, 9 and 7 or thereabouts. I asked him how old he was when he came first came here. He said 11. I asked if he enjoyed coming here. He didn’t have to speak. He looked up, shook his head from side to side and closed his eyes, and and he spread his arms out. I asked if his kids had been to a magic shop. He said no. I said if you enjoyed it so much, don’t you think they would? The thought had never even entered his head. “Of course they would and I will bring them here.”
If you’ve been to our shop, you know its not a big fancy place, but every inch is filled with magic. I’ve heard many a kid say, “This is the best store in the whole world.” and I have to laugh. So if you’re a magician and have kids, I know you show them tricks, but give them the thrill of going to a magic shop as they won’t be around forever.
You may be a magician. You may be an excellent magican and a great performer, but you should pause now again to see whose shoulders you are standing on. Someone had to create the magic that you do. You had to buy the props, or make them. Even if you make them yourself, did you create it, or did you see it in a book or video and get the idea there?
If you had an idea, like, how can I walk through a brick wall and then make it happen, you are a creator. Some people know what they want to do but don’t know how to go about doing it. They go to people who do know. It may be costly but there are people that can do it.
When we started out in the magic shop, where we sell the magic that people created and built, we travelled a lot. I remember Phil and I visited Steve Dusheck and his wife, in Hazelton , Pennsylvania near Three Mile Island and spent time with him at his home. He had invented so much stuff. I asked him how he thought of all that and his answer was, “Are you kidding? Every morning I wake up with a million new ideas. I just don’t have the time to do them all.” It takes a special brain.
Many years ago a kid came into our shop and showed us a few tricks he came up with. He lived around the corner of the shop at that time. He blew us away. He wanted to sell them to us, but I said I would never be able to demonstrate it. This was before VHS or DVD’s. He said, “Let me teach you.” In five minutes I knew how to do it and sold lots of them. It was called HOLLOW. You punched a hole in a card and move that hole around. Then he came out with Hollow 2. He also came out with Nicotine, which was also fabulous. His name is Menny Lindenfeld.
Recently Menny came out with Tru involving a rubber band. You may want to look at it, especially if you are into rubber bands. I put him high up on my list of creators.
He also came out with the Self-Bending Paper Clip which was a big hit as well as other stuff. Check it out!
Many years ago Albert Goshman, a fabulous close-up magician was our guest in
Albert Goshman – Publicity photo
Montreal when he lectured here for us. You may also know him as a manufacturer of Sponge Balls and other items made of sponge for which he is world famous. But I digress.
When he was here for a close-up performance he called upon me as his volunteer for his famous Coin under the Salt Shaker routine. You old timers know what I’m talking about. I knew what to expect and watched him closely but I could never catch a move, even for the finale when a huge coin appeared under the salt shaker, right under my nose, and I never saw him put it there, neither did anyone else.
So after this fabulous performance he closed his act with the Rising Card.
Later in the evening when we were alone I asked him. “Why in the world would a fabulous magician like you, who can do such sleight of hand, close your act with the rising card, a commercial trick that anyone could do?”
His reply was, ” This is my act. I perform for lay people. When the show is over and they go home they’ll forget all about the Salt Shaker. All they’ll remember is someone chose a card, put it in the deck, the deck was put in a glass and the chosen signed card, all by itself, rose out of the deck. They’ll talk about that.”
We have about 9 different varieties of Rising Card in our catalog, besides those written up in books. A few weeks ago we got a new one in, “Risen”. You use your own deck, the spectator opens the box, shuffles the cards and takes a card a signs it. You can watch it on the video. We got great feedback from our customers who bought it. Easy to do. Just thought I’d let you know. I’m sure Albert would have loved it.
I’m a big fan of Tony Clark. You who are relatively new to magic probably never heard of him. One of my favorite DVD’s of his is Timing is Everything. I think its a must have for every magician. It’s not new but it’s good. Tony was a student of Slydini. Surely you’ve heard of Slydini. Phil and I had the privilege of meeting him in person at a convention many years ago in Massachusetts and Phil was his volunteer. I remember it being on a close-up stage and he did a series of coin tricks. The one Phil remembers is the One Coin Trick. Phil knew how the trick was done and watched him like a hawk, but of course he couldn’t catch him. Each time Syldini would say to him, “You know why you don’t a see? Because you don’t a look!”
Tony Clark just came out with a hardbound printed BOOK called Insider Secrets. Knowing Tony, it has to be good. It also includes an interactive Digital Book FREE which includes video links that take you to visual examples of what Tony is teaching. A great way to learn! My next order will include his book. Will yours?
What magician doesn’t have a set of linking rings in his or her arsenal of tricks. They come in all sizes, all price ranges, all qualities. The standard set consists of 8 rings that link and unlink. It can be performed silently, to music or talking. It can be serious or funny. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, if done properly, even if you know how its done, its amazing. Properly is the operative word here.
I know I’ve told this story before and I’m going to tell it again, just to prove my point. Many years ago Jeff McBride was booked at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal for 6 months. Of course all the Montreal magicians went to see his show, which was great, by the way. Then they’d come to the shop and want to buy a set of rings like Jeff McBride had. So we pointed to the set on the wall, and they would say, “No, no. Not those. He had special ones.” And I’d say. “Yes, yes, those are the ones.”, and they’d say, “No, it’s impossible to do the things he did with those ordinary linking rings.”
Then one Saturday morning (we were opened Saturdays all day back then and all the magicians would hang out at the shop) who walked in? Jeff McBride. There was a whole lot of excitement. I took down the rings and handed them to Jeff and asked if he would be so kind as to perform what he does in the show for the magicians. He took the rings and performed his ring act, as the magicians watched with dropped jaws!
There are all kinds of rings and performers. One that made my jaw drop when I saw it was Shoot Ogawa. In this routine he uses 4 small rings and performed closed up. All I can say is UNBELIEVABLE! I don’t use the term lightly. When they first came out they sold for $45.75 Canadian and they went like hotcakes. Now Shin Lim is all the rage, then it was Shoot Ogawa, and for good reason. It just so happens the Shoot Ogawa Rings are on our “Specials” so if you don’t have them, it’s a great buy! If you do have them, dust them off and use them. Practice first!
Who has a better time than seasoned magicians when they get together. I say seasoned rather than old, because its a nicer word and I don’t consider the 4 magicians who spent 3 hours here this morning old. One Phil had met before…Steve Beam, from Cary, North Carolina. The others were Devin Lushbaugh from Raleigh, North Carolina; Bob Macey from Lakeland, Florida; and Gary Morton form Leavittsburg, Ohio. They had come to Montreal for the Magic Collectors Week-End which took place this past week-end in downtown Montreal at the Delta Hotel in conjunction with the McCord Museum of McGill University.
Unfortunately Phil and I couldn’t make it to the week-end, but the guys came up to visit us at the shop. It was a blast. Sorry Julie, but they said their visit here was the highlight of the week-end.
What makes it so much fun is that when you’ve been around as long as we have you know a lot of people and they know the same people. It’s the stories that are told that kept us talking and laughing and they even found stuff to buy. My book shelf has considerably less stock. Everyone was happy!
Hans Zahn from Newfoundland was here Saturday afternoon. He lectured at the convention. Does anyone remember him? We went out for diner with him and his lovely girlfriend and he got his fix of Montreal smoked meat at Lester’s. (not to mention Phil’s fix). A good time was had by all!
What’s in a Magic Bottle? It’s not a Genie, as you may have thought. So what do magic bottles do? They Multiply. Anyone who has a set of Multiplying bottles will tell you what a great effect it is.
When Phil used to have a magic show, he used Multiplying Bottles as his closer. He always got a great response.
Two tubes, (his were cardboard, he thinks they were Mephisto Magic’s), lift up one tube, there’s a bottle of Champagne, put the tube back over the bottle and lift the other tube, there’s a shot glass. Repeat that action, and somehow the bottle and glass changed places, repeat it again, and now there are two bottles, cover the bottles with the tubes, takes one of the bottles and put it on the table, but the bottles keep on mulitplying until your table is covered with bottles. You pick up the two tubes. You are left with a bottle and a shot glass. You pour a drink from the bottle into the glass, take a drink and whew! It’s over. Always gets a good reaction.
Phil produced 8 bottles. Then they came up with nine and ten bottles. And now they came out with different coloured bottles, and also Multiplying Bottles Multi (with the Ketchup Bottle. Of course they range in price from from around $150.00 to $900.00 Canadian dollars.
Of course there are books and videos and downloads if you want them. They are easy to do. Packs small, plays big. What more could you want?
Everybody loves to laugh. I don’t know about you, but I can watch a comedy show, enjoy it thoroughly and not laugh. But sometimes something is said or done and I can’t help myself and burst out laughing hysterically. I love that feeling. I love whatever happened and I smile or laugh again just thinking about it.
Now a magic show is not a comedy show, but it can be funny. When people go to a magic show, they want to see magic. Will they be impressed when they see how well you handle a deck of cards, the amazing way you can cut them, shuffle them spring them? Yes, they will be. Will it make them feel wonderful and happy? Maybe not so much, maybe envious, maybe awed, surely impressed but not laughing unless you find a way to insert something funny into all those marvellous moves. Then the envy and awe goes away and they walk away saying, ” He or she was terrific!” It made them feel good. They laughed.
Even the most serious situation are enjoyed the most when laughter is involved. Serious and laughter don’t seem to go together but they do. When you call for a volunteer, and then wheel out your head or arm guillotine, that’s serious. But of course the whole thing is in the jokes that go with it, like putting on you blood stained doctor coat, and taking out the instruction book and asking if they have insurance, etc.
Even the serious business of mentalism can be funny. At a local family show 2 weeks ago, Jodi Mihaly did a mental routine. I believe it was Sean Farquar’s “Sheer Luck” and everyone in the audience knows how it’s done, but not the volunteer, and its funny, and in the end the audience is fooled too, so we had the fun and the moment of awe. So put some humour in your act! Keep ‘Em Laughing!
What would you do if you are about to start your performance, the hall is dark, the audience is seated and suddenly out of the corner of your eye, you see David Copperfield take a seat.
Well, it wasn’t David Copperfield who walked into the theatre on Sunday, when Phil was about to perform, but then again, Phil wasn’t performing magic, he was about to give his Ragtime Show for the Cote St. Luc Library on Sunday, the last of 4 as he had been playing once a month since January, when Chris Barillaro and his mom came in. You may be wondering, who is Chris Barillaro. We know Chris since he was a kid, coming in for magic. He’s not a kid anymore, but he’s still into magic, but not professionally. Professionally, he’s in the theatre… actor, music director, pianist, arranger, singer, and he’s the best at whatever he does. In the photo he is on the left in Forever Plaid. Click here to get an idea of what this guy is into. He is incredible. So when Phil saw him come in and sit down at the back of the theatre beside me it was the same as it you were performing and saw David Copperfield come in to see your show.
Phil was completely thrown off kilter. He was making mistakes in pieces he knew inside out and backwards. He was a complete wreck. I turned to Chris and said, “This is your fault, you know.” and he laughed and nodded. By the third song Phil had managed to calm himself and Chris and I smiled. You just never know what’s going to happen in a live performance. So how do you think you would act?
Many years ago, when we had Eugene Burger do a lecture here, he impressed upon me and everyone else at that marvellous evening, the importance of a script. Everything has to be thought out, and everything has to have a reason. It doesn’t have to sound contrived. It could sound spontaneous, it should sound spontaneous, but it shouldn’t be. You have to know what you’re going to say, why you’re saying it, how to say it and when to say it. As we say “Timing is everything.”
If you read my last post, you know my 11 year old grandson performed before the public for the first time. He fools around with magic, did a show for his class, but this show was for a paying public. I showed him the Colour Changing Wreath Trick. He liked it and said he would do it. I didn’t give him any advice, but did go to visit his family and his mother asked him to do the trick for Phil and me.
I never told him about a story. I had figured it was a trick that could stand by itself. He’s only 11, his first time on stage, just let him do the thing, bow and get off. You had one nervous grandmother here. But things don’t always happen the way you imagine they would. It didn’t make sense to Jacob, my grandson, that a bag should have a hole in the middle of it. When the earlier version of the trick “Color Symphony” was around, it made sense that the envelope holding the 45 records had whole in the middle because the records and envelope had holes in the middle, but those are a thing of the past. Kids don’t know what records are these days.
So Jacob was not comfortable with a hole in the bag so he thought about it and came up with a solution. Instead of calling white wreaths “wreaths” he called them his juggling rings, and even tossed one or two in the air and caught them to prove his point. And he put his rings in the bag and said a man came into his house one day and made a hole in his bag. Then he put a blue silk through the whole and took out one of his rings and it was blue and so on and so forth. He did the whole trick telling what the man did. I don’t know that anyone else would have thought it weird to have a hole in a bag, much less do anything about it, but he did and managed to get a plausible explanation for it. I think that’s part of what Eugene was talking about. By the way, he was asked to come back for the next show, June 11, which is on a Sunday afternoon at the Dollar Cinema at Decarie Square. ( May as well get a little advertising in!)